At this point Tam probably knows more Japanese than I do, and I took a quarter of it in college to fulfill a communication requirement. (The options were sign language, a foreign language, or a selection of classes that would make me re-live high school English. It wasn’t a difficult choice.) One of the things that brings back memories is learning to read Hiragana/Katakana, and more importantly, how to write using them.
This was actually the part of learning a language that I was pretty good at. I came up with somewhat odd ways of remembering what meant what. It actually helped me that several of them have extremely similar shapes, because then I could easily pick out the differences and remember them that way. わ, ね, and れ are a good example of this. Over time, I got faster, and through repetition I learned to write them too.
I had the same textbook Tam is using, but also a workbook for practice. I also had classmates for practice speaking and understanding, and I begin to realize the importance of that too. Maybe I’ll start falling back down this rabbit hole, if only so I understand when people near me say and write otherwise incomprehensible things.