Five weeks of class and more than one month later, here I am. Living in Kanazawa, Japan as an international student at Kanazawa University. Speaking Japanese every single day. I never thought I would actually be here. I am living my dream and loving every second of it!
I had studied Japanese for two years at university level before coming to Japan. Although this may seem like a long period of study I feel that I only scratched the surface of the language. Coming here to Japan was the best choice I made academic and career-wise. In order to reach near-fluency in language I believe that one must live in the country for a period of time. Speaking and listening to Japanese every single day has immensely helped my proficiency. Before coming to Japan I did not have many opportunities to speak Japanese. This impeded my progression in the spoken aspect of Japanese proficiency. Now that I’m here I am more confident in speaking Japanese and improving more and more everyday. Although I am faced by life’s little challenges on a daily basis I am learning from them.
For example, the very thought of entering a Japanese bank and opening an account would have seemed impossible to me before coming to Japan. About three weeks ago I did open an account and I don’t think I did as badly as I thought I would. The bank employees even asked me how long I studied and where I was from because they thought my Japanese was good! I quickly responded in Japanese with “Not yet, but thank you,” which is the golden response for a foreigner who is complimented on their Japanese proficiency. A small victory to some, but situations like this happen often to me here, where I don’t think I can speak to Japanese people properly and when I succeed both the listener is surprised and I am as well! I can only hope for more of these pleasant situations during my stay in Kanazawa.
Now that it’s been a little over a month I can say that I have grown accustomed to living here. University life in Japan is similar to my university life in New York. I wake up early for classes and spend evenings studying and doing homework, but I believe that the true abroad experience takes place outside the classroom. Once I have finished my studying and homework I try to do a little exploration. Heading into the center of Kanazawa City is a great way for me to experience Japan. Being around Japanese people or getting together with Japanese friends is also another way in which I experience Japan. The restaurants here in Kanazawa are numerous and absolutely delicious. There are also many places to shop and have an enjoyable time. Before I came here I thought that Kanazawa would be more rural but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Kanzawa is a bustling city. I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Life in Japan so far has been a challenge but I am thoroughly enjoying myself!