Final Exam

Writing has never been one of my strongest subjects. I have always struggled to get my ideas and thoughts down in a coherent and organized manner. Creative writing in particular has always been difficult for me because I have never felt comfortable in my writing capabilities, and I have always struggled to choose an interesting topic to write about. However, this class really helped to push me out of my comfort zone. Through all of the different writing assignments and styles of writing we explored through the various assignments, I feel like I have really grown as a writer.

Over the course of this semester, we were exposed to multiple writing styles and genres. As a result, I have learned how such genre conventions shape both the readers and the writers’ purpose. This exposure to many different genres and writing styles also helped me to be able to respond to a variety of situations and contexts that I was unfamiliar with before. One assignment that stands out is the open letter assignment. At first, I was nervous about the assignment because I had never written anything like it before. Most of my writing consists of lab reports and scientific papers. However, this assignment turned out to be one of my favorite assignments. I learned how to tie in a lot of different writing strategies, which really showed my improvement as a writer. For example, in my letter, I incorporated research as well as presented an argument using rhetorical appeals to present my opinion on teenagers being glued to their cell phones. This assignment really helped me to grow as a writer because it challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and incorporate a variety of different writing aspects and strategies that I was unfamiliar with and I was quite pleased with how it turned out in the end.

The memoir that we completed was another assignment that really helped me to grow as a writer. As I said before, I have never been comfortable with my writing, especially when it comes to writing about myself. I am very used to writing very factual papers in the typical five-paragraph format. At first, I struggled to come up with something I thought would be worthy enough to write about. When I finally came up with the idea to write about my experience moving oversees I wrote my first draft and realized it was the most boring memoir ever written. I failed to include any imagery or dialogue and instead I just stated the facts for five pages. After going through it and trying to make it a little more exciting I was pleased with how it turned out. However, it was a challenge for me to write abut myself in an interesting and creative manner instead of just stating the facts like I am used to. As a result of completing this assignment I feel like I have grown as a writer and I now feel more comfortable writing about myself and incorporating things such as imagery and dialogue into my writing, something I was not comfortable doing before.

After writing my memoir and the open letter, I saw a lot of improvement in my writing and especially in my confidence as a writer. Through doing these assignments, I have become a much better story teller as I now understand the importance of using descriptive words along with other rhetorical devices such as imagery, pathos, ethos, logos, audience and voice. Before, my writing used to consist of mainly logos based appeals. Now I understand the significance of using pathos and ethos in my writing as it really helps to draw in the reader and brings attention to the story in a much more interesting way. For example, when I fist wrote my open letter about people texting, I filled my paper with all kinds of facts and statistics. After re-reading it and getting advice from my peers, I realized that this paper was incredibly boring to read and I didn’t really do a good job of addressing my intended audience because no one wants to read two pages of straight facts. So, instead I incorporated some personal stories and described how people constantly being on their phones affect me. By doing this, it made my open letter a lot more enjoyable to read as it drew in the audience and allowed them to relate to the stories I was telling.

One of the things that I learned in this class that will really stick with me is the importance of balancing all three of the appeals (ethos, logos and pathos) in my writing. Like I said before with the open letter, I learned that in order to better appeal to my audience, I needed to incorporate more pathos and ethos rather than just state a bunch of facts and statistics. In addition to pathos, ethos and logos, another rhetorical device that I think is very valuable to writing is voice. I think that the use of voice is extremely important to capturing the reader’s attention and appealing to your desired audience. Voice allows you to be creative and it makes your writing stand out. Another rhetorical device that I think is extremely important and valuable to writing is audience. For me, the tone and voice I use in my writing changes dependent upon who my audience is. For example, in the compare/contrast blog that we did, my intended audience was to night owls. Therefore, I used a very sarcastic tone when I was talking about how they party all the time and do not perform well in school. I used a very negative tone to describe the night owls whereas I used a very energetic and positive tone when I was talking about morning people. I was able to structure my essay and use certain rhetorical devices as a result of the audience I was writing to and for this reason; I believe audience is a key rhetorical device to writing.

Besides learning some of the major techniques for structuring a well-developed piece of writing, one of the most valuable things I learned this semester is the importance of the writing process. The quote “writing is a process, not a product” applied to me through many of the different assignments I completed over the course of this semester. To me, this quote signifies the importance of the writing process and implies that the process of writing is more valuable then the final product. An example of an assignment that allowed me to learn through the process of writing was the very first major assignment of the year, the literacy narrative. From the start, I knew that I wanted to talk about the time that I did my internal oral commentary for my IB Hl English class. I knew that this was a good example of how writing and reading in the past had affected my perspective of reading and writing today and my abilities in the subjects. What I didn’t know was how to explain the story in an interesting way without just stating the facts and retelling the events that took place. Well, it was no surprise that that was exactly what I did. My first draft was simply a retelling of all the events that took. However, through the process of peer reviewing and re-writing a second draft, I was able to improve my narrative and describe my story in a much more interesting and less mundane way. I used much more descriptive language and made the tone of the piece very suspenseful. Instead of simply going through the events that took place step by step, I added a lot more voice to the piece in addition to using a lot of imagery and descriptive language. I found that through re-reading my work and getting advice from my peers and my teacher that I was able to complete a much more creative and interesting narrative that flowed well.

In addition to learning the importance of the process of writing, I also learned a lot about myself as a writer as a result of the many different assignments that we did. For one, I learned that I am a very factual writer. What I mean by this is that I tend to write using a lot of logos based arguments. In all of the major assignments I did, all of my first drafts were filled with facts and I simply retold the events that took place in step-by-step manner. I also learned that I write to organize my thought and relieve stress. For example, after going through some of my free writes, I realized that most of them were about my day and all of the things I needed to do. In the free writes where we were asked to write for seven minutes non-stop, I decided to write about how busy I was and all of the things I needed to do. I proceeded to make a schedule to organize my time. After doing this, it made me feel relieved and a lot less stressed.

Another aspect of this class that I found to be very valuable was the collaboration we did with the NOVA students. By doing peer review exercises with the students, I felt that I was giving a lot of good perspectives and insights to help improve their writing. I also got a lot of helpful advice from the students when they read my work. For example, when we did the compare/contrast blog assignment, one of the NOVA students mentioned that they were not clear on who my intended audience was after reading my essay. The student mentioned that I should use more negative language and give more negative examples when describing the night owls. This advice was really helpful to me and I took it into consideration when I was editing my second draft of the piece. I really enjoyed getting to know the students and reading their stories. They all had very unique backgrounds, which was very interesting to learn about and it allowed them to bring forth many new insights that I would not have considered. One of the drawbacks to the collaboration with the NOVA students was that many of them shied away from giving constructive criticism. A lot of the time I found that the students did not want to give advice to college students so they tended to only point out the positive aspects of the papers. While it is nice to be complimented, it would have been more beneficial if the students also offered some ways to help improve the paper. I understand why they would be apprehensive about offering their opinion to a college student but at the same time it would be very beneficial to learn how they think we could improve especially because many of the pieces of writings we did were intended to have them as the audience.

Overall, I believe this class was very valuable. I learned a lot about myself as a writer as well as learned how I can improve my writing. In one of the first assignments this year, I explained how my confidence in reading and writing was shattered as a result of a bad grade on an assignment I had devoted hours of hard work into. However, after taking this class and learning some of the techniques on how to improve my writing, I feel like I have gained back a lot of confidence in my abilities as a reader and a writer and I look forward to continuing to work to improve my writing as I move onward.

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Observation Blog

The first person I observed was when I was standing in line at Jamba Juice. I was standing in line behind a girl who I believe to have been a freshman. She was wearing long blue leggings that had white snowflakes and glitter on them. She wore a plane black shirt and had a thick, fuzzy grey sweater that she wore on top of it. On her head, she wore a white fuzzy beanie that covered most of her curly brown hair.I thought that this was a pretty interesting choice of outfit considering the pretty warm temperature today. The girl had a very confused look on her face and was intently staring at all of the drink options on the board behind the register. When she got to the front of the line, the cashier looked down and said, “what can I get you?” I’m guessing she hadn’t quite decided yet because she hesitated and stumbled upon her answer. “uhhh, can I get the peach perfection” she finally whispered.

The second person that I observed was in the student union in AF while I was working on my homework. I was trying to knock out my last math homework assignment for the semester when a loud group of girls caught my attention. There were about six of them sitting in a circle on the couch across from me. They were talking about how stressed they were because of finals and one of them mentioned how “these next two weeks are gonna be hell”. They all agreed with this statement and each of them then began explaining all of the projects and assignments they had to get done. I learned that five of them were all in a group project together. The five that had the group project all left to go to the library to start on their project and there was only one girl left. The girl was wearing black yoga pants and a red chapman sweatshirt. On her feet she had black Nike running shoes and her hair blonde hair was tied back in a high ponytail on top of her head. As soon as all of her friends left, she looked around the room with a scared and lost expression on her face. Immediately, she dug around in her navy blue Jansport backpack and got out her cell phone and began texting away.

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Ethnography Blog Post #2

I decided to rush my freshman year and it was the best decision I have ever made! The girls in my sorority have literally become family to me and are always there to support me and make me feel at home with them. These girls are my best friends and we have so much in common with one another. Right from the start they made me feel like I belonged. Since I have become a part of Greek life, people associate me with having strong family values and they think of me as being really outgoing and carefree. A lot of people associate me with being a big partier because I’m in a sorority but that isn’t necessarily true. I love going to all of the date parties and formals and everything and while yes, I do enjoy the occasional party I would not say that I am a huge party animal.

I think that being a part of a sorority will be very helpful to me later on in life because it has created this network of people that I can go to for help on anything. I really hope that after college I will still be in contact will all of my sisters because they play such a big role in my life and have really helped me become the person that I am today. Before coming to college and joining Greek life I was very quiet shy. Being apart of greek life has helped me to become a lot more open and out going. Rushing was such a fun and great experience for me and I could not imagine not being involved in greek life and going through college without the support of all my sisters!

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Ethnography Post: Greek Life

Before moving to the U.S for college I had never heard of Greek life before. When the term was first introduced to me I thought it literally meant a club for people from Greece. When I came to Chapman and learned the real meaning behind this strange term my initial reaction was that the whole thing seemed kind of silly. I could quite understand what all the hype was about it and any everyone seemed so obsessed with this thing called “rushing”. After finding out that the majority of the student body was involved in Greek life I decided I might as well try it out. After all it seemed like a good way to meet people.

The more I talked to people about it the more I started to realize that a lot of people shared the same stereotypes regarding this subculture and I too was starting to develop some of those stereotypes. I started to think the Greek life was just a bunch of cliques and people that liked to party and go out all of the time. I thought it was extremely rule oriented because I kept on hearing about all of the different rules (what you can and cannot post on Facebook, how you have to dress for meeting, how many community service hours you have to complete, etc.).

After rushing and going through the whole process I realized that while some of my initial perspectives and the stereotypes I associated with Greek life were accurate, at the same time, I had a lot of misconceptions about the subculture. I never realized it was such a close “family” type environment. I still however view people involved in Greek life to be very cliquey and they usually only tend to hang out with the people in their own fraternity or sorority. I also still view people in Greek life as being big partiers as well.

Some questions that I have for people in this subculture are as follows: Why did you decide on the sorority or fraternity you are in? Why did you decide to get affiliated? How do you think other people view your fraternity or sorority? What image do you think you have as a result of being involved in Greek life?

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The Life of An Expat

I was sitting alone with darkness surrounding me. The only light was the reflection of the moon bouncing off the white of my plate, as I sat there refusing to finish my dinner, I began thinking about what life in Bangkok was going to be like. I was only in kindergarten at the time, and an ignorant young child, unaware of the experiences I would soon face. Although I was sad about having to leave behind all of my friends in California, a part of me yearned to see what the world outside of the United Sates was like. I sat at the table, stubborn to prove that I could sit here all night and still not have all my dinner finished by the morning. My mind danced as I imagined riding to school on a big grey elephant, its trunk swaying back and forth like a pendulum and, I began to smile.

A month later, our house was filled with boxes ready to be shipped to Thailand. I scanned the house one last time before stepping into the blue shuttle van, and for the first time since I was told we were moving, I began to cry. My mind raced with all my old memories of running and jumping in the park like a monkey let loose from the zoo. I remembered jumping on our trampoline, the rusty springs clinking together with every bounce. I saw myself in my mind at the edge of the high dive at the country club ready to soar into the sparkling sapphire waters beneath me. Grief filled me as I watched the red tiles of our roof fade into the encroaching darkness, getting further and further away from the foggy window at the back of the shuttle.

The entire cabin hums from the sound of the thriving engines as the chair rumbles, sending penetrating chills down my body. Images that once sat still are beginning to move and the trees that once stood before of me are now blurs of green. My fingers stifle my ears as I try to block out the sound of the humming engine getting louder and louder. With my forehead pressed against the cold plastic of the window, I open the palm of my hand and watch as the city gets smaller and smaller, and soon enough, I am holding the city in the palm of my hand. I’m sitting here, in my footsies looking down upon the world. I imagine myself as a hawk. Maybe even an eagle soaring through the skies and disappearing into the white of the clouds.

Everything looks old, worn out and repulsive. The sides of the wall are covered with what looked like black mold, and rust surrounds the flap of my seat belt. I don’t quite understand why we chose this flight, but then again, I’m only four and I don’t know much about anything right now. I opened up my new “Rugrats” color book and as the artistic little four year old I am, I confidently aim to color perfectly in the lines. Stroke by stroke, I color moving in the same direction for that perfect effect. I finish coloring the dark orange and yellow tinted sun and I realize that I am not actually as perfect as I thought I was, that I was pretty terrible, so I decide to give up and I refocus my gaze out the window.

Have you ever felt that rush of adrenaline as you free fall down a roller coaster? The plane is flying steadily almost at the peak of the take- off when something strange happens. It was the same feeling that I got before we took off, the feeling of the world falling out beneath your feet. Once again, the high pitched whine of the engine reverberates throughout the plane and the emergency lights flicker like deranged lightning. I clench my mom’s fingers, warm tears running down my cheek, sticking my eyelashes together. “Are we going to die?” I ask her. Rubbing my shoulder in silence, I gaze into her eyes and see something I don’t usually see in her; panic. I watched the inflight video mimicking what the flight attendants were saying earlier and I was preparing for the oxygen masks to drop, but they never do. The pilot mumbles something about making an emergency landing but it is difficult to hear over all of the cries of distress. The plane veers hard to the left and at that moment, I feel that rush.

“Please remain calm” I hear the flight attendant announce over the intercom. “We are experiencing some turbulence at the moment but the captain has informed us that there is nothing to worry about and that we should be flying through smooth air shortly. Please keep your seat belts fastened and your seat backs up right.”

The cabin continued to rumble for the next couple of minutes and my stomach flipped a couple more times as the plane dipped into air pockets but as promised by the lady in the blue suit over the intercom, the rumbling stopped and soon enough, we were flying into smooth air. I looked over to my mom who had seemed to relax and said “this is going to be a long 18 hours”.

I stepped off of the plane, my legs weak and wobbly from sitting for what felt like forever. My brothers and I raced through the airport towards the immigration lines, eager to be the first ones there. We ended up being the first five people out of immigration but, of course, our luggage had to be the last ones to come out. Carrying two overflowing pieces of luggage each, we made our way to the end of terminal K. I paused for a second before going through the doors; I couldn’t help but wonder if everything would be as perfect as I had imagined it to be, clear blue skies and building that shot up into the sky and went forever. After a short pause, I strolled forward with a confident grin and jumpy with excitement. To my dismay, the place that I had pictured so perfectly was, in fact, a disappointment. The smell of smoke and thick air suffocated my lungs, and my back became wet with sweat from the humidity. The expected blue skies were nothing but grey dark clouds. The sound of whistles blowing, tires screeching and horns honking left an unpleasant ringing in my ears. I wanted to go back to California, but I was stuck here for the next six months, the thought of that made me want to cry even more. I missed the perfect weather, clear blue skies and the sound of kids laughing on my block. Only seconds had passed but already I yearned to leave.

At that moment, I never could have imagined the life I would live and the experiences and opportunities that would be afforded to me as a result of living overseas. The adjustment was difficult at first, but soon enough I made Thailand my home. I remember walking into school for the first time feeling lost in in a sea of cultures, all so unfamiliar to me at the time. I didn’t know at that time, but soon I would make friends with people from all around the world and of all different cultures and nationalities.

Shortly after arriving to my new home, I realized that the people here were different to those that I was used to in the U.S. Everyone was smiling and happy and extremely inviting and welcoming to new comers. Everyone wanted to hear your story and get you know you. As I began to meet more people and take part in all o f the different activities offered, the feeling in my stomach of homesickness and yearning to be back in the U.S started to disappear

Thirteen years passed since I first stepped off that plane. Living in Thailand these last 13 years irrevocably changed me. In America, I was exposed to only one culture, but in Thailand, I resided in a virtual mixing pot of cultures. Seeing the World through eyes other than my own was a transcendent experience, unrivaled and unparalleled. Moving to Thailand showed me the world from multiple angles. Never could I imagine having grown up anywhere else. Yes, maybe the air is grey and sticky, and maybe the traffic never moves. Yes it is across the world and the flight is 18 hours, but it is where every memory of my childhood took place. It is my home and I look forward the next time I get to return.

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6 Worded Memoirs

1.) I’m gonna beat you there. Splat.

This 6-worded memoir is about my most embarrassing moment. I was with one of my best friends and we were getting ready to go to the gym when we saw two girls dressed in sports equipment in front of us also heading to the gym. Since there are a limited number of treadmills, I decided I was going to sprint ahead of the two other girls and beat them to the gym so that I could get the treadmills before them. I started sprinting in front of them and while I was running, my legs became really weak and I fell face down in the middle of the road right in front of everyone. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

2.) It must be an American thing.

The second memoir that I chose to include was about my best friend at Chapman. We both grew up oversees and last year was our first year living in the United States. We were both foreign to all of the rules and the slang that Americans use. Every time we didn’t understand a joke or a rule we would blame it on being foreign. Every time someone brings up something that we don’t understand we turn to each other and say “it must be an American thing” and we don’t get it because we didn’t grow up here. Our international backgrounds is what brought us together and this line has been an on going inside joke between us since we first became friends.

3.) It’s a black out and 100 degrees.

The third memoir that I chose to write about is about the time I took the SAT’s for the first time. The first time I took the SAT’s I was extremely nervous because it is the test that basically determines which school you go to and in turn your future. Thus, I was already really nervous when the test started and when we were about and hour in, the power went out. I was living in Bangkok at the time and it was about 100 degrees outside and pitch black. They made us wait for 15 minutes but when the power still didn’t turn back on, the proctors decided to light candles and give us each flash flights to continue the test. The worst part about it all though was the heat. There were about 200 hundred students sitting in a tiny room and all of us were dripping with sweat by the end of the four hours.

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Index Card

The all to familiar piercing screech filled my ears and my stomach looped as it always did when the plane dropped altitude to prepare for landing. Finally after over 48 hours of sitting on a plane, our journey was coming to an end. I rubbed my sleepy, bloodshot eyes with excitement and hurried to stow all of my personal belongings in the seat pocket in front of me. I stretched over my brother who was sleeping in the seat next to mine and raised the cover on the window so that I could watch the lights get brighter and brighter as we approached the city of los Angeles. Another year had gone by since I was last in America but the view from the window of the plane looked the same as it did last year. City lights gleaming from all directions and headlights from what looks like millions of cars loop in patterns around the buildings.

Full of excitement, I threw my seatbelt off and ran to find my mom and ask her for some gum to help pop my ears. Not surprisingly, I found her at the front of the plane, hunched over the tray table with a pen in her hand vigorously writing, trying to finish up the last immigration card before we landed. I knew she would be stressed, as she always was when we traveled so I refrained from talking to her until she was done writing. As I was waiting, I started to wonder how someone could look so fresh and well put together after sitting on a plain for 48 hours. I guess my mom always looked her best though. Her long blonde hair always looked as if she had just stepped out of a beauty salon. Even after sitting on a plane, her hair is stilled full of body and bounce and every piece of her thick hair remains perfectly in place as if it was just brushed. Her natural blond highlights brighten her silky smooth hair and flow down her back in a perfectly cut straight line and come to a curl as they reach the never split ends. Before I get the chance to ask my mom for some gum, the flight attendant kindly asks me to return to my seat and prepare for landing.

We get off the plane and my ears finally start to equalize as they adjust to the new change in altitude. My mom hands my brothers and I our passports and our filled out immigration cards and lets us choose the line we want to stand in for immigration. I looked around at all of the different lines and spotted a new line forming at the end of the room. Immediately I start to run for the line so that can be at the very front and my mom and brothers follow behind me. We weren’t the first people in line but we are pretty close to the top which is really good news because these lines can take forever. Of course the people in front of us were not experiences travelers and didn’t have all of their stuff out and ready for the immigration officer to check off so we end up waiting for what seems like hours before it’s finally our turn. When the guy is finally finishes asking us all questions and checking out passports he says, “Welcome home” and with that line, I know that summer has officially begun.

Every year, the best part of this trip back to the U.S is when I get to step into the cool, clean California air. We get outside the doors of LAX airport and the smell of cool dry hair engulfs me and happiness overtakes me because I know that I am finally home for the summer. No more city smog and humid tropical air. No more rain and allergies. No more 100-degree days with 40 percent humidity. For the next three months, I get to smell the salty breeze of the ocean and the light clean scent of California air. We walk to my Dad who is waiting in the car across the street, load up the trunk with all of our suitcases and souvenirs. I take one last breath of the fresh summer air before my Dad lifts me into the truck and drives off to our home for the next three months.

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