We all have that one thing that kinda got us into Japan. For everyone I know, it’s mostly been those early years of anime. No, no, nothing to be ashamed about! Anime freaking rocks and some of the “more sophisticated” gaijin (foreigners in Japan) are the only ones who are really going to judge you for it. (even though everyone watches it? I still don’t get it) In Japan, anime is watched by all ages and same with manga. I remember the early days when parents would take to the internet after renting Berserk at the local Blockbuster and freaking out because of, well, Berserk. And same for the recent Deadpool movie, DO THEY NOT READ THE RATING??
Anyways, so for me it was Sailor Moon, like a lot of others. Then Cardcaptor Sakura, DBZ, Yuyu Hakusho and others, all around the 1st-2nd grade time. I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer and romantic, even at that age dreaming about my future husband (who does actually treat me like a princess!) so I was captivated by the whole sailor of love and justice thing. Episodes 40-42 or whatever, the one where Tuxedo Mask/Darien found out she was Sailor Moon & they found out she was the Princess, I just DIED and watched it again and again. Anyways fast forward to 7th grade, started drawing manga and dreams of being a mangaka started. Watched a lot of anime, in English, and then started watching it in Japanese and getting used to the language.
And then one day I loved the language. そうですか？かわいい！was basically all I knew and me and my friends ran around in 7th grade saying that and なに！？I was a pretty embarrassing kid but it was fun! We didn’t have Japanese at my school but I really did try to learn but I never truly believed I’d be able to go to Japan so I didn’t try too hard. (My family never really went to college or anything and I felt pretty untalented)
So I graduated high school, moved to the nearby metro (love you to death Minneapolis!) and met Andrew! He never really believed he’d get to go to Japan either and when you put us both together, we were a match made in heaven! I took the local community college Japanese classes, took out more loans than I needed for Japan savings, Andrew worked a killer server job and I had some randomly nice cleaning jobs. Honestly, we should’ve been able to save up sooo much but I was a shopaholic and we ate out every day, shopped at Whole Foods and again, I (was) frivolous with money.
So we looked at different options and whatnot but my end game was a work visa in Japan which requires a bachelor’s degree. I have mixed feelings about that because I LOVE school but hate wasting time with classes that are pointless. The education system of the world is pretty dumb but I’ve also had amazing teachers, I love learning and so on. So I picked the easiest option, the only American university in Japan, TUJ. You can get FAFSA since it’s an American school and they had an art program so sign me up!!! Andrew’s not into school as much (such a rebellious hunk) so he chose a language school, Shibuya Gaigo Gakuin through Go Go Nihon! which we’d recommend. They help you with the application and there’s no cost, I think they get money through partnering with schools. It’s getting pretty big too and Shibuya Gaigo Gakuin is a less intense school so definitely do that one if you’re looking to go to Tokyo and want to have a good time, with less studying.
I guess I’ll do a series of my actual experiences in Japan but basically it was awesome but also pretty difficult. Andrew’s school start date was a month and a half later and visas are strict so I basically went ahead. We were separated for that long for the first time, I was in a foreign country completely alone and I suddenly couldn’t even say thank you in Japanese. But it was beautiful at the same time and I remembered some of my backbone before I was married, ha ha. I was there for a total of 6 months and had all sorts of experiences but in the end, we didn’t save up enough for the next semester and I did finally get a job at the end (which by the way shouldn’t take that long but for reasons it did for me) but I was so exhausted from being in a foreign country and doing full time school that I couldn’t for the life of me do it. I think other people could but I was never good at studying and I couldn’t keep my grades up under the stress. There’s other reasons too that I feel like are different now, and that next time we go I’ll be more stable and confident!
Fast forward to now, we’re back in Minneapolis and are saving up again to go back to the same schools! It’ll probably take a bit longer this time though, but I’m determined because I just loved the international atmosphere of TUJ above all else.