The Japanese Mentality

23 Oct

This past week was the most grueling week I have probably ever experienced. It was mid-term week and I literally had an exam every single day. Monday was a Kanji test, Tuesday was my reading aloud exam for my Reading and Writing Japanese (RWJ) class, Wednesday was my Koutou Shiken (oral exam) in my Spoken Japanese (SPJ) class, Thursday was my written exam for my SPJ class, and Friday was my written exam for my RWJ class. I have never had so many tests so close together that were all worth a good portion of my final grade. I was so nervous for all of them and I was always studying. What I found helped in my studying, though, was not just going through the vocabulary and grammar points over and over by myself, but also using them in the conversations I had with my friends. I think that is what helped the most and is something you can’t really do when you study a foreign language in America because you have nobody to practice on so the only time you ever use the words and sentence patterns are while you are in class. So anybody who really wants to get better in a language, I would highly recommend going to a country where you can practice that language on a daily basis because that’s truly how you get better. What is really impressive about many of the Japanese students here is that while they are speaking with international students they will practice their second or third language so with me they will practice their English, but with my friend from Spain they will practice and learn Spanish, and with students who know French they will practice their French.

The people that surround me here in Japan are full of energy, enthusiasm, and joy. They laugh out loud and don’t hold back. They work so hard, and when something doesn’t work they just try harder. My days have been light and easy being around such people. That isn’t to say that I slack off and have fun all of the time. I have just come to adopt the Japanese value of 「けじめをつける」(kejime wo tsukeru), which translates to: When it’s time to do something, you do it; when it’s time to play you play. When the Japanese do something, they do it with their all. They always put their best foot forward, but are willing to keep putting in the effort to get something done right if it is done poorly the first time. This mentality is something, I think, a lot of Americans have trouble with. If something is not going right, say a class at university, they will give up or drop the class instead of working harder in it. Americans seem to need a quick fix to their problems because they are only looking at the short-term. I think what I have found to be true of my Japanese friends is that they are willing to admit defeat in the present and work harder because they are thinking about their future. I have been thinking a lot about my future lately. I know now that in the future I want to live and work in Japan. So, looking forward towards that goal, I will push myself hard in studying the language and in school so I can get into a good medical school and be able to practice here. ^^ Ganbarimasu がんばります!

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