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Virginia Beach, VA, United States
This blog (or 日記 if you will) is intended to chronicle my experience in Japan at the Yamasa Institute in Okazaki, Japan from July to August, 2012. I have always wanted to have a journal, though, so I will try to get into a habit of writing frequently about the things important to me in my life. Besides, I plan on returning to Yamasa to participate in the AIJP after I get out of the Navy! These are the Espelancer Chronicles. Erica is also blogging about the trip, and you should totally check it out. It is The Marvelous Misadventures of Schneewittchen link over on the sidebar.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Class Placement

   Today, our first day at Yamasa officially started, although it was more of an orientation day with no actual classes.  We woke up bright and early to get a great start to our first day... by which I mean I woke up at about 3AM and could not get back to sleep because I could not wait to get to class.  We didn't have to be at Yamasa until 9, so I took the opportunity to finish  this week's calculus homework, and then Erica and I went out for some 朝ごはん (breakfast).  Doesn't that breakfast over on the left look delicious?  You would never guess we got that from Denny's.

   Well, we got to school about an hour early (mostly because we were afraid that we would not be able to find it).  At 9, we were introduced to some of the staff, and then we introduced ourselves to our fellow new students and the staff.  In our group, besides us, there was a woman from Greece, a guy from Venezuela, an American elementary school teacher who teaches on a US base near Yokohama, and a guy from North Carolina.  After introductions, we commenced the dreaded placement test to determine which class each of us would be assigned to.

   The placement test is composed of two parts -- a written test and an interview.  The written test for SILAC is divided into the same sections as the SILAC modules themselves, most likely so that the instructors can determine which module a student is weakest in so that he can be assigned to that.  The test progresses from easy (beginner level), where you simply fill in a blank from four choices and becomes more difficult until you get into intermediate level questions.  Towards the end of the written test, you will find yourself filling in those blanks yourself and reading a short prose and answering questions relating to it.  If you have difficulty completing the test, though, it is quite OK to give up.  Even though I was struggling towards the end of the test, I was able to answer every question (even if I had to make an educated guess).
Statue of Tarokichi Hattori in front of Yamasa II

    After the written test there is a spoken interview, where an instructor will ask you questions (usually pertaining to what you missed on the test).  It is not unusual for someone with a lot of grammar knowledge to be placed a level lower due to lack of speaking ability, which makes sense because Yamasa is here to help people actually be able to communicate.

   Based on your overall test results, you get placed in one of 5 groups:  Beginner (for those folks who have never studied Japanese and cannot read or write in ひらがな or カタカナ),  Basic 1, Basic 2, Basic 3, and Intermediate.   I was placed in Basic 3, and while I will be reviewing concepts that I have studied before, I will also be doing chapters in みんなの日本語 that I have not gotten to yet.  Erica, unsurprisingly, was placed in Basic 1 since she already knows the ひらがな and カタカナ.

きつつき, or the Woodpecker, is a lunch spot on campus.
   After our test and interview, we were cut out for lunch until 1:00 PM, so we ate at the きつつき, which was basically a traditional Japanese cafe where you can get some really good sandwiches and juices.  As Declan Murphy put it, "it is the kind of food that your Japanese grandmother would make for you if you had a Japanese grandmother." 

   In the afternoon, we met Declan Murphy, who is basically the guy to go to if we have any questions about anything.  He also handles admissions.  I must say, though, this guy is a certified badass -- he is of Irish descent and serves as director for Yamasa, as well as the handler of most student affairs.  He gave us the low-down on living in Japan and about what we could expect from Yamasa's programs. 

   Afterwards, we took off for the evening, explored Okazaki for a little while, and checked out the AEON Mall, where I picked up my copy of コクリコ坂から and watched a movie called グスコーブドリの伝記.  I'll write about Okazaki some other time, though, I need to go to sleep for morning class.  I'll leave you with a few more pictures, though.
Sugarwater and a random Japanese house.


  1. you really got that from a dennys?

    1. Yup, Denny's is much better over here, but it is a little weird that they do not serve breakfast other than in the morning.

  2. Jealous of Sugarwater getting to tag along and see all these fabulous places.