CHL Student Buzz: Meet Kira Atkins…

11th March 2021

Student, dual Bachelor's degree in Asia Pacific Affairs and second year Japanese language program

CHL’s Japanese-language student Kira Atkins recounts the memorable experience of her language-learning journey. What started off with a fascination for the iconic Hello Kitty character of Japan ultimately led Kira to the ANU CHL Japanese language program, which has been a culturally rewarding experience for her.

"I've been interested in Japanese ever since I was a child. My dad studied abroad in Japan while he was at university, and throughout my life he shared with me his interest in the country and its culture and language. As a child I was obsessed with the Japanese character Hello Kitty, which led me to the desire to learn Japanese as a way to connect with and learn more about the country."

1. Tell us a bit about yourself – what you do currently and what you studied.

I am a second-year student studying a dual Bachelor's degree in Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU and Global Liberal Arts at Ritsumeikan University. I have lived in Canberra for 10 years now, but I was actually born in Singapore and also lived in England and Denmark while growing up. I believe that my experiences of travelling and moving abroad in my childhood led me to my great interest in international affairs and foreign languages. As well as Japanese, I have previously studied some Mandarin Chinese and have just begun teaching myself Esperanto.

2. What drew you to Japanese?

I've been interested in Japanese ever since I was a child. My dad studied abroad in Japan while he was at university, and throughout my life he shared with me his interest in the country and its culture and language. As a child I was obsessed with the Japanese character Hello Kitty, which led me to the desire to learn Japanese as a way to connect with and learn more about the country.

3. What were your top 3 favourite things about your language course?

It's hard to choose just three, but the highlights of studying Japanese at ANU were the kind and helpful teachers, being able to make new friends with whom I can practise speaking Japanese with, and the immersive environment provided by the Japanese courses which I have taken. These three aspects of studying Japanese at ANU have truly allowed me to progress my language skills to a level which I am proud of.

4. Can you name 3 reasons for people to study Japanese?

First, Japanese is very different to English, the written script, the sentence structure, the grammar. While certainly a challenge, Japanese is fascinating, and I have found it thoroughly enjoyable. Second, learning Japanese has also taught me so much about the English language. Third, through learning the language, I have also come to know so much more about Japan and its rich, vibrant culture.

5. How does it help /has it helped you in your profession or in life?

Learning languages is known to help with cognitive development. Being able to speak multiple languages also helps you see the world through different eyes and thus helps with problem solving as well.

6. Can you share one fascinating/fun fact about Japanese/something you find particularly incredible about the language?

My parents actually met when they were both studying at ANU! There is an article about them in the ANU Reporter. I am now following in their footsteps by attending the same university. Although they both studied science while I study humanities, my dad also learnt Japanese at ANU.

7. What are your future plans with respect to Japanese or any other language?

I plan to continue my study of Japanese this year, and I hope to be able to put my language skills to use soon when I go to Japan to finish my degree (COVID permitting, of course).

8. Anything else you’d like to share? An interesting anecdote about your study of the language perhaps?

Apparently, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd asked former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam about what he should study, and Mr Whitlam encouraged him to study a language! Kevin Rudd did take Whitlam's advice, and is known to have studied Mandarin Chinese at ANU!

Are you interested in learning Japanese and enriching your cultural world view, just like Kira has? Enquire now!

For program administration and Academic advice please contact the CHL Education Support team on education.chl@anu.edu.au.

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster