I Feel Like a Kindergartener Again…

I guess this comes across as cocky now that I’ve said it, but I was pretty confident in my Japanese abilities before I left on the trip.  I mean, I was a beginner – there was no way to deny that.  But I had my phrases memorized, and I had constantly quizzed myself on hiragana, katakana, and some kanji.  I thought that I’d be able to at least read some signs or menus, and then ask either Armstrong or Takahashi-sensei what the words actually meant.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

Most of my language experiences involved me cycling through head nods, bows, “hai”‘s (“yes”‘s), and “wakarimasen”‘s (“I don’t understand”‘s).  This was mainly due to my lack of knowledge concerning kanji.  I found that meals turned into games of Russian Roulette if I didn’t ask one of the senseis what was in a certain dish.  Luckily, I only got one or two bad things (they had mayonnaise in them, yuck!).

However, my difficulty speaking the language led me to come to the realization that many of the Japanese people were in very much the same boat as me.  The hotels tended to have someone who spoke English, and a few of the more popular restaurants for tourists had English menus.  That was about it.  Despite English being a global language, it seemed that many of the Japanese people only knew a bit of it.  I believe that that shows how ingrained their language is in the Japanese people’s lives.

As for me, I’m going to devote myself to my Japanese studies and further build up my vocabulary and my knowledge of kanji.  That way when I return, I’ll actually know what I’m eating!!!



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