Now that I think about it, I don’t know why or when did I start learning Japanese. I think that because I grew up watching “anime” (Japanese cartoon shows) and Japanese dramas that it may have piqued my curiosity. Little did I know that this pure curiosity will turn into infatuation towards Japanese culture.
Back then, I wanted to study abroad and experience the Japanese high school life myself. I always imagine myself participating in “taikusai” (sports festival) or working hard together with my classmates preparing for “bunkasai” (culture festival) because the feeling of working hard together with everyone while smiling and laughing is the best feeling in the world for me. The time everyone spends with each other let them create unforgettable memories and stronger bonds with each other. Do you know that fantastic and exciting feeling when you see your hard work pays off? It’s precisely that feeling that I love the most. It may sound a bit naive, but for me, it was something that I’ve always wanted to experience and I am really envious of it.
I also wanted to light up fireworks at the beach on a hot summer night or go to a summer festival while wearing yukata. There were so many things that I wanted to do and experience in Japan that I never experience before, but unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do so back then. Thinking about the things that I missed out on made me sad. Therefore, I told myself that I would definitely learn Japanese in college and study abroad before I graduate.
I really want to make my dream come true, but I wasn’t the type that has the patience to study a new language. Fortunately, I somehow made a lot of Japanese friends at my university. First, I wasn’t actively trying to learn how to speak Japanese – just talking a few words in Japanese was enough for me, but the more I spend time with them the more I wanted to learn Japanese. Why do I want to learn Japanese? It’s just because I think it’s pretty cool to speak Japanese, but more than that, I want to get closer to them.
How did I learn Japanese?
At first, my Japanese speaking skills weren’t good, and I didn’t have any confidence at all. I learned most of my Japanese from friends, and they told me it was ok to make a mistake, but I still couldn’t bring myself to talk to them normally. I am afraid that I might make a mistake and I would embarrass myself, but in the end, I still ended up pushing myself into overcoming my fears.
I was always curious about what they are talking about. Therefore I started asking them about the words I always hear and ask them what it means in English like “ohayou gozaimasu” or “ittadakimasu.” Every day I would learn a new word in Japanese and use it every day until words became phrases and finally, phrases became sentences. It was through repetition and experience that I was able to improve my pronunciation and speaking manners in a short period. I wasn’t able to talk in Japanese right away, and it was definitely not easy for me. In the end, it all comes down to having confidence and the courage to overcome the fear of failing that helps a lot in learning the language.