On Learning Something New

Saw this piece in the drafts section of this blog. I probably forgot to publish this while I was reviewing for my exams. Haha, so here:


Photo Credit to Japan-Discoveries.com


I like learning new languages. Probably because language can tell a lot about a society’s culture. In Sapir-Whorf’s  linguistic relativity, they assert that “The real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of a group.” That it is by communicating with their language, people can create and shape their own social worlds or social reality. It is this specific tradition of communication -the socio-cultural- which really got under my skin during my undergrad days, and has since become one of my research interests in graduate school.

And so, I then began studying Japanese and Mandarin. And I loved it. I’ve been discouraged before by other people because they say that learning Chinese should start at a very young age. And early-twenties-years-old is not young on their book. Also, there is the Nihonjinron myth that the Japanese language is also very hard to learn because of its “uniqueness.” But hey, don’t all languages have their own quirks and nuances?  Lol, try learning Tagalog. 😛

To broaden my worldview (because I’ve always been an Asianist), I have taken the task of leaning a European language. I picked the German language because it is one of the most widely spoken European languages. Plus, my aunt married a German; hence I have cuuuuuute German cousins who I want to talk to in their native tongue. So as much as I want to learn French, at first, for a variety of reasons, German is much practical for me.

Going back, I was enthusiastic in enrolling for German. I thought it wouldn’t be too hard, compared with Japanese, because the language still uses roman alphabet and definitely not kanji. And that the words are quite to similar to English. Haha. People were like, “Yeah go ahead. That’s easier than Chinese.” Ha! I had a good laugh at that memory when I was memorizing the genders of every noun for our exam in German class. Halfway through the class, I was sure that I was duped. No. German is definitely not easier than Japanese, nor Chinese for that matter. No. I’d rather memorize kanji than definite and indefinite articles. 😛  But in the end, hey I persevered (earning a grade that is quite high for a non-German major so yeah? 😀 ) and ended up enjoying the language when I was reviewing for our finals. Heck I’m even considering in enrolling for the next level. Haha.

BUT, I’d still choose  kanji in a heartbeat over noun-gender memorization, lels.

So what am I trying to say here?  In the first chapter of his autobiography, THE HYDE, L’Arc~en~Ciel frontman hyde shared his insight on prejudices in learning something new:

“If I had thought, ‘There’s no way I can play the guitar’, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I still think I was more talented at drawing, but I haven’t drawn properly in years so I guess that talent may have gone by now. In my case, because I was willing to try something new, I could change my perspective and find my own path. In that sense, as long as you are willing to try something new without any prejudices, you can find lots of different talents within yourself.”

(Takarai, Hyde. “Chapter 1. ABILITY.” In THE HYDE. Trans, L’Arc~en~Ciel UK Fans Unite English Street Team. Web, 2012.)

You don’t know much this quote has pushed me to do things that I have been adamant in resisting in the past. While reviewing agonizing over my notes for our finals in German class, knowing that I’ve been completely deceived that it’d be easy, I also remembered my friend who, just a couple of days ago, told me he wanted to learn Chinese, but he’s afraid that it’ll be difficult. And I’m like, “Omg stop thinking that, you haven’t tried it yet so don’t say it like that.” And then I remembered this quote. Hyde’s right. Don’t stop yourself from trying things out because of the prejudices that you already have inside your head and also from those people around you. We all have different definitions and threshold for the term “difficult” and we all have our own skills and capabilities. So stop telling yourself you can’t, until you have already poured your 100% onto what you’re about to do. And heart. Don’t forget the heart and the passion to learn. Because that’s what will fuel you to persevere.


I can’t believe I wrote this just because I was batshit tired of reviewing. Haha. Okay. Ja. 😀



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