An undergrad once again

It’s April in Japan, and you know what that means. Get your cameras ready because this is the season when Japan’s most over-photographed subjects makes their re-appearance. School girls.

The Japanese school year starts in April, so once again the morning trains are packed with students and leering salarymen. And starting this week, I’m one of the former. Japan might be tighting their immigration system in (an extremely misplaced) response to a rise in crime, but once you do get over the wall, it’s surprisingly easy to get by as a student. What with government assistance, plentiful local public and private scholarships, and (severely) reduced tuition for foreign students, you are in for a pretty sweet ride. …assuming you know enough Japanese to make it through the entrance exams. And not a lot of other Americans do, because not a lot of Americans try. At my university there were 128 new students. 118 Of them were from China, 5 from Korea, 4 from Taiwan, and me.

Needless to say, they were ill-prepared for my entrance. As with all students, I had to take an English placement test, to determine what level of English I would start at, that is, if they allowed me to even get credits for taking English courses. It was an hour test that took me 3 minutes. My class placement? English I…Apparently there are only two classes that freshman are allowed to enroll in (again, neither of which I can take): English I or Basic English. As I sat in the lecture hall for 57 minutes, waiting for the test to finish, the one thing that kept me going was knowing I could say “Yeah, they put me Advanced English VII” because of course, everyone wants to know what level the American tested into.

Well I don’t get credit for English classes, so I opped for Chinese instead. Because frankly thats why I came to Japan, to learn Chinese. I’m also taking such exciting classes as History of Science (which had a math test the first day to make the trifecta in cross-subject courses) and Human Geography.

At least Japanese text books are cheap. 12 Classes of textbooks for under 20,000円/$200.

I’ve only had two days of classes so far, but my most feared class, Introduction to Modern Law, is actually looking to be a cakewalk. The textbook is full of terms I’ve never heard of. When I try to look them up, I either get no result, or more words I don’t understand. But the professor had a cold, so class ended an hour early, but not before mentioning that there would be no reports, quizes, or presentations.

However the class I thought was going to be the easiest, Micro Economics, is going to be…really easy. The textbook looks like it was written for an elementary school class with ADHD, comics on every page.


In the comic, apparently Country A got information from Country D, and is telling the UN on country B, who then tells them to cut it out. Then Country B agrees. Which is exactly how it works in real life.


~ by foomfoom on April 12, 2006.

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