Fall semester, 2001

Today was the first day of fall semester. Monday’s are rather light for me, with only my Japanese class in the morning and nothing after that.

So I went to Japanese this morning, thinking, “Well, this’ll be a joy. Dietsch and a roomful of freshmen and sophomores. It’ll be like babysitting.” I entered the room, feeling rather smug, like I’m older than you, I’m smarter than you, and by God, I’m better than all of you.

I took a seat. The instructor handed out index cards and asked us to provide name, e-mail address, and a little bit about what we already know about Japan. I glanced over at the kid sitting to my left. I noticed that he was answering question 3 in Japanese, the little bastard.

“Great,” I thought. “First day, and I’m already out of my element.”

We had a typical first day lesson–learning how to introduce yourself and meet a new person in this language. If this were computer programming, we’d have done “Hello world!” today. But I was still a little overwhelmed. We learned several phrases in quick succession and I was having trouble remembering one even before learning the next. When it came time for practice, I needed the “kids” to remind of the phrases. I was a little embarrassed. Perhaps I shouldn’t have underestimated them.

But I did eventually pick up all the phrases. Language ability does decline as you age, so I’m sure their youth is an advantage to them. I’m hoping I won’t have to struggle through this class, but I’m prepared to work hard for it. I guess we’ll see.


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