Sunday, December 04, 2005

December Rain, December Snow

Friday feels like it occurred an age ago. Perhaps that's because the view out the windows of the school looked so very different then.

On Friday night I went to a friend's birthday party, and there were a lot of people there. Normally I would have enjoyed myself more and talked to way more people, but I think that with Sunday's impending test I was in a bit of a grumpy/stressed/faithless mood and I didn't really want to be at any party with anyone. Nonetheless it was still alright, all things considered. On Saturday I made sure I got lots of sleep, bought a 100 yen watch to keep time in the test, did some other errands, and studied and crashed at Colin and Jenny's in Komatsushima.

I didn't manage to get to sleep until after twelve, I'm sure.

Sunday found us waking up at just after 5 am, and Colin made us all some porridge. We were out the door just after six to go meet up with Jonny Lawless on the train. Three trains, three hours, and 3300 yen later we were at the test site way up in Kagawa prefecture's Takamatsu city at the Agricultural Division of one of the universities. The test was in three sections: kanji and vocab, listening, and reading and grammar, in that order.

There is a massive wait after they pass out all the test booklets and marksheets (ten to fifteen minutes) and that time was practically enough to drive me mad as a March hare. I was so incredibly nervous that when they announced the start time my fingers could barely open the question booklet. Once I started answering, I practically laughed with glee! I was able to go SO FAST I could barely believe it. I finished the 35 minute test with five minutes to spare which let me go over my test again and change some answers. I know I got some wrong from talking to others after, but I also know I got some guesses right from my dictionary. So I felt really good after that kanji and vocab section, as though I had an 80%, though it's possibly lower than it felt.

Next was the listening. Last year, when I failed the test my marks were: kanji and vocab 49/100, listening 70/100, reading and grammar 81/200, total 200/400. A passing grade is 240/400, or 60%. So it was the listening last year that pulled my mark up enough to look like 50%. I was pretty confident going in. From talking to others, I am pretty sure I got four of the 27 questions wrong, but I could still come out of that with an 80%, depending depending depending. So I was a bit disappointed, because I wanted 100% on that section this year, and I know I didn't get it, but there are no tears. I was giddy enough after the test to even laugh at Jon's comments about [SHOCK] being raped by the kanji test but having bent the listening test over his desk. [/SHOCK]* Dan B was appalled at Jon's foul mouth and in my giddyness at having done so well I think I said something really foolish. [/regret]

((*maybe not so shocking if you spend any time hanging out with Jon.))

So when it came to the reading/grammar section of the test, the longest at 70 minutes, I was in a great frame of mind. Last year, I was unable to finish the test because my reading speed just couldn't keep up. I had a bunch of questions where I just picked an answer and filled them all in the same. And I really didn't understand the reading at all then either. Since then I have read two harry potter books in Japanese as well as starting on a regualr Japanese book and having no great diffuculties. So I figured I was going to do much better this year. And I did. I had studied a lot of grammar before the test, so I hoped I would score really well on that, but when it came to it there were still a lot of questions where I was uncertain. And of course it's pick the BEST answer, not the RIGHT answer. So grammar was the section on the test I have the least certainty about now, but I don't feel like I bombed it. As for the reading, which I left to the end though it comes first, while it still would have helped more if I had read more before now, but this time I was able to answer every question giving it some reasonable thought. I think I may have even gotten the last question, the graph question, right despite having only three minutes to read the stuff and look at the graph. I filled in my answer with less than half a minute remaining in the test. Just enough time to flip to the beginning and start to glance at that first hard question again before the timer went.

So I think I passed.

That's my tale of doing alright on the test, but Jon, my goodness did he school that test. He did the highest level, the level one (I did level 2) and he finished the reading and grammar with 30 minutes to spare, if you can believe it. It also sounds like Jenny certainly passed her level 3 test, and Colin passed his level 4.

Did I mention how cold it was in Takamatsu? It was really cold in the morning. Windy and wet in the way of a town right on the ocean. It was still cold in the afternoon when we had finished the tests. And it was raining. Cold December rain. An onsen would have hit the spot. Waiting in the rain for our first train, Jon was wishing it would just snow already, and Jenny was wishing for a day off on Monday. Before our second train we stopped at Mister Donuts at Takamatsu station for some warm soup and sweet snacks. Two trains and two hours later we were back in Komatsushima at eight. Colin and Jenny made some nice ramen for dinner and I made my way home at 9:30. On the drive home, I got Jonny's wish. It was snowing. Snow is so nice. I really like the snow, even if it means that it takes three hours to heat my apartment from 5 degrees to 18 degrees. While my apartment warmed, I relaxed to Mimi wo Sumaseba, and my Dad called. Into bed at about one.

At seven am this morning I got Jenny's wish too. I was awoken by the ringing of my phone. I opened my eyes to the beauty of snow covered trees, houses and mountains. Awesome. The phone was the teacher I work with, Ms. Masui calling to tell me that school was cancelled because there is no way the school bus could make it up the hill to the school in 4 cm of snow, but to come if I could. This means I got to sleep in until eleven and come to school at noon. It almost like Christmas. The atmosphere in the office on a snow day is fun, and the snow covered trees and hills put me at great ease. It is the perfect follow up day to the test.


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