David Chart's Japan Diary

October 6th 2003

Today's main event was the placement test for the school. Your class for the quarter depends on your results in this test, so, unusually, you don't want to do as well as you possibly can. Scoring above your ability just puts you in a class beyond your current stage, which is as bad as being in a class that's too easy.

There are two rounds of tests. The first, in the morning, is for people up to intermediate level, although everyone takes it. There were 78 new students, 50 on long term visas (six months or more) and 28 here just for three months, so the tests were split over a few rooms. I found the first test quite easy, and did well on it. The reward for this was -- another test.

Before the second test, there was time for lunch, and I ate with Yumi, a Korean woman who has also just started, and who also did well on the first test. We ate at Atom Boy sushi, a sushi place where the dishes are 100 yen each, and come round on a conveyor belt. You take the ones that you want, and the staff count your plates to determine your bill. It was quite nice, and I may go back there for dinner. Hey, I like sushi. Still, at maybe 700 yen for a meal, it's too expensive to do all the time, but I'm not going to start cooking properly until after tomorrow.

When I got back to school after lunch, I found that there was post waiting for me at the office. It was a card from my mother, welcoming me to my new home. Thanks, Mum!

In the afternoon, we had the difficult test. And it was difficult. I did badly on it, which isn't suprising, since it went all the way from the beginning of intermediate to the beginning of advanced, and I'm only early intermediate. There were only 13 people taking this exam, five long-term and eight short-term. If that's representative, the classes should be small, which would be good. The written test was followed by an interview, to get an idea of your level of spoken Japanese. I think my performance there was representative of my general ability, so that's OK.

I should be able to connect my laptop to the internet tomorrow. I spoke to the IT manager, and explained, in Japanese, that there is no anti-virus software for Linux on PowerPC because there are no viruses for Linux on PowerPC. This is perhaps the biggest advantage of using a super-minority operating system. He said that, if I thought it was safe, it was OK to use it. So now I will have to keep a careful eye on Linmux security, to make sure that I stay safe. The fact that I will only connect to the network for a few minutes per day will help, as well.

I plan to connect to the internet after class every day, download all my emails, and send the replies to the previous day's set. The school is closed at the weekend, so I won't be answering emails on Saturday or Sunday, and replies to emails received on Friday won't go out until Monday. Apparently, however, when I get a mobile phone I will be able to received international calls free, although it will cost the caller a fortune. So there will be a few more options for getting in touch with me than I thought.

I bought a hanging rail for my wardrobe from the 100 yen shop, although it cost 150 yen. Now I need to buy some more coathangers, and another rail (now that I know it fits in the cupboard). I'll do that on my way back from dinner, as the shop is open until 8pm.

Tomorrow is the orientation session. If I get any problems after that, I can ask in the student services office, so it shouldn't be much trouble.

Still no pictures of Okazaki. Be patient.