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Is Japanese a Waste of Time?

A couple of days ago, I got a pretty sweet invitation.  It’s the opportunity to go to Japan in a year or so, with a group.  The chance also possibly (depending on the ticket lottery) involves the chance to see the 2020 Olympics.

It is pretty much the chance of a lifetime.  I would have a chance to use the Japanese I’ve been working really hard on learning.  Maybe I’d even like it there…

… and I declined.  I’m not going.

The honest truth is, I have no expectation whatsoever that I will go to Japan before I die.

There are about three reasons that I had to refuse the invitation.

  1. I do not fly well.  By which I mean that I’m white knuckled on even the shortest of flights.  I cannot imagine flying fifteen hours and then knowing that my only way home is another very long flight.
  2. I will be in a country where I know almost no one, speak just enough of the language to get around, and if I get sick or something happens to be I’m screwed.
  3. Considering the amount of time such a trip requires, working around that with my job would be difficult.

I don’t know why I’m learning Japanese.  I don’t know anyone in Japan, I know few people from Japan, I don’t really consume anime and only a little bit of manga.  In the Austin area there are very, very few Japanese speakers – certainly not enough for it to be a necessary skill.  I basically picked the least useful, most difficult language out there just to do it.  And right now I’m having a crisis of confidence on multiple levels.

To be quite frank, there are better things I could and should be doing.  But I continue spending time on this interesting but dead-end pursuit.  It’s, frankly, no less a waste of time at the moment than staring at YouTube for hours on end.

I guess it’s a mystery and always will be.

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Maybe it feels like a waste of time, but you just never know what the future has in store for you. Even if you don’t go in a year, you may just get the urge to go sometime. If you find learning the language interesting, that’s great on it’s own right?


I was going to respond, but I see that someone has just responded with nearly the same content (:

But just to reiterate, no matter how many reasons there are for studying or not studying a language, the most important thing is whether you enjoy it.

As someone who has studied Japanese for a loooong time, I have had my own ups and downs, but in the end I feel that Japanese’s difficulty (and corresponding satisfaction when you learn something) is one of the reasons I keep on.

Just judging from your recent post about thinking in Japanese, I think your brain is trying to make room for this unique, but interesting language.

Best of luck in your continued studies!

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