Just a Little Win

The opportunities for me to use Japanese in interacting with others where I live are…nearly non-existent.  That maybe justifies how ridiculously excited I got last month when this happened…

I was in line at TJ Maxx, waiting awkwardly while I listened to some YUI (I told you I immersed on the go, remember?) and sniffing my new sugar cookie candle because it smelled much better than the woman in front of me, who smelled like she rolled in a pool of mothball perfume.  A mother and daughter got in line behind me.  The little girl, who was maybe 3, was babbling on as 3 year olds do, and every now and then her mother would chime in.  I thought nothing of it until I heard I word I didn’t understand, and then I realized they were speaking Japanese.

Being the coward I am, I decided not to speak and simply listened and got overly-excited that I could understand.  (Yes, yes, even on a toddler’s level, I was amped.)  I checked out, and as I walked out of the store, the little girl ran flying in front of me and out into the parking lot.  She stopped, suddenly looking quite panicked.  “Maybe she forgot where she parked.” I joked to myself.  Then, common sense kicked in and I realized her mom wasn’t with her.  I turned around to see said mother walking around in the store.  What a bargain-hunter, she didn’t even realize her child was out of sight, never mind standing in the road of the mini-mall parking lot.

“Hey.” I said to the girl.  (I’m really good with kids.) This got no response, and she continued toddling around in the road, so I tried again, this time a bit louder, “Hey!”  Nothing.  Oh!    “おい、お母さん探しているの?” I asked.  Immediately she turned, looked at me like I had ten heads (Or like I was being quite rude, which in my urgency to get her out of the road, I was.), and then nodded.  “まだ店の中に、こっち、こっち!”  She seemed convinced and started following me.  And so we spoke together in broken words and sentences until we found her by-then-panicked mom.  There was rejoicing, a quick thank you, and I left the store again.

While I wasn’t amped during the whole thing, I was on a crazy Japanese win high immediately after.  I used Japanese (albeit horribly) in real life, effectively.  Woot!  It was a mini-breakthrough for me.

Had any mini-breakthroughs lately?  (Or not so mini?)  教えてください! Tell me about them in the comments 🙂

PS: Sorry about the lack of posts.  It’s been crazy 忙しい lately, and I found out about a potentially serious vitamin deficiency that’s affected my memory and learning, among other things.  Hopefully I’ll be back in the game in no time, 頑張ります!Physical health isn’t something I thought about in relation to language learning before, but there’s an important relationship between the two…


4 Responses to Just a Little Win

  1. Pingback: Just a Little Win (via Liz Learns Japanese) « Ta132's Blog

  2. Delphine says:

    Good for you! I used to not be able to get much practice where I live either.

    Quick anecdote. This past summer I was in Germany, visiting a cathedral, and walking back down one of those cramped twisted stone staircases that take 20 minutes to climb. There were two guys in front of me, and I quickly realized they were speaking Japanese. I got sooo excited, listened in on their conversation, and tried to convince myself to talk to them. But I was too chicken and just couldn’t bring myself to do it (I actually accidentally attempted to when one of them had to stop rather abruptly and I almost ran into him. I muttered “すみません” reflexively, but then they looked back so suddenly and intensely that I was too scared to say anything else. I guess they thought they were hearing things because they just kept walking and talking as if nothing had happened haha)

    I was sooo annoyed with myself for not saying anything! After all, worst case scenario, I was in a foreign country and would never see these people again if I embarrassed myself, and best case scenario, I would have made a couple of new friends and perhaps penpals.

    Mere weeks later I was at this language exchange event thing at school. There are veeery few Japanese people where I live so I didn’t expect to meet anyone there. But then I noticed this guy pointing to some Japanese writing on his friend’s shirt and talking avidly about Japan in what I was sure was a Japanese accent. I didn’t want to let another opportunity pass me by, and for the first time ever, I somehow got the courage this time to go up to a random stranger and ask him (in Japanese) if he was from Japan. He was completely shocked and incredibly enthusiastic when he heard me speak. We had a quick conversation and I gave him my email address, and I felt amazing afterwards. He and I are good friends now, I’ve met his family, became friends with a couple of his Japanese friends, and we all meet about once a week so they can practice their English while I practice Japanese. All because I FINALLY got the courage to just say hi.

    Anyway, this was a lot more writing than I meant it to be, but just wanted to share my own exciting encounter. I completely understand what being on that “Japanese high” feels like! That’s awesome that you helped that girl and were able to speak Japanese at the same time, and next time you hear a conversation like that I would totally recommend you to force yourself to try talking to them. You’ve got nothing to lose and sooo much to gain, so next time you hear someone speaking Japanese, just try and find that opportunity to say hi in their language and tell them you’re studying it. Chances are they’ll be enthusiastic about it, and even if nothing else comes of it, it feels so good and rewarding to know you can do it. I used to be terrified to speak out, and when I did I realized it really wasn’t that hard. ^^


    • veganliz says:

      うぁ~ すごい! That’s so awesome! Happy to hear you’ve gotten so much from getting the courage to speak up just once. I will definitely think of you and your story next time I think of not speaking up! And I hope others do, too. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. languageez says:

    Well, I’m the only japanese who lives here so I haven’t the opportunity to casually interact in japanese too (wait! I’m not japanese, I’m italian! o_O).
    About a year ago I was on a train from Rome to Salerno and there was a couple of just married japanese seated near me. Since I’m shy, we didn’t speak at first.
    Being in Italy has it’s advantages: here trains are always late and explaining this thing to astonished japanese people not used to such circumstances is a nice excuse to use japanese language.
    We spoke a little in japanese and exchanged e-mail addresses.
    Well, we are now friends and past summer I spent a couple of days with them, drinking sake and sleeping in a futon at their home! That was fun and I can say japanese home bathrooms are wonderfully big!

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