Hi, I’m Caroline
I started studying Japanese in my sophomore year of high school. I didn’t start with much of a goal in mind. What motivated me at the time was how fascinating it was to learn the rules of a language so different from English. I thought the kanji were beautiful, and that spoken Japanese was soothing to listen to. Maybe like you are now I started studying Japanese not really knowing exactly what to do. I started making flashcards, I started studying for the JLPT, and I fantasized about what it would maybe be like someday to go to Japan.
Around my junior year I decided to make a goal out of passing the JLPT N1, thinking that would be evidence of “fluency”. I’ve learned so much in the time since then. I would live in Kyoto for several years, pass the JLPT N2 in the summer of 2016, and pass the N1 three years after that. But passing a language exam and knowing a language are completely different things.
I want to share the journey of language learning with others. Japanese is not just Hiragana, Kanji, and grammar points. It is also a way of thinking and a way of feeling belonging to the culture of those who speak it. This is the Japanese people spend their whole lives trying to learn, and possibly never understanding it. I personally may never become an expert.
So why study Japanese?
When we open our minds to new ways of communication, we become more empathetic, diverse thinkers. Truly attempting to learn a language is an exercise is to try to understand another person’s point of view. After years of studying a language and meeting people through it, someone can look back on the journey and say sincerely “I know more about what it means to be human now.”
Encouraging people to consider Japanese in this way is what inspires me to write this blog. I hope you enjoy reading it.