Disclaimer

The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My guide to English language!

Johanna:
I have a question for you. I am going to apply for an internship in UN field office in Dominican Republic. I probably will not get it, but i might try cause it's in the Caribbean! They ask me to:

"Please include with this application a short paper (no more than 5 pages) or an extract (5 pages) from a longer paper prepared by you in compliance with your academic requirements. It is preferable that the paper be in English, but texts in either French or Spanish are acceptable."

Im puzzled with the expression "in compliance with yout academic requirements" What do they want from me? Im still going to claim im fluent in both English and Spanish :D

Thank you!

Me:
Huh. The wording of that sentence confuses me too. It looks like the phrase is referring to the possible extract you can submit... So, say you've turned in a huge 30 page thesis paper. You can turn in part of it for the application as long as your university doesn't have any rules against it.

Do they explain what the paper is supposed to be about, or is that the only description? Because if that's it, then I'm not sure if that's what the phrase means.

Hope that helps!

Johanna:
Hmm, they just ask me to give a sample of my writing skills, that's all its about. It doesnt really matter what it's about. I just dont get the part about "in compliance with your academic requirements"...

Me:
well, some universities have rules about plagiarism or publishing works written at the school... so as long as you're complying with your university's rules, you can submit an already written paper.

Johanna:
Ah ok, thanks! And i call myself fluent in English... :D

Me:
that was a fucking weird description, I'm not even sure I'm understanding it right.

Johanna:
:D ha ha! I also asked my friend who's been workin in EU projects where they love to use fucking weird and hard expressions, and she said the same.

***Moral of this story: I get my dream job in the Foreign Service, you can bet I'll be dealing with awkward wording ALL THE TIME.***

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reading

When I first entered the university, I really wanted to be an English major. I wanted to spend afternoons reading dusty novels, deconstructing meanings, bashing writing styles and getting into arguments about the personal lives of long-dead writers. But after only one English class at the university level I realized one very important thing: I had no writing talent of my own. No original ideas. I could analyze and critique until the sun came up, but I would never have a thought that would inspire others. If I tried to make a career out of being an English major, I would end up just like all those other university English majors- full of worthless talents and no job prospects. That, and I had started to resent the books that I used to love reading so much. The thought of coming to hate one of my favorite hobbies because it was being forced upon me rattled me into making one of the most intelligent decisions I ever made: I switched majors to something I was good at, enjoyed being good at, but didn't enjoy to the point that it became an obsession. Instead, I'm a very well-read businesswoman.

In fact, I have an entire section of my bookmarks dedicated entirely to lists of books I want to read. They can be recommended reading lists, or the amazon.com link to a specific book. If I was really organize I would have a word document in alphabetical order with summaries of why the book is on the To Read list, but I haven't given in to the compulsion just yet (mostly due to lack of time).

My current obsession is a reading list that wasn't compiled by any website, any columnist, or any Britain Bets America is Illiterate, Add a * to the Books You've Read to Prove Them Wrong spam emails. Instead, I stumbled across an article by some dude who didn't like to read. He just never thought it was worth it. Until one day, someone handed him a well-worn, often folded, highly-annotated list of 81 books listed as recommended reading for some university course. The professor of this course was one Donald Barthelme. Wikipedia tells me that he's an author "known for his playful, postmodernist style of short fiction." Look, I've never heard of the guy. But the writer of this article then goes on to describe his hunting through used book sales, his obsession with finding these books anywhere he could, and how they changed his entire perception of literature and that under-appreciated hobby of reading books.

Then he posted a scan of this list.


The directions for the list are: No particular order. Just read.


I doubt I'll spend a summer searching endless racks of used books like the author of that article. I'll probably just pick them up off amazon.com . But I've copied the list into my notebook and I take it with me wherever I go, just in case the opportunity to browse some dusty shelves comes along.