Sunday, December 18, 2016

Simple Accomplishments

I don't want to be fluent in Japanese. I just don't care to be. I find much smaller accomplishments much more satisfying.

I have been learning/practicing Japanese with a teacher friend once a week over lunch. Oddly enough she is a Japanese teacher, but anyone who has ever taught a foreign language knows teaching to native speakers and teaching to foreigners is completely different.

She said she had never broken down her language quite as much as she does with me. We were working on some simple sentence structures. Kinds you find in baby books. After some work we finally hammered out the structure "that noun is adjective".
Finally I said "That cat is black."
Ano wa kuroi neko desu.

Yay!!! We both cheered like I had just gotten the million dollar question correct! I felt special that she shared my happiness in this tiny, yet incredible accomplishment. That simple moment of fun and excitement invigorated me to keep learning. Even if it is just to have moments like that with my friend Kanna.

I had a similar personal celebratory moment recently when I had to produce my hotel room number in Japanese to get my key from the front desk. I rehearsed in my mind the number 613 and when it came time to deliver, I nailed it. I walked away congratulating myself.

When you move to another culture and everything around you is different, thus more difficult, these tiny accomplishments mean the world. Who ever thought saying the words "the cat is black" or "613" would make you feel wonderful about yourself? These kinds of events just don't happen in "regular" life. It was something that I craved and missed before moving abroad again.

I've come a long way in four months in Japan. Whereas I used to get lost in my own neighborhood, I am now able to take buses with ease knowing when and where to get on and off. These small advancements happen when you aren't looking, all those things that seemed straight up impossible become things of ease.