Structured Japanese Learning, Yay!

College life began normally enough I guess, explored campus, made friends with my awesome roommates, found the food places and choose classes. I was super stoked because I had been able to sign up for my first Japanese class!! 

And damn was it hard! I was lost before the first day! The teacher talked so fast, and despite pre-learning some kana, I felt really behind! Luckily, I was taking this class with one of the awesome roommates, and when she said she felt the same, maybe even a little worse off, I calmed down a little. 

It was one of my first college level classes in general, and first language (of course), I just wasn’t used to the level of study, but while I can say I adapted quickly in my Japanese class, can’t say the same for my others DX A week or two passed, studying continued, and classes progressed.

I was checking up on Facebook one day and noticed a post by a Luqi, the girl from the summer. While it was in Chinese and I couldn’t read it, it was posted from UNC Wilmington! I was surprised since she had said she didn’t think she’d be studying here, so decided to message her and see if we could meet up since she indeed appeared to be going here. We were able to set up a meeting,at the famous Fuzzy Peach. I took the roommates and while we sat and waited it felt like a blind date; I couldn’t remember what she looked like, and who knew if she remembered me.That issue was quickly squandered when a group of about 5 Asians walked into the establishment, and I knew immediately that was her, (obviously).  Introductions were made and to my amazement and happy delight, all the students, save Luqi (who is Chinese, remember) were Japanese exchange students! A chance to try some Japanese!!

We all seemed to click pretty fast, and decided after desert, it was time for dinner! That’s when real college began.

Forget Japan, College is its Own Adventure

Comparing myself to students in my classes, my college life is far from normal… but then again, so am I…

I actually chose to attend a University that my hometown neighbor also attends, got accepted and said I would go, all before even visiting the school once. So one weekend in July, 2 months before I was supposed to move to this town, I drove down with a car full of friends of my home to be for an unknown amount of years. Luckily for me, it was love at first sight, and I am to this day so happy to call myself a sea hawk!

So that night, we were able to get snuck in to my hometown neighbors dorm room, which wasn’t actually that difficult since it was summer and the dorm was pretty much deserted. We settled in for the night then randomly decided to go get pizza. We all left the empty residence hall and pursued of taste bud’s request.

We run upstairs with 3 piping hot pizza’s and are all scared shitless when we enter the room to hear a shower running. there was no one here when we had left and we were only gone for an hour tops, was there a ghost here?! Suddenly this school looked less cool. our screams must have alerted our shower occupant, and a head popped out of the shower curtain, looking just as surprised as we were, but maybe with smaller eyes. The black haired girl pulled herself back in the shower as quickly as she had peaked and assumed washing I suppose. Us girls started laughing and hurried into out of the common room and into the bedroom, ready to start digging in on pizza.

Twenty minutes or so after the shower had stopped, I decided to go invite the girl to enjoy some pizza, maybe she was a new student I could make friends with before school started. Upon truing to invite he, I quickly realized, she knew hardly any english… -.-

But we manned to explain to her to come over and hang out with us, eat our pizza and play some card games. While her vocabulary was limited, we were able to communicate enough; we learned she was from China, she had just flown in that night so was super jet lagged, was planning on studying English at some university in North Carolina, but it wasn’t decided yet, she was just here for the time being, and that her name was Luqi, which is kinda pronounced like lucky… We all connected on Facebook despite knowing we would probably never see each other again after that next day. Little do I know…

Hello Luqi…

My adventures begin

Where does the adventure begin, really? When I was in middle school when I started playing Kingdom Heartsa game that originated in Japan, which at the time, I had no idea; I was just in it for the story. Does it start when I met an influential friend in high school, mostly because of this game. She was much more in tune to the Japanese culture behind the game,  and much of the Japanese pop culture. Was it when I took the hesitant step to becoming friends, always afraid over crossing the line to join the “nerd side?”  

Or does it start when another influential friend studied abroad at my high school, my school, that is in the middle of literally nowhere, which let me realize studying abroad doesn’t only happen on TV and in movies, but its something students from all over the world participate in every year. 

I guess it all does come down to friends, though. With another friend who was born and raised in Japan, I made plans to go together with her to her hometown during the summer of my senior year in high school, 2011. By this time, I had started to realize, it wasn’t just the gaming aspect of Japan that interested me, but I must admit without a doubt, thats what initially sparked the interest, but after a couple years of light internet exploring, I discovered it was the culture of Japan itself, the language, the personality, the raw, and staged, beauty of Japan that I wanted to explore more. 

It had seemed the world wanted me to learn too, because for the first time ever, they were offering an online course of beginning Japanese language at my high school! I was ecstatic, and signed up immediately. Which I then realized, if you want something, I guess you have to have the self perseverance, because it was already filled and despite being 3rd on the waiting list, 3 weeks into the course, no spots opened, so I was forced to give up. 

But like I was going to give up that easily? Heck no, you see, another really good friend of mine had a lot of resources for self learning languages, albeit expensive, just remember, knowledge is priceless. So I took a ride to my Barnes & Noble, my faithful friend, picked up beginning Kana book, (short Japanese lesson for the unknowing, Japanese written language is comprised of 3 sets of characters, kanji, or borrowed Chinese characters, all nouns, hiragana, which is alphabetical and used for showing pronunciation of kanji, and also grammar, and the last is katakana, another alphabetical one, which is used for foreign borrowed words, like コーヒー, or ko-hi-, or coffee. Kana refers to both hiragana and katakana.) 

So I picked up this book

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It was life changing. I started self learning kana in prep for going to Japan with my friend after graduation. For my last semester in high school, I filled notebooks with hiragana instead of calculus notes, wrote hello, thank you, and goodbye, thousands of times on receipt backs, and signed my name in katakana instead of english at stores. 

And then then the unthinkable happened. The Tōhoku earthquake, March 11th, 2011. It was probably the first time I had watched the news in years, and since. Despite it being far from our intended destination, what with the scale of the earthquake, the instability of the whole country, and the tsunami damage of the nuclear plant, the trip was cancelled, to my disappointment. 

But by this time, a new opportunity had arisen; studying abroad in college.