Friday, January 26, 2007

Entering the Uni: Pt III (TOEFL)

The same day I went to the clinic I also went back to the uni, mother thought it’d be wise to tell them the results of the physical wouldn’t be in till the following day. The registration lady was really nice. She said the physical didn’t matter that much (O_O she is treating the most traumatizing thing to happen to me since the day I was born as something unimportant! – did I really have to go through with it?!) and that she wasn’t asking for it. What she wanted was to see the original documents, 6 color photos, a good conduct letter from the police and my TOEFL score. My mother went on and on about why I shouldn’t have to take the TOEFL till the lady got fed up with her and told her take her argument to the head guy who told her in the first place that I didn’t have to take the TOEFL. For my part I didn’t care if they said I had to take it or not. If it meant my getting in to the uni then I couldn’t careless whether it was right for me as a native speaker of the language to be taking it or not. This “Entrance Rite” would be a hell of a lot more easier than the first “Entrance Rite”.

So it was settled. I didn’t have to return back to the uni till the following Sunday (that day was a Thursday) to take the TOEFL and complete the registration process. Sunday turned out to be the Islamic New Year so the test was postponed till the next day. Monday the 22nd.

(Here I’ll mention I was on a diet since exam weeks had started so it was going on 2 weeks that I had been on the diet. Anywayz, I was doing pretty good and managed not to consume a bit of sugar, pop or anything else – and was actually eating healthy veggies though it damn near killed me. Friday evening I was feeling really thirsty and was craving a diet coke. That was so out.. even though it is diet and all caffeine I had managed to stay away from as well for those 2 weeks (no wonder I was feeling homicidal). Co-op doesn’t sell my favorite (Capri-sonne) cold (only boxed and that of course would mean warm). Anywayz I looked around for something healthy and cold I don’t know why normal juice didn’t come to mind (guess it was just meant for me to get sick) I decided to get a Rani Peach Float. I had tasted it once before and it was pretty ok. In my mind that was ok diet wise, peach = fruit and fruit = no caffeine. I purchased and drunk it in the car as I drove home. In the car my throat started to bother me a bit. I thought maybe I should stop and get some water to wash the juice down. It was a bit thick. I got home and went straight for my computer and after a bit went to sleep. By the time I woke up I had a full blown cold – usually an allergic reaction sign when I get sick immediately after eating or drinking something I haven’t had in awhile. Happens whenever I drink Orange Juice/ Cocktail the peach colored kind. Saturday and Sunday I was down with severe chills, a migraine that felt like my head had been sawed in half with a chain saw and a throat that felt like it wanted to choke me. It continued Monday but the chills were less severe after I took nearly an hour in the shower with the water as hot as I could stand.)

Registration was between 8:30 and 11:30 am. I got there at close to 10:30. The office was packed. One of the registration ladies is from the Bukhatir family. Dunno if that had anything to do with it but her desk in particular was swamped with people. Only two other people sat at the desk registering with the lady I had gone to the previous day. It took her awhile to get to my file. I didn’t give her any huff and she in return gave me no puff. Lol.

When I finished with her, she gave me a paper with my student number on it. It’s 8-digits long and I think I just about have it memorized. (Of course I know it now but the real test comes when u really need it and don’t have it written down anywhere nearby ::nod nod::) Told me to go upstairs and pay the initial uni fee and the TOEFL exam fee. The wait was really long. As I sat waiting I had a good look around. The girl directly to my right was pretty weird and the girl directly on my left was equally weird. They leaned over and started a conversation right over my lap! My God, my God. I looked up and notice a girl standing with her two friends. My first thought was hey! I know that girl. I stared for a long time and then decided no that can’t be her. For one, this girl looked WAY smaller than the girl I was thinking of. Then I thought well duh, it’s not like I’ve ever seen that girl without layers of clothing and a jacket on (she’s the receptionist at the club in the ice skating department – it is FREEZING in there! Even though these days it’s warmer in there than it is outside. I literally froze my rear end off sitting in the club restaurant taking advantage of the free I-Zone they got there.). Then I thought well maybe all those shami folks look alike (I always forget she’s Iraqi and not Syrian). I certainly wasn’t going to make a fool of myself even before getting both feet in the door of uni, so I didn’t go and say hi. (instead I found out the last time I went to the club that that was in fact her that day. She was so surprised cuz she said she didn’t even see me.)

Anywayz to pay those fees took so long that by the time I went back downstairs to show the TOEFL people my receipt it was 1:00 on the dot. Lady looked at me wide-eyed and told me I better hurry because the exam would start in a bit and I wouldn’t be let in once they started. GREAT, just GREAT. I flew out of there with the new knowledge that 1. The test was in another building 2. I had no idea where the hell this new building was (Why don’t they provide maps with the registration papers??) I picked a random student who had the look of being a friendly person on her face and asked her where I could find W3 (that was the name of the building). She was happy to point it out to me. She only went as far as was necessary so as to point the building out to me without straying too far from her own destination point. I felt like one of those characters out of those RPG games where the main player has to go to various other characters at different points in the game and ask for hints, tips and directions before they can proceed.

I finally made it to W3 panting like a dog. When was the last time I went for tennis?! Plus on top of this I was sick and my nose wanted to explode. I didn’t think to get a bag and so had to somehow hold on to passport, sheets of paper, money, phone and tissues… Sheemota!!!!!! This is an exam for crying out loud and I didn’t even bring a pen or pencil. I wanted to sit down and laugh at myself. How many times had I gotten on my boys backs at MPS about coming to school without pencils and here I was coming to an exam no less without even a stub of a writing implement. Brilliant. I bet all the other girls brought pencil cases full of pens and pencils…

I go down one hall and ask a passing student where the TOEFL exams were being held. She pointed down the opposite hall. I found a lot of students waiting outside a door marked W3 – 003. hmmm I distinctly remembered the lady at the desk back in the registration place saying the exam room I was supposed to be in was W3 – 103. Could she have been mistaken? I searched around for someone friendly looking to ask (friendly and possibly with English I sure wasn’t even going to attempt Arabic with the way my voice was sounding). I walked till I reached the end of all the people. There was a group of 4 girls standing a little apart from the majority. They were laughing and looked loads friendly – least the one girl I decided to ask looked extremely so. I asked her if the people there were waiting for the TOEFL. She said yeah. She asked me which room was I supposed to be in. I wasn’t sure so I had a look at the paper again and then handed it to her. Her eyes went wide. “You are in the same TOEFL exam room as me.” Her friends laughed at her. It was now after 1:00 and that meant that if our exam started we weren’t getting in. Her friends laughed some more and asked her why hadn’t she checked her own paper again and made sure she was in fact in 003 before she stood around down there. She laughed and said she didn’t know. The thought never occurred to her. LOL sounded like something BW would say. The girl resembled BW in her freshman years. At any rate the girl turned out to be quite helpful and we made it in time to the exam room without incident. There were lots of ppl standing outside of W3-103 just like there had been outside of W3-003. After about a 10 min wait a few instructors appeared. They found the classroom was locked and they couldn’t find the key so we all marched into W3-106 which was just down the hall.

The instructor had this huge stereo thing and the answer sheets (lol no not the literal answers, the sheets where we were supposed to write our answers on cuz they didn’t want us writing in the books.). He passed them out with another instructor and proceeded to explain how we were to go about filling in information on the sheets. I took a glance around and noticed the girl to my right had a pencil case and the girl diagonal to my left had 2 sharpened pencils. (Why oh why didn’t I bring at least a God Blessed PENCIL?!?) I was relieved when more then 3 girls called out that they didn’t have pencils. Turned out about 10 of them didn’t have pencils. (We were 34)

All of our mobile phones had to be switched off and were then collected by one of the instructors in a box. (Seems mine was the only one of its kind…guess I’ll have to do something about that pretty soon.)

My head was throbbing, only 3 more hours to go.. ha ha no sweat. Right? They finally handed out the TOEFL question booklets and commanded us to keep them sealed until the tape that the instructor had put in told us to open them.

The first section was listening. I was extremely nervous. (I think, can’t recall off hand but I’m pretty sure that was my first time ever taking an exam that important). I kept reminding myself to relax and that I was only listening to English not like I had to listen to Arabic or Spanish. A few questions later I realized the problem wasn’t the language or my nervousness. I was having trouble remembering what the heck the two speakers were conversing about. Snap! I knew I had trouble remembering things immediately after ppl would just finish telling me something but never thought it’d have any affect on me during a test! This is bad. I better pay really good attention. I tried. Once the instructor walked by me while I had my concentration at 100% or so I thought and just his walking by made me forget the whole conversation. By the time (which was only a few secs since the conversation was just a sentence or two from a male and about the same from a female) it was time to answer the questions for that conversation I couldn’t remember what was spoken about. Dammit! Whoever heard of losing concentration and forgetting because an instructor walks by?!

(Did I mention that there were guys painting in the hallway right outside of the classroom so we had to endure the heavy smell of fresh drying paint as we worked away at our exam?! I was coughing cuz I was sick and the other girls coughed from the smell.)

The Grammar section went by pretty easily and I finished in time to check it over twice. The next part, Reading, was kinda tough. I’m a slow read. The topics they put for us to read about were down right booooring! I think it might have been a bit difficult for some of the girls. There were sighs coming from all directions of the classroom. The girl directly to my right slumped way down in her seat and let out a big sigh. The instructor announced that we only had 20 minutes left. I had more than 30 questions and 2 stories to read. I thought no way. The girl beside me changed her position. She sat up straighter, kicked off her shoes and brought her feet into the seat with her. She picked up her pencil and began to work again. She’s “trying”, I should give this my all too. Sick or not I can push this for the remaining 20 minutes (which was by then more like 15 mins). I blew my nose and sat up straighter.

In the end I think I had 2 questions left unanswered when the instructor told us to stop writing.

The booklets and answer sheets had to be counted and collected before we could leave. When it was finally over and we were free to go I couldn’t help but breath a deep sigh of relief that it was over – no matter two of the questions were left unanswered. I could kick myself later for that.

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