Reflecting 10 years

10 years ago today, I attended my first Japanese class in secondary school. It was at class 1A, where the Chinese class for students from different classes were gathered at to be attended. In that fateful year, a Chinese teacher who was transferred from other place opened the school’s first Japanese class. At first, it was opened as a trial class where students can join by just filling the names onto a piece of paper which was passed around in the class.

I didn’t know about the Japanese language in general. The naive me thought that it was a language mixed with Chinese (due to the use of kanji), and even a corrupted version of Chinese (again, I was naive back then). “Since it’s free of charge, why not give it a try?”, the 13 year old me thought as I filled my name in the form.

The first class

The first Japanese class started in Monday afternoon, 15 June 2009. As I recalled, it started with aisatsu (greetings). We weren’t taught the writing systems immediately, but the first contact in regards to communications in the classroom.

Sensei, konnichiwa! (Good afternoon, teacher) and Sensei, sayonara! (Goodbye, teacher) were the phrases we say when we began and ended the class that day. The experience of learning a new language was unique to me – stepping into an unknown territory.

I nearly gave up of learning Japanese in my second year of learning – I nearly failed one of the tests and struggled to understand them. Learning new things definitely were not easy.

Setting up targets

In 2011, a Japanese language assistant teacher who hailed from Osaka, Japan, was stationed in my school for 1 year. Ms. Nishikawa, a sweet, helpful, and approachable person taught us about the Japanese culture in general. Under her guidance, I mustered my courage to dance on stage performing soran bushi, a traditional songs and dance in Japan (even now, I can listen to the music being played automatically in my head…).

She left after a year, leaving myself to continue wading across the course as I continually absorbed the required knowledge. In 2012, I joined a national Japanese speech contest held in Kuala Lumpur as a secondary school student under the appropriate category. Although I didn’t obtained the coveted prize which allowed the contestants to travel to Japan, I did leave with strong determination to try again sometime in the future. Three years later, I joined the national Japanese speech contest again, this time, as a college student.

Reflecting the past and looking forward

Fast forward to today, I am working as a software developer in Greater Tokyo, Japan. It has been a “kill two birds with one stone” approach for me, as I am able to utilize languages in both linguistic and technical aspect. I had never thought that I could achieve this 10 years ago.

On this day, I received my gift in the form of helping hands from everyone over the past 10 years. It is not an overstatement to say that I wouldn’t be what I am today without the people in the past. I owed deeply to the kind, helping hands offered by my friends, mentor, and my family. My girlfriend had also played a huge role in this as well, to which I remain grateful to this day.

What would the second decade be like in the 21st century? That, I had yet to set.

It is hard to detail everything in the span of 10 years, but I will always be grateful to all the experiences I had; be it sweet or bitter. Dozo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

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