The Immersion Life

I first became interested in Japanese when I realized that a lot of my favorite video games came from there. My original plan was simply to learn katakana, since it’s used a lot for things like the names of spells, places, items, etc in games. That I did, and eventually threw in hiragana so I could learn a few basic words and phrases like hello, goodbye, and thank you. And for the longest time that was it. After a while, my discovery of The Lord of the Rings movies and books and the wonderful fictional languages found in that world sparked my interest in linguistics. So I eventually picked up a textbook called Japanese For Busy People, which I used about once a week, thinking that was good enough. It was interesting, but my skills never went much past, “Excuse me, but what time is it?”Jumping ahead to a few years ago, I’d finally decided that I wanted to be good at something. I wanted people to be able to point to me and say, “Oh that guy? His thing is X.” All I had to decide is what X would be. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably guessed correctly that it would be Japanese. By and by, I’d discovered the fantastic world of self-immersion, native media, Heisig, and spaced repetition software. Although I’ve been using these things for quite some time now, looking back, I hadn’t really made it a lifestyle change. I still spent hours on marathons of American TV shows, or gaming sessions in English. In fact, I hadn’t even tried my first Japanese game (Pokemon Soul Silver) until a few years after that! (I even had this phase of trying to do everything on paper instead of using software that makes things exponentially more effective, but we’ll just sweep that one under the rug…) I was on the right path, but there would be a storm to face ahead…
trail mix 005

That storm is sacrifice. I’d read countless blogs that stated one should fill their environment with Japanese media to learn quickly and effectively. This is called self-immersion. Sure, I’d added a great deal of Japanese TV, comics, games, and other fun stuff to my environment, but I was still doing tons of stuff in my native languages, sometimes going all evening without touching Japanese. This brings us to the tip of 2012, when I’d finally decided that if I wanted to climb the great wall of the intermediate level, I would need to make some big changes that would not be easy.

geek stuff (more) feb 2010 004

I’m a person that doesn’t know what bored means. Aside from Japanese, I have great interest in playing the guitar, photography, writing fiction, gaming, geocaching, and even other languages. During my winter holiday in 2012, I slowly came to the realization that to make further progress, I may need to completely set these things aside for now. When I think of it, it was strange for me to do otherwise up to this point. I’d been the kind of learner that saw using Anki while waiting in line at the supermarket as a valuable use of time that would be otherwise lost. I used every spare minute as the chance to get that much closer to my goal, yet I thought nothing to spend hours on a Saturday afternoon playing a North American copy of Skyrim, instead of investing in a Japanese version. I realized that if I wanted to make 2013 the year that my goal becomes in sight, I would need to really, truly, 100% make it my focus. And then came the painful sacrifices.

The Gourmet Cafe (8)

With photography, it meant physically packing up and storing away the props I’d used to make my photo-based webcomic, or editing work to put on deviantART. (By the way, all the photos in this post are by me!) For guitar, it meant no longer plugging in to GuitarRig and practicing new songs, which is especially hard when I watch an anime like K-On that makes me want to rock out. I even went so far as to take the advice of fellow blogger regarding minimalism, and reduce the amount of stuff not only in my own home, but also the amount of programs and personal files on my PC and mobile devices. My favorite quote from her article is “minimalism is really about knowing what’s really important to you, and arranging your environment in such a way that it’s easier for you to focus on those important things.” So that’s exactly what I did in my own environment. Things related to my goal are close at hand, and things that are not are packed away for now. The last and most difficult thing to give up was writing fiction, for that meant leaving the world I’d been building in my head for almost 14 years. As a person who is forever in the clouds of my imagination, that was certainly the most sorrow-filled sacrifice I’ve had to make. Instead, I now look to take the ideals and philosophies of my fictional world, and apply them to my real-life journey in this new year. After all, those things will still be there waiting for me on the other side of that wall, and it will be a brighter day when I see them again.

Centennial Trail July 2010 022 - Copy

Something that started with simply wanting to know how to read item names in RPGs has blossomed into literally being my dream in life. To learn a foreign language, to be able to immerse in that culture and even be a part of it, and to be able to visit that country with understanding… That has become my dream, and the best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.

3 Responses to “The Immersion Life”
  1. AniMom says:

    the pictures made it even better!!!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] May For a while now, I’ve felt a bit stuck at the intermediate stage. I’ve already written about the various things I’ve had to give up in order to make better progress, I’ve […]

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  • Read More or Die! 2011

    _2011 End Results_
    Total read for Tadoku:
    __433.3 pages!__
    Placement: 115/188
    October 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 97/120
    End Tally: 59.2
    July 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 86/142
    End Tally: 195.6
    April 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 62/106
    End Tally: 154.5
    January 2011 Contest:
    Placement: 84/99
    End Tally: 24
    August 2010 Contest:
    Placement: 20/41
    End Tally: 160

  • Read Or Die 2013

    Goal: 600
    Total: 906.26
    blew my goal outta the water!

    March 2-Week:
    Goal: 125

    Goal: 250
    Total: 314

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