Hello 2018: Living Abroad

I’ve lived in Japan since I made the jump in 2013.  I’ve had the opportunity to live in two different cities while I’ve been here (not including my study abroad in Kansai in 2009).  Since I’ve come here, I’ve fallen in love with the island that is Kyushu.  So today, I’m thankful a thousand times for this chance!

Living Abroad

I’ll be honest, living in another country where English is not the native language has been a challenge.  And even though everybody studies English from Junior High School, their communicative skill in English is not very good.  Hence the reason why conversation skills are really popular.

But, when you have a challenging situation and you can power through it and be successful in another language it’s way more rewarding.  I’ve had plenty of situations where I’ve had to bumble through with my Japanese skills and though I was nervous and scared at first, but when I finished I felt such a sense of accomplishment.

Living abroad has taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about patience and acceptance.  We’ve talked a lot about making study abroad mandatory in some of my higher level classes and I truly believe that we should be encouraging more students to study abroad if they can.  It helps to make more well-rounded and diverse global citizens.  And I think on this global stage and as we continue our slow, seemingly slight descent into the future, we could use more people with level-heads on their shoulders.

Just about 2 years ago I moved to Kumamoto, Japan and I think I’ve finally found a place where I can be comfortable and happy.  When I was living in Fukuoka I felt happy, but I always felt like something was missing.  Coming to Kumamoto gave me a city full of amazing and accepting people, a wonderful night culture and the most amazing friends.  It was a bit strange how I came to be here, one day I’ll address it, but I wouldn’t change this decision for the world.

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Baby Steps… But I’m Taking Steps!

Anybody who really knows me knows me that I have about 0% desire to return to America.  If it weren’t for my sister and her kids I probably wouldn’t even be going back for Christmas (and some business I have to take care of).  I came here for a reason and I’m trying to carve a life for myself here.

And, one of the biggest steps to do that is, speaking the language.

I studied the language for four years in college, studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai and then, stopped.  So many of the things I learned and knew have since left my brain.  Being here for a year (Today is my Japaniversary!), I’ve re-input a lot of the things that I forgot, but I have a long way to go.  I want to eventually become fluent in a second language, which is something that I always thought would be impossible for me.

So, in an effort to become fluent, I’ve started taking Japanese language classes and studying as much as I can.  The progress is slow, mostly because I use English all day, every day.  But I’m doing my best.  My listening skill is getting much better, but my speaking continues to be pretty low.  Even though I still feel pretty low, I’m going to take the N5 level of the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) in December.

You can find some information about the JLPT here: http://www.jlpt.jp/e/

I’m taking N5, which is the lowest.  I took the practice test online and it was really easy, so I feel pretty good about my test in December.  Next July, I want to take N4.  It’s going to be a long and difficult road, but I want to start really establishing a life for myself here, and I think this is one of the first steps.

Wish me luck on my journey!  I have a feel it’s going to be a wild ride from here on out!