First intensive Japanese course session

※ This article discusses the 6th of October 2016.

Getting up; breakfast; train…

Nope, I accidently dropped a 5 Yen coin into the machine (apparently, I still cannot distinguish 5 and 50 Yen coins). So an alarm went off and the machine swallowed 200 Yen of mine. Some Japanese guy started talking via loud speaker and when we recognized that he was on the phone with us, we told him that we can only understand English. He answered "Please wait 5 minutes". So the question arised: Assuming he comes in 5 minutes and will be done right away, I might be in time. Otherwise I will be late for class. To put it in her words: Martina does not have class in the first session and therefore was not in a hurry. She gave me her ticket and asked me to go without her. I wasn’t sure, I should, but eventually I left.

Train; up the hill; university.

The intensive course was slower-paced than the regular class, because beginners also participate in this course. So we started with self-introduction and basic Hiragana. I got bored, but instead I was able to collect a bunch of vocabulary I need to revise. I think when the first few weeks are over, I will be challenged enough again. The intensive course consists of two sessions in the morning, meaning we start at 8:50 and end at 12:10 with 20 minutes of break. In the break I met Martina. She told me she waited for ~10 minutes and nobody showed up. So 200 Yen got lost in the machine. She also met her tutor and he showed her how to withdraw money; get cash money from the card. At this point in time she recognized that also her intensive Japanese class started already today and she should join at least for the second session.

Lunchtime! Apparently I had no cash money left and asked Martina for some. Martina was clever enough to bring enough cash from Austria without necessicity to buy bedding equipment.

It was a wonderful weather this day, so I walked around at the campus and took photos. I submitted some forms and waited for Martina’s third session to finish. In the meanwhile I studied the vocabulary, which I still don’t know by heart.

Afterwards we went to the bank. Martina showed me how to withdraw money. I sent 50 € from Europe and now 4200 Yen were on my account. We cannot explain the fees at this point in time. I took the money with me and we went home. Beautiful photos at this day, but nothing special.

At night I sat down to write articles, tidy up my photos, chat with my parents, finish my MOOC assignment (Probabilistic Graphical Models) and take the J-CAT test. I got an email by my advisor this morning. In my application for the Intensive course (deadline today evening), I stated that "I didn’t take the J-CAT test because I am sure my skills don’t fit higher classes". His response was information regarding the J-CAT test. Specifically how I can take the test despite the last official opportunity last Monday. My reaction was "Oh shit, I need to take the test in any case". In all previous situations I stated the same and their oral response was "It is fine, if you are sure about elementary level". In this case, it didn’t seem to be fine. I scheduled to take the J-CAT test this evening. Martina told me it takes roughly 1 hour to take.

At night I had time to do the test. At first, the MOOC seemed more important to me (not all lectures watched so far and last hard deadline). Suddenly I got a Japanese email stating "We are missing information regarding your application and have to tell you, you did not get accepted for the Japanese intensive course". The intensive course is selective and only 10 people are allowed. I kind of panicked and I got very mad. I came to Japan with a list of courses, I want to attend. This plan had to be thrown away, because at least half of the courses changed. On Tuesday I spent the night selecting new courses and had a new plan. With this email, my plans got thrown away again.

Considering two semesters in Japan, I thought a good plan consists of one semester focusing on Japanese and one semester on extracurricular courses (Linguistics, English, etc). Because the first semester certainly comes with understanding the organization at university (which is IMHO necessary if you want to attend extracurricular courses). So I should focus on Japanese. My assumption is that taking random classes is easy in Austria, but not necessarily in Japan. Not being able to attend the intensive course means that I will learn only half of the content (comparing regular with intensive class). But especially the second half is important to me. It covers grammar I never put into practice. It covers vocabulary I don’t need here in daily life. With the intensive course, I should be able to attend upper elementary class in the next semester (Martina is taking the course this semester, because she lacks some Japanese for Intermediate level). This would boost my Japanese skills until returning to Austria.

I was very mad at this result and was just in the progress to take the J-CAT test. I continued anyways and first I was very lenient. For example I ticked "I can follow discussions about hobbies and weekend plans with difficulties", which I believe is not true just because I am lacking vocabulary. Because of this selection, I also got difficult questions. Listening, Reading and Grammar are categories of the J-CAT test and besides for the really easy questions, I wasn’t able to answer any. From 4 multiple choice answers, I always ticked a random one. I am not aware of any possibility to tick "I cannot answer it". In the end I got a score of 105; 5 points above "elementary". With this result, I thought "Shit, I accidently ticked some correct answers". I took the test again. This time I didn’t tick the discussions-about-hobbies section and therefore only got less and easier questions. Again, I couldn’t answer some of them and therefore I just waited for the time to pass by. Typically you have 3 minutes to answer e.g. Reading questions. Apparently the next question appears and I recognized that you will just get new questions until you have answered a certain number of questions. This way taking the test would take me roughly 3 hours and now it is 2am in the morning. So I fell back to ticking answers randomly. My final score was 36. I think this was close. The Austrian friend (which shares the same Japanese level, I guess) had a score of 50.

I answered with an email that I am sorry, it went this way, but I didn’t have the opportunity to take the J-CAT test earlier. Also I pointed out that in my application I was sure about taking the elementary course anyways. I spent one hour with answering a quiz for the MOOC, but I hadn’t begun the programming assignment for the MOOC. I concluded that 3 hours of sleep are necessary and I dropped the MOOC as well.