Things I do instead of studying Japanese

Before my move to Japan, I was super diligent about learning the language. I practiced with Youtube videos, Pimsleur’s audio lessons—anything I could get my hands on. But now that I’m here, it’s Japanese everywhere I look! My mental stamina is on the decline. So while studying Japanese would be incredibly beneficial to my relationships with my coworkers and community, sometimes I just can’t even. Let’s take a look at some of the things I do instead:

Watch Terrace House


Terrace House, recently picked up by Netflix, is a strangers-living-together reality show. It’s like the Real World of Japan. But unlike its Western counterpart, it’s refreshingly non-dramatic, with episode synopses like, “The boys are are excited at the sight of the girls in their swimsuits.” Angsty rock plays behind conversations that are, at their most combative, slightly aloof. It’s nice watching people be nice to each other. Best of all, it’s IN JAPANESE with English subtitles! So it shouldn’t even be on this list because it’s totally studying.

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I gotta rest up my brain meats so I can fit all that Japanese in it, right?

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Write in this blog

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I obsessively perused Japan blogs during my JET application process, so it only seems right that I report back now that I’m here. Plus blogging about Japan means I’m thinking about Japan, and people speak Japanese in Japan, so that’s kind of like studying.

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Sure, right now I’m reading Margaret Atwood. But I have some Lafcadio Hearn downloaded on my Kindle too, and he writes about Japan.

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Write flash fiction

I was in a writing group back in Chicago, and I’m happy I’m still able to participate remotely. We share prompts, documents, and comments via Facebook. I’m pretty sure my stories are affected by my new surroundings and struggles with communication. Relevant!

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Listen to the Gilmore Guys podcast

Gilmore Girls is so cozy, the baked mac’n’cheese of TV. Gilmore Guys, a podcast where two dudes pick apart every episode, complete with running gags and soundboard snippets, is the perfect remedy for homesickness. And anyway, the podcast is a staple in my commute to my job, where I work with Japanese people, who speak Japanese. Boom.

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Watch Supernatural


Supernatural came up a few times on Gilmore Guys due to a casting overlap, so I decided to give it a try when I saw it in my Netflix recommendations. I was pleasantly surprised by how ghosty it is (I was expecting more X-files alien-type stuff). And Jensen Ackles is ruggedly handsome—I didn’t think so at first, but when he lets his facial hair grow out a little, wait, what was I talking about?

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I’m gonna go take a nap.


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