Welcome, 2018!

Hello, everyone! Happy New Year!

In the last months of 2017, I was reflecting a lot on the things I wanted to do but still wasn’t able to accomplish during the year.

I wanted to make and upload videos regularly. That didn’t happen.

I wanted to start an art shop where I would sell pins, charms, stickers and shirts that I had designed. That didn’t happen.

I wanted to study for and take the JLPT N1. That didn’t happen.

I wanted to apply for Osaka Communication Arts technical school so I could begin their illustration program in 2018. That didn’t happen, either.

来年の事を言うと鬼が笑う (rainen no koto wo iu to oni ga warau)― Speak of next year, and the oni will laugh. In some ways, you could say it’s similar to “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”.

I heard this for the first time during a heated game of karuta, and it hit me so hard that it became one of my favorite kotowaza. “Speaking of next year” has been a consistent habit of mine for ages. I can’t count the number of times I declared that I was “going to draw a lot during summer vacation” as a teen. As you can probably guess, I fell short of my expectations every time. And I still do it as an adult! This realization haunted me consistently for days, and it still comes back and torments me on occasion. “Am I really that unreliable? Or maybe I’m just too ambitious?” I wonder. “Either way, something is definitely wrong with the way I’m doing things”.

Part of me wants to say that this kind of thinking is unhealthy, while the other part is still deeply rooted in a constant need for self-improvement. After all, it is not necessarily an un-productive thought; if there is a problem with reliability, perhaps it should be identified and corrected. However, I’ve also realized that it would be even more productive to focus on the correction process itself, rather than the negativity and self-blame. Additionally, it’s not as if I didn’t make any progress this year.

I may not have made videos, but I did stream art fairly actively on Twitch for a time, gained nearly 100 followers in two weeks, and became an affiliate.

I didn’t start an art shop, but I started an art community on Discord with my good friend Melody, which we hope to add a shop to in the future.

I didn’t take the N1, but I did take the N2, and studied many useful vocabulary and grammar patterns that will be more useful than those found in the N1.

I didn’t apply for OCA, but I’m applying for a language school instead, which will allow me to refresh and solidify my language skills before I’m thrown into art classes.

In other words, 2017 may not have gone exactly how I wanted it to, but I still accomplished a lot, and I should be proud of that. I think that to interpret the kotowaza as a warning against planning for success doesn’t exactly grasp the message. In fact, I believe it is more likely a warning against talking about your high goals before actually achieving them; perhaps a warning against setting yourself and others up for disappointment. However, realistically, publicizing your goals has no influence on your success. If anything, setting up such expectations will push you further than not having any at all. I believe that how one responds to falling short of expectations is much more important than the expectations themselves.

I have no shortage of goals and things that I want to try in 2018. Initially I was a little apprehensive, thinking it may be better to simply focus on the task at hand and ignore any extra ambitions. I’ve realized that I felt that way not because of practicality, but rather a fear of failure as a result of coming up short on my past goals. This year, my main goal will be to focus less on what I am or was unable to do, and more on appreciating what I’ve already achieved, as well as how to keep building on those achievements. I hope everyone is able to continue moving forward in their own way.

Let’s all make 2018 a good year!

P.S. In regards to the image, one of our mascots at Café Minou is a sassy white shiba named Mochi. So I put her in some kagami mochi, a typical New Years decoration. It is the year of the dog, after all!

School Has Started!

Hello, everyone!

Because I hope for this to eventually give insight on how I got to Japan as an illustrator (stay positive!), I hope the occasional personal post is not too annoying. I think the thought process is also good to consider when making these kinds of decisions. This time, I’m going to talk about school.

For me, school started last week. Usually, American students start school in September, but in my case, various things have happened, so I had to start with the winter term instead. At any rate, I’m here now, and very happy about it!

One of the things I want to do is attend a specialty school (専門学校 senmon gakkou) for game illustration, but the ones I looked at required a near-fluent level of Japanese speaking and comprehension ability. Because of this, I decided that I would major in Japanese, and possibly minor in art; however, I may also consider the reverse. For now, I just want to focus on taking as many Japanese language and culture classes as possible so that I may be more prepared for the later steps in my plans. I feel like taking a major rather than a minor in Japanese will be more beneficial in the long run.

I was a little concerned about what level courses I should take for Japanese. At my school, once you reach third-year, the classes are actually split up; you have two terms of Speaking and Listening (301/302) and two terms of Reading and Writing (304/305), which overlap during winter term. When I went through the placement screening, my adviser told me that I would be fine in the third-year level classes, but technically the major requires a student to take 301, which I had missed. Additionally, once a student takes 302, they cannot take 301. But, she told me that if I absolutely did not want to wait for next year to start taking Japanese classes, that I could take 302 and fill in 301’s slot with a different class. Sounds good to me! So I decided to do that.

This term, I’m taking the two Japanese classes and one General Studies class (here we call them “University Studies”). Unfortunately I transferred in with a credit amount just short of the threshold to only require two University Studies classes this year rather than three, so I’ll have to take the remaining two next term alongside the final third-year Japanese class (305). That will make for a slightly boring term, but this one is pretty fun, so I think it balances out!

One thing I’m a little worried about is that everyone says the jump from third-year to fourth-year is pretty high. I have a somewhat strange situation, where unlike most of the students, I’ve actually been studying Japanese for a very long time; through a mixture of self study, podcasts, and classes in high school, along with some befriending of and chatting with some native speakers online, I’ve come to a point where I am very comfortable with the language comprehension-wise (though I’m a bit shaky with vocabulary; nothing some flashcards won’t fix). Actually speaking, though, is a little different.

For the most part, my writing (er, typing) seems to be understood, though I’m sure there are errors here and there. But for speaking (as in verbal communication), I have very little confidence. Not only do I have a bad habit of completely forgetting how to use keigo (polite speech), especially when conjugating verbs, I also have a habit of speaking much more quickly than I can think, which leads to a lot of grammatical errors and stumbling over words. There are also several grammar points that I remember learning but have forgotten the details of; as a result, I use them incorrectly. I think this is because I haven’t actually been in a class since early 2010 (almost 6 years!), so I’ve mostly been exposed to purely casual settings and conversation (and maaaaaybe a little anime…).

I feel like maybe I shouldn’t worry about this as much as I do. After all, many of my classmates seem to also struggle with their speaking ability; but I think they have a better all around stable level and more recent practice using specific grammar points whereas for me it’s very hit and miss; I have a tendency to cling to the ones I know best. In the end, I think it will come down to putting forth more effort and making sure to practice often.


New Year, New Start

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re enjoying your new year so far. I know I am!

I get the feeling some really great things are going to happen this year. Not only do I have some things lined up for moving forward, but I’ve also managed to release myself from some things that have been holding me back. It’s a really great feeling. I’m hoping to go further and shake off even more things within the coming months; especially my hesitant nature. By the end of the year, even if my goals have not been achieved, I hope that I can at least be more confident and think more positively.

Last night, I had a visit with my father’s side of the family. During dinner he told me something very interesting. I told him that I felt like there wasn’t enough time to achieve the things I had planned, and that I have already wasted so much time already. He asked me to consider all of the things I’ve already done within the past 20-or-so years. Everything I’ve learned, experienced, people I’ve met, the twelve years of school, good times, bad times, all of it. Then he told me that by the time I reach his age, I’ll have had enough time to do it all over again; and even after that point, I’ll be able to double the years once more before I reach a considerable age. When I think about it that way, I don’t feel so bad. They say that a master is just a beginner who has already failed thousands of times. That is the principle I hope to live by this year. If you are hesitant, doubtful, or otherwise lack confidence, please think about how much more you can accomplish by the time you double your age. 


Happy New Year!

Hello, welcome, nice to meet you!

Everyone, how are you? Thank you for visiting my blog! I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas, or just a great day if you don’t celebrate it. ^-^

I am very new to blogging, I’ve wanted to start one for many years but have always been too hesitant. Today, I think I will start by just doing it; no more planning, no more worrying, just being myself! ^^

I’m not really sure what kind of things I want to write about yet, so bear with me. I think I would like to write about the Japanese language, as well as reviews for apps, games, and anime. If there’s anything you would like to know about, any questions you’d like to ask, please do not hesitate to ask questions or make requests!

My main goal with this blog is to keep track of my life and share it with those who are interested to know about it. I’m hoping that someday, I can look back and see how far I’ve come. I think that if I keep doing it, I will get better at it. It is the same with everything in life. One of my old friends in the past told me, “好きこそものの上手なれ!”… something like, “if you like something, become good at it”.

I have many things I like so it’s overwhelming, but the plus is that I never get bored. The larger problem is that I’m often forgetting what I really want to do, and it never gets done. I’m hoping that by keeping a blog, I will have an easier time remembering my goals. And if not, then there’s nothing wrong with that. Life is life, and it’s different for everyone. We will always just be doing our best, even if we feel we can do better; I’ve come to believe that no matter what anyone does, it’s the best they can be doing at that time. I just need to remember it myself.

Thank you for visiting, I hope to see you again soon!

Take care of yourselves♡

~ Ellie