My name is Dervla and I’m an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University. This year I was lucky enough to receive a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) from the U.S. Department of State, and with this program I will be traveling to Himeji, Japan for 2 months this summer. This blog is a place for me to record my thoughts and experiences before, during and after my trip, through words and through images.


  1. Although this blog documents my experiences with the CLS Program, I am not an official representative of the program and the content of this blog does not represent the Department of State in any way. The opinions and views I express here are my own, and do not represent the Department of State. If you are curious about details of the CLS program, or have questions about applying for a Critical Language Scholarship, please visit the official website, here. There you will find specific information, as well as the program officers’ contact information. The CLS program also has an official Facebook page, which can be found here, and also contains a lot of helpful information.
  2. I am a student learning about the Japanese language and culture, and am not natively Japanese. Therefore, I will occasionally make mistakes in terms of Japanese vocabulary, grammar, or cultural nuances. What I write here comes from my own experiences and things I have learned in my Japanese language and culture classes. If you notice a mistake, feel free to leave a comment or email me to let me know. I am open to criticism and eager to learn from my mistakes!

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