3 March 2015

words ♡ 初心忘るべからず

 "We should not forget our beginner’s spirit"
初心忘るべからず

I decided to start today's update with this Japanese saying. 
It's one of my favorites and suits the situation quite perfectly. As many of you know; I went to Japan from March 3rd and returned March 31st 2014. I'm still writing updates about my experiences on my JAPAN tag, here.
In memory of this - my first - trip to Japan, I decided to give away some details about me and my intentions to start the degree course I'm currently in and how my interest for Japan and East-Asia in general, were formed and shaped from early childhood until now.


This post will be kind of sincere and personal and with a lot of text passages - I would really much appreciate comments and feedback since I haven't spoken that honestly and directly on this blog in some while and I would like to know how my readership thinks about it.

First, I should expound some basics:
I graduated highschool May 2012. After my graduation - eventhough I visited every job orientation event I could reach for - I didn't quite know what I wanted to do. 
I knew that I wanted to expand my education and go to college or university - but I didn't decided on the sphere yet.
I was tempted to do game or media design, something artistic but decided against it because of the enorme costs studying at a private school comes with in my home country.
My second mainstay and interest were (still are) languages. 
I love to express myself and the prospect of being able to learn another language - the one I always wanted to learn - made me apply for the degree course I'm in now.
So I started to study Japanese Studies - a major in which you not only visit Japanese language classes but also lectures and seminars about Japanese literature, society, history, culure and so on - in October 2012.
In autumn 2013 I decided to start Korean classes as well, to make extensive use of the large range of classes you can attend once you're enrolled in an university and somewhat settled in your study routine {sadly I wasn't as settled as I thought, failed my Japanese class 2013/14 and had to retake it last semester}.


When did it start? My deep interest and adoration, fascination and proclivity for East-Asia and later Japan, specifically...
I don't know. I think it kind of always was just there.

I grew up with routinely visits to my grandma's house, who was really eager to teach my brother and me about other cultures and the diversity of the planet from early age. I am still really grateful because I think her effort is one of the reasons why I'm as open-minded and -hearted as I am today - let's not forget about the common knowledge I basically got fed during these days, too. 
We visited all sorts of museums and my favorite one was the ethnological museum, only a short hop from her house and our favorite playground.
They have a really neat and beautiful exhibiton, showing all sorts of ancient cultures from all over the world, they even do some kind of tea ceremony in their Japanese department from time to time.


Another role my grandma probably played in the development of my "obsession", were the stories and books she read to us. My brother and I would run around the house playing our own scenes from Michael Ende's  Jim Button and Luke the engine driver for hours and days.
It's definitely one of the best children's books I know. I identified with the Chinese princess Li Si so much, that my grandma named my favorite soup after her.
I still remember that when we wandered through the museum, I would prance through the department showcasing chambers of a Chinese dynasty as if it were my rooms and I indeed always felt home where there was Asian interior.
It's kind of odd though, considering that I never visited an Asian country before my trip last spring.

Later in elementary school another influence appeared: anime - specifically Digimon, Pokémon {I still own a handful of my old trading cards} Beyblade and DoReMi.
I know about some Japanese teachers that get really pissed when you mention that your wish to learn Japanese was awoken by this specific pop cultural phenomenon but I don't see how there is a mistake with starting to get interested in a culture and its language because of something like that.
I always get the feeling a lot of people in the japanology research area forget that pop culture is culture, too.
So - like probably 90% of my generation - I joined the huge hype about games, mangas and animes from Japan in my pre-teen years and when I was 12 years old, I tried to learn Japanese the first time - the interest and desire to learn and understand a new language was strong enough and a school friend of mine who was quite much into manga as well shared her "Let's learn Japanese with Manga!" book with me for a couple of sessions we organized ourselves.
But eventually she outgrew her deep interest and I couldn't actually get started on learning Japanese as my second language in middle school but had to deal with French instead, what a bummer.


When I was about 14 years old my interest in animes only kind of vanished for a few years and my main interest shifted to real people. I got into Japanese fashion and music - especially bands that classified as Oshare and Visual Kei but my own attempts in this direction were hideous - but they shaped me as a person and I quite like the current end product, so I shouldn't be too hard to myself {let's face it, we all look shitty during our teenager years}.
My interest shifted again and again but it never really left Japanese and later also Korean pop culture and now I think I get a lot of motivation to go on and try things that make me happy from these inputs.

The language classes are a lot of work, though I tend to soft-sell the actual effort I put into it.
It's exhausting, but it's also a lot of fun and it makes me happy because I feel like I get to understand and learn things that fascinate me, that always fascinated me and that I always really wanted to learn.
The initial motivation is huge - and needed.
I wouldn't recommend anyone to take Korean and Japanese classes at the same time at university because it's crazy and the requirements and tempo can snap your neck.
- If you want, I can write another article about my experiences with Learning Japanese and Korean and how I study.

In the end I would like to refer to the quote I started with, today: 
"We should not forget our beginner's spirit".
We really shouldn't forget about the inspiration and motivation, the excitement we felt, the happiness swelling in our chests about the first small steps, about first successes.
We get caught up easily in a routine, with tasks that are hard but demand to be done and we might lose focus of what was originally important for and to us.
I think it is really important to take some time and look inward, to focus again and ask ourselves what we want and for what we are working so hard. What is driving us to do what we do? What thought makes us not give up when the first obstacles appear?
If you find that thought, that spirit - don't let it go. 
Keep it safe and let it be your muse.

Wow, I got kind of poetic and emotional in the end.
Please tell me in a comment below how you liked that format and if you want me to do something like that more often.
photo source is this post I reblogged a while a go on tumblr

Got a question? Ask in a comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment