Last weekend, Michael and I drove down to Chicago to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. This was my third time taking the test, but his first. The first time I took the test was in 2009, I took level 2 and didn’t pass it. I took level N3 next, after they changed the levels. This time, I was going to take the N2, which was about the same as the level 2 I took the first time. Michael was also going to take the N2. We both felt fairly confident that we could pass the exam, judging by the practice tests available online.
We left in the afternoon on Friday. The test wasn’t until Sunday afternoon, but we wanted to go and have fun in Chicago for the weekend. We arrived at about 7pm and checked into our hostel (about $30 a night each, very cheap for the location). Our room wasn’t anything special though.
The place was pretty nice though, and only a few blocks from our testing center. It was called the Chicago Getaway Hostel and they had free breakfast and dinner.
We did a lot of walking in Chicago. On Saturday, the first thing we wanted to do was go and get a Chicago style hot dog. We parked relatively close to Millennium Park and then started walking.
We ended up going with Portillo’s for our hot dog experience. I think our first choice was going to be Downtown Dogs, but they were closed for some reason. That’s okay though, because Portillo’s was top notch.
After the awesome hot dogs, it was time for some more walking.
And ended up in Millennium Park.
After a full day of city exploring, we finished with some Chicago style, deep dish, stuffed crust pizza at Giordano’s.
That night, when we got back to the hostel around 10:00, I was saying to Michael that I wished we had been able to go up to the sky deck at night. Too bad it was already closed. We had the idea to check the John Hancock Observatory. Turns out it was open until 11! We had an hour to go check it out still. We bought discounted tickets from our hostel and went to the observatory. Unfortunately, we made a mistake and took the wrong elevator and ended up at the restaurant instead of the observatory. By the time we got back down and got to the right elevator, we had missed the last one of the day… I was really disappointed, but we decided we could still come back tomorrow after our test to celebrate and get one last look at Chicago before we drove home. I thought that still sounded pretty good, so that’s what we did.
The test itself was on Sunday. We had breakfast at a diner by our hostel, then walked to our testing center. The weather was surprisingly mild for December 1st. I think that the test was still pretty difficult, as I remembered it being. I was hoping that after four more years of study I would have just flown through it with ease, but I’m sorry to say I can’t say that’s the case! It was still very challenging, although I feel like I did do much better than my first time around. We don’t get the results until the end of February, so we have to wait a bit before we find out. Michael said he thought the test was very hard as well.
We did go back to the observatory after the exam. We got on the right elevator this time. There were no lines on Sunday at 5pm. It was perfectly dark out to get a great view of Chicago.