By Russell Booth
Karen Andriamoasy is from central New Jersey and is a 20-year-old junior at Rutgers University. Karen is a journalism and media studies and East Asian studies double major. Her concentration in the East Asian studies major is Japanese. She first discovered her interest of Japanese culture when she had to do research on the country. Exploring the history of Japan allowed her to discover what she wants to do in life. When she was younger she became interested in marine biology after watching a documentary about sharks. She soon realized that becoming a marine biologist was not something that she wanted to do. Karen began to take up an interest in music and literature. At the age of 7 Karen began to take piano lessons. Afterwards she joined the school band and sang in the school choir. She is also able to play the saxophone and is currently learning how to play the guitar. Karen is a fan of all music genres and has written several songs, which were about her personal life experiences.
Her interest in Japan first started when she was working on an assignment in her computer class. The assignment was to create backgrounds using images of different countries; Karen began to read about Japan and Tokyo. After reading she became captivated by the country’s history and culture. The more she learned about Japan, the stronger her adoration became. Karen began to read Japanese books and listen to Japanese music. One of Karen’s favorite books is the Japanese novel Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. The novel is about a man named Toru Watanabe, who is narrating the story and reminiscing about his freshman college year in Tokyo. Toru develops relationships with two different women through his reminiscences. The reason why she likes the books is because “the story is more about language, detailed, and graphic.” Another novel that Karen likes is Truancy by 15-year-old New York City high school student Isamu Fukui. This novel is about a city ruled by the mayor and educators. The main character Tack is leading a student rebellion known as the Truancy. Karen prefers Japanese literature to western literature. She states, “I prefer Japanese lit to western lit because it’s more insightful and engaging.”
Karen is currently taking classes at Rutgers University to learn how to read, write, and speak Japanese. Since music has always played an important role in Karen’s life, she started to listen to Japanese music. Some of her favorite bands are the groups Uverworld, BoA, and Utada HiKaru. All of these singers perform different genres of music. Karen plans to visit the country very soon. She also plans to combine both of her interests after she is done college by publishing in Japanese. Learning about Japan’s history and its culture had a very important impact on Karen’s life. Her research allowed her to find something that is very important and influential in her life. She has become so fascinated with Japan that she desires to have a career that can combine her interest in Japan with her interest in writing.