I had my Japanese Level 3 exam tonight. I was running a little late and I had not done nearly enough revision, nor nearly enough work during the semester, and so unsurprisingly it did not go that well. It was a decent paper too; I just struggled with the Kanji and the last essay I had no idea what to write so I just regurgitated as much as I could from my presentation on Monday even if it was not entirely related to the question. Oh yes, Monday evening I talked for 10 minutes in Japanese in front of actual people. It was terrifying. I had done my best to prepare – but I had a coursework due last Friday that took up all last week, so I really only had the weekend to prepare. I did my best to prepare, and of course ate a load of chocolate, cake, drank coke and sugary juice beforehand to get me all hyped up. The presentation actually went OK, I followed my script and did my best not to look anyone in the eye whilst still not staring at my script, it just fell apart afterwards when the teacher was asking me questions. Today I could answer her questions in Japanese, after mulling over them for some time and checking the dictionary. Put on the spot like that my mind went blank. The iffy presentation with the iffy writing test makes me nervous. I know it has no effect on my degree, but I want the certificate saying I did this thing. I enjoyed my Japanese classes – the people were so nice, the lessons interesting, informative not only on the language, but on the culture. We even got to play Japanese games and on Monday, we sat and did origimi. It was a unique, fun experience but I also want a record of it.

I do wonder what’s going to happen with my Japanese studies now. Studying Japanese is my hobby, of a sorts, but it’s a different hobby from, say, passing out in front of the computer or reading. There’s a certain amount of commitment and effort needed for it. I already struggled this semester to balance it out with my coursework, would I realistically want to balance it out with a 40 hour work week? And the question that has been hovering over me for all this time, and that I have been trying to ignore, what is the point of me learning? I don’t like to put effort into things without knowing there is some end goal. I still love Japan and Japanese, and want to go to Japan again, but is it worth carrying on learning Japanese for this? When speaking English in Japan has proved perfectly fine both times I’ve been, not to mention I’m not sure if or when I will go back. Is it worth it continuing it to try and understand the dramas and music I now watch and listen to less and less? My passion for Japan and Japanese has not died, but my academic life and soon to be career is demanding all my attention. Where does Japanese fit in?

It just feels so sad. Spending all this money, putting in some time (I won’t claim to be completely hard working), investing myself in this for so long. It’s like my other now useless skills – playing the violin and classical singing. I spent years learning music theory, practicing (probably not enough) and again, investing myself in that thing. Only to end up letting it go, unable to look at without feeling loss and regret of what I cannot have (talent, confidence, a career in it.) Even now I cannot listen to an orchestral piece without feeling regret and longing. How I long to play my violin, to learn the piano like I’ve always wanted to. To understand music theory again. To be able to sing. My voice sounds so weak these days. I miss my fun singing lessons too, where I also learned about how to be confident, about correct posture and pronunciation, and how to pretend I can speak different languages. I miss both my music teachers. I loved it so much. I hated it too – it was such hard work and I had no knack for it. Either way, it was such a big part of my life, and I miss it, but I cannot see a way to work it back in my life, nor can I really afford to in the literal sense. Not to mention once you stop, how do you start again? When you’ve already forgotten everything. It makes me sad to think that this is what Japanase will likely become for me.

I still love Japan and Japanese, but I don’t know how they fit into my life anymore.

My Japanese books will probably join my music books and violin, shoved into a forgotten corner of the house, growing dusty. The longer it goes on, the more regret, and guilt for spending all that money, grows. It seems such a waste.