I was going to write this entry last night in celebration of the end of mid-terms, but instead I thought about doing something logical and actually going out to celebrate the end of mid-terms. This in turn makes it possible for me to write an entry celebrating that I managed to get both of the last trains back (I have to make a connection), thus avoiding a walk that would have been my longest so far in Japan. Ok, let me just take a sec to look at my last entry to see in what area of limbo I left you guys floating.
Oh right, my body-clock screwation (not a real word). Well as I already said we’ve had mid-terms this week and although they didn’t feel as difficult as the exams we had in Leeds, to me an exam is an exam and they’re something I never do well in, especially when I leave the exam room and think that I’ve done well. This can be seen from my actual results from Leeds … shame on me.
It started out on Wednesday with the oral tests. Me and oral have always had a very odd relationship … for those of you shouting inuendo at your screens please take a step back and realise I’m clearly talking about speaking … perverts. Anyway, when I speak in Japanese it can normally go perfectly fine until someone says the words “your Japanese is good” and whatnot, something I have mentioned before. But also if I find that I don’t know a word or a term then I’ll take a brave stab at making one up. One example was when I wanted to refer to a Car Boot Sale, something Japan doesn’t have. This made me come up with the term Car Rear Market Day. And when I couldn’t remember the word for wallet I simply said money bag.
So anyway the exam went quite well, there was some Q&A based around some of our speeches which wasn’t too tricky, though trying to explain why your favourite food is apple sauce and that you’d happilly suck it down right from the jar was a bit hard. Following this we were presented with a choice of about 5 simple items and asked to talk about them. Of the items given I can only remember there being a pen, pair of chopsticks and electronic dictionary, but I chose the pen. Here’s an approximate account of what I spoke about for a ballpoint pen.
“This pen is a special pen. This pen is a very important pen. I recieved this pen from a friend. This friend was called Pete. One time when me and Pete went to Germany, we had to fight against some robbers. After that, because we won we went to the shop. I bought him a cat and he bought me this pen. Because of that, this is a very important pen.”
To which my teacher asked me what happened to my friend (the name Pete was never mentioned again).
“Hmm … that’s a little bit difficult. There was an accident. Unfortunate isn’t it. My friend went to Italy to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa because he wanted to try looking at it. But when he was there the tower fell over and he passed away. This year they built the tower again, but when I look at this pen I always remember my friend.”
My instant feedback, which I’m always really grateful for, was that even though I tried to be creative and use plenty of grammar points, I did use most of them wrong. Buggar! The next morning we had our marks for that test (seconds before starting the Kanji test) and I scored an 8.6 (86%) and some very helpful feedback.
Thursday … Kanji Test. It wasn’t until the last week of being at Leeds I discovered a system to learn kanji … well, learn it in such a way that I could do “ok” on the weekly Leeds tests. Unfortunately that system doesn’t really work over here. However, after I bought myself a small whiteboard I was able to learn kanji so much easier. It was unfortunate that it didn’t help me on Thursday as I blew spoiled chunks onto my kanji exam (not literally thank god). This was confirmed during the break between the kanji test and the reading test when the teacher marking through them wanted to double check that I was actually from Leeds (Leeds is known for it’s emphasis on kanji) … *SHAMED*.
I don’t remember a lot about Thursday’s reading test, except for the fact that a lot of the kanji from the previous test showed up teasing me with it’s furigana reminding me that I actually DID know some of the things I blatantly got wrong. BAH!
So to finish the midterms yesterday we started with a listening test, pretty simple just listen to a tape and write down or circle an answer … I probably failed that one, and then we moved onto the big grammar test.
The thought of 9 pages of a language exam comically freaked out some of the students, but Leeds exams, especially that last one, were much longer. This one comprised of testing all the different elements we’ve covered including particles, structure, translation, some minor composition, but I have no idea how I did. Normally I come out of an exam thinking either “I’ve failed that” (to which I normally have) or “Wow I passed that one easilly” (to which I normally haven’t) but when I left the exam room I didn’t have any direct thought about how I’d done. Whistle and wait as my parents used to (and probably still do) say.
So tests being over some of us went into Okamoto (in Kobe) and had a little fun. In one bar we went into, Gush, there were two dogs on the balcony, so we had a chat and a play with them. Lots of time passed, conversations were had and then it was time to head back. By fluke and coincidence we (the two remaining folk) got back to Okamoto Station in time for the last train to Juso. Throughout the night I had been joking about walking home if I missed the last train, but frankly from Kobe I didn’t really fancy it much. On the train I was preparing myself for a walk from Juso to home (a 15 minute train ride) by napping and getting up intime to see the stations passing by. Upon arrival at Juso however I was thrilled to see that there was one last train heading my way, hoorah!
Head on pillow, I’m home!
Just a thought on how little things can change people’s attitudes before signing off and doing some washing. I few days ago I was walking around Kita-Umeda trying to find a specific building. Not only did it have no heavilly definable features, I had no clue what it looked like, only a crudely set map. Well after wandering around like a hamster in a maze and going right past the bloody place twice I finally found it and then walked back to Umeda. Needless to see I was pretty miffed with myself (thats a bad thing). On my way there was an old woman watering plants outside her shop with a hose. The distance between her, the shop, the plants and the road meant that I was going to get wet, I honestly didn’t expect her to lower the hose. When I got closer we made eye-contact, with my eyes giving off the message “It’s ok, I’m prepared for your wetness”.
She shocked me though, lowering the hose and turning it off so I could pass dry. With this I bowed to her and said “arigatou gozaimasu” to which she gave me the biggest smile I’d seen since I got here and she replied “domo” in a very pleasant yet shocked voice. I don’t think she was expecting me to be able to communicate at all, let alone to thank her. Anyway my point of this little story is that seeing her smile put a smile back on my face. It’s the little things that can really make your day, I’ll try to remember than when I do another load of washing this afternoon.