for those who wanted me to write more. this is my gift to you.
this is also my bragging blog.
for foreigners living in japan there's a test called the JLPT (japanese language proficiency test) with 4 levels.
level 4 is crazy easy
level 3 bumps it up a bit, and then a HUGE gigantic king kong size climb in toughness to...
level 2. the test required to be considered for entry into japanese universities, and get jobs as a foreigner in japan.
level 1 is like...i dunno, i guess if you wanna be a doctor in japan or if you want to be the next emperor maybe.
i have no desire to be the next emperor (besides that was a lie about becoming the emperor if you pass the test. sorry) so i took level 2 today. its a 2 hour test that is insanely boring, but made even more painful when you have a bad cold. anyway, i ran out of time and took my remaining 10 seconds to guess on about 8 of the remaining questions...naturally those questions were all worth 5 points each rather than the usual 1, or 2.
i got every single one those 8 wrong. minus 40 points right there. ouch. this is why i don't play the lottery.
a passing score is 240/400.
i got 315.
now im about to brag, but hey, i'm stoked. in order for learners of japanese to prepare for these tests, there are about a billion books with sample problems, essays, previous years tests, study points, grammar patterns...are you bored yet? cause i was after about 5 minutes of buying one of these books. i got through the first 2 pages and just couldn't bare to open it again. i think its in my closet somewhere.
how long could you spend trying to memorize such useful phrases as:
この法案は国会により承認された。 This bill was approved by the National Diet.
i know that comes up all the time in my conversations.
forget that. i learned the basics about 2 years ago at a japanese school (and would actually recommend that as a good starter point if you're like me and never know where to begin). but now i just watch tv. i hang out with my japanese friends. i owe a LOT to my old roomies in california who corrected a lot of my mistakes (thanks meg and chaki!...and shinobi), and listened patiently to my broken japanese for almost a year. i only read comics in japanese. i only read japanese novels. its insanely hard at first, but you get used to it. eventually things just start to make sense. i don't know what an intransitive verb is, or whether "manabu" is a group 2 or 3 verb, i couldn't tell you the object and subject of a sentence in english for cryin out loud (sorry mom, but its true), and i sure can't do it japanese.
but somehow, i can usually tell when a sentence is wrong, and when its right.
of course im not perfect, and like sebastian in the never ending story i still have a LONG LONG way to go. i've strayed off the japanese road to fluency a number of times, and completely given up on this beast of a language. i still misunderstand things, or don't understand them at all. i can only read 500 of the 2000 some odd characters. creating my own correct sentences is ten times harder than listening to japanese people's sentences. but im up for the challenge, and rather than struggle to stay awake reading boring textbooks, why not continue reading that novel about street gangs in tokyo?
oh, but the bummer is, today's test didn't count. the real deal is in december, but i didn't sign up to take it. the test i took today was the test from about 2 or 3 years ago, done just as practice. so while it doesn't count for anything on paper. im just glad to know i could do it.
to those of you who are wondering what im doing here...im not trying to be vague. i just dont feel like writing unless i can make it interesting. no one wants to read a boring blog. i study japanese like crazy at school, and i dont usually feel like writing anything, so i just post pictures instead. my mind thinks in pictures, so when i see a picture theres a whole story there. i guess i just assume everyone can read my mind :)
in a nutshell: over the summer i worked at a restaurant and a farm as a volunteer, then settled down in fukuoka. now i live in a dorm, school started a week ago, and its harder than i thought it would be. i go to a church here and draw lots of pictures for them!
went to a HUGE petting zoo in the mountains with the church and ate sofuto kuriimu (soft cream)! there was a drawing contest...and i won but was embarrassed that they even considered my drawing over the little kids drawings.
here's the view from my dorm room window! this is actually a welcome change from the first couple of days i was here. in order to keep my window protected from paint, it was covered over by this semi transparent plastic sheet that basically made the outside just look like a big bright blur. it was INSANELY claustrophobic. 僕の部屋の窓からの眺めだ！
i had to say goodbye to kurume and to the wonderful matsunaga family the other day. i didnt really know what day i was going to head to nagano so at the last second (of course), i packed my bags and headed out. there wasn't time for a proper fairwell, which was a bummer. it was a great experience, full of good food and wonderful people :)
and on to NAGANO! its hard to believe its summer here. while most of japan is suffering from sweltering, humid heat, nagano is nice and cool, with snow still on some of the mountains.
食べ物について日本の文化はけっこう多い。 美味しい食べ物を食べるのが大好でよかったね！ この前は、小さいテーブルの周りに座って皆とトウモロコシを食べるっていう文化の初体験だった。 ちょ～うまかった！ Japanese love to sit around eat corn on the cob together, and i got to join in. i've yet to have bad corn on the cob here. maybe it just doesn't exist.
こんなにきれいに食べられたトウモロコシは今までに初めて見た。 the most perfectly eaten corn on the cob i've ever seen.