CHL Student Buzz: Meet Peyton Cassar…

12th July 2021

Student, Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Chinese and a Minor in Japanese

Working as a ski instructor in Japan during 2017–18, Peyton Cassar love her first-hand experience of Japanese culture and interacting with people there. But soon, she realised something was amiss—she wanted to connect more with the local people, in the true sense. And what better way to do that than to learn their language? So Peyton decided to enrol at ANU in the Japanese language program offered by CHL.

"Very early in my Japanese language studies, I came across the phrase itadakimasu. It means 'I humbly receive' or 'let's eat' and is used before eating a meal. It conveys gratitude to whoever prepared the meal and is also used to show appreciation for the food itself. As a massive foodie, I really admire the sentiment behind itadakimasu and loved learning about this aspect of Japanese culture!"

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

I am originally from the Gold Coast and moved to Canberra in 2016 to study at ANU. I am studying a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Chinese and a Minor in Japanese. I am due to graduate at the end of this year.

2. What drew you to Japanese and Mandarin?

I worked as a ski instructor in Niseko, Japan in 2017–18. While I loved life in Japan, I found myself continually wishing I could speak and read Japanese. Having heard about the Japanese language program at ANU, I decided to enrol and haven’t looked back since.

As for Chinese, when I was 12 years old, I went on a school trip to Beijing that involved a two-week homestay. Living in China gave me a new perspective on the language and culture, and motivated me to become fluent in Mandarin. When I started university, I jumped at the opportunity to study a language I was passionate about and one I knew held great strategic importance in the 21st century.

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

For both Japanese and Chinese, the top 3 favourites for me have been the following:

Lecturers and tutors: The passion and support from my tutors and lecturers across both languages has been a highlight of my study at ANU. I can tell they are genuinely excited to come to class and are always finding new ways to make language learning fun and exciting.

The pace and content: The pace of language courses at ANU is one of the biggest drawcards for me. While it can be very challenging to learn so much vocabulary and content each week, the pay-off is incredible. After only one year of Japanese, I can hold a conversation with a native speaker on a range of everyday topics. By the time I’ve completed my Chinese Major, I will be able to converse at an advanced level.

International opportunities: I’ve had the opportunity to do a winter course in Tianjin, China and complete a six-month exchange in Singapore. These experiences have enriched my language skills and increased my cultural awareness.

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

Studying a second language will really benefit your career; secondly, the Japanese writing system is interesting and fun to learn; and studying Japanese gives you a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.

5. Can you name 3 reasons for people to study Mandarin?

It's the most widely spoken language in the world, and China has a very rich history and culture. Thirdly, it is strategically important in the 21st century.

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

I honestly believe that you cannot go wrong by choosing to study a language at university. So much of the work experience and opportunities I’ve had have come because of my Japanese and Chinese language skills. Speaking another language is also great when you go travelling!

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

Japanese has three different scripts: hiragana, katakana and kanji. Most sentences contain a mix of all three, making the Japanese writing system one of the most complicated in modern use.

Chengyu are traditional Chinese idiomatic expressions that usually contain four characters. One of my favourites is 滴水穿石 (di shui chuan shi). It means that constant perseverance yields success. This is very relevant when learning a language!

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

I am pursuing a career as a corporate lawyer in Australia and am planning to use my language skills when working with Japanese and Chinese clients. I am also hoping to do a secondment to a Japanese or Chinese law firm in the future. I will continue to study both languages after university and hope to eventually reach a native proficiency.

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

Very early in my Japanese language studies, I came across the phrase itadakimasu. It means 'I humbly receive' or 'let's eat' and is used before eating a meal. It conveys gratitude to whoever prepared the meal and is also used to show appreciation for the food itself. As a massive foodie, I really admire the sentiment behind itadakimasu and loved learning about this aspect of Japanese culture!

Are you interested in learning Japanese and broadening your cultural and social horizons like Peyton 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