December 05, 2005

Test Taking Spills

Over the past month or so, my blog entries have been darkened by the looming shadow of the JLPT test. Well, now it is over, and I believe I have caught yet another cold this season. I have lost count by now. The wind has picked up, and over the course of one weekend, a blink of the world's eye, it has turned from autumn to winter here in Wakayama. Anyways, before the more objective results--i.e. my failing marks--are released sometime around February of next year (by which time I will probably deny ever having taken the test), I shall in this brief entry unpack my initial gut-reactions to the eviscerating and emasculating experience that I went through yesterday, also known as section 3 (Reading Comprehension and Grammar) of the level 2 Japanese Proficiency Test.

Up until lunchtime, things seemed to be going very well. After having flown like a phoenix through the first section (Kanji and Vocabulary), I had spare time in the 35 minute time period to space off, mostly letting my eyes wander towards the front of the room, where a very cute Korean girl was taking her test. Bad, Jeff. Then at breaktime, the aforementioned fellow test-taker started flirting with me outside of the building. It was a chilly morning, but I felt rosy. The listening section of the test, part 2, went by with little uncertainty. Perhaps three or four questions stymied my up to then nearly impeccable performance of Japanese linguistic mastery. Turning in my answer sheet and test booklet, it was down to the bakery for lunch. After a heavy dose of carbos and cheese, I was back in the test room, ready to face my arch-nemesis: "Reading and Grammar." 読解,文法ー Oh, how I loathe thee! Opening the booklet, I was face to face with a page and a half article on something I couldn't understand. I dug in. Taking the approach that I understood everything, I didn't realize how slow I was moving. Although I brought a watch, I never once looked at it. I was in the zone. A little mix up on the chart reading problem took me over ten minutes to resolve, so it seems. Finally finished with the reading problems with a relatively safe degree of correct answers, I was ready for the grammar problems, which I had studied vigillantly for last four months or so. Now on problem 40 out of 58, I was ready for these last 20 problems. Banzai!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then an announcement was heard, the voice heard around the world, err...the classroom:

"後五分です." ("Five minutes left.")

I could not believe my ears. Where had I gone? Was this some strange Matrix-like experiment? Where did thos 65 minutes go? How could I finish 15 problems in five minutes or less? I hurried frantically to answer questions, getting snubbed around number 46 or 47. The announcement for the test to finish rang clearly through the warm classroom. I put my pencil down, not able to look at the 10 blank questions I did not get to.

Later on, as all of us were walking towards the station, looking for a place to drink and eat our sorrows away, I made a comment on the numbing cold that has arrived, "I can't feel my face." Brad then made a brilliant comment , much more apropos: "I can't feel my failure." Now, I have nothing to be stressed about. The test is over, I am here in the teacher's room on test day (for the students, thankfully), and I am warm. Inflicted with a very sore throat, I am hoping to take it easy. Off to Vietnam in a little over two weeks. Wow.

I have been having strange dreams lately. Beautiful, endless images of people that I am around currently on a daily basis. Quite different from dreams I had when I was a child. Different and the same, yes.

Back to Dostoyevsky, manga, and hot coffee. Oh yeah, and maybe some short fiction to come.


Blogger Nikku said...

Otsukaresan! Sounds like it might not have gone as bad as you think. You may have run out of time, but if the rest went as well as it sounds, you may very well have passed regardless.

Your blogs seem to have regained a brighter gait now that the test isn't weighing you down. Good luck with your upcoming gigs and enjoy the holidays.

11:41 AM  

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