PHOTO CREDIT: Fumio Hashimoto
Yep, that title isn’t clickbait. In two months time, I’ll be hopping on a plane (or two) and travelling to Japan for the first time.
I’ll be staying in Fukuoka, on the southern island of Kyuushu for an entire month, taking a course to learn Japanese. I’ve been self-studying for almost a year now, but it’s time to take it to the next level. With university and work, it’s not always been easy to fit language study into my life, which I discussed a couple of months back in this post. However, there comes a point where self-study just isn’t enough.
Teaching yourself a foreign language while still living in your home country is extremely difficult, for many reasons. First of all, it takes an immense amount of discipline and self-motivation to structure your study in a productive way. When you don’t have a teacher or external deadlines guiding your learning, it can be much harder to push yourself forward. And that is exactly the reason why I like Mondly’s daily test format so much, because there are consequences for not completing a test.
Also, it’s so much easier to pinpoint where you’re going wrong if you have a teacher to supervise your progress. As a non-native learner of Japanese, I can’t necessarily tell if I’m making errors or not, and I definitely can’t correct myself as easily. There are times when I’ve felt like I’m hitting a brick wall and that no improvement is happening, and that would be easily fixed with a healthy dose of constructive criticism.
There are advantages to self-study, especially if you can’t afford classes, have none in your local area, or just simply cannot set aside that much time, but immersion learning is definitely the best method. I will have to use Japanese on a daily basis to be able to get by in a Japanese city. It will force me to overcome any confidence issues when using the language with native speakers. It also allows me to experience Japan at the same time, and gives me the opportunity to add a new skill to my CV while enjoying everything Fukuoka has to offer.
My course includes several extra-curricular activities, which are designed to let students immerse themselves in the country and its culture (including calligraphy, cooking and shrine tours). I’m also in the process of planning my own things so I can really make the most of my month in Japan.
I will keep up this blog to the best of my ability while I’m there, but here’s my question to you: Would updates about my life in Japan be something you’d be interested in reading?
I am seriously considering documenting my trip in blog posts, as well as the countless photos I’m bound to be taking (like, seriously, every trip I’ve ever been on has resulted in hundreds of pictures). And this is something even more special, because travelling to Japan has been my dream for approximately 16 years and I want to preserve these moments for years to come.