After studying Japanese for 10 years, and setting my sights on visiting Japan as my end-goal, we’re finally here! I’M GOING TO JAPAN THIS YEAR!!
For me, these rewards are what makes the struggle worthwhile. The goal at the end of the task is usually something I assign for myself; and the more challenging the task, the bigger the goal. In this case I decided that if I could learn enough Japanese to functionally live there without assistance, I would reward myself by travelling to Japan to test my skills.
I’m in no way a native-level speaker yet…but I know at least I can get around and understand directions on my own. I’m better at writing than I am at speaking, which is probably a side-effect of studying solo and/or studying in a country where I don’t interact with native speakers much, however with my studies and knowledge of sentence structures I hope to improve rapidly with a few weeks of intensive practice!
When I initially set this goal in 2007, I wanted to spend a whole year working in the country (as a travel agent for Japanese people to visit Australia) or a ‘chatting class’ instructor (where you essentially have conversations in English so Japanese people can practice their skills). However – as life tends to do – my plans changed when I met someone and decided that leaving them behind for a year wasn’t on my to-do list. Instead, I will be travelling for just under a month to see all the cultural sights that my childhood self wanted to see when I first learned about this country.
When I sat in my high school Japanese class obsessively going over the names of vegetables until I could recall them without being prompted, the idea of doing my own groceries was at the forefront of my mind. When I learned how to give and receive directions, I was imagining asking a train station attendant how to go somewhere. The goal was to go to rural villages, explore the biggest city I’ve ever been to in my life (Tokyo), and sample foods and sights that you can’t get anywhere else. When I first began my lessons the concept of walking around and understanding answers to routine questions felt like a pipe dream. Now…here I am! I did it! できました！And, you can do it too! そして、あなたもそれをすることできます！！