This is it. You are going to Japan – for real this time. All your hard work is going to be realized the second you step off the airplane, and let your Japanese ability run wild.
But you have a month or so before you leave. You want to prepare, to make sure you make the most out of this trip. There is no way you are going to settle for anything less than awesome for your first adventure. What should you study to get ready?
There are usually 3 routes
1. Study specific vocabulary and sentences for situations you expect to be in
You are going to the famous landmarks, delicious restaurants, and probably are going to shop for cool things.
There are a lot of words you’ve probably never encountered that you know you’ll need to be up to speed with. I mean do you even know how to say “maid cafe”?
2. Study the same, but increase the quantity
Rather than spend extra time to pick out new material, you take your current studying and turn up the heat. Every extra bit now is going to make that trip even better.
3. Study the same and don’t do anything differently
Keep studying as though you never were going to Japan in the first place.
What do I think is the best?
I’ve done all 3, and ultimately came to the conclusion that #3 stood out as the winner for me.
When you try to max yourself on new vocabulary and situations, things tend to not stick well. When you approach the actual situation, your recall doesn’t seem to work. The transition from understanding passively to inputting out actively takes time. A few weeks or months doesn’t do much.
From this I’ve seen disappointment – special practice and high expectations but low performance.
Increasing your current study time seems only positive, especially since your motivation is so high. But it can put an unnecessary burden on you the weeks leading up to you going. You end up taking your comfortable pace, and trying something completely beyond that. Pre-trip burnout is common.
Which is why I came to the conclusion that staying the path feels the best, doesn’t change the results that much, and takes away all that unnecessary pressure.
Your trip will be awesome regardless of what you do
Every first Japanese learner’s trip is legendary (to them). You don’t just get to enjoy Japan, but you get to use your Japanese for possibly the first time in real situations. From every trip, in addition to your lifetime of unforgettable memories, you come back with:
- A renewed burst of motivation
- Areas you want to improve your ability
- Frustration at what you didn’t know
- Satisfaction in what you did
Prepare or not?
Did you do any special studying before your first trip to Japan? Do you wish you did things a little differently?