Learning Japanese

I have finally decided to learn Japanese, again. My first attempt was a few years ago and had been going quite well. I failed when I stopped keeping a consistent schedule and began to forget words and structures. I had been working out of a Genki workbook and making flash cards to learn.

This summer I intend to restart my learning process. I have spent the last week or so researching, looking for resources, reviewing the basics, and seeing what I remember.

Here are the resources I have settled on (and some I haven’t but will share in the event they work for you):


  • Tofugu: This website is a treasure trove of tips and learning tools! (Check out this particular link: https://www.tofugu.com/series/japanese-learning-resources/) I am not a big fan of the podcast.   It’s quite long and a bit rambly, chatty for my taste. The lessons are important though so if you can get a feel for the skip ratio and cut through to just the bits that matter maybe then. I have simply settled on a different podcast for my lessons. 
  • Manga Sensei: This podcast is amazing! It’s very short, clear, to the point. I love the examples and the clarity. It’s very easy to learn in chunks. I also appreciate that if I am a little confused it’s short enough to just listen to again. The only downside is that the website is janky. The links don’t always work (I may just be using very old portions as I am starting for the very first podcast post). This is where going to Tofugu’s website for support content is useful.
    • Look for the podcast in the Apple Podcast app or any other podcast app. The podcast is much, much better than the website.
  • News in Slow Japanese: This is another podcast that is excellent for listening. The podcast is released as a set with one slow read version and one native read version. The articles are labeled by language level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). I have enjoyed trying to keep up with this podcast. It really shows just how much I have to learn, especially when in an entire monkey (saru) onsen article the only words I could hear were monkey (saru) and onsen, ahaha!
  • Her Confidence Her Way: This podcast is currently way out of my league. However I hope to achieve a level of understanding that one day I can enjoy a cup of tea while listening to this podcast. Per the description it is about working women, particularly Japanese women, and their lives. It’s a bilingual podcast so some interviews and discussions are in English and some are in Japanese. I am aiming to be able to understand the Japanese interviews featured here.
  • OJAD: Online Japanese Accent Dictionary. This website essentially helps you learn words accents, pronunciation, and spelling. There is a limitation to the amount of words but for now it will be more than enough for me!
  • TakoAki Japanese: This is a youtube channel hosted by a native Japanese speaker. He has videos helping to teach the language. I have only seen a few videos and will likely have to rewatch. I think it will be helpful in picking up a correct accent and understanding basic day to day language.
  • Dr. Lingua: This is a drag and drop, matching alphabet(s) game which will help challenge my visual learning.
  • RealKana: This is another alphabet(s) learning game but more like a visual type in quiz.
  • Tae Kim’s Guide to Japanese:This is a very neat website.  There are some videos. I am considering this as another support material to learn from.



  • Abroad in Japan: This is a combination of video-podcast-website content. I enjoy the conversational format and love the Fax Machine read outs and replies. There is a small langauge learning portion which I wish had a page on the website. Otherwise it is a geniune insight of foreigners in Japan from a living and traveling perspective. Lovely to listen to!
  • Deep Dive from the Japan Times: This is a news podcast which is mainly in English. It is a good way to hear about what is going on in Japan currently and learn a bit about the culture.
  • Samurai Archives: This is a Japanese history podcast. I have yet to listen to it so not sure on the style. However I look forward to learning more of the history and culture of Japan through this podcast. Certainly the references and interviews should be good begining research points.

I will continue to grow my resource list as I learn more. I am excited to not only learn the language but also about Japan, the place.

I am still debating on a network that will put me in contact with a native speaker to practice speaking, listening, and writing. I have found a few but am not certain of their safety and engagement levels. I will keep searching and certainly post when I find a good one!

Maybe you aren’t particularly interested in Japanese. Maybe you have another language in mind? If so here are some language learning tips I have found helpful as I try and learn.

  • Look for multiple kinds of teaching kits. Books, websites, podcasts, videos, flash cards, etc. Essentially try to get these kits so you are simultaneously learning the language by seeing, writing, speaking, and hearing.
  • Look for things you are interested in that aren’t necesarily teaching tools. A TV Show in the language you are learning. Music. Magazines. Books.
  • Keep 2 notebooks or some version of this. Essentially you take all the crazy notes on one and then rewrite cleanly what you have learned in the notebook.
  • Highlight. I assign a single color to a certain thing and then highlight accordingly through my notes. This helps connect related topics so I can study across my notes. A quick example for language would be conjucation rules and the words they apply to.
  • Use a little bit everyday. The more you practice it and use it day to day the more you will remember and improve.
  • Find a practice partner! At least for languages, which are used to communicate, it is important to be able to use it. If you can, travel and put your studies to the test. This bit might be easier in say Europe than the US.

So with all this in mind, Good Luck! Let’s practice and study lots! Hopefully I will be able to write a short blog in Japanese by the end of July!


PennDesign Summer Lectures

If you are missing school already, or just curious to get a particular professors insight, PennDesign has set out a series of lectures for the summer. There are lectures in every department on almost every day of the week.

I am particularly interested to see how these lectures progress as the topics are undetermined or at least unannounced in advance. The closest you or I will get to knowing the possible topic is by knowing the person set to speak. Even then I look forward to the suprises in lecture!

Below are links to the lectures and posters of the various lecture series produced by the school. Hope you enjoy!

FromtheRooftopsFrom the Rooftops (Landscape Architecture): https://www.design.upenn.edu/landscape-architecture/events/rooftops-larp-summer-lecture-series

Mind the Gap (Landscape Architecture): https://www.design.upenn.edu/landscape-architecture/events/mind-gap-conversations-about-life-and-landscape-architecture


The Architecture Department has joined in the Surface Magazine to host the Surface Summer School. The aim is to study and design public testing centers for the Covid-19 Pandemic. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Surface Summer School (Architecture): https://www.surfacemag.com/articles/surface-summer-school-lineup/


I’ll continue to add to this post as I learn of more lecture series. In the meantime, enjoy this added audio content! Happy listening!

Please note all posters are made by the departments and publicly shared on instagram and the university school webpage. This is merely posted as a reference to help guide my audience to the lectures.



Summer Reading!

For a quick pool side read to a thrilling page turner that keeps me up at night I am always looking for good literature. Here I have compiled a bit a of a split list, partly scholarly educational and partly ad hoc suggestions from those close to me.

Reading List 1: This list was compiled by the landscape architecture department, all the faculty and staff, as suggestions for the mid semester Covid-19 spring break extension. Whether for spring break or summer this list will certainly entertain for a good while. See my prior post for the full list (https://carolinaschultz.com/2020/06/10/the-penn-landscape-architecture-reader-2020/).

There is also this list from the University titled Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture, https://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/series/PSLA.html

Reading List 2: This list, titled Race, Architecture, Social Equity, was compiled by Daniel Barber and the Architecture Department. https://www.are.na/daniel-barber-pnrk4l56cdq/race-architecture-social-equity

Reading List 3: Despite internships closing up I did ask for reccomendations for readings. It’s nice to know what others consider go to materials that can help build you towards your goal.

  • Site Engineering for Landscape Architects – Strom, Woland
  • Site Planning – Lynch, Hack
  • The Living Landscape – Steiner
  • Design With Nature – McHarg
  • Time-Saver Standards for Landscape Architecture – Charles Harris, Nicholas Dines
  • Landscape Architect’s Portable Handbook – Nicholas T. Dines, Kyle D. Brown
  • Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards – Leonard J. Hopper

Reading List 4: To help learn Japanese I have been looking into reading/writing resources. Honestly Tofugu has been a really helpful blog with tons of useful learning materials. This post in particular pinpointed beginner reading materials that are easily accessible: https://www.tofugu.com/japanese/japanese-reading-practice-for-beginners/

I’ll be making a separate post about my Japanese language studies and the resources I have been using to learn.

Reading List 5: This list is a series of random recomendations (from classmates, friends, family, and strangers) that I have yet to read. Perhaps I will get to a few this summer. Fingers Crossed!

If you’re not particularly a self motivated reader type join a book club. I don’t know too many book clubs but try reaching out to local libraries thru email or phone to see if a librarian can put you in touch with one. Currently there is one open to all called the Politics & Design Summer Reading Group. This group started up by PennDesign students is open and looking to select a new book to kick off the summer reading and discussion season. More information to come as details of the group are revealed.

I have recently joined another simply titled Book Club. We look forward to starting off by reading Semiosis by Sue Burke. I can’t wait to pick up the novel from the library and get started!

Do you any favorite books, articles, forums or other reccomendations? If so please comment below, I’m always curious to read more. Let’s enjoy a good read in the sun!


Summer Plans

Spring semester flew by and before I knew it I had woken up from a week long nap to Summer Break! This Summer Break is going to be unlike any other. As Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc, closing down society and jobs, and society protests the many injustices within it you may be left wondering what shall I, or you, do?

Summers are typically excellent opportunities to gain work experience. The workdays become explorations of my limitations. What else do I need to learn? What haven’t I done yet and need to do to get in on that project? Who else can I shadow? What am I succeeding at? However, with internships closing up to the fear of poor virtual experiences and Covid-19 the wonderful world of work experience is no more. Well maybe not quite. I haven’t secured an internship yet, however, I have begun planning how I can work on my skills for potential Fall openings.

In my case I have taken on the challenge of redesigning my parent’s backyard. I will also be tinkering about inside the house, porch, and maybe even the frontyard. With an ambigious budget, a diy attitude, and a few short months to complete it I am excited to see what I can achieve!

In addition to the at home design I am following up on my summer internship interests through research. I am looking into zoos and aquariums, gardens and parks, city design and human behavior, and crime and design. This started as googling to my hearts content but I think will work its way into a set of journals as notes and sketches to build from. Posts to come with all my new insights.

And, if that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I have decided to take up skateboarding, continue running, and hopefully, finally, learn Japanese! Oh, and attend any and all lectures PennDesign releases.

I hope you all are well and safe! Here’s to many fun adventures while safely settled in home!