This last week has been quite a busy one, with a lot of tests, and then mid-term exams on Thursday and Friday.
Mid-term exams are a bit of an alien concept to me, as they aren't as common in Britain as in other countries. Last year at Leeds Uni the Beginner class had some mid-term exams, but the Intermediate class only had end of term tests.
The tests were only worth about 18% of the overall grade for this term (all our homework, essays, speaking classes, mini-tests, worksheets and bigger exams count), but every little makes a difference. The one on Thursday consisted of three parts, kanji (Chinese character reading and writing), grammar, and reading comprehension, and then the one yesterday (Friday) was speaking.
I'd had one of the kanji, grammar and reading tests before, for lessons 1 and 2, and then this one was for lessons 3 and 4. On the first test I got a C, which doesn't sound very good in my books, but I got 79%, which is 1% off a B. The grading system is similar to the American one, so 90%+ is an A, 80% is B, 70% is C, 60% is a pass, and anything below 60% is a fail.
So, whereas in Britain 40% is a pass (although not a very good pass), I need to pass at least 60% of the module to continue to Level 6 next term. I was wondering why Britain's grade boundaries are lower, but apparently British exams are harder than American ones, so it balanced out in the end. If it didn't, everyone would be coming to Britain for easy degrees, which they're not!
But anyway, the first test went okay. Just like last time, kanji was the easiest section, and then grammar was okay, and reading comprehension was quite challenging. In the first test on lessons 1 and 2, I only got 2 kanji wrong out of 50, so I doubt I can do that well again!
And then, speaking... Speaking is my downfall. The test only lasted 7 minutes, but we had to read a section that the teacher randomly chose from one of the first four lessons of our textbook, J-501, and then answer questions about what we'd just read. We were tested on our fluency and how natural we sounded with intonation and pauses etc, and then knowledge, understanding and fluency in our answers. Fluency and I don't really mix, so I don't think I did very well at all! But we'll see. We get feedback from the speaking test in the middle of this coming week, and then the other results later on.
I was really tired last night after the test, and then Soul Run practice in the afternoon, but I went to Shibuya with Rob, Katy, and three other people from Leeds who go to Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, which is very near ICU. We had dinner in my favourite cheap restaurant in Shibuya, Kourakuen (幸楽園), and then went to karaoke. We always seem to go to the same restaurant and karaoke place! But they're cheap and we know they're good, so it's not a problem.
We did two hours of karaoke but I burned out about half an hour before the end. We walked back to the station, and then the others decided to stay out all night and go to a club or an izakaya (Japanese-style pub). But I knew I wouldn't last much longer, so I headed home. It seemed to take forever with no one to talk to! But I got back at about midnight and when I got into bed, I spent 12 hours there! I think I must have really needed a long rest.
So I've spent today just doing laundry, cleaning and vacuuming my room and organising my school folders. It's been so nice! Just to not have any plans and be able to relax. I did some food shopping, but because most of my clothes were in the wash I had to go in shorts and a T-shirt. I was worried it would be too cold, but it was just about right. The weather has cooled down now, vending machines are stocking hot drinks as well as cold now. There was a big storm two nights ago, which didn't help the speaking revision, but it was interesting that there was suddenly thunder, hail and rain for just a few minutes, and then it was gone. Quickest storm ever!
Tomorrow I'm going to continue with the relaxing and go and meet one of my Chinese housemates from last year who's studying at University near here. It'll be the first time I've seen him in over a year so I'm really looking forward to that!
Then on Monday it's back to the normal routine of classes. Better start learning the kanji for next week's test!