As for me, people asked me that when I studied Japanese. However, I thought at the time I would go back to Japan to live my life, but it didn’t happen. Life and other’s intentions intervene in our lives sometimes. However, I have never regretted learning to speak Japanese. I end up using it ever so often even though I don’t live in Japan. There was a high school exchange student from Japan who needed my help because she just wasn’t used to using English. I happened to meet someone from the local university who asked for my help with their Japanese students. I got a job helping them when they were going through culture shock or unable to understand what was going on in their classes. They really needed help. I stopped a lot of Japanese girls from spending their time in American locked away crying and stopped a lot of students from flunking their classes.
I never saw myself as a Japanese teacher, but someone talked me into teaching Japanese, and I taught it at two universities. At the second university, it was in America, all the Japanese were always looking for me to get my help in translating or in understanding what was going on around them in America, cultural differences. My oldest daughter ended up marrying one of those Japanese students who was always chasing me for help. He loved to speak Japanese to me! I now have two Japanese grand kids.
When I lived in Korea, occasionally, I had to take short trips into Japan alone. It was no problem because I understood everything that was going on, and if I didn’t, I could just ask someone. I never got lost. I always accomplished what I was supposed to do.
I would never have believed that Japanese would become so important in my life if I couldn’t go back and live there like I wanted. It is one of those languages never stops being needed completely. It may be a few years, but there will be a Japanese who needs me again. I just had a conversation in Japanese a couple of weeks ago with a Japanese student I met when I went to see if some people needed my help. She happened to know a lot of my friends in Japan. By the way, I am in Oklahoma City, and I ran into a random Japanese girl. You never know when you are going to need a language like Japanese.