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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

University Entrance Exams, and the discovery of a paperclip embedded in my spine

One thing I'd forgotten, when heading to the uni health service this morning, was that it's entrance exam season at Rikkyo University at the moment.

Entrance exams are serious business in Japan, and are arguably, and somewhat ironically, the most difficult part of one's entire university career. Once you've passed them and been accepted though, it's a doss, as has been proved by the huge number of snoring students that I share my classes with.

The fact that so much is at stake means that the uni has to go to great lengths to ensure that no cheating occurs. The most noticeable precaution taking is the shutting of every single gate in the 2-metre high fence that encircles the entire campus. Security guards are stationed at regular intervals around the perimeter: the only way in is through one of the approved entrances, where identification papers must be shown.

Hopeful students queuing to enter the Rikkyo campus

University entrance exams signal the climax of years of study at school and at after-school schools, and after after-school schools, thus it's only appropriate that the mothers go along with their children to wish them luck. Once their precious little darlings have passed through the gates, all they can do is wait, and pray - and pray they do. I saw several mums kneeling on the pavement by the university's name plate, asking the Gods to whisper the answers to the multiple choice questions in their children's ears.

All this security meant of course that I was unable to get to the health clinic. Thankfully though, the International Centre, responsible for us foreigners, is just outside the WOOP WOOP security zone as it's technically known, and so I was able to ask for advice on where to go to have my back looked at.

It turned out that there was a decent clinic just down the road, and after a wait of about an hour I'd had two X-rays taken of the bit of my spine that is giving me such trauma.

I was astonished when I was shown the results on the doctor's very sexy computer. No wonder I was in such agony - there was a paperclip embedded in my spine! How on earth did it get there?

Just as I was trying to recall whether I'd had any accidents in stationary cupboards lately, the nurse came along and unstuck the paperclip from the back of my shirt. It had been attached with sellotape by the doctor to mark the point where I'd told him it hurt.

Zooming in to the relevant point, it was clear that thankfully, my spine was OK. No compressed disks. Everything in the right place. It would seem that the problem is just severe bruising and a moderate amount of swelling, which should ease with time. This is of course very good news, as I was starting to imagine trips back to the UK to get myself fixed up, and then 6 months confined to bed, which would be unbearable unless *Twinkle* chose to spend 6 months in the same bed.

The national insurance system here works jolly well too. Upon showing my card (which I received having paid the 4,000 yen / £17 annual premium) I was given a 66% discount, and the remainder I can claim back from university with whom I have another insurance policy. I haven't even had to think about using the insurance I bought in the UK, which is a big relief as it's a pile of pants, dirty ones at that. They successfully managed to avoid paying for the camera that I lost on my way over here, the swines.

Well, I think it's time for a bit of cooking.

Tarra.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Brittany said...

Heey just wanna say I'm listening to your podcast and i love your accent well byyee

Brittany

PS I'm looking to study abroad at Sophia, Kwangei, or Hiroshima wish me luck :D

13/2/07 15:00  
Blogger Joseph said...

Cheers Brittany, glad you like the show, or my accent at least! Hopefully will get the next episode out in the next few days!

13/2/07 16:19  
Blogger Joseph said...

p.s. good luck with the study abroad!

13/2/07 16:20  

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