Thursday, March 22, 2007

The inside of Brazilian hospitals. Well, see last email about "normal life" but it ain`t happened yet. Down in Joao Passoa on Sunday to visit Rachel`s family and Rachel`s Mum fell ill and we spent the rest of the day in a hospital. (She`s doing fine now, by the way). We stayed the night down there and came back up to Natal on Monday cutting it fine for teaching English in the afternoon and evening. And then this week Nelsinho has picked up a fever possibly related to his having new teeth coming through. So, we`ve been off to the Docs again and he isn`t going to play group. Maybe next week things will be normal (!). On the plus side, we have lots to thank God for - family about, good hospitals and health plan (more than can be said for the majority of Brazil`s citizens)...

International Students - you can`t get away from `em. As Alanis Morisette incorrectly sang, "isn`t it ironic?". Having worked with International Students arriving in the UK, I now am working with International Students about to leave to the UK and the USA. In order to study abroad (esp graduate degrees) many universities in the USA, Europe and Australia require Students to have a TOEFL qualification. Basically, it`s a blimmin hard standardised test which shows they have good enough English to survive at uni. What`s more is that the test costs US$150 each time you take it and even if you pass, your qualification is only valid for 2 years. The test itself is 4 hours long and entirely internet based (including speaking where candidates talk into a computer). Anyway, I`m teaching/coaching about a dozen prospective students here, young people all itching to be international students in places just like York... So while you contemplate the benefits of being born into a society immersed in the most widely used language in the world, spare a prayer for Dory (who speaks 3 languages) who takes her test (at the 3rd attempt) this Saturday.

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