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Japanese or Spanish?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by DaisukeFire, May 15, 2002.

  1. DaisukeFire

    DaisukeFire New Member

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    Hi, I'm new at this board and I was hoping you could help me with a question. I will be taking a foriegn language next year and I've always wanted to take Japanese. But I think Spanish would be more helpful for a doctor. Would med schools look at me more negatively for having taken a rarer language than a more common one? Or would it be better to take the rarer language, hopefully making me a more interesting canidate? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. rxfudd

    rxfudd 1K Member
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    No medical school will ever look down at a foreign language, especially more difficult ones like Japanese. You are probably correct that spanish will be more useful in the US. If you simply don't have an interest in spanish, take what you think you'll enjoy. I took latin and was asked about it (in a positive way) at several interviews. A rare/unique language can definitely make for interesting conversations - you may even be able to work it into an essay somehow.

    Also, Japanese may afford you a unique opportunity to do a clerkship abroad if that's something you're interested in.
     
  3. DaisukeFire

    DaisukeFire New Member

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    Thanks! I really don't have any interest in taking Spanish and I've always been facinated with Japanese culture, so I think ill take Japanese. I never really thought of doing something abroad in japan, that would be great!
     
  4. Daredevil

    Daredevil Senior Member
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    I have to warn you though... Japanese is a MUCH, MUCH more difficult language to master than Spanish. You will need to put a lot of time into it. But the best way to learn is to be in that country and practice it every day. ;-)
     
  5. efex101

    efex101 attending
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    Spanish would be much easier to learn than Japanese and much more helpful as a future physician. Regardless you seem to really want to learn Japanese so I say go where your heart leads you. Adcom's will be very interested in learning why you took this very difficult language and if you do well you will really impress them!
     
  6. Street Philosopher

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    Well I was in a similar situation. I was either going to take Spanish or re-learn my native language. I decided that life is too short to always do things to please adcoms or invest for a profession.

    Besides, academic Spanish is good, but it doesn't really help you speak Spanish. I took 3 years already (in high school) and I still don't understand much more than select words or short phrases.
     
  7. none

    none 1K Member
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    This is a pretty important decision...make sure to contact some med school adcoms as well as your own pre-med counselor.
     
  8. vitaminX

    vitaminX Member
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    At my UC interview, the guy asked me "You are fluent in Japanese, right? Why didn't you take Spanish instead?" I was speechless.

    So, there you go.
    Take whatever you want, but be prepared for questions like this.

    Also, personally, I think Japanese is not hard at all if (1) you know how to speak like Yoda (i.e. backwards) and (2) you are fluent in Chinese cuz one third of the language Chinese characters. So when I want to say something to my Japanese friends, I think of the words in Chinese, put those words in Japanese grammar, and speak those words with the predictable Japanese pronunciations for those Chinese characters.

    Spanish, on the other hand, would probably be difficult for me.

    good luck.
     
  9. Hero

    Hero Senior Member
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    if my high schoold had japanese, i'd know japanese rather than spanish. you don't want to do medicine because it's 'useful' right? you want to do medicine because it would be something you'd enjoy. Same should apply for learning a language. If you're learning spanish b/c you have to, you will forget it in less than a year.
     
  10. FLY

    FLY Senior Member
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    Even if how passionate you are, try to go with Spanish, I know I would. I was so passionate about Latin in High School and took like 4 yrs of latin. Now I volunteer and NC has a big spanish speaking population and whenever I volunteer in the ER, we usually need to bring out the spanish interpreter at least 4 or 5 times each hour. If I had taken it in high school and continued with it in College, I could be so fluent and just jump right in and take care of the situation..... <img border="0" title="" alt="[Frown]" src="frown.gif" />
     
  11. rxfudd

    rxfudd 1K Member
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    I hate to be the voice of dissent, but...

    I wish that people would stop thinking like premeds. The only things you NEED to take are gen chem, organic, physics, and bio. This is your last opportunity to learn what you WANT to learn. If you have no interest for spanish, you'll just want to get through it and get it over with. That's how I felt about it, and I ended up taking latin. Two years later, I've taken 20 hours of latin and am in the middle of a research project translating original manuscripts with a prof. There's no way I would have done that in the spanish dept. Take what you think you'll really love - THAT is what med schools want to see.
     
  12. Legend

    Legend Super Senior Member
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    I would suggest you take Japanese, but don't expect to learn much in a short period.
     
  13. FLY

    FLY Senior Member
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    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Daredevil:
    <strong>I have to warn you though... Japanese is a MUCH, MUCH more difficult language to master than Spanish. You will need to put a lot of time into it. But the best way to learn is to be in that country and practice it every day. ;-)</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Listen to that.. Taking spanish will bring better returns for your investments...
     
  14. NuMD97

    NuMD97 Senior Member
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    OK let me be as evenhanded as I can about this: true, you have plenty of time to take what is "necessary" or "required" later. If you are passionate about taking Japanese, your eagerness will make taking it a breeze. I took Spanish in junior high school, like many other New Yorkers because the only other alternative in New York in my area at that time was French (which I did take later in college). And true, I remembered very little of it, or so I thought. But the rudiments were there and decades later I had the opportunity to have use for it, and surprisingly it came back (living outside the country in a Spanish-speaking country didn't hurt either). More importantly, in whatever hospital I ever worked in, in whatever state, Spanish came in handy quite often, and having me around beat waiting around for the hospital translator to arrive.

    As far as beyond medical school, it is a selling point in this country (all other things being equal), and I have been told by several program directors that it would be an asset to have someone in their program who is fluent in Spanish. I also should add, anecdotally, that one of my interviews was conducted in Spanish, wherein I had to interview the interviewer acting as a patient coming to my office with chest pain. He wanted to ascertain the veracity of my being bilingual.

    Just some food for thought. Good luck in your decision-making.
     
  15. otter

    otter Senior Member
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    Daisukefire, I speak both Japanese and Spanish (although I'm not totally fluent in Spanish). In two out of four interviews this year, the topic of Japan and Japanese came up. I guess applicants with a Japanese language skills and experiences of living in Japan are rare. Yet, it seems there's a lot of interest in Japan on the part of U.S. medical community, because many conferences are held in Japan and Japan's very active in biomedical research. Of course, there may not be the same widespread need for Japanese in America as there is for Spanish. But, the bottomline is some good will come out of knowing either of these languages. So, learn the one you're more interested in.

    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by rxfudd:
    <strong>I wish that people would stop thinking like premeds. The only things you NEED to take are gen chem, organic, physics, and bio. This is your last opportunity to learn what you WANT to learn. If you have no interest for spanish, you'll just want to get through it and get it over with. That's how I felt about it, and I ended up taking latin. Two years later, I've taken 20 hours of latin and am in the middle of a research project translating original manuscripts with a prof. There's no way I would have done that in the spanish dept. Take what you think you'll really love - THAT is what med schools want to see.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Totally agree with rxfudd. Whether to take up Spanish or Japanese should be strictly a question for yourself as to which one interests you more. You'll be unhappy if you planned every aspect of your curriculum around how it will be perceived by medical school.
     
  16. matthew0126

    matthew0126 Anaheim Angels
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    Spanish will help if you live in an area of the U.S. with lots of spanish-speakers -- which is a lot of places.

    But really -- take Japanese if that is what you want to do. Like someone said, life is too short to do something simply because you want to please adcomms or anything like that. Do what you are passionate about.

    FYI, Japan is my favorite country outside the states. Simply fantastic (I'm not jap), the futuristic urban settings, the beautiful traditional countryside, the rich culture, the incredible food -- everything is wonderful. It really helps if you know Japanese before you ever visit (like teaching English there or something).
     
  17. otter

    otter Senior Member
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    i might add that Japan is really a cheap place to travel around, if you do research in advance.

    I stayed in nice, ultra-clean business hotels for 4500 yen ($35) a night. The food there is much much cheaper than you think. For example, a shrimp cutlet burger for 230 yen ($1.70), a beef teriyaki bowl for 250 yen, ramen/gyoza combo for 450 yen,... Rail passes are cheaper than in Europe, as well, and you can't even compare Japanese and European trains in terms of level of comfort and cleanliness.

    Okay, sorry, I digressed... :oops:
     
  18. rocknroll985

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    You should go ahead and learn Chinese. Since there are over 1 billion Chinese people out there.
     

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