I know, that many of you dream about visiting Japan and that some of you are even thinking about moving there for longer-term. For those of you dearies, I decided to write this post. Please keep in mind, that these are my personal experiences, which do of course not apply equally to everybody.
Part 1~ Be brave- studend exchange!
If you are interested in Japan from a very young age and have the possibility to go there as a high school or university exchange student, you should grab that chance. Don't worry, if you cannot speak the language yet- it will come to you naturally. You'll be surrounded by Japanese 24 hours a day and automatically "soak it in", just like a baby would learn to speak. Remember, the younger you are, the easier it is do learn a new second, third or fourth language.
I could neither compose a single sentence in Japanese nor did I know more than three words, when my parents sent me abroad. The first two weeks where horrible: I often waited for my Japanese dad to come home from work, because in my host family he was the only one, who was capable of speaking English. My host mom and sisters were lovely, so were my classmates but I got more and more frustrated, because I couldn't communicate with them properlyNeedless to say, that I could hardly grasp a line during the lessons either.
- But I really wanted to understand my new family and friends. I even wanted to do all the exams at school. -Weird?... I know...
So, I took my tiny dictionary everywhere and scribbled kanjis. I did overcome my shyness and asked hundreds of questions and much to my surprise, nobody got annoyed. Another thing, which helped me to learn Japanese was, that I listened well and therefore got used to the language's tone.
You would do the same for sure, because you'd be most motivated- A lot more than during any Japanese class in your home country. Sooner or later, there will be this little "click in your head", like a tiny switch being flipped. You will just speak and not worry about mistakes in grammar or pronunciation, which is the first step to become fluent.
Out of all the people studying Japanese I've met so far, only those who had been to Japan by themselves could really speak well.
Stay tuned for part 2