Friday, June 03, 2011

A Good Day To End a Good Week

Today was a good day.

If you read Four Globetrotters (and if you don't, why aren't you? She's really funny!), you know that in today's post, she talks about the language test we take when we finish our language training. Hers is in seven days. Mine is in 27.

The test is in two parts: reading and speaking. The speaking part has three parts: a warm up chat; a formal presentation (where you get to pick a topic from several choices, get five minutes to prepare, and then give your presentation); and the interview (again you pick from several topics, interview your tester about the topic, and then report what you understood in English to the examiner).

The presentation is Four Globetrotters' least favorite part, but it is my favorite part. It is the part where I feel in at least a little control. I like public speaking, even though it still makes me nervous, and in this part, I know what I am trying to say and can usually find a way to say it even with my limited vocabularly. And with all my years in academia, thinking about topics in an intro, three points, conclusion fashion comes pretty naturally.

My least favorite is the interview. The tester is always going to say things more quickly and more complexly than your ability to understand, in part because she wants to determine your ability to slow a person down, get them to explain in other words, etc. Plus, she wants to push you to your highest ability. It always leaves me drained...and that isn't even discussing how easy it is to get involved in the conversation and to forget to report until you realize you don't remember half of what was said. Not because you didn't understand at the time, but because the conversation has gone so far afield. The solution to that is to take notes, but my skills are not good enough to take notes quickly in Estonian and if I take notes in English, I am switching between languages in my head. Which slows me down. And makes me miss more than if I just let myself think in Estonian. (To the degree that I can!).

But I digress. What I wanted to say is that we practiced our presentation today too. Ultimately, my presentation probably wasn't much more in depth than how she describes hers. But I felt pretty good about it. I think it flowed pretty well, I was able to use some decent vocabulary and I think I did fairly well with the endings. Even my linguistically gifted classmate nodded approvingly at one expression I used.

It was a nice ending to a good week. A week that included movement on my orders, the discovery that my assignments officer is awesome, and the movement on the permit I need to take my bird with me to post. A week that included word from the Embassy about the press release they will issue this weekend for LGBT Pride (and I will just tell you that I could not be more pleased to be going to work for this Ambassador and DCM...but you don't get to see the release until they publish it.). A week that included a trip to the Estonian embassy and a chat with their political officer. He will be heading home soon. His replacement is the guy I told you we met at Main State some weeks back. My counterpart was there as well. I have met her before and she seems very nice and knowledgible. She also had some good things to say about the area I will be living in when I get to Tallinn...bonus!

At the end of the meeting, we were invited to a production of "Purge" that is sponsored by the Estonian and Finnish Embassies. I am looking forward to attending next week. She also invited us to a concert of Estonian children's music. I would like to attend that as well.

It was also a week where I felt like I was coming off my plateau. I consider it a good week if the number of times I feel like an idiot is lower than the number of times I feel like I am doing okay...I did have a blood sugar crash while doing a reading this week...I am sure my teacher thought my brains had drained out of my ear because I hit that level of stupid. But I can counter that with the amount that I understand now when I watch the Estonian news each night. I am feeling better about things.

And to cap off the week, we have the unofficial results of the AFSA elections. I'm pleased. The slate I voted for won, and as I said before, I feel strongly that the president needs to be active duty because the needs and demands of the service have changed. So we will keep our active duty president, Susan Johnson. I think she is good for AFSA and will make sure AFSA remains good for the service.

Yep, a good week. I hope yours was too. And here's to a good weekend. For all of us.

1 comment:

fourglobetrotters said...

Thanks for the shoutout, Digger! I love the interview! Maybe you can do my presentation and I can do your interview. Just cough up a bunch of phlegm and I'll abuse vowels and we're both certain to get 3/3s! :)