I had been planning to go to Japan for years. It was my dream. I'd been learning the language for a couple of years and felt like I could just about get by. Even so, I'd been waiting. Waiting for someone to find the time and money to join me on my trip of a lifetime, and then just when I was building up the courage to say, “screw it, I'll go alone”, something amazing happened. I won an essay contest that the wonderful people at Japan Reference were running; and the prize was for two weeks' worth of Japanese lessons at Genki Japanese and Culture School (Genki JACS).
I arrived on Saturday night, slept through most of Sunday (with a little exploring, of course), and was enrolled in the Genki Japanese and Culture School on Monday. I was lucky enough to arrive on one of Japan's national holidays and joined a school trip to Akizuki Town, known as “Kyushuu's Little Kyoto”. It was an amazing experience and I met many people who would soon become friends.
The next day was a proper school day, and after a quick interview to assess my language level – in Japanese – I was placed into a class of 5-6 other students. It was so difficult at first since teachers avoided speaking English at all costs, I felt way out of my depth, and my ears were still far from tuned to the language. My first week was spent catching up on lessons that the other students had already covered, completing daily homework, and falling to sleep fully clothed on my bed.
It was intense, to say the least, but put me in a great place for the second week of lessons. After putting in the effort to catch up, I was able to truly appreciate the speed at which I was learning at the school, and how fun the lessons and teachers were. Everyone was incredibly kind, patient, and understanding, and I'd recommend Genki JACS to anyone that wants to learn Japanese in Japan.
It's perfect for learning Japanese in a fun environment and has multiple culture classes every week for exploring Fukuoka (or Tokyo), including cooking classes, calligraphy classes, film nights, talent shows, and so much more. It's an amazing school and I can't thank Genki JACS enough for my time there, or Japan Reference for the competition that sent me to Japan in the first place.
More on my stay in Japan: Five things I'll always remember from my first time in Japan...