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Expats Blog

Learning Japanese

So, seemingly randomly, I have started taking a Japanese class at the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá. I have been looking for a Spanish class for a while, but after a year, still haven’t found anything.

I know a few people have offered up suggestions – there is one place I have been referred to, but I would need to bring the other students with me to set up the class. For me, the appeal was either social (so it’s a Catch 22 to bring people to meet people!), or to improve my Spanish. My Spanish is not amazing and could definitely be improved. However, when I took classes in Costa Rica I ended up alone because I’m not a beginner. I’ve seen schools in Boquete, but that’s too far. Unfortunately I guess there just aren’t enough tourists in David for it to be economically viable for schools to have Spanish classes.

A bit of backstory

Before I switched to Computer Science in university, my original major was East Asian Studies. As part of the major, you have to take an East Asian language. I chose Korean. Because I am shy, and never went to class, I was horrible. Resources definitely weren’t like they are now, and I found it really hard to learn effectively as well. It has been one of my dreams in life to one day finally learn Korean.

Fast forward to November last year, and looking for stuff to do in David to get out of the house. I found Coreano Fundamental in Facebook, who told me they would be offering courses again this year. I waited and waited…and apparently they aren’t. My parents were coming, and I was thinking of buying some Korean textbooks and maybe starting to study Korean again in my free time. Literally at the last minute, I thought about instead looking for Japanese classes, and lo and behold I stumbled across a post by Onigiri Store that said in two weeks they would be starting a bunch of new language courses at the univeristy.

They were offering classes in Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese and German. I am not thrilled about any of the four, but Japanese was the most interesting to me. I thought as well that maybe there’s a chance it could help me with my Spanish? We called and asked if my Spanish level would be an issue, and they said no.

Signing up & the course itself

We went down to the university on the day of enrollment, and I was shocked to be told the course was already full. They said there were 22 spots in the class, and they were all gone. There was a waitlist with 6 people already, and they said that if they were able to get to 10 they would be opening a second class. I added myself, and didn’t think it would happen, but obviously if you’ve read to here you’ll know that it did. I think in the end there are 16? people in our class as well.

I’m only going into week 3 today, but it has been an interesting experience so far. The class is taught by a Panamanian who lived in Japan for a number of years, and she is “assisted” by someone who I presume is a student at the university whose first language is Japanese. So far he is really the one teaching the class.

The class is a bit different from language classes I have taken elsewhere. Last class we went to the “lab” to do lesson one on this site.

It is also a little bit hard for me. I am not as shy as I was in university, but I’m still a pretty shy person. It is weird being the only non native Spanish speaker, and having to get into groups with people (the dread!), and also being so much older than everyone else. But, at the end of the day, I am getting out the house which I suppose was the initial purpose for all this!

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