It’s hard to believe that I am now more than halfway through my language course at JLCC (Japanese Language and Culture Centre, Sapporo). Every morning I have two 45-minute one-on-one language classes, and the rest of the day is self-study. Once a week there is also a cultural orientation, such as when we visited a local Shinto shrine to see Japanese religious practices in action. At the shrine there was a poster stipulating to the exact degree how much one should bow while praying!
I am finding the language classes enjoyable, thanks to my eccentric (in a good way) teacher, however full-time language study is more difficult than I anticipated. It is quite a leap to go from two hours a week of Japanese class at home to almost two hours a day. It’s made more difficult when I’m having a bad arthritis day – you can’t zone out when you’re the only one in class! However, the staff at the centre have been very understanding and accommodating.
I am very glad that I decided to come here for a month before committing to anything longer after I finish my degree, because now that I see how truly intense the process of becoming a missionary is I am coming to the conclusion that my health is simply not up to it at the minute. I now appreciate all the more how accessible healthcare is at home, and also how much I rely on my family support network. Of course, my parents already told me all of this but I didn’t listen because I am impulsive. The main lesson I will take away from this trip is to listen to the counsel of elders and know my limits!
I have been taking practical steps to make things easier for myself, such as not going for big cycles on my day off. I love cycling but it means I will be wiped the week after. I will leave that until my two weeks of travelling in September. For now, I use my days off to do things that are fun but less physically demanding, such as visiting the aquarium with friends or chilling at the rabbit cafe. I think the rabbit café should have a loyalty card, ten visits and you get a free rabbit. Perfectly reasonable.
I am not going to throw the towel in for these last two weeks. I’m going to keep giving it my best so I can make the most of this amazing opportunity. It certainly won’t go to waste. I may be incapable of being here long term, but there are plenty of outreach cafes for international students at Queen’s that I may be able to help with. Maybe there will be a Japanese student or two…
- That I would stay motivated in my final weeks at language school
- That I would feel physically and mentally up to the challenge
- Please pray for all the amazing OMF staff that work tirelessly every day in order to teach and support us