November 12, 2013:
Before I start off this entry, I would like mention that it was my original intention to have started blogging back at the beginning of September when I first arrived in Japan for my study abroad. However, I got caught up in the newness of everything and the change in culture, and before I knew it roughly two months had already flown by.
So today was the last day of actual classes for the fall term. We had part of our final exam today, which solely consisted of a sakubun. I can tell you right now, even though I did my best on this sakubun, it is probably the worst one I have written yet. Our topic was on 「環境を守るために何をすべきか」”What we should do to save the environment”. To be quite honest, even in English this might be a hard one to tackle. Unlike Japanese though, I would at least be able to add flowery language so it could seem like I knew what I was talking about. And to add to the difficulty of this sakubun, the topic relates to stuff we learned in Lesson 8 of our J4 booklet, which we just covered literally the end of last week and beginning of this week. Regardless, I just have to keep reminding myself that a sakubun is not a measure of one’s speaking ability, which is really my top priority out of everything. Tomorrow and Thursday is a reading period (time given to self study, essentially) and Friday is the main chunk of the final exam. As is usually the case, I feel rather good about my kanji. I really enjoy writing kanji, for me it is like an art form. Outside of that, I hope to review vocabulary and hopefully remember words that I have yet to sink into my head. And the scariest of all, grammar. I feel rather good about J3’s grammar, however J4 is another story. There is still quite a bit that I just can’t completely wrap my head around, and of the things I am fairly confident with, even those are just starting to make sense. I will definitely have to say one of my biggest complaints about how grammar is being taught here is that there is too much focus on just memorizing the grammar point vis a vis the English translation, and really no effort in actually UNDERSTANDING when a grammar point should and should not be used as well as no real improv conversation practice trying to use said grammar point. It can get a bit frustrating. I want to use the language from my heart, not regurgitate from my head. On a quick side note, this is not unique to Japan. Even in America, language is largely taught in this manner as well. I can’t speak for other countries however. So anyway, I will do my best on this exam. After the exam, I hope to take time practicing these grammar points out in spur of the moment conversation, and hopefully start to feel the language, and not just speak from my head.
When I arrived, I would definitely say that having been in this new environment at first made me quite an extrovert. But over the past two months as the culture shock, etc., has started to dissipate, I have definitely gone back to my normal introverted self. It’s funny, so many people can’t seem to believe or imagine me as an introvert. I think when I meet new people, or just hanging out with friends in general, I just instinctively want to feel like I can relate to someone, or be part of the group and share interests. By no means is that difficult. But unlike extroverts who build up energy through socializing with friends and peers, I exhaust energy through socializing with people. So very frequently are there times where I just need to be alone so I can essentially “reenergize” myself, or “reboot” more or less. I do think people can get the wrong impression. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you or hang out, I just to need time to rebuild my energy levels to communicate. It can be quite difficult. I hate to admit it, but I think it can be for this very reason alone, that I tend to fall out of relation with friends I make throughout life. I fear they think I don’t like them anymore. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes a lot of mental energy and stamina for me to maintain a relationship or association with someone if I don’t see them on a daily basis. It’s definitely not easy.
On another note, it is really hard to know whether or not most of my Japanese acquaintances/friends truly want to talk to me because they have a genuine interest in me, or if they are just using me for practicing English, and then tossing me aside once they have used me up. I usually have a good instinct on whether someone is being fake or legit around me, but when it comes to Japanese society, it definitely gets a lot more complicated. Given that a lot of my personality traits oddly enough can be similar to a Japanese, you would think that being in a land where there are people who act a lot closer to how I act would make life easier. On the contrary, it makes things a lot more difficult! I don’t know if I will ever know who really is genuine with me, and who isn’t.
But all in all, I have made really good friends here already, Japanese and non-Japanese alike. The numbers are few in both regards, but that’s how I like it. I am an introvert after all. I think I make life a lot more difficult for me than it needs to be. Hopefully I can work on changing that.