I’m currently writing this blog post all the way from Tokyo in Japan!! I’ve been here for over a week now, and am attending a summer programme for international students at Tokyo Metropolitan University. Basically a three-week long intensive Japanese language and Japan studies course. TMU is a partner of the University of Leicester, so I applied for this programme through Leicester’s Study Abroad office. Students can also apply for summer programmes in China, Taiwan and Korea through UoL, so I recommend you look into it if you’re interested in learning a new language and/or spending some time in East Asia!!
It’s been such a busy first week here. Lots of classes and loads of sight-seeing (three weeks isn’t enough to see the whole of Tokyo. It’s absolutely massive) and having to deal with jet lag has been a real pain.
But, I’ll start by saying that I really love it here!! I’m enjoying every second of it (except maybe the early morning starts and incredibly hot and humid weather – I’ve been sweating in places that I didn’t even know could sweat). I’ve wanted to visit Japan for a long time, and am a huge fan of anime and Pokemon. So I’m really in my element here!
Anyway, the main reason I’m here is to learn Japanese. I’ve only ever studied Romance languages before, so this is a whole new experience for me. I knew it would be difficult, but I underestimated just how challenging it was going to be.
So where to start? Well, written Japanese consists of different characters called Kanji, Hiragana and, Katakana. These concepts are completely alien to me, so I can’t explain them too well at the moment. Fortunately, Romaji (Roman letters) are often used in written communication so that Westerners like me know how to read and pronounce Japanese words. For example:
Japanese grammar is also something that is going to take a long time to get my head around. Sentence patterns in Japanese are completely different to those in English. For example the Japanese for:
“Uchi de nihongo o benkyō shimashita”.
translates into English as:
“I studied Japanese at home”.
However, if you were to translate each word in the sentence separately without changing the sentence pattern, it would look something like this:
“Home at Japanese I studied”.
As you can see, Japanese word order is completely different to what we know in English!!
It’s only been a week but I could go on and on about the difficulties that come with studying Japanese.
Looking on the bright side however, Japanese pronunciation is relatively straightforward (in my opinion at least) and I’ve found that my Japanese accent comes a lot more naturally than my Italian accent!! The concepts of singular and plural words don’t exist in the Japanese language, and neither do articles (“a”, “an” and “the” in English) which are a few less things to worry about when learning Japanese! I think I had the exact opposite problem when I first started learning Italian.
Anyway I’ll wrap it up now. I’m really looking forward to learning more Japanese and you can expect some more Japan-related posts! Stay tuned and thanks for reading!! Arigatō gozaimasu!