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My Journey Studying 2 Languages While Working Full-Time

Most people like to unwind after work by watching television, hanging out with friends, playing games or just plain eating. I admit that I used to be – and still am! – one of these people. I enjoy watching TV, and I just love lazing around being a couch potato after clocking in so many hours at work. There’s really nothing better than binge-watching a damned good tv series on telly.

But recently, or it would be more accurate to say about 5-6 months ago, this started to change. Priorities shifted. Ever since I signed up for Japanese and Mandarin language classes, I try to cram in as much studying as I possibly can into my day. This means sacrificing my precious TV time. My TV time got severely cut down and when I do watch something, it’s usually in the language I’m learning. Or some light-hearted comedy I’ve rewatched a billion times.

I know. Sad, haha.

Still, I don’t find this too depressing. Maybe people think I’m putting a lot of unnecessary stress on myself and that I’m being too serious, but in all honestly, I find it fun. Yeah, I know that people equate studying with stress and all things boring, but it is the direct opposite for me, at least for this.

The only times I get stressed out by my language studies are when work comes into play. Sometimes I can’t attend class because I have work to do, sometimes I can’t study because of yeah, I have to meet some sort of deadline or attend a work event. Sometimes, these things happen a lot, and I fall behind in my studies. That’s when I get stressed.

And I’d ironically sacrifice classes in order to catch up, because if I don’t understand past chapters, I won’t understand the new ones. Hahaha. So painful to be an adult sometimes, amirite.

The past couple of months have been especially bad, thanks to the chaos that naturally comes when you start job hunting. A lot of time was again sacrificed to prepare for interviews, exams, whatever assignment that I had to complete, etc on top of the responsibilities I already had at the time. As for my new job, things have started to settle, so I’m glad to say that I’ll be properly caught up on my studies soon. Haha! Only took me 3-4 months. Ouch.

It really doesn’t help that Japanese and Mandarin are titans in terms of languages. Japanese, especially. It’s surprising, because you usually hear people complain about Mandarin, but nah man. The true Ruler with an Iron Fist is Japanese. It has so many grammar rules crammed in every possible crevice there is that it’ll make your head spin. To this day I haven’t got a complete handle on particles.

Minor gripes aside, what other ways has taking up new languages changed my life?

I’m happier

For the longest time since I can remember, English has always been my passion. I taught myself the language before I got into kindergarten, I read every English book I could get my hands on, and being the introvert that I am, it wasn’t long before I showed an interest in writing. The language has always been my happy spot, and I think it’s because it’s so rich in literature, film and music that I was initially drawn to it.

What I didn’t realise is that this love can be for other languages as well. I wasn’t a fan of Malay because to young me at the time, it didn’t have all the attractions English does. I’ve always been into the arts, and like it or not, the Malay scene wasn’t as robust. (Note the word “wasn’t”. We’re starting to get there now.) So yeah, it took a long while for it to sink in that I can love other languages.

When it finally occurred to me, it was like falling in love again. And here I am, hitting the books like I used to.

I have more direction in life

Let’s be honest. The writing industry in hot and humid Malaysia ironically isn’t doing too hot right now, and it’s only going to get worse from here on out. Too often do I see job adverts that offer horrendous pay and hours despite the never-ending amount of responsibilities and skills they demand from writers. What’s worse is that quite a number even require working on the weekends. Talk about harsh. Who’d be able to have a life that way?

Now that I have my language studies by my side (as well as globalisation, haha), I have a clearer goal to work towards. As the world grows smaller, language becomes all the more valuable. Sure, I can probably continue to trudge on with just English alone, but I’m going to be old one day, and who would employers rather hire, a younger, cheaper and perfectly capable English writer with other languages in their arsenal (Mandarin is growing popular with the young ‘uns these days), or an older one who costs more and is pretty much only fluent in English? The answer is obvious.

I’ve made new friends

This one took awhile, but once I plucked up enough courage to try out Hellotalk with my shitty Japanese, I made new friends quite easily.

And I found that it was ridiculously easy to find people that I have interests in common with- which is a first, because that’s not something that I get to experience right here in Malaysia. Sad face. That being said, my interactions with my new friends aren’t without misunderstandings; we’ve had plenty, thanks to the cultural differences!

Who knew that communication styles could differ that greatly between fellow Asians?

Reforged an old bond

Unexpected, but not unwelcome. When I started talking to an old friend again, we eventually discovered that we share the same interest in languages- and even wish to study the same ones as well!

It was from that moment forth that we started to spend more and more quality time together again. Like old times, but with a more solid, definitive purpose. We’ve gone as far as to plan (or at this point, dream) to travel together. Because come on, travelling with friends before somehow miraculously getting married is on our bucket list!

I’m fitter

This one sounds weird and completely unrelated, but it is true. Now that I have something that I truly want to devote myself to, work aside, I have the desire to have more time and energy for it. So what better way can I increase productivity than getting fit?

Exercising will allow me to focus better on my passions, and I’m already starting to see the effects after nearly a month of working out. I’m more attentive and I’m not as easily exhausted as I used to be. It’s a great feeling, to be honest. I definitely want it to continue.

Ohhh. This turned out lengthy. That’s alright, though. I wrote this one for me; it’s nice to have a change of pace every now and then.

To those who actually read this and made it this far, thank you!

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