Posts for category 'University'

Passed!!!!

Last post I said I would get the official exam results on September 7th. That's still true.

But my professor called me today to tell me unofficially that I have passed the exam. I am now, for real, a PhD student at Tokyo University!

Goukaku shimashita! Ureshii desu! (I passed! I'm happy!)

Officially I start October 1st, unofficially I can start pretty much right now. Of course the big first task is going to be finding a research topic.

Now let's hope life as a PhD student isn't too much like it's depicted in PHD Comics. :P

Categories: University, Japan
Posted on: 2007-08-25 04:18 UTC. Show comments (8)

Entrance exams: finished

At last they're over.

Yesterday I had the written exam; today the oral exam. The written exam was difficult. I had to answer three problems. Two were fine, the third one was just the kind I didn't want, and I ran out of time. Not knowing precisely what they want, I'm always hesitant to comment on whether I did well enough. Better assume the worst and be pleasantly surprised than the other way around. Maybe that makes me a pessimist, I don't know. :)

The oral exam went well, I think. This was mainly on my previous research and no one knows more about that than me, so that's always an advantage. Plus I know I'm a good public speaker. They had some other general interview-style questions as well, and those went well too. I have a pretty good feeling about this part, anyway.

September 7th I should find out if I passed. Until then, I reserve all comment. :)

Categories: University, Japan
Posted on: 2007-08-23 07:43 UTC. Show comments (0)

TOEFL result

I finally got the results for the TOEFL test I took a few weeks earlier. My score was 118 (out of 120), so that's as expected. :)

If only the entrance exam would be this easy...

Categories: University, Japan
Posted on: 2007-08-01 03:43 UTC. Show comments (1)

TOEFL and Rachmaninov

I just got back (well, actually I got back a while ago but I've been downstairs so I just got back in my room) and I thought I'd drop a quick note about today before going to sleep.

Today I had two major events: the TOEFL test and the Japan Philharmonic concert.

About the TOEFL I can be brief. It was long, it was boring, but I think it went well. I was finished well ahead of everyone else and fortunately they let you leave immediately. It still took me nearly three hours. No surprises here though. I'll get the result in fifteen days, or so I've been told.

Then the concert. As I said previously, this was the first time I've been to a classical performance. I can tell you though, it will not be the last. It was amazing! My seat was on the third floor almost entirely in the back, but I still had a very good view (the way the hall was constructed I don't think there were any really bad seats).

They played two pieces, both by Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto no. 3, and Symphony no. 2, in that order. The first is a favourite piece of mine, and this was an excellent performance. The pianist, Koyama Michie (Japanese name order, so Koyama is her last name), is my new hero. She put such energy, such zest into this piece, it was almost like she was performing a play behind her piano at times. She also made it look and sound so effortless, and that's saying something since Rachmaninov's piano work is the most complicated I know. It was very obvious she enjoyed the piece a lot, and that the audience enjoyed it a lot as well. When they started the final parts of the third movement, nearing the end, I was hoping they'd reveal a previously unknown fourth movement or something, I didn't want her to stop! But after 45 minutes it was over, and followed by a well deserved round of applause that lasted nearly 10 minutes. She came back on stage five times because people just wouldn't stop applauding. :)

I've got several different performances of this Piano Concert on my computer; this is now my favourite one (ok, so I'm biased cause I saw it live, who cares :P )

Then there was a fifteen minute intermission, followed by the Symphony No. 2. They played the 60 minute symphony in its entirety (it is often shortened). It was definitely very good, but Rachmaninov without piano is like a café without beer. Nothing bad about their performance, I just like the first piece better than this one. Still, I enjoyed it a lot.

Random notes:

  • I think I was the only non-Japanese there, at least I didn't see any others. :)
  • Whenever the orchestra fell silent during the short pauses between the movements, everybody would start coughing simultaneously. It was as if someone turned on a sign "cough now". I had to stop myself from laughing out loud the first time that happened.
  • During the final applause all the orchestra sections stood up individually, and strangely the percussion section got the loudest applause. My theory is that people felt sorry for them because they hardly had anything to do (with the exception of the timpani which had a fair share of work in the second piece at least). There was this one girl on xylophone, I think she had maybe five measures through the whole 60 minute piece. She was just sitting there the rest of the time. I applauded extra hard especially for her. :)
  • No amount of money thrown at speaker hardware can beat the sound quality of a live orchestra.
  • I'm definitely going again, but I'll try to find a hall that's a bit closer. This was definitely a beautiful hall with great acoustics, but it's just too far away. It's almost fifty minutes by train, and it's quite an expensive journey as well (and the concert tickets aren't cheap to begin with). There are definitely halls closer by that the Japan Philharmonic frequents, so this shouldn't pose a problem.
  • This post is nowhere near as short as I had intended it to be. :)

Categories: University, Personal, Japan
Posted on: 2007-07-07 15:37 UTC. Show comments (0)

Entrance exam preparations

Some of you may have noticed that I rarely write about university stuff. The simple explanation is that there's simply not a lot to say yet. I haven't started doing research yet, because I first have to take the PhD student entrance exam in August. Only when I pass that will I be a real PhD student and will the real work start.

So my university life currently consists of studying Japanese and studying for the exam. The latter involves a lot of reading, mostly of stuff that I've done before in the past six years.

And blog posts of the nature "today I read two chapters in book X" wouldn't be very entertaining, now would they? But rest assured, if there is news I'll be sure to say it.

The first "event" I have coming up is the TOEFL test, which is an English language proficiency test I have to do as part of the entrance examinations, so it shouldn't be a problem. That'll be in the morning on July 7th (so that'll be a busy day).

Categories: University, Japan
Posted on: 2007-06-14 07:57 UTC. Show comments (0)

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