I spent the day at Orlando Science Center with my friend from Ohio (after leaving the house of my other friend where we had a bonfire the night before). Little did I know that, along with getting some fantastic pictures of the animals on the bottom floor of the place (esPECially the bearded dragon and crayfish!), I would also get a chance to practice my Japanese with real Japanese natives.
After spending time in basically every room the museum had to offer, my friend and I happened upon a Japanese family of about 5-6 people messing around with a specific attraction, one where it was emphasized that if you increase an object’s orbit, it’ll slow down considerably. This was done with a large chrome marble that the family was throwing into orbit constantly. They seemed very happy and approachable, and I had already identified their language as Japanese a few minutes prior, so I jumped in to talk to them. I was still a little shy, so I only said a handful of one-word phrases, but the reaction was incredible! As soon as I said 凄い/Sugoi! (“Amazing!”), they all looked up at me. The little boy present even repeated what I said in the more masculine fashion, which sounds more like “suge”. My interaction with them prompted the little girl to hand me the marble with a big smile on her face! I repeated what they did, and since the way I threw the marble made it take longer to fall out of orbit, I whined 速く/Hayaku! (“Hurry up!/Faster!”) Now they knew that me speaking their language was no accident. The oldest lady there turned to me and said “You speak Japanese?” and I said “A little bit,” returning her smile. Boy, there was a lot of smiling going on! 🙂
The little girl threw the marble back into the machine again, and when it finally fell out of orbit, I said a playful やった!/Yatta! (“Hooray!/Yay!”) They left a few minutes later with the little girl calling じゃあね/Ja ne! (See ya!) to me. I returned a さよなら/Sayonara (“Bye”) and she said it back.
I feel very invigorated for my mission after today. Speaking with natives, even some short phrases, was an incredible experience, and they were more than willing to talk to me! Their good mood positively influenced mine and I was on a high the rest of the day. 🙂