Daisy Salam shares her story
Language was something that intrigued me from my earlier days, and it still is. To be able to speak a foreign language was a dream for me. I still remember my childhood days when I was absorbed with the Arirang channel (Korean National Television). I used to scribble down any interesting words I heard in my little diary. Back then, it didn’t carry much meaning as it does to me now. Coming from a society where the Korean wave is huge, I never considered Japanese as a language I could learn. My actual journey with Japanese started much later when everyone around me was preparing for their research paper on topics they were passionate about. I, on the other hand, was very enthusiastic to do my Ph.D., but, was unsure of the research topic. Unlike my friends, I had no specific topic I could embark on for my research, until one day when it hit me that “I LOVE ANIMATION” and I am a massive fan of GHIBLI STUDIO. I never knew that this one little realization would turn my life around.
My motive to learn Japanese was never the same as my classmates. I had no idea about the JLPT and its significance. I wanted to learn so that I could understand the language and the culture to be able to comprehend the dialogues in Miyazaki’s movie. Hence, I ventured out to enroll myself in Japanese language classes.
I had little knowledge about the existence of institutes outside Delhi University that taught Japanese and being a student of DU, I was not ready to venture out of my comfort zone. So, I sat for the DU SLAT exam conducted by the Department of East Asian Studies. Honestly speaking, the first few months I was excited about this new course, but, unfortunately, it didn’t last long. It turned out to be rather disappointing, mostly because I couldn’t cope with the speed of the class, and I couldn’t wrap my head around Japanese, thus, leading to my failure.
However, as I think of those days, I realized that the influence Japan and Japanese culture had on me was so strong that I could not give up. I decided to prepare for another SLAT and picked up where I had left off.
Before I even started my journey, there were people who ‘warned’ me of the difficulty in learning Japanese. I was told that I would not be able to survive long, which in my case was somehow true. As naive as I was, I took their advice, but, there was something about Japanese that the more I heard such ‘warnings’, the more I was inclined towards the language. Unknowingly, I became more passionate, and this passion has proven to be a lucky charm for me. Not only did I become more interested in Japanese culture, but it also opened numerous doors for me. It helped me discover the band RADWIMPS and made me fall in love with their music; they have amazing lyrics which as a Japanese language student helped me a lot. It also helped me understand my own culture, my language and the beauty behind it.
In this process, I even got selected for the METI JIP internship program, which gave me the golden opportunity to live, work in Japan and experience the daily life of Japan for 3 months. I even got to ride a bicycle (laughs) and explore the streets of Japan the way they do in movies and dramas. (laughing continues). Getting the METI internship didn’t just enhance my ability to speak Japanese confidently, but it added more fuel to my passion for the Japanese language and culture. Now all I want to do is breathe “Japanese”, feel “Japanese”, eat “Japanese”, and dream “Japanese”.
Some might say that I am exaggerating way too much, but for me it is true, and Japan is the dream country for many, with culture and modernity going hand in hand. I cannot deny that Japan like any other country has its ugly side, everything has its pros and cons, but we all know that we are not living in a utopian world. For me, the flaws I discovered did not bother me at all. I am glad that I got to see and experience it, and learn from it as well. I consider myself lucky because it’s not every day that I get to experience things like I did in Japan. These flaws strengthened the core of this passion I have for Japan which made me realize that THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE I WANT TO STAY MY WHOLE LIFE. This feeling is remarkably strong and I feel that I have finally found my HAVEN, the place where I belong.
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