When I was studying in Los Angeles, my Japanese friends used to make fun of other American classmates because they are good at making excuses. They always had some kind of excuses for submitting their homework late, didn’t do the midterm for medical problems so they need a makeup test, and the last one complained that the math instructor’s accent was so strong that they couldn’t understand. They ended up petitioning about her English..so it was pretty crazy.

Growing up in Japan, people don’t really like to make excuses themselves or hear other people making excuses. Japanese culture reinforces the idea of self-reflection and I remember that we were pretty much trained to blame ourselves instead of blaming other factors for not being able to get the work done efficiently. My teacher used to scold at us “Don’t make any more excuses! You should be ashamed of yourself..” Shame and excuse…

Anyways, after I transfer to University of California, I made a decision not to use this phrase “English is not my first language and I am an international student from Japan..” This phrase earned some sympathy from some faculty even though they shouldn’t have. And this excuse flew in junior college that I was attending but after I got admitted into UCLA, no more..I never had that personal interactions with these professors because they are really busy usually and don’t even remember each student’s name. I was definitely wanted to challenge myself but at the time same, I decided to stop using this magical phrase altogether and was I still able to improve my GPA? Surprisingly it did..

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