April and Kevin in Kuna Yala, the northeast coast of Panamá

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

GRE anyone?

Our COS (close of service in PC lingo) date is just 9 or so months away (anyone else shocked by that?).

I mentioned COS because we (and most everyone else too) are thinking about what is next because next is coming up sooner and sooner. (Moms: Don't start hoping for answers to the "What next?" question yet, cause I don't have any. :) I think that every PCV thinks about grad school of some sort. I have come to the conclusion that I would like to do a Masters at some point after PC if I can figure out how to pay for it (or have it paid for).

That means thinking about taking the GRE. Thanks to Mom and Dad Cropper's birthday gift I have a GRE prep book to prepare with. However, I find myself worrying for the first time in my life about the vocab section of the test. I was always decent in those parts of the standardized testing, but just now I find my self worried. Why?

When I talk to Kevin the Spanish words arrive faster than the English about 50% of the time. I find myself struggling sometimes for words in English the same way I struggle in Spanish. "You know, that thingy" is not a GRE level response to a vocab question and hand pantomimes are not going to help me either they way they do when I faulta (lack) a Spanish word...did you see how that one just slipped in there? That is about the 6th spanish word to sneak its way into my thoughts while typing this.

Other PCVs have told me that taking the GRE or similar test while serving in a foreign language area is not good for your GRE scores...and I am starting to belive them. It doesn't help that when I am tired I find English words slipping into my Spanish language conversations as well. They just pop in there as if they were the right word, but I notice right away (I hope I always notice!).

I have also noticed that it is ever increasingly hard to not through in a spanish word while we are talking on the phone to family and friends. It is like trying to avoid using acronyms when your work uses them all day. It is tough.

To make matters just a tab worse, I have reached the language point where I seem to communicate just well enough that some Panamanians are now talking at normal speed with me! SLOW down please. Just because I can express myself at a decent rate doesn't mean that I can follow your thoughts at Panamanian speeds. This has been a confidence boost and blower. It is good to have them respond like normal...but being back to not understanding sometimes can blow the confidence apart.

So at the moment, we are still thinking, planning, dreaming, and worrying about how bad the GRE really could be. Hasta pronto!


Chris McCubbin said...

Hey April,

I guess depending on what you want to go into the GRE could be important for admissions. And while I'm not in admissions, I have a feeling that GRE scores are more of a "sanity check" and that your Corps service would count for as much if not more...

Or you could just go into math like me where they don't care about your English scores so much :)

Anonymous said...

we took the GRE when we went home in Sept and I did well in vocab and bad in everything else, so the vocab thing might not be something to worry about so much. Tom did good in vocab and math, so it might depend more on the day you take the test and less on how much spanish you have been speaking.