Coming to Japan with no Japanese skill
When I first came to Japan I knew nothing about Japanese language except “Konnichiwa”, “Arigatou” and “Sumimasen”. I felt slightly intimidated, but all my fears and qualms were eclipsed by my endless excitement. Never had I had the opportunity to experience a completely new culture and learn a completely new language before. My excitement was off the charts. If I am being honest, before coming to Japan I never thought learning a new language would be this difficult and so I did not make much effort to learn Japanese while I was in Nepal. Oh how wrong I was! As soon I arrived in Japan, I felt as if I was completely paralyzed. I could barely do anything without someone’s help. Even something as simple as going to a supermarket felt like a huge challenge for me. I felt like a prisoner locked in my dorm behind the bars of the Japanese language.
I was enrolled in the Centre of Japanese Language and Culture of Osaka University (CJLC) for a year to study Japanese language. I was in a class of 6 students and we all had to start from the most basic of Japanese language. Every week we had Listening, Reading, Writing, Grammar and Kanji classes. Despite being complete beginners, we were really lucky to have such kind and understanding Senseis(teachers). They taught each and every student personally resolving even the slightest our doubts. They motivated us each and every day and made sure our Japanese language got better with every class. We also had a test at the beginning of every class which further spurred us to work on our Japanese language.
Failures and frustrations
Although I had Japanese classes almost everyday, for the first six months I could barely use Japanese language. I could take the tests in the class but applying them in real life was a completely different ballgame. I could barely have any conversation in Japanese. Speaking just a single sentence was a herculean task for me. Furthermore, it was was impossible for me to comprehend even the simplest of Japanese conversations. This caused a lot of frustration to me. I had hoped that after six months, I would have made considerable progress in Japanese. Yet, I could not see any significant progress and I just felt like a total failure.
Patience and Slow Rise in Confidence
I was almost on the verge of losing my patience. Fortunately, my senpais (seniors) who had gone through the same experience as me were always there to support me. They helped me manage all my frustrations and gave me the strength to carry on. My patience eventually did pay off. I was still struggling with my Japanese but I became able to at least construct sentences with broken Japanese. I could discern more and more words while listening to a Japanese conversation and Kanjis were no more some abstract art to me. These minor improvements had a huge impact on my confidence. I started to believe that I can improve my Japanese and with this self-belief I got the motivation to work even harder. I was getting better and better everyday, and suddenly learning Japanese was no more a burden but a source of joy for me. By the time I graduated from CJLC, I could feel how far I had come in one year.
Learning Japanese has been a very long road for me and I’m still walking on it. It has not only helped me communicate well but also opened doors to a new culture and new way of thinking for me. The journey might have been arduous but what I gained from it is nothing less than magical.