The IUC Program began on Monday. They got us (44 of the 45 that are in the program) into a large classroom and after some brief remarks, each person--student or staff--got up to introduce themselves in Japanese. There is simply nothing less conducive to a group getting to know each other. Even if I hadn't been nervously rehearsing what I was about to say (or sweating about what I had just said), I could hardly keep sixty consecutive introductions straight.
Starting that morning, the participants of the program are not allowed to speak English on the 5th floor of the Pacifico Yokohama building. This is, of course, to encourage us to practice speaking Japanese. All over the offices and shared spaces, there are signs that say, "No English" or "英語禁止”.
We also learned some more details about our placement exams. These will determine what class level we are assigned to. There are seven parts to this test. The first one was a speaking test, a 15-minute interview with one of the teachers. On Tuesday morning, we sat for a four hour exam. There were sections for kanji, listening, reading, and, finally, grammar. There was also a take-home writing test. We will find out about our placement on Friday, when we will each have a 20-25 minute evaluation session with one of the teachers.
Saturday edit: The evaluation session came and went. Now, I have a five-pointed graph with a pentagon showing me how I compare to the average IUC student: the smaller and more irregular, the worse and more unbalanced your skill set. My little wobbly pentagon of current and future anxiety. The handy numerical breakdown of 12 years of learning and forgetting.