Kevin came home from an afternoon of giving finals and started banging his head against the door. I could understand the feeling: hours of sitting there trying to concentrate as 70 students parade past can be pretty tiring. It's so mind-numbing that the a good head-banging doesn't seem like it will do much more damage than has already occurred.
We debated over whether listening to oral English or phonetics finals were worse. In oral finals it's easy to drift off and not realize you aren't paying attention until their dialogue is over suddenly. It doesn't make for the most objective grading. And I know I am subconsciously affected by if I've hung out with the students, if they smile at me when they are talking, or if they look cute. It's really terrible.
Oral finals have the advantage of a little more variety, however. Sometimes students will even say something interesting in response to a question. For example, in my last class, the two students who I happened to ask, “Would you ever date someone you met on the internet?” both said, “Well actually...” and told me their not so good experiences. Another student told me about lighting her hair on fire as a child (she liked to play with candles). Multiple students, when asked something interesting they learned about Georgia from our “Southern Day,” said that Georgia is a beautiful city. Many students said they liked wearing “carol” clothes. It took me a little bit to figure out they were trying to say “casual” clothes, but of course I should have known they can't pronounce that middle sound. After all, I have been listening to dozens of phonetics students mispronounce it over and over again.
In phonetics finals there is no variation. Just student after student pronouncing and mispronouncing the same words over and over. The only difference is that some students fly through the words so fast you can't understand any of it, while others have a 10 second pause between each one, “baaaay..................buuuy......................boooy.” It's enough to make you want to, well, bang your head against the door. And in my first class, one girl had loud, annoying hiccups for an hour!! I really thought I was going to go crazy.
In Kevin's class the students kept asking to leave early, then somehow got locked into the room. So they started banging on the door and yelling to students outside. Finally Kevin had to stop his exams to call the office to let them out. Not the first locked in the classroom experience, I might add.
Anyway, I don't know why I keep going on about something so painfully boring. I guess I subconsciously want you to suffer too. But now – we are finished! New Years Eve we finished giving our last finals and were so tired we went to bed before midnight. Midnight is not so special anymore, now that we see it almost every night anyway. And without the ball dropping, the new year seems awfully unofficial.
2010 is the year of the tiger. We learned it is also an unlucky year to get married (although actually just the lunar year, which doesn't start until February 14th). Something about you becoming a widow. Maybe it has to do with the 1 and 0, since 2011 will be a very lucky year to get married (because of the 1 and 1 being like two people coming together, of course). I am always amazed at how many superstitions there are related to numbers. Dates, ages, your phone number – I am always learning about new things.
People might not always follow the superstitions (surely there are some people who will get married this year), but they know about all of them. Even though they would never call themselves superstitious, they are still going to be sure to pick an auspicious day for their wedding and make sure their mobile number doesn't have any 4's (sounds like the Chinese word for death) or 7's (also related to death). People pay extra to have 8's in their phone number, because 8 is very lucky. That's why the Olympics started on 8/8/08 at 8:08pm. I got a discount on my phone number because it has three 7's and a 14 – which means guaranteed death! I guess I'm pretty much doomed. And apparently my punishment was listening to those final exams. I did kind of feel myself dying inside, so maybe that counts.