My relationship with Japan is a little different to most ‘otaku’ I think, although it started in the same way.
As a child, I didn’t really have emotional/moral support so I wasn’t socialized properly up until 9th grade. Then I began getting into mainstream anime and subsequently learned a lot about morals, and at the same time I reasoned with myself to make sure my morals were ‘good’ morals. I dropped out of school in 11th grade after deciding what I wanted to do with my life (although that’s changed) and went to TAFE (a vocational school) to study Japanese. I literally studied 10 hours per day for a year and a half and completed my Certificate IV. I wanted to live and work in Japan, but I didn’t know much about the real world at the time.
When I eventually looked into it, I found out that I’d need a bachelor’s degree, so I applied for a pathway course at Macquarie University. I had to get 12 credits (complete 4 units) in the Japanese diploma before I could get in. Unluckily, I had only managed to get 9 credits. Luckily, however, the head of Japanese studies helped me get in. I applied successfully for a BoA in Japanese studies and Japanese is what I’d focused on for a while. However, I applied for a waiver so I could skip the easier Japanese units and as a result, I had a tonne of spaces to fill in to make up for the credits I’d need to graduate.
It turned out well in the end as I realised the value of being able to study at university and got to study two semesters of critical thinking, some philosophy, two introductory units for psychology, an editing unit, as well as several creative writing units which became my minor. To sum it up, I caught a tonne of lucky breaks and managed to make it this far all thanks to the flint and tender which was my infatuation for Japanese pop culture. I’ll be thankful for Japanese pop culture until the day I die.