Well the last couple of weeks of the semester have been a hellish fight for survival, but I’m thankful that I can say … “I made it”. That is at least until the exam period in January, then I’ll be completely buggered.
So lets start out with the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). This is an exam taken all over the world at the same time (give or take several hours for time-zone differences) to assess your level of Japanese (not spoken). Here in the UK it’s held at the School of Oriental and African Studies down in London, so for some of us a trip down was needed. Me and a friend went down a day early to do some filming for LSTV (I won’t say exactly what for, but it’s a news story on textbook prices), so I spent the night at YHA London Central. It was definately one of the more comfortable hostels I’ve kipped at, bar the snorer in the bed above me giving me dreams about zombies in an “I am the only one left” kind of fashion.
When applying to take the exam, of which only 1000 people can sit a year, I thought I’d have time to study and revise properly for it. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and I arrived in London horribly unprepared. We headed to a couple of Japanese book shops and bought a past-exam paper and a grammar book recommended by one of my teachers. My intention was to spend the night going through the past paper and cramming as much grammar and vocab into my tiny fragile mind as I could … but again this wasn’t the case.
Sitting in the lounge next to the big ass telly with books spread across my lap, the guy sitting nearby watching the rugby has a look at one of my books. “Do you speak Japanese?” he asks. I look up and bam, instantly my interest in studying goes as my interest in Japanese oral practice increases. By chance I was at the same hostel as a guy who lives very close to where I was living in Osaka! After a few hours of fun conversation he went to bed so once again I cracked on studying … until a new group appears, curious about the text I’m reading. To be fair I did get a fair bit of studying done, but not enough to leave me with confidence for the next days exam.
I woke up in the morning and wanted a full English breakfast. I checked out of the hostel and ventured in search of a Wetherspoons. After a few hours of gormlessly wandering around London (with help from a relative on the phone with the internet), I eventually found the Shakespeares Head in Holborn. Though the service here was fine, the when the breakfast came out I had to look in the direction of the kitchen to make sure the building wasn’t on fire. The vast majority of what was on the plate was burned and almost uneatable, even the black pudding (I’ve never seen a burnt black pudding before). I will say however the sausage was fantastic, too bad I left the rest of it on the plate.
I met up with a friend and we went to face the exam. I left the exam with the feeling that I did as well as I thought I would.
Some of us who came down from Leeds then went to a bar for a post-exam drink, but as they were pretty costly I just had the one. Since a few of us were getting on the same coach back, a suggestion was put forward that we carry on drinking in Victoria so we wouldn’t miss the coach when the time came. For me, I’d spent the entirity of the two days walking around London rather than taking the tube (when did tube prices shoot up so much!?), so I said I’d walk it. After being mocked a bit, I gave my bags to the others and proceeded on foot towards Victoria.
I really should have learned from past experiences that my natural navigatory skills get tempered somewhat when the sun goes down, but more than that I get in trouble whenever I stop for a bog-break. It seems I normally have a tendency to flush away my thoughts about the ‘hear and now’, and normally start off going in the wrong direction. Once I hit the river I knew I was pretty buggered and started running the correct way.
Arriving at our meeting point, the Wetherspoons at Victoria Train Station, there were two things I wanted: a pee, and a pint, I’ll let you decide which came first. There must have been something generally crappy about Wetherspoons in London on that day. I ordered a pint of the Christmas ale, but the guy at the bar poured it with such speed and vigour that instead of a decent head I got a mass of bubbles. Much in the same way a kid would blow bubbles into a chocolate milkshake. I let the pint settle and asked for it to be topped up so I could get a head on it (by a different server of course). It was better, but still very very crap. Leaving the bar area I did overhear the first guy ask what was wrong with it, but was no longer within earshot to hear her response. After speaking with my waiting friends it seemed that they too received service from the same guy that was “rather lacking”. Normally I can associate Wetherspoons with being a great experience, and have always had high praise for both Cuthbert Brodrick in Leeds and Thomas Botfield in Telford, but I think next time in London I’ll have to venture elsewhere.
This week saw me battling with my old nemeses, “history” and “academic reading”, in order to pull out a 3000 word essay on the US Occupation of Japan. Though I thoroughly believe that my essay itself was a massive load of fudge, I’m pleased to say I did learn a good amount of what happened. That is until the several parties over the weekend to celebrate the end of the semester. Great hangover cure by the way, have a big controlled vomit (that is get yourself prepared, glass of water, mint, position yourself, vomit on your own terms) followed by a bit of kip. Or an even better way to avoid hangovers, cut down on the booze ^_^.
In creative news I’ve done a bit more work for Lotaku in that I have finally finished the design for the WebComics Tarot Project. I’m hoping to spend a bit more time on the comic over the winter break and crack out a couple more pages before classes start again. Likewise I’m very close to completing the Learn With Anna animation, just having a few snags with exporting.
And so to play us out, the literal version of The Safety Dance!