Tag Archive | college

TOEFL experience


After I wrote the previous post I thought I should also publish one having about my TOEFL experience for those who will be taking up their TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language). Well, I think for those of you who can speak english it should be a cake-walk! This test is aimed to test all four parts of a language which are namely reading, writing, speaking and listening.

On the day of the test, make sure you carry your identity proof. Here in India, ONLY passport is considered as a valid ID proof. So do NOT forget to carry it.

As soon as you enter your examination center, you will be required to read, write and sign a confidentiality statement. Once that is done you will have to keep all your belongings including your pen, pencils etc in a locker. After which you will have your photograph taken by a webcam. Probably I wouldn’t recognize myself in that photograph! It came out THAT bad!!! After being handed a few sheets and 2 pencils I was directed to my seat.

My test center wasn’t the best of places. The seating was just not comfortable and too congested. After an attempt to settle down the reading section began and I before I could realize it was done. But yes, I did find I had to make a conscious effort towards managing my time as the passages were very lengthy.

After that came the listening section. Most people think it is very difficult to follow the American accent. I realized it wasn’t true at least when it came to the test as the speed of their speech was moderate and thus easily understandable. But I think for this section it is very important we take notes especially when listening to a lecture on art, psychology, literature etc of which we have no prior knowledge. I remember using 5sides of paper for this section.

Anyway after this there was a break. Walked around a little and was back for the speaking section. This is the one section you should NOT be nervous else you might stammer and stutter which obviously is killer for the speaking section! There are 6 questions in this section. Anyway, easy stuff I am sure everyone can sail through this.

The last section was writing. Just 2 questions and more than enough time even for those who do not have great typing speed. One of the questions is to express your views on a topic while the other is write about a topic after reading a paragraph on it and also listening to a lecture. All of this is easy and I am sure that no one would find this exam challenging IF you consider your english skills average. This cannot be compared with the GRE test which is a nightmare! 😛

Your score’s will be available after 2 weeks and when they say two weeks they mean EXACTLY 2weeks!

For those who will be taking the test I would suggest you go through the sample questions, here is a link to it. Also, try speaking and recording your responses to judge yourself before you go in for the test.

The GRE Experience


FINALLY I am done with my GRE! What a relief! It has been a journey filled with tension, frustration and anxiety but now when I look back it seems amusing!

Three months of cramming words learning roots, similar words and a little bit of history here and there. Initially I used to despise the idea of mugging up words but a while later it was different. But it is not only the effort that goes in that makes it harder but also the tension of how my scores would be that would make the situation worse. Anxiety is a killer and I realized it very well this time. There would be times when I would be desperate to remember words and I knew it but just couldn’t get it! Thats the time you feel all your effort is down the drain as you can’t recollect when you need to. Thankfully I had a friend who had already been through the same process and helped me out through out!

Slowly but surely I was feeling better about it and FINALLY on the eve of D Day I had to travel for 5hours to get to my test center and No tickets available! Got really jittery and was just thinking of the horrible start I had to the GRE trip! Finally I had to travel in an unreserved compartment which meant standing for hours together in an extreeemeellyyy crowded train! Hmpf! Anyway to compensate for this disaster I ate good food as it always makes me feel better and brings a smile in every situation and this was no different…

Anyway the moment I entered the test center, my passport felt more like my alter ego. I had to keep it with me even when i went to the restroom! 😛 Anyway after I entered I had to sign a confidentiality statement and wait till we were called in to our alloted seats after having our photograph taken in a webcam (which as usual was BAD! ).

I was shaking when I walked in. As i entered there was a loooong weird tutorial containing the instructions for the exam. Though I had read it a million times before I did not have the courage to just dismiss it. I read half of it patiently and then got reeaaally bored and dismissed it.

Okay, now my test begins with the writing section. I think having the writing section in the beginning is a great way to relieve your tension as it not only helps you to just relax but also prepares you mentally for what awaits you.

Writing section I think is one of the sections we can sail through as you just need to think critically and be sure about your writing. Well like they say Analyse, Construct ideas and thoughts, Organize and Pay attention to your language. This is it!

After a 10min break it was time to get back to the REALL stuff! Thankfully I got the quantitative section first. I was gained my confidence after doing the math part of it and before I realized it was over. Managing your time for GRE quantitative is not an issue at all. It matters mainly for the most dreaded section which ofcourse is the VERBAL.

After another 60second break I started with verbal. The 2 pattern of questions I was scared about were Reading Comprehension (RC) and Antonyms. To my surprise all the Antonyms were cake walk but RC was awful! Having 3 RC’s itself is bad and 2 of them were more than 140lines! :-/ :-/ I knew the instant I saw the second RC that I was running out of time and so I chose options that looked “NICE” for the questions related to the second RC. The third thankfully was relatively shorter in length. Many times your actions defy logic in there. Logic says if you do not know the answer dont take a blind guess but eliminate a few options and guess wisely but what you do in there is a different story all together.

Some how was done with the test and it the next question was if I wanted to cancel the scores. Why on earth would I do that??? I cant go through the whole process again and decided to “View Scores” and I was relieved to see that the real score was much better than that I obtained in the Diagnostic Tests. And more than that I was glad that it was OVER…

The last step was choosing the universities based on which state it was in. Then it was THE END of the GRE episode in my life… And I sure was glad it is done! All in the quest of graduation!

For those of you who are yet to take up your GRE, you shouldn’t make the mistakes I made which are:
taking wild guess on certain questions
thinking your LIFE depends on this exam and stressing out yourself

Also that your scores depend a LOT on luck as it is a computer ADAPTIVE test (Assuming you know the difference between a CAT and a computer based test). So keep your cool and hope for the best!

When I was working on this post I realized a friend also has a similar post here is a link to it.

My First Snake!


As I have already mentioned that I love snakes! To my surprise most people find it absolutely unacceptable to like snakes! Phew! I get looks each time I say this! I am hoping that you readers don’t have dung-under-your-nose expression already! (Assuming there are people to read this! :D)
 

I have been fascinated by snakes but never had the opportunity to hold one! My college which is by a lagoon kind of thing and the area is filled with snakes. On our way from college to hostel we see many snakes but I never got close enough to holding one!
 

We have this faculty in the Electrical department, Akshay Sir who is more famously known as the snake rescuer of Amritapuri! Whenever a snake is spotted, he gets a call and captures the snake and releases it to safer areas where there is reduced threat. My college is associated with the Mata Amritanandamayi Math Ashram or the Hugging saint (AMMA’s) ashram so what we would expect would be a due respect and space being given to beautiful and sacred creatures like snakes. But before Akshay Sir came to the ashram. I very clearly remember a slender harmless tree snake being KILLED right in the ashram premises! I was horrified at the sight and told AMMA about it. She was also shocked to hear about the happening and strictly instructed everyone that such an incident should not repeat! After this I was a bit relaxed!

 

Anyway getting back to ‘My First snake!’ encounter. One fine day after my Digital Signal Processing exam which I royally messed up. I was in a absolutely horrid mood and thought nothing could set my day right. Just then I saw Akshay Sir walking around the college corridors with a beautiful little rat snake wrapped around his arm! I was taken aback and could barely believe my eyes! I had told sir about my desire to get close to snakes earlier also but sadly whenever he found a snake he wouldn’t find me! But this time was different!!! And thank God it was different else I wouldn’t have ever experienced anything remotely close to the awesome feeling of holding a snake!

 

Initially I just touched the snake and had it tail wrapped around my arm while the head was still in Akshay Sir’s hand! Seeing my excitement, Sir asked me if i wanted to hold the snake! Without any delay I said yes!!! 🙂
 

And I am glad I did. First he told me the right way to hold a snake about the positions of each finger, about the force, about the way in which it should be done, etc. Before I could even register I had the snake in my hand!!!! That felt good!

 

But because it was my first time I was a little nervous and so way my little friend. I had heard people on TV and Akshay Sir say that when you are calm the animal is calm but I thought of it as a cliché until this moment! Here I could truly feel the difference, when I was relaxed the snake stop wriggling around too much and was calmly wrapped around my arm quite contrary to it moving continuously initially. We still have a long way to go when it really comes to understanding nature!
 

Here are some photos that were taken by Avinash’s camera phone right in the college corridor. Just reminding you that mobile phones are banned in college 😛

Snake n me 1

Snake n me 2

Anyway there were a few things I found out. Snakes are not slimy or rough as they may seem. In fact, holding a snake atleast this one was very similar to feeling a very fat human finger. Soft, not slimy and just normal! I had my share of counselling sessions by dear ones for not doing anything like this again. But, if you have read this post you know it is something that excites me! Sorry guys! There was one thing positive that came out of this also!!I felt great because of  the kind of care and concern people showed.It really made me feel great! 🙂 But sadly for them I wasn’t convinced about what they were saying about staying away from snakes! :-/

 

I wonder why they are so feared of and hated. I find it really hard to understand! Firstly, out of the 2100 snake species in the world ONLY 10% are poisonous! Secondly, the number of estimated deaths per year because of snake bites is MUCH lower than those caused by malaria or dengue. Even then we don’t feel the kind of hatred for mosquitoes or rats we feel for snakes! I mean how is the poor creature responsible that Satan came to earth in the form of a serpent??? In today’s world when we are speaking about being practical having this kind of prejudice for snakes is NOT justifiable!

 

Lets just not kill snakes on spotting them but give them respect that they deserve! Hoping at least some one would feel differently about snakes after reading this! Please don’t kill or hate snakes! When you see a snake just move away don’t go close to it give it the space it needs!

Reiterative Incidents!


OK! This is something that I have been thinking to write about but what really probed me to do it right away was this blog I just read “Groping Tales” http://diptea.blogspot.com/

 

I dont know when people will change rather when men will change! What a pity it is to see girls having a hard time in every single day of their lives because of eve-teasing. A simple routine like getting back home can seem like a nightmare!

 

I have personally had some experiences and never had the guts to say it to anyone. Probably today am going to try to break the ice and say things because despite being the ‘bold’ types if I have been refraining myself from saying this. I dont think many girls will be able to really break free from this burden that they carry with themselves silently.

 

Well, I would like to give you a little background about myself which will help you understand better. I am a north indian girl born and brought up in Kochi, a city infested with conservative and narrow minded people(not all though!).

 

Being an extrovert north Indian girl in the south is more like being a fish out of water. I dont know how many people would actually agree with me but if you are a northy girl in the south you are bound to agree! So the ‘extra’ undue attention is guaranteed which never helps but just spells disaster! Because of this kind of an instant reputation, terms like BI*** become a part and parcel of life! (sheesh! I cant believe I am ACTUALLY writing all this!). I learned to laugh at it but no doubt that it took some time. Because of this kind of instant reputation I did find it hard to get close to people in my new school as everyone was apprehensive. (I dont really blame them!) But in a period of a 5-6 months, people who really got to know me started defying these rumours. After this I made great freinds for life! Am still in touch with them and they mean the world to me! 

Anyway this was just one of the first incidents that happened and sadly it just worsens!

 

I used to walk home from school everyday and we just had to walk through a residential area. Now, walking through a residential area doesn’t sound like much of a problem but believe me it was! It was more than just any normal problem. There have been days when I have had my heart in my mouth!School used to get over in the afternoons there hardly any people on the road especially on those days when we had extra classes. And on the road there would be these 35-40 year old men who would have their bikes and actually call out for us and show certain ‘parts’. UHHH!!!!YUCK!  This has happened with me thrice and I remember what I felt like! It has by far been one of the worst experiences responsible for god-alone-knows how many nightmares. Later, our teachers got to hear about it and they would be with us and some police flying squads were also there to control eve-teasing which made life much better!

 

With that school life came to an end! And then I thought I was strong enough to FACE life (as expected) I was wrong,HORRIBLY wrong! 😦

 

The next battlefield was college! I joined a college which was 3 hours away from home and I was sadly a hosteller who would RUN home every weekend, which meant 3 hours in public transport! hmpf!!!!I will get to those a little later.

 

Let me begin with the northy girls reputation on joining college(which is in Kollam). The normal belief is that all girls from Ernakulam are hip and are just known to be characterless! Being a northy girl from Ernakulam was like the cherry on the cake, it meant 150% characterless! grrrr…. As I mentioned earlier, that am an extrovert and dint believe in talking to guys as wrong. So, I used to speak with guys which the “good” “naadan” (traditional) girls dont! This added to my already exploding reputation!

 

In school, the level of comments was limited to tags like ‘BI*** but in college it started off at an altogether different level  (I know you all can guess!) which I dint expect!. I know should have expected this but whatever!

 

Anyway I heard about all this from a very good friend of mine. Lets call him X(He was one of the guys I used to speak to). Because of which my dear friend X had to hear nasty things about me! One fine day he somehow gathered the guts to look me in the eye and tell me about the ongoing stuff cause I had to be prepared to face it one day or another! I still remember having swollen eyes the next day. I just failed to understand what wrong I have done to hear total crap like that! Thanks to X, I got through it bravely and learned to turn a deaf ear to this SHIT. (Sorry for the language! but cant help it)

I know I have already written 800 odd words but I have LOTS more to add! Thanks for your patience for reading. Hope you can read a little further also! (No harm in assuming there are readers!  😛  )

 

Getting to the journeys, sometimes drunk men would practically stick to you. At other times they would get uncomfortably close and touchy. Sometimes we fail to realize their intentions while at other times some guy friends of ours come around. There was one particular journey when this man was trying his best to get touchy with me and my firend in an extremely crowded bus. FI my friend is the silent types and this guy was taking advantage. I gave him this Killer look and asked him to move away ALOUD!Bravo, it WORKED!!! This is one thing I am extremely proud of!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

These journeys were irritating but none affected me as much mentally when compared to what I am about to mention. The next was a train journey.  This passenger was fashionably late and this man who claims to be a ‘clinical psychologist’ tries his best to ask our names (our is my friend say Y n me), what we do blah blah. I showed an immidiate disinclination to talk but my friend is the sweet types and found it too hard to ignore someone. So she answered though she wasn’t comfortable. Initially, he made his best attempts to flatter us by complimenting both of us. Because of my disinterest in him and his talks he told my friend that I was never going to prosper in life because of my ego n blah blah! Then he spoke about ‘God’. And yes, I forgot to mention he gave these looks which would make you uncomfortable and concious and that jerk looked like a complete pervert! He even dared to say cheap things to my freind like ‘I know you have had a past and have gotten physically close to someone but it just resulted in failure. I can help you if you wish’. Till date I dont understand how she managed to not slap him! Anyway this guy followed us on the station till our parents came! I have never been so happy to see my Dad as I was on this day! I was down for the next few weeks because of this. My mother, my mentor were all woried because of this.  I still dont know why it affected me so much but it did! 
 

There are many more incidents where my friends have had a hard time with men who are the age of our fathers and are “FAMILY FRIENDS”. Not getting to all that. Cause this is one thing I can go on writing about!

 

Moral of the story::::  A**HOLES are all around! You cant look to change the world but can be better prepared for such things.You really dont have to learn all lessons the hard way. Whenever such people approach you be bold enough to create a hungama by either slapping the guy or just yelling! If he is not worth so much of your time, energy and attention try ignoring him, plug in a MP3 and enjoy the music (This was suggested to me by my Mentor after meeting the ‘clinical psychologist’ and believe me it works!!!)

 

PS: Will this ever stop??? I dont know!

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