After I watched several episodes of a cartoon named Inuyasha, I was curious about the names of the characters because they were hard for me to pronounce. A quick Yahoo! search revealed that the names of the characters, and the production of the show, came from a place called “Japan”. Being the little researcher that I was, I went to my local library to read some books that could tell me more about this country. I was shocked to learn that many things, from cars to my beloved Hello Kitty character, also came from this far away place.
I flipped through the pages, fascinated by this country and culture that was so different from my own, until I completed the book. Immediate after, I had this deep inner-feeling that I’d be moving to this place. I felt this feeling once before- that I would be a scientist when I grew up. The best way that I can explain the feeling is that it was like suddenly having confidence because you’ve seen the future. That’s how strong it was. I wasn’t even bothered that I’d most likely stick out like a sore thumb in Japan, since I was often teased by my peers for being different.
The book also said that people in Japan spoke Japanese, so I decided on that day, nearly 19 years ago, that I needed to learn Japanese. I told my mom about my revelation and asked her to take me to the book store to get a Japanese language book. 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 textbooks, money for expensive language programs, nor could I afford to study abroad. I made due with whatever I could access and savored every moment of progress. My journey was long and difficult, but I tried my best to never give up because I knew I had to be prepared for my big move.
More than 10 years after I started, I was finally offered an opportunity to visit Japan (for the first time). My hard work paid off too, as I was able to read, speak, and understand Japanese. This allowed me to earn money, make friends, and explore places where English wasn’t spoken.
Currently, I am still self-studying and I share my journey here on PPD. In October of 2021, I finally made my big move! It feels like I’ve made my way *back* home. xD
If you read this far, here’s a word of advice that I learned throughout all of this: don’t ever give up on your dreams!