"Don't be such a Drongo, you only want to go because you know you can't right now", is the first thing my best mate, Amelia, says when I tell them I want to do a massive trip to Japan once we can travel internationally again. Clearly jealous she didn't think of it first.
Flicking through all the pictures of sunrises on Mount Fuji, the Sensō-Ji temple, and the Osaka Castle I saved on my phone, her eyes widened. And when I told her about Arashiyama, the bamboo forest with monkeys, she was looking up flights too. Not that we were booking any right now but we were both stoked to finally have something new to look forward to.
Little did we know it was going to give us so much more. We spend the next few days reading everything we could about Japan and how to fully embrace their culture.
Then it smacked me right in the face, the best way to prepare for any cultural trip is to learn the native tongue.
Amelia agreed, " We don't want to look like two bogans straight out of the bush." She said her older brother used Rosetta Stone to learn Mandarin before traveling around China and he didn't get lost once, he even boasts the locals complimented his accent.
How much is it going to cost to learn Japanese? I was already saving so hard for the trip so I was pleasantly surprised Rosetta is only $7.99 a month and the annual subscription gives you access to all 24+ languages they teach.
After I read a few reviews, it was clear that Rosetta Stone was the best option if we wanted to have the best foundation of Japanese before we travel.
We both downloaded it and started to explore!
The first week was actually great fun, the lessons take less than 30 minutes a day, I can do them when it suits me and I still haven't got bored. Languages were always my worst class in school, but Rosetta's class is one I won't be wagging!
The shorter lessons actually make it easier for your brain to absorb the learnings. And the lessons are really interactive, teaching real conversational vocabulary that I will definitely need and use.
Amelia was amazed she could listen to them on her commute without any Wi-Fi. But that wasn't even the best feature of their app. TruAccent® shows you exactly how accurate your pronunciation is with a little icon that would go green, yellow, or red when you speak. We even started a competition to see who can get the most green lights (pretty sure I'm winning there).
The Phrasebook® and Seek & Speak® features are going to be our saviors when we get to Japan and inevitably get lost more times than we will admit to anyone. Phrasebook® tells you out loud how to say short, useful expressions and Seek & Speak® uses object recognition and machine learning to teach you words for the objects around you.
You can also partake in a fun scavenger hunt-like activity for everyday items, like fruit and veggies. Perfect for when we try the local cuisine and already know exactly what's in the Sukiyaki we just ordered.
Planning out everything we want to see and do from Tokyo to Osaka I thought would be the best part about prepping for this trip. But learning Japanese trumps everything! I never thought I could learn a whole new language and it'd be this easy. We are already having small conversations with each other all in Japanese.
It really is true, learning a country's language completely immerses you in their language.
We both feel prepared and ready to throw ourselves into everything Japan has to offer once we get off that plane. Thanks to Rosetta Stone nothing will hold us back on our trip of a lifetime to Japan.