This isn’t my usual summary blog. I’ve been reflecting on a lot of my decisions in this past year and I have a lot of uncertainty as to how many of them were “correct.” I know how subjective that sounds, so in context I’m defining correct in the utilitarian sense that the results of my decisions have yielded the most enjoyment or were the most rewarding.
They haven’t, And they weren’t.
At some point last Fall I thought it would be a really fun, enjoyable educational experience to study abroad this Fall. I was only a month or two into Japanese, but I found myself enjoying it more than nearly any other class and I thought I’d continue to impress myself with my quick understanding of concepts and mechanics. I’d always wanted to go to Japan, not as a tourist but as a resident–immersed, engaged and interacting with the culture. This was the time. Commitments to school and personal life would restrict any other time frame. So whether I was ready or not, it had to be now. Fall of 2013. So I told myself I’d be ready.
I’m not. The first symptoms of unpreparedness occurred on Day 1 at NKK where I realized that the CJS program was not nearly as beginner-friendly as I had imagined it would be. I thought that it would have a large appeal for one-year learners like myself. That was the requirement, after all. But that’s not the case. Every. Single. Person. Here. is a thousand times better at this language than me. And it makes sense–they’ve got more experience. But if I had known that going in there would be very few beginners (and in turn, very little resources for beginners,) I might not have made my decision so recklessly.
I want to speak in Japanese with my peers. But I can’t. I can’t articulate myself well. I can say simple things, but nobody with 3-5 years (or much less a native speaker) of Japanese wants to sit and chat using the vocabulary of a four year old. That’s not productive for them. But I can’t keep up, and it shows.
It showed today, when I took my day 1 exam to see if I was prepared enough for NIJ400–level 2 Japanese. I wasn’t. I failed miserably, in nearly every way imaginable. I’m not even good enough for the level I’m supposed to be at. A year of this language, and I have nothing to show for it. I keep repeating in my head, “How could I pass with a 96% and suck this bad?” I still don’t have an answer.
I don’t know why, or how, or what I’m even doing here anymore. I want to get past this and enjoy the semester. But what if I’m wasting 8 credit hours on repeated lessons that won’t count toward my degree? What if I can’t keep up at the level I’m supposed to have reached when I go back home? Every scenario sucks. Everything I came here to do seems to have backfired.
This might actually be the first time in my life that I have tasted pure, authentic failure.