No doubt, it's going to be a lot of work. Probably everyday and weekends work. Aside from kanji memorization, reading, writing, speaking, that sort of thing. I'll need to come up with many of the study materials on my own. I don't really know how to thoroughly prepare myself for this, but I know it's something that I want to do.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I think that I may try to place into IJ700 next semester. It's quite a leap. Currently I am in IJ500, and the current state of things makes me sick of it. Part of me is still high off of the scathing remarks from my teachers made today and the wave of inferiority I've been feeling lately, but it seems like a worthwhile goal, something to work towards for the next 2 and a half months. While I'm here, I want to see what it's like at the very top, and I know that if I don't, whenever I look back I'll always wonder what it would've been like to reach the top of Nanzan University's highly esteemed Japanese Language Program.
Yeah, as far as school goes, I've gotten pretty sick of where I'm at.
First, a little about the Japanese Language program here at Nanzan University.
At the beginning of the semester, you take a placement test to see which level of Intensive Japanese studies you are to be placed into. There are essentially 6 levels, 200 - 700. Each level takes a semester to complete. After being placed into your section, after the first week of tests deciding whether or not you really belong in a particular level, your rank may rise or lower by one level. After this, it's pretty much impossible to switch levels mid-semester.
At the beginning of the semester I placed into IJ500. Initially, I was disappointed with this placing, because I was actually aiming for IJ600, but hadn't studied as much as I should during the summer, thus botching the placement exam and ending up here. Having finished the main track of Japanese language programs at UH, I wanted to continue my studies, but to my disappointment, the IJ500 level overlaps a lot with UH JPN302 - JPN402 level courses. This semester was spent so far pretty much covering material that I've already covered over the past two years. And as such, I don't really feel like my level of Japanese has increased this semester due to this class. It feels like a waste of time.
Another thing that bugs me about this course is their whole way of thinking with regards to progressing in Japanese studies. At the beginning of the semester they gave us that house/foundation metaphor that is used so much in hierarchical learning settings. "Without IJ200 knowledge you can't move up to IJ300, without IJ300 knowledge you can't move up to IJ400, without IJ400 knowledge you can't move up to IJ500, etc." Their emphasis, it seems, is focusing on the student's weak points, as opposed to expanding their knowledge.
Case in point, within IJ500 there are two kanji classes, one called "basic" and the other called "challenge". Having not really studied kanji over the summer, I landed in the basic course, in which their objective is to get students up to speed with 500-level curriculum. And to accomplish that, a good deal of the semester is spent reviewing kanji from IJ300-IJ400. So by the end of the semester, you should be up to par with 500 level kanji. However, it does virtually nothing to prepare students for 600 level kanji and whatnot. Another example of backwards thinking within this program.
Now to be honest, I haven't completely mastered everything up until where I am in terms of Japanese. However, the objective of the class should be to prepare students for the next level by increasing their level of Japanese, not retroactively working on fixing weak points. If anything, it would be better if they gave everyone 500+ level material, and left the catching up to individual students, instead of mandating that you relearn the basics during class. Kanji of all things, shouldn't take an entire semester to master.
Needless to say, I'm pretty discontent at where I am within the program. Part of this discontent is directed towards the program for being rigid and inflexible, and part of it at myself for not trying harder to not end up wasting my first semester abroad in intermediate Japanese. Even though it's 500 level, I feel like a total amateur, compared to 600 students, and based on the material given by the teachers.
On the mid-term evaluation sheet, the comment I wrote went something like "The textbook material used in this class was used in my intermediate Japanese class 2 years ago. This class feels more like a slave-house than a challenge, and as such, I don't feel like my level of Japanese has increased from this course. It seems like the emphasis is only on fixing weaknesses." I guess they didn't like that, so today in class the teacher reads my comment out-loud and replies "Well to the person who said this comment, if you went through this book 2 years ago, then what have you been doing these past two years?" Hearing that, it stung, albeit slightly. And then I thought to myself "what exactly have I been doing these past 2 years?" It's not like I was slacking off or anything like that. I was just rising to the expectations that my teachers at UH had for me. I even ended up getting an A in JPN402, the highest grade I've ever gotten in Japanese. Although I guess for them, even that isn't enough.
Though in all honestly, it probably wasn't enough.
Friday, October 29, 2010
As good as the idea sounded, I just lack the motivation to keep up a blog. taking pictures for the purpose of posting them on a blog and then proceeding to writing accommodating text seems more like a chore or assignment to me o_O I may or may not use this site more, but most updates of what I've been doing with my life can be found on facebook :] sh0000ts
Friday, September 3, 2010
So while searching for flights to Japan, the cheapest route that I found went to the airport in Nagoya via Seoul, South Korea. Why such a detour is cheaper than direct flights I don't know, but anyways that's what I decided to do. Had to go on Korean Air, and compared to all my past flight experiences, this was probably one of the best :]
For one, even though I got the window seat, the seats were spread out enough so that I could get to and from my seat into the walkway without the person sitting next to me having to get out. Also, when you recline the chair, the seat underneath you moves forward, so you don't disturb the person in back. Also, the tables are made so that there's a cupholder in back so you don't need to put the whole table down in order to store your drink, and you can fold it halfway for when you need to get up :] very clever engineering :] Not to mention, there were quite a lot of attractive flight attendants, all Korean, of course :P Apparently they must know Korean, Japanese, and English in order to work for the airlines, and when they spoke to me, they ended up using Japanese, which made me feel good :P infiltration!!!
One of the things I liked the best about the flight was the food. When it came time to eat they had an option of either western-style beef, or bibimbap, and wanting to get the full korean experience, I decided to go with the bibimbap :P It was pretty damn good for airline food. Unfortunately, when I stood up to go use the restroom and came back to my seat, they took it away already, only when I was halfway-finished, and for a little while after that I felt a profound sense of loss and disappointment, yes the food was that good, and they took it away from me (>_<)
But there was enough distractions on the plane to distract me from my temporary loss. In back of the chairs are touchscreen panel things where you can access all sorts of music and videos and games and whatnot, and I spent a good amount of time sampling the kpop :] I think I ended up listening to the entire catalog of Girl's Generation :P Their style of music differs so much, they must have been written by other people >_> Also ended up watching two movies, one was called "Wedding Dress", which had absolutely nothing to do with that song by Taeyang, which was about this single mother who makes wedding dresses and her daughter, and the mom is dying of cancer but nobody knows till the second half of the movie, and it drags on until she dies in the end. Despite the cliche storyline, it made me tear up a couple times...which is odd, since I'm usually emotionless as a rock 3:[ Also ended up watching this movie about this korean guy and this chinese girl who were apparently friends in college who can only talk to each other in english, and the meet again one day in china when he's on a business trip, they talk, get to know each other better, ancient feelings arise, conflict, resolution, he has to go, it was well...a very korean movie. despite them talking in broken english for most of the time :P
Anyways, aside from the early departure of my meal, I'd say this was a pretty good flight :] can't wait to go on it again! Well, actually no, let's hope this year doesn't go by too fast.