Friday, January 25, 2013


Spanish definition of "exito" = success.

Spanglish definition of "exito" = the way out, a way to leave somewhere* 

Therefore, I'm happy to note the equation: exito = exito

Yup, the 3/3 is in the can. More than just the culmination of over a year of Spanish training and immersion, this also means that I'll be off language probation, a requisite for making tenure as a FS Officer and being able to keep my job. Therefore, the relief is enormous.

Honestly, most of the test is a blur, and the details are protected under the "don't tell anyone" clause I had to sign before stepping into the testing chamber, I mean, suite. However, I can offer some general impressions:

In retrospect, I spoke to about 75% of my abilities, with the other 25% swept out the window in a wave of adrenaline and nervous chattering. I think this is normal, as it seems a rare few of us perform better than normal under one-shot-at-the-goal pressure. Bunches of silly errors went unnoticed by me, and the testers were kind enough not to visibly cringe as I made them (but clearly noted them in our post-test review). Other times, I self-corrected or found second or third ways to say what I was stumbling for. They gave me credit for that under the umbrella of "you can make yourself be understood," which was kind. Fortunately, my nervous-talking-thing also played a somewhat positive role, as the testers told me they enjoyed my energy and enthusiasm and the fact that I really wanted to make myself understood. Yes, I do! Thank you for noticing that, kind tester guys. 

By the time I got to the reading portion, fatigue was setting in was making it hard to focus my eyes and the pages were getting a bit blurry. (Oh, by the way, this has nothing to do with being over 40. Nope, nothing at all, so just stop that crazy talk right now, 'kay?) Besides, I'm kind of a "big picture" gal, meaning, for example I may remember that I saw a bunch of friends at lunch and they seemed happy. Don't ask me to name each one, or who was wearing the blue sweater, Officer. I like to refer to my memory and understanding of what I perceive as "impressionistic." But for the reading section, they are looking for more, shall we say, pointillism? We have to note not only the main gist of the piece we're reading: "The author writes about having lunch with friends," but also all the supporting details:

"One was eating soup, but she didn't seem to like it and tried to pass it on to someone else. There was also a man in his early 30s who was eating a greasy pizza, and while he was enjoying it, it was obvious that he was feeling a deep sense of guilt for not having ordered a salad instead. This was evident by the furrow of his brow and his occasional glancing around the table to compare his lunch to what others had chosen. A tone of general conviviality was present, as the conversation was lighthearted and exhibited occasional bursts of laughter or good-natured teasing among those seated at the table."  

See what I mean? 

After giving my big-picture regurgitation, they then asked for this level of detail, and that was tough. Because you can't use the same words that the author uses; you have to put them into your own words - in English, thankfully. So "friends having lunch" becomes, "a casual group of peers, perhaps neighbors or coworkers, are sharing a noontime meal." Paragraph by paragraph, this went on for at least an hour. 

After the reading section, the examiners released the victim, uh, me to the waiting room to, well, wait. And wait. One woman was told that after quite a wait, they would email her at the end of the day with the results. My guess was that they were having to review the tape (yes, it's recorded) to come to a conclusion. Poor thing. My wait was only about ten minutes, fortunately, and then they ushered me back into the room for the results. I saw their noted score on the page before they could tell it to me and it was all I could do to keep from kissing them, or crying. I imagine crying frequently happens in these rooms; and I doubt they'd have been too surprised. 

So that's that. I celebrated with homemade cookies from my classmate. She had written a congratulations message on the baggie even before hearing the results, and promised that she didn't have a consolation baggie stashed away in her purse somewhere. 

We'll point the car for the border late next week after completing our pack-out and the lengthy check-out process from FSI. Then I have to say goodbye to friends and teachers and Hogwarts.

Yikes - it's all coming.

*You know I just made this up, right? I don't think there is a Spanglish dictionary. Yet.

Next: The Long Drive South


  1. Congratulations!! I was thinking of you today, even though I didn't know you were testing! I'm so glad you did so well and now you're ready to move on :)

  2. Well that's why my ears were burning!
    Thanks for the good wishes. Now, if you could just work on the weather and road conditions between here and El Paso next week...?