GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT DAY!!

This day is honestly my favorite part of the spring semester. I have soo much fun learning about everyone’s experience abroad. Honestly, I am a broken record when it comes to talking about my time abroad and this gives me an excuse to tell people about it. I had an awesome time learning about how I wasn’t the only one that has a medical emergency when I went abroad. It makes me feel a little better about myself..hahaha!! I can’t wait for the spring so I can attend again and listen to everyone’s story who went abroad this summer. Also, I enjoy this day because it gives me a chance to meet people in this program since we don’t have meetings. I can’t wait to write about this day again next year.

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New CLUB???

This fall I want to join more clubs that have to do with the international community at OU that people don’t really know about. I will be joining HASA; I was been planning on joining it but I feel like in college time gets the best of you and before you know it the semester is over. I also want to join the Spanish in engineering so I can get to know more people in the engineering part of OU that have the same background as me. I’ll make sure to keep this blog updated on the upcoming clubs I join this year.

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Italian Club

I feel like I write about italian club all the time but it is honestly one of my favorite parts of OU. This semester I was not able to continue my Italian class but being a part of this club made me not lose my Italian that I will continue this fall. I am so excited to continue this since Italian is part of me. It was such a neat way for me to continue learning about the language and the culture without being in the classroom. It also makes me want to go back to study in Italy so much but I think I will branch out and study somewhere else. I can’t wait to see what Italian club has this fall.

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Italian Club

I feel like I write about italian club all the time but it is honestly one of my favorite parts of OU. This semester I was not able to continue my Italian class but being a part of this club made me not lose my Italian that I will continue this fall. I am so excited to continue this since Italian is part of me. It was such a neat way for me to continue learning about the language and the culture without being in the classroom. It also makes me want to go back to study in Italy so much but I think I will branch out and study somewhere else. I can’t wait to see what Italian club has this fall.

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Arriving in Israel: The Adventure Begins!

Two and a half years ago, I traveled to Israel for the first time and fell in love with this place. When people ask me what it is about Israel that draws me, I lack the words to describe the feeling of the country; it is an intricate and delicate balance of ancient and modern, a culture that draws from the past but is very much alive in the present. I could eat a bowl of hummus every day for the rest of my life, and would never get sick of wandering through the marketplaces with their towers of dried fruits and rainbow assortment of fresh produce.

I began my adventure in Israel this summer in Haifa, where I stayed with a family friend and her two daughters. It was my first time in a kosher kitchen, where everything that touches dairy products is kept separate from everything that touches meat products. The concept of having two complete sets of dishes kept in two different cabinets for meat and dairy meals is mind boggling to me, but was nonetheless extremely interesting to be immersed in. Sharona, the mother of the family, keeps Shabbat, meaning she uses the Sabbath as a true day of rest – no electronics, cooking, writing, driving, or any other task requiring some kind of exertion. While I’m not sure I could ever live this way, I think it’s wonderful to have a day to quiet the noise of the outside world and focus on family, friends, and taking care of ourselves, which we too often forget in the hectic exertion of our daily lives. Sharona spent the majority of Friday cooking, and by sundown there was a delicious spread of food on the table We said the Shabbat prayers together and enjoyed a wonderful evening – there is nothing more special in the Jewish tradition than sharing food and good company.

Tomorrow I leave Haifa to begin the dancing portion of my adventure on Kibbutz Ga’aton! I can’t wait to see what these next six weeks hold in store.

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Rabat

Toward the end of our trip to Morocco, we spent a week in rabat.  Our homestay family was amazing.  Our mom was a professional chef and she had fresh bread for us every morning.  We visited many amazing sites like the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, the Kasba, the beach, and many amazing museums.

 

 

Our last day, we visited Casablanca.  We saw the mosque and spent the day in the Mall of Morocco.  I would have liked to explore the city more, but it was still an amazing experience.

 

Chefchaouen

Probably one of my favorite independent trips was our trip to Chefchaouen.  Every so often, our program would allow us to travel wherever we wanted outside the program.  This free weekend, my friends and I decided to travel to Chefchaouen, the blue pearl.  What makes this city so beautiful and unique is its color.  The entire city is blue.

We stayed in one of my favorite Riyads with a beautiful view of the city.  The food was delicious and the city was gorgeous.

Our first day, we took one of the hardest trails I’ve ever hiked to “God’s Bridge” and then swam in the watering hole near the damn.  It was gorgeous and felt so good to swim after a long hike.

The last day, we just enjoyed and experienced the city. Chefchaouen is the relaxation capital of Morocco.  It was so nice to explore the city.  I bought so many perfumes and spices and essential oils.  This was definitely one of my favorite cities.

 

ESL Cover Letter Rubric (4)

One form of writing that native English speakers often have to do in order to get a job is to write a cover letter.  It is also possible that this could be an assignment for an ESL class, and as such I was able to find a rubric for a cover letter as an activity in an ESL class, which can be found here.  This rubric has five categories, each with a scale from 1-4, with 1 being the lowest proficiency and 4 being the highest.  The first category is format, which covers the design and layout of the cover letter, including there being an address, the date, the name, as well as an introduction, body paragraphs, closing paragraph, and signature.  The next category is salutation, and in order to achieve 4 points in salutation the student must have put the salutation in the right place, used an appropriate salutation, and properly formatted the addressee’s name, including capitalization and use of the proper title.  The third category is the body of the cover letter, also referred to as the content.  In order to achieve 4 points in the body category, the cover letter must have two body paragraphs that clearly state why the student is the best candidate for the job that they are applying for, as well as a complete description of their experience and education.  The fourth category is the closing and signature category, and states that the student must have a proper closing and signature with proper punctuation in order to achieve the maximum of 4 points.  The last category is the spelling, grammar, and punctuation category, which simply states that the spelling, grammar, and punctuation of the cover letter are mostly correct and do affect the understanding.

I found this rubric very interesting because I believe that a cover letter writing task could be very useful to ESL students, particularly those enrolled in a Business English course.  It is a highly authentic task to be assessed on, and being able to learn the format and structure of a cover letter, which is a requirement for most jobs, could greatly benefit those students who are hoping to work in an English-speaking country.  I would likely use this rubric in such a Business English course; however, I would first want to amend it.  I don’t think it is fair to have a category such as “salutation”, which is a very small part of the overall cover letter, to have the same weight as the category “body/content”, which is the entirety of the body paragraphs, including their content, style, and ideas.  I would want to break down the body/content category into several smaller categories, each one addressing part of the body or content.  For example, there could be one category for style, one category for appropriate word choice, one category for describing experience and education, and one category for explaining why the student is the best candidate for the job.  Previously, all of these topics were under one category.

I would also want to ensure that each category is extremely clear.  As stated in the article “Student-Generated Scoring Rubrics: Examining Their Formative Value for Improving ESL Students’ Writing Performance” by Anthony Becker, analytic rubrics such as this one tend to be more reliable because they they allow the rater to apply one scoring criteria at a time to the assessment.  Reliability is defined by Brown as consistency and dependability across raters and students, and so it is clearly an advantage to utilize a style of assessment that tends to be more reliable.  However, some of the categories in this rubric, especially the body content category, could be seen as vague.  I would want to ensure that all of the categories as well as what is expected of the students were completely clear to everyone involved.  This is also important because, as stated in the article “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance” by Radhika De Silva, explaining a rubric is important to maximizing a student’s ability on an assessment.

Bibliography:

Becker, Anthony. “Student-Generated Scoring Rubrics: Examining Their Formative Value for Improving ESL Students’ Writing Performance.” CATESOL, vol. 22, no. 1, 2011, pp. 113–130., doi:10.1016/j.asw.2016.05.002.

Brown, H. Douglas, and Priyanvada Abeywickrama. Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices. Pearson Education, Inc., 2019.

De Silva, Radhika. “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance”.  Open University of Sri Lanka, 136-14

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London

Saturday morning I officially said good-bye to Oxford. I departed early in the morning to catch a bus to London Heathrow with a few friends. The sky was gray and overcast, and it was drizzling lightly as we left. It was the only morning it had rained while I was in Oxford, and the somber weather matched our mood as we left Brasenose College and Oxford behind us.

The parting was made easier by the fact that I was not flying out of the UK until the next day. All of Saturday I planned to explore London with a few friends. We took the subway down to the center of London, beginning our journey at the Tower of London. Contrary to what you’d expect, the Tower of London is not actually a tower; it’s a castle. Officially known as “Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London,” it dates from the late eleventh century.

We then walked along the Thames and crossed on the Tower Bridge, which is the iconic bridge that most people think of as the London Bridge.

We wandered along the south bank of the Thames, following the path known as the Queen’s Walk. We passed by the Globe Theater, stopped for lunch at the Borough Market, crossed the Thames again on the Millennium Bridge, and admired St. Paul’s Cathedral.

After relaxing for a while in St. James’ Park, we walked to Buckingham Palace. This was now my second time to see the palace, and it was just as majestic-looking as the first time.

Our final destination was the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street. I’ve never seen or read any Sherlock Holmes, but one of the friends I was with is a huge fan of the films and was elated to visit the museum.

We then took the subway back to our hotel at London Heathrow, ending the day in the mid-afternoon so that we could get some good rest. And so ended my last day of UK travel. All in all, it was an incredible experience, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. No amount of studying history and literature can rival the opportunity to visit the real places where the history and literature were birthed. I hope this trip was just the beginning of many more adventures and travels to come.

Last day in Oxford

Friday morning, I decided to go to the Ashmolean Museum since I had not yet visited it. The Ashmolean is the world’s first university museum, dating from the late 1600s. It contains displays of art and archaeology from ancient to modern times. I could have spent days in the museum and still not seen everything. The parts that I was able to see were incredible. I first toured the Greek and Roman sculpture gallery, which had full-size human sculptures.

I also perused the Ancient Egypt exhibit. I found the mummies to be fascinating, as well as the ancient hieroglyphics.

I then wandered through the Cast Gallery, which displays exact replicas of numerous ancient Greek and Roman statues.

I wished I had had many more hours to explore the museum because I only saw a fraction of all it has on display. All the more reason to come back to Oxford one day.

My classmates, my professor, and I ate lunch together at Turf Tavern as an official end to the class and our time together. Like dinner the night before, the experience was bittersweet: we celebrated the time we had spent together, the friendships we had built, and the knowledge we’d gained while we mourned the parting that was soon to come.

After a relaxing afternoon spent both packing and wandering through some Oxford shops, a few friends and I walked to Port Meadow for a dinner picnic. The walk was enjoyable and refreshing, and our picnic began well as we munched on our sandwiches and all tasted gooseberries for the first time (they taste like odd grapes in my opinion). Soon, though, our time was interrupted by a curious, hungry, and stubborn horse who also wanted to taste the gooseberries. We at first tried to gently shoo him away, but he refused to budge and soon was joined by a few other horses who started to get agitated and kick at each other. We scrambled to collect our picnic blankets and water bottles and get away before we ourselves were kicked. We all escaped without being kicked, but one horse stepped on Elizabeth’s foot in the commotion. Nothing was broken, but her toes were quite sore. It was an unexpected end to our picnic and served as an interesting last dinner in Oxford.