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I Learned A Little Japanese

For my last semester of college, I had the opportunity to do a semester at sea. I was thrilled by the prospect of being on the ocean for months on end and about getting to spend time in a variety of countries and cultures along the way. Since I had never traveled outside of my country before, I was excited for any and every country we were to visit. For some reason, however, my curiousity about Japan and all things Japanese seemed to rise above my excitement to experience any other place.

Until I visited there, Japan and the Japanese culture was completely a mystery to me. I didn't know anyone from Japan, and I only knew that a couple of my friends' fathers had spent time in Japan on business trips. Yet my mind couldn't help but dream and wonder what time in Japan would be like. So, being the overachiever that I was during those years, I enrolled in a Japanese language course at a local college during the summer before I was to make the trip at sea.

I wanted to learn a little Japanese so that I would be able to understand what was happening around me in Japan and so that I would be able to carry on even the most brief conversations with the Japanese people. The process of learning the language was much more involved than I expected it to be, yet I pressed on and actually made some progress. The hardest part for me was learning how to create the artistic characters that made up their written language.

Our semester at sea tour ended up spending ten days in various cities and villages in Japan. They were by far the ten best days of the semester for me. I ended up loving everything Japanese as much as I expected to. I loved the people, the culture, the food, the practices, everything. I made friends with a Japanese girl about my age while I stayed in her home and we promised to stay in touch through letters (the internet was not yet around).

After graduation I had nothing on the horizon, so I began thinking about my love for Japan and my Japanese friend, and I wound up moving to a small city about two hours from Tokyo where I taught English to Japanese students for the next ten years. Initially, I had no intention of making such a huge commitment to Japan, but I got there and became even more addicted to all things Japanese.

Submitted by:

Belina Storrey

Belina Storrey loves remembering her ten years in Japan. She is now a professor Japanese at the same college she attended. See www.funjapanese.info for more on this great culture.


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