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Journals from Kanto Gakuin University, Japan

2013-12-04 Finals Week and the JLPT

Life is grand as the semester draws to an end here in Japan. Classes are over, the weather is fine, and we can sleep in! Like any ending, this one is bittersweet, especially since half of our group is lucky enough to extend their stay.

Since we last talked, our group here at KGU has managed to endure our little finals week. We had a few last quizzes and tests in Japanese class, but nothing out of the ordinary. Our "final," as it were, for language took place in form of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), a monster of an test that felt nostalgically yet uncomfortably reminiscent of a high school AP exam. This trial, however, did give us the opportunity to see what sort of other people are here in the greater Tokyo region working away at their multilingual abilities. I made friends with the young man from Indonesia stressing next to me, there to test for his third time. We also saw people from Switzerland, India, China, and the US, among other nationalities. Pretty amazing to realize that we were all brought together there in pursuit of Japanese. I guess in many other situations the common language would be English, so this opportunity was really cool in experiencing what it's like to have to communicate in a second language with people whose first language is different from your own. As English speakers, that's not something we have to deal with very often, and I'm glad for the perspective it provided.
Other finals included a behemoth of a project for Japanese culture class: at least ten minutes of presenting in Japanese. Kelsi and I made a video about the education system, and everyone else did powerpoints, one on art and one comparing themes in traditional English and Japanese fairy tales and myths. We also had a test for culture class. I wish our final could have been another field trip instead, maybe proper temple etiquette, or chopstick manners. Ah well, such is life.
Our final for Politics was by far the easiest, and perhaps the most significant. In simple questionnaire form, we were simply asked what our most memorable experience in Japan had been, how me might go about dealing with international politics if we were ambassadors, and how we expected our time here to shape our future. Deceptively difficult to answer, as who can really pick the best experience, or accurately predict how an experience as significant as this will play our in our future, but at least there are no wrong answers to questions like that.

After our last Japanese class on Friday we combined classes to make memory posters, which were then hung in our event hall where we later convened for our official farewell party. Our host families came, there was delicious food, and all our buddies and families gave speeches about our time here, after which we also were expected to say some words, but most of us struggled with that task quite a bit, due to excessive tears. Afterward we went to karaoke with the buddies one last time.

This week we are all partially doing our own thing, and partially trying to hang out as a group as much as we can before Saturday. Most of us went to the Ghibli museum and sushi afterward, we celebrated the end of the JLPT with shabu-shabu, yesterday Sydney, Nick, and I took a last trip to Kamakura, and most of us are seeing our host families again one last time. We're also working on thank you letters for the buddies and Eguchi-san.

It's been an honor to represent Linfield in Japan, and we are infinitely grateful to all the support we've received from both sides of the ocean. Hooray for study abroad!

Over and out!

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