College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

World Languages and Cultures

Nicholas McCullough, JLC 2019

Nicholas McCullough, JLC 2019 wearing facemask


My name is Nicholas McCullough, and I graduated with a B.A. in Japanese Language and Culture in Spring of 2019 from CSUMB. I currently work as a civil servant for the city of Matsue in Shimane, Japan. More specifically, I work at Matsue’s city hall in the International Tourism Division as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR).

As a CIR, I often find myself doing the followings tasks: translating, interpreting, video editing, giving presentations to the local community, creating and appearing in tourism promotional material, and participating in cultural exchange events. No one day of work is ever the same for me. Somedays I am largely away from the office acting as an interpreter, doing video shoots for our Youtube Channel, or visiting an elementary school to interact with the local children. On other days I will be at the office working on a translation assignment, editing the previously mentioned videos, or interpreting for a foreign resident at the city hall’s main building. There is never really a dull moment.

I applied for this position through the JET Programme, which is well known for hiring assistant language teachers to help teach English in Japan. For those possibly interested in applying to be a CIR, there are a number of criteria that can help strengthen your application: having passed N2 or N1 of the JLPT, having experience living abroad (not limited to only Japan), having worked, volunteered, or grown-up in a culturally diverse setting, and last but not least being able to speak Japanese at a proficient level.

Being able to affordably study abroad in Japan for 1 year through the WLC was undoubtedly the biggest factor that led me to eventually work here in Japan. It was also the Japanese language education that I received from 2016-2020 through the WLC and the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies that pushed me to take and pass both the JLPT N2 in 2018 and JLPT N1 in 2020 respectively. On top of that, the lessons I learned from working with children in an educational setting through WLC’s service learning I apply whenever I make school visits and interact with the local children. Also, because of the nature of my work, I continue learning and making new realizations about Japanese Culture every single day. Still, the fundamental knowledge I acquired from the Japanese Culture courses at CSUMB became a solid foundation from which I continue to build.

As a few pieces of advice, first and foremost, I encourage everyone to study what interests them because you never really know exactly where it will apply or how far it will take you. Also, for those of you beginning to study a 2nd or 3rd language as an adult, please don’t let your age become a deterrent. I started studying Japanese at the age of 20, and now I am 27 with a job where translating and interpreting is just par for the course. If I can do it, so can you. 頑張ってください!