Monday, December 6, 2010

How the JLPT N2 killed my Sunday

I didnt have time to write a blog post last week so I will quickly summarize the previous weekendbefore I get to the most recent one.

Friday I went to Mikado for some casuals and then went to Current and PSY. Big surprise! Then Saturday, I went to a thanksgiving international party with all you can eat Turkey and stuff and open bar as usual. It was in Shinjuku so after that, we went to Current for Sushi's 51st birthday party. Most of the regulars showed up and it was a good sized and fun party. After that I went to PSY for Toru's birthday for the last hour. Sunday, we played poker again in Maebashi. This time only 5 people played cuz some of the other guys were busy. Once again Emmet was the big winner, this time winning over 20,000 yen. I came in 2nd and won about 4,800 which is the best ive done so far. I had one really bad hand where I lost 3,000 in one hand so I could have won way more if I wasnt a dumbass but oh well.

Now, moving on to this past weekend. I started off by going to Shinjuku. Right outside the East Exit of Shinjuku station, there was a giant monster hunter statue. A new Monster Hunter game just came out for the PSP and for whatever reason its popular as hell right now in Japan. Ive only played one Monster Hunter game before (Sam gave me it for free cuz he lost his PSP) and while it seemed kinda fun, I dont get the big craze over it. I only played it a little so maybe I should give it more of a chance.

In any case, I needed to pick up some cigars for my dad for Christmas. Meanwhile, Emmet tried to go to this one book store that has a big English book section cuz he wanted a travel guide for when he goes to Thailand over the holidays. He couldnt find it so after I got the cigars I met back up with him and showed him how to get there. I helped him find the book and then while he was paying for it, there was this pretty hot Japanese girl who looked at me with this huge smile. I just sorta nodded and smiled back. Emmet made a comment how someone seems to like me lol. If I was a single guy maybe I would have went to go talk to her but theres no point in hitting on some girl at the bookstore. Then Emmet got the idea that he would start trying to hang out here and "shop for English books" more in hopes to meet Japanese girls who are interested in learning English or getting with foreigners lol. Im curious to see how that ends up working for him.

The store was about to close so we left after getting the book. I wanted to go to Mikado to practice a bit but it was already getting pretty late and I didnt feel like going to Takadanobaba so we went to Shinjuku Sportsland. I brought a small bottle of whiskey in there with me and already had a few beers on the train. I played against 2 guys and they both kicked my ass pretty hard. I probably shouldnt have drank so much so far lol. So, we didnt stay there for very long and decided to go check out Current.

Emmet was taking a while to finish the booze he bought so we sat down outside a bit before going into Current and I picked up another beer. While we were drinking, Jason, a guy who sometimes drinks at Current, was walking on his way there and stopped to talk with us for a bit. Jason works for an airline and gets flights so cheap to wherever he wants, they are practically free. So, even though he lives in the US, he comes to Japan quite often.

After finishing our booze, we got to Current. Unfortunately, it was quite dead tonight. We stayed for one beer and then decided we would go to Roppongi. Jason had plans to go to Shibuya so Emmet and I headed there.

We passed the crazy Roppongi girl on the street that Emmet was banging for a while. She was walking the opposite direction with 2 guys. We then went to a club I had never been to before called 911. Surprisingly, Jason (the same guy we saw earlier at Current) was there. I guess Shibuya didnt work out or something. So we chilled with him for a bit. Just like Gas Panic, its free to get in, which is one of the conditions I have for going to clubs usually cuz I hate paying expensive cover when i dont really like clubs to begin with. To offset the cost of it being free to get in, drinks were rediculously expensive... like 1000 yen and up, but I got pretty smashed before we went and drank more whiskey on the way there so I only got 2 drinks the whole time we were there and one of them was a long island iced tea so I was ok. I dont remember much about the club except that it was crowded and seemed like it was at least better than gas panic.

We stayed till after 5 until the trains started running again. Then, Jason said that we could crash on the floor in his hotel room in Shibuya for free so we took up his offer and saved a little money.

I woke up the next morning and I heard the shower running. Jason was asleep and I couldnt see Emmet. I figured it was probably him in the shower but I wasnt sure. In any case, I had to get going so that I would be on time for the GG Johnny-o cup at Mikado so I just left.

As soon as I arrived at Mikado, Emmet mailed me asking where I went and I told him to just come meet me at Mikado.

I got a few practice games in before the tournament started and did fairly decent and got a win vs Machaboo's Eddie again. This time, not as many people entered the tournament. I asked Gaku (my teammate again today) why he thought the turnout was so low and he says he blames it on the new Monster Hunter game lol.

Just like 2 weeks ago, this time we were once again in the zero taisen bracket (meaning we had to fight an extra match), so we were one of the first ones to play. Our opponent's were Machaboo (ED) and Ririko (BR). I won RPS so we got to see who their first character was. Gaku says he hates Eddie, and the first character ended up being Ririko's Bridget, so this time, Gaku went first. The videos for all our matches will be uploaded eventually and I will link them here once they are. For now ill just say, Gaku beat Ririko and then he went on to pull a close win against Machaboo as well! So, we advanced and I didnt need to play.

Our 2nd match was vs Ain (KY) and Roy (SO). We lost RPS this time so we had to declare our first character. Gaku requested to go first again so I told him to go ahead. He had to fight Ain's Ky. It was a pretty good fight but Ain beat Gaku. If you read my blog often enough, im sure you know how I feel about Ain, so I really wanted to beat him. And... I did! I won the first round, lost the 2nd, and won the 3rd! Now I just had to beat Roy, which I can usually do in casuals and consider the Sol matchup one of the ones I know better than most. Yet... for some reason, I lost. My biggest problems were just falling for command throw tick shenanigans and not FD volcanic vipers enough. I probably could have stood to play a bit more careful but oh well. Would have been nice if we advanced but tough shit I guess.

After we lost, Gaku said he would like to team with me again for the last 2 tournaments which are on the weekend of the 18th. So, hopefully we can pull out a win next time. I left Mikado after that because once again, today was another Final Roundbat tournament in Shinagawa. Today was the German player named Ken's birthday.

I brought my own booze thinking it was BYOB but Ken was awsome and brought a ton of alcohol to share with everyone so I didnt even really end up having to drink any of my own. This time, the tournament only had 7 people enter. A few other people showed up to play casuals and hang out.

My first match was against Scott Popular's Dudley. I won. Up next, I had to fight Bull410's T.Hawk and I won again. With that, I had made it to the grand finals and as expected, my opponent was Tokido's Akuma. You can see the match vs Tokido here. While I was sorta expecting to get fucked up really bad, somehow I actually did really well. The grand finals were 3/5 rounds 2/3 matches. The first match, I won 2 of the rounds and took it down to the wire and Tokido only had like 10 percent life left when I lost. The 2nd set I didnt do as well but I still put up a reasonable fight. After the match, Tokido said my Rose gets better every time we play, which is odd cuz I havnt even been practicing SSFIV at all lately. I hadnt even played since the last Final Roundbat tournament. I guess I just played smart.

After the tournament, I won a free One Piece calendar that I will give to Ryoko cuz she really likes the One Piece manga. I also drank a shit ton of alcohol. They had all you can eat Domino's Pizza again this time and they got a TON of pizzas. There were probably like over 15 people there and they wound up having 3 whole pizza's leftover. I straight up pigged out. In fact... I ate way too much pizza. I was pretty drunk so I didnt really know when to stop and I felt bloated as hell afterwords. The doctor told me not to over eat cuz of my stomach problems and I probably should have listened.

After the party ended, Ken invited a bunch of us to go to an izakaya near Shinagawa station to have a few more drinks for his birthday. He also will be moving back to Germany in a few days so this would be the last time we would see him for a while (or ever?). So, I went with to the izakaya for a few drinks. I was still feeling extremely bloated so I went into the bathroom and made myself throw up a bit cuz it seriously was in my best interest and pouring more beer over it wasnt gonna help much lol. I just threw up a little bit and I felt much better after that. I had 2 beers and Ken ended up paying for the cuz he was being really cool. Some of the guys stayed longer but I went ahead and left cuz I needed to get to Current before the trains stopped. Jude, the Claw player who came with me to Current last time, came with me again.

I pretty much couldn't stay out at Current very late, because Sunday, I would be taking the JLPT (Japanese Langauge Proficiency Test) in Maebashi. I was going to take the N2 level (which is the 2nd hardest one). Since I had to take the test in Maebashi and it started at 12:30 (meaning if you werent in the room at that time you CANT take the test) I pretty much would have to wake up at like 9 am. So, I told myself I would stay at Current no later than 2 and that way I could get 7 hours of sleep which is enough for me.

Well... things didnt work out that way. Current ended up being pretty awsome that night and lots of friends were there. I spent a good amount of time drinking with SPG Chris and Sachiko, and talking with Joanna and several other people. Emmet also showed up with a girl he met at the international party last week (the Thanksgiving one) but she was already shit faced when they got there so he said he would probably have to send her home in a taxi lol. So yea... I told myself "OK fine, Ill stay till 3, one hour wont kill me." And... I stayed true to my words and left at 3. Unfortunately, when I got to the manga kissa, it was full. I went to a few more and they were all full too. So, I figured if im gonna wait around I might as well just go back to Current and hang out some more. I ended up staying till pretty much 5 when they closed. So... I didnt get to sleep until around 5, which meant I only got 4 hours of sleep, cuz I did end up waking up at 9.

I got a whopper for the road, ate it, and passed out hard on the train the whole way to Maebashi pretty much. I still felt drained and tired as fuck but there was nothing I could do about it except drink some Redbull. I met up with May (another ALT) at the station, who was also taking the JLPT (but she was taking the N4) and we agreed to split a cab cuz it was being held at Gunma University which is quite far from Maebashi station. So, I got a Redbull and another quick cheeseburger, we hopped in the cab, and I made it on time to the test.

So, this was my very first time to try taking the JLPT. I wasnt really sure if I was ready for the N2 cuz its pretty advanced, but I didnt wanna bother starting with the N3 cuz pretty much anything below N2 is worthless. You can actually use N2 and N1 to get a job in Japan but no one gives a fuck if you have N3 or lower. I also hadnt really been studying very hardcore. I pretty much would just study some vocabulary and kanji readings at work when I could find a little time, but somehow ive actually been fairly busy at work lately so I would often be lucky if I got an hour a day to study and some days I didnt even get that much.

The test is broken up into 2 parts. The first part is like 2 hours long, around 75 questions, and its all reading comprehension and vocabulary and kanji. It started off... not good and pretty much ended up getting hopeless once I got to the big long paragraphs at the end. There would be just page long blocks of kanji and I had to read it and answer like 1 or 2 questions and then go to the next page long block of kanji and there were tons of these. I didnt bring a watch and there was no clock in the room (WTF) so I had no idea how much time was left, but I sorta glanced over at the chick sitting in front of me to the left (not to copy her... which I didnt, but to see how far she was along) and she was like 10 questions ahead of me. So I started to panic and just skimmed the paragraphs really fast and half ass. At the time, I didnt take into account the fact that she was Chinese and probably knew the kanji pretty damn well as a result, so I shouldnt have panicked so much. Next time I need to bring a watch. I managed to answer all the questions but honestly guessed on a lot of them. There was actually a ton of vocab and kanji on there that I never even studied at all, which is strange cuz I followed the official kanji list on the JLPT site and made sure I at least learned the meanings of ALL of them but they busted out kanji that wasnt even on there. It was pretty annoying.

After the reading part of the test, there was an intermission. I went outside and chilled and talked with some other ALTs like Phil and Bloodbath about the test. I found that I wasnt the only one who felt like the test was ridiculously difficult. I felt bad for Bloodbath and Phil cuz they were cramming a ton recently but still said it was extremely hard and they felt lost. It just makes me feel even more hopeless about it.

Anyway, the listening part of the test still remained so it was time to go get that shit done. The listening part was something like 30 questions and it was just straight up listening and choosing the best choice. Im pretty sure I fucking rocked this part of the test. The listening part was SOOOOO much easier for me than the reading part. I guess it makes sense because I consider my spoken Japanese and listening comprehension to be fairly good, but my reading skills are kinda bad. Probably because I talk to Ryoko all the time and all my other Japanese friends and constantly hear the language, which you can learn a lot that way from not actually doing much active studying, but I dont try to read nearly as much stuff as I probably should. I would say I at least got 90% on the listening. After the test, the other guys also agreed that the listening part was much easier.

The results wont be released until February but im pretty sure I wont pass. Even if I aced the listening, it wont matter, cuz if you get less than 60% on the reading part, you auto fail regardless of how well you did on listening.

After it was over, a bunch more ALTs all sorta just stood around talking about the test and stuff. Andy was there too and he took the N3 level but said he wasnt sure how he did. Eventually we all decided we would go out to eat. Everyone had a car except Bloodbath, Phil, and me, so we said we would walk and meet them there. It turned out that the place they were going was farther than we thought so we just gave up and went somewhere else but it was good anyway.

After eating, we took a cab back to the station. Bloodbath went his own way and Phil and I rode the train back together cuz we live in the same town. We got on the wrong train and didnt realize it split off onto a different line at Shibukawa (ive never even ridden that line before) and we wound up at like the most middle of nowhere ghetto station I have ever been to. Luckily another train came sorta soon.

When we got back to Shibukawa (we only passed it by 2 stops before we realized the train changed lines), we waited for the next train for a bit. While we were there, there was this drunk old man who was straight up POUNDING LOUD on the glass window of the gate entrance counter trying to get the staff's attention. The guy didnt come out for a while and this old guy was just making a fucking racket over nothing. Phil and I were having a good laugh over it. I dont even think this guy knew why he was angry. He just kept babbling and eventually the station staff guy came out and the old man just called him a bastard and stuff a bunch. The staff tried to quiet him down but he acted up again. Eventually some young woman entered the station and just straight up told the guy to STFU. The old man went from being all pissed and crazy and apologized normally but then just went right back to shouting a bunch of crap. The woman came back and just went off on him LOL! Our train came soon after that, but it was certainly entertaining while it lasted. Im just glad he was some stupid drunk old man and wasnt getting violent.

When we got back to my town it was already like 9:30 and I was tired as hell. I dropped Phil off and then went home and just went right to bed and slept for like 9 hours, but I still felt really tired this morning and my stomach feels really bad. Probably from over eating that pizza. Hopefully it will start to heal soon but it doesnt feel so good.

Anyway, I will try to take the JLPT N2 again in the summer (its offered twice a year) and hopefully will be able to study more this time, but that shit fucking kicked my ass. It's pretty discouraging.

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