Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I died when I was 22

Not literally, of course. But it does make for a good title.

When I was around 20, I went through a couple of rough years. Not rough in the sense that I had problems surviving or that I had to search for food in garbage cans, but mentally difficult years. It was a time of great uncertainty, full of doubt of myself and my place in life.

After having finished civil service in year 19, I didn't really know what to do. I was given the advice to apply to a polytechnical school in the area, studying Information Technology, which I did. I've always been an introvert person in life, but I thought I'd really try to be outgoing this time. For some time, it worked all right. Then, I started hitting bumps. The classes were not really that interesting, the literature likewise, and programming, while it appealed to a small part of me, just wasn't my thing. Add to that the incredibly brainless practical lessons I had to go to, since I didn't have any work experience to cover for it, and it was just a matter of time. 6 months.

After that, I entered the University, studying Swedish. This was a choice I had made myself, and in addition to that, it's something I'm pretty good at, and that I like! I like writing (though I'm not so fond of deadlines), so I thought it would be perfect for me! Alas, it wasn't long until an all too familiar pattern emerged. I started skipping classes, again feeling as if I just couldn't deal with it. I felt pretty hopeless. If I couldn't manage this, studying a language that I liked and was pretty good at from before, then what..? What was then left for me, where could I fit it? That was the second time in my life that I've considered suicide. (Now, there's no need to be alarmed, that's all behind me now. Let me get back to the story.)

So, as I was sitting on the couch, thinking how useless my life was, and if I was going to off myself or what, I made a list. You see, I figured it was no use in killing myself as long as there were things I felt I had undone, things I wanted to do before my life was over.

I don't remember the exact contents of the list, but a couple of the points were:
  • Learn Japanese
  • Go to Japan
  • Write a book
And after that, I set out to learn Japanese. I found a simple computer program to learn the hiragana and katakana. I went to the library and found a book, called something like "Japanese Grammar and Syntax". It was ridiculously complex for someone just starting out, but I read through it, trying to make notes as I went along. Instead of classes, I used to go to the University library, just sitting there with that book. Eventually, after many reminders from the library, I realised I had to return it. Luckily something else came along...

I think it was from my sister that I first learned that there was an education in Japanology, right here in town. I was hesitant. Two schools I had found myself uncomfortable in (though I was still registered at the University). What if this turned out the same? And the lectures were all in Finnish, too...

But, I applied. And I got in.

Images from the first day are now coming back to me. We're in a really small class-room (main building, #3). "Man it's hot. Some of these people sure are dressed pretty flamboyantly..." Our teacher-to-be talking about Japanology. Now out in front of the school, someone (was it the principal?) mentioning that there's a 50% drop-rate. "Woah, sounds like it's pretty difficult..."

Snap back to present day. I'm more than halfway into second year, we're talking about our master's thesis and all the work we'll need to do. We've got buttloads of kanji, more advanced grammar and literature assignments. But I'm loving it. I'll be getting back to studying Swedish sometime, next year perhaps? But right now, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than here, at this school, studying Japanology with the group of people that are my classmates, under the linguistic genius that we have as our teacher.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you’d off yourself I’d be really pissed off you know. I’d kick your ass from here to Friday! Good thing you’ve gotten past that.

Do you really get a Masters degree? S**t, then you’ll have a higher edumacation than me…I only have a Bachelor’s Degree.