Like many others, my first known exposure to anything Japanese was anime. It wasn’t until I came across a well-known anime named Inuyasha that I began to question the origins of a show I was into. A quick Yahoo! internet search (back in the Windows 98 days) led me to a webpage that revealed to me that Inuyasha, along with several other things I enjoyed, originated in a placed called Japan. Being the little researcher that I was, I went to my local library to read some book that could tell me more about this new place. I was shocked to learn that so many things I interacted with, from cars to my beloved Hello Kitty, also came from this place that I’d never known existed.
I continued to flip through the pages, fascinated by this country and culture that was so different from my own, until I reached the end. When I completed the book, I had this deep, supernatural inner feeling, that I can’t really explain, that I’d be moving to this far away land. I had felt this feeling before when I knew that I would become a scientist when I grew up. It’s almost like having confidence because you’d already seen the future because the feeling. That’s how strong it is. It didn’t even bother me that I’d stick out like a sore thumb there (for obvious reasons), since I was the “odd” kid in school and was often teased for being different.
Since the book mentioned that people in Japan spoke Japanese, I decided on that day, nearly 19 years ago, that I needed to learn Japanese immediately. I told my mom about my new revelation and asked her to take me to the book store so that I could get a Japanese language book- which she did. I studied Japanese every day, every moment I could for the first 4 or 5 years. After that, I continued to study when I wasn’t too overwhelmed with the ups and downs of growing up. I never had fancy tools or the money for expensive language programs, nor could I afford to study abroad. So I made due with whatever I could access and savored every moment of progress. My journey was long, frustrating, and difficult, but I tried my best to never give up- because I knew I had to be prepared for my big move.
Finally, more than 10 years after I started, I was finally offered a long’ish-term opportunity to go to Japan. All of my hard work paid off too, as I was able to read, speak, and understand Japanese, which allowed me to earn money, make friends, and explore places where English wasn’t spoken.
Currently, I continue to self-study and I share my journey here on PPD. I have not yet made my big move, but I am getting closer to making it every day!