1. Introducing myself

Hello everyone, my name is Sergio Medina and I’m 19 years old. I find computer engineering an interesting option, because I consider it has plenty of opportunities in the near future. It’s enough to see how much the technology has advanced recently, and we are in a period of time where technology has become a very important implement in our lives. Of course I have to make an effort to switch my actual math studies to engineering studies, so I hope I could be a computer engineer when I graduate.

I’m not too sure right now if I want to write a thesis or make internship, that’s a matter I could tell in a few years. However I'm sure I’d like to participate in an international exchange program, if that’s possible for me of course, because that’s not so much common as I want to. At least I’d like to share my language knowledge with some of the foreign-language students at the university.

Maybe I’ll take a master’s course after university, but just time can tell. If I do that I’d like it will be on a foreign country. About the way I learned some of the basics of English I already told that on my shorter profile, I learn almost everything by myself so I haven’t taken any course or something like that.

I really hope this course help my writing and maybe my lack of fluency when talking, that’s something I want to take advantage by trying to tell my progress to the teacher. That’s because I never have had an opportunity to practice my talking with someone, and the teacher has very good fluency when talking, also she speaks pretty fast (even that way I can perfectly understand her though)

2. The plagiarism: copypaste doesn’t help if you don’t recognize your helper :)

Plagiarism seems to be an easy way to make shorter a lot of work that must be made by oneself, but some people ignore they are really stealing information from other people whose dedication and effort created a work of original content. In some cases, concrete critical comments that were expressed specifically through that person’s knowledge.

The site www.plagiarism.org indicates plagiarism is not necessarily the fact of taking ideas of someone else’s work, but not indicating the source where you have taken that idea or a specific opinion from.

The many forms of plagiarism this site explains are pretty particular, because I could know how lazy people can be sometimes, and in some cases how “original” they can be in the way they take works from other people, it’s surely a complicated world out there. However, this site helps these kind of people by indicating where the sources can be added (citing), and how much credit can be given to someone else’s work if just one way of finding this information correctly is giving credit to the original work.

Personally I barely know the consequences of plagiarism (university context for example), and it’s not a fact I might worry because I’ve never plagiarized in any way. The only penalty I know so far (and almost everybody at university) is that if you copy someone’s exam (specifically math, physics, because these are in some way difficult subjects) you will probably be expelled from the university.

I must say the information of someone else could be necessary to complete the essence we want to put in our works, in fact it's very common to find this resource in some books and prestigious well-know written projects. However, we should know how to use wisely this useful and constructive tool.

3. My way of writing/reading

I have not much to say about my writing experience. Since I can remember, my aunt(†) taught me almost everything I could need to start basic writing, and reading as well. I must say since I started high school, my writing skills had been decent, specially spelling. Since I personally think Spanish is the most complete language, I have found writing very pleasant sometimes. However, most of the times I spend too much time writing because it’s not something I could do without thinking patiently.

Writing at university has been a relatively new experience for me, particularly since most of the teachers have a lot of knowledge about literature in general. Indeed my writing skills have improved seriously and I’m proud of it, of course I still have too much to learn. A very nice experience for me was about a year ago, I was writing a few lines of a slide show for literature class. I was on one of the tables of Jojoto’s stand, when I found out there were filming a scene of the movie “Miranda”. Since my script was done and it was on a side of the table, by chance one of the scriptwriters of the movie asked me to show it to him (He was relatively near me at that moment, so I guess he found out it was a script), and then he started to read it with a couple of his partners. When he finished he told me “you have spark for humor, I liked it” I remember it well, then he started to told me about his scriptwriter career, and certainly, he was one of the scriptwriters of the movie mentioned above. In the life there are some coincidences we can hardly believe I guess.

I would like to take writing as a frequent hobby, but right now it is not a proper decision since that sort of thing (in my opinion) must be done with a lot of leisure time, and obviously my university activities doesn’t allow to make this happen.

On less important detail about my writing, I could say I like to write when I’m alone, or at least without any kind of distraction on my surroundings. The things I could do when I write depends on the topic I want to take. If it’s about investigation, of course, I must gather every source I can find, but most of the time I write without these things, just thinking and putting ideas the best way possible for me.

About reading I have fewer matters to tell here, when I was in high school, I used to read novels (REAL literature samples, even when I read Harry Potter, it’s a fact that’s not literature, just a fairy tale for kids), such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez ones, Francisco Massiani, Pearl .S Buck, Luis Eduardo Egui, Par lagerkvist, and some others I can’t remember right now.

However, at present I’m used to reading only recent news and up- to- date information, especially of computing interest. Of course I must add my language-learning materials, I have a lot of it for my Japanese learning, even a very special dictionary that is really hard to find in any library, a Japanese-Spanish one.

Finally I think the most important part of this course is that I’m starting to get used to writing in English, and hopefully I’d like this habit to extend to my speaking too, as I said before, practicing with the teacher would be a nice method for fluency improvement. A curious (and out of this world I might say) experience with the teacher after class, was the “dual-language” conversation, she spoke English and I spoke Spanish. Surely I was in a hurry and I couldn’t take the time to talk in English at that time, I hope the teacher starts to understand these kind of things, for me it was a bit awkward situation for sure.

4. The brain: we should focus on biological and psychological matters.

In the first place, we know the brain has the main functions of the central nervous system, however, it’s convenient to consider the brain as a big system itself, so the slideshow explains a little about some parts of this new system, putting in detail the different functions found in the lobes. An interesting fact about the lobes is that many of the functions involve language improvement in terms of comprehension and proper speaking. So the frontal, occipital, parietal and temporal lobes are becoming an important blend of individual processes humans can do and acquire through life.

Next we have what I call psychological facts, and personally I think this part is surely as important as the biological knowledge of the brain. Intelligence appears as a consequence of experience, and I agree with this point, for the reason that I consider the theory of “posteriori” learning accurate, a common term in psychology studies.

Indeed stress is a key factor in many of our common activities, because it definitely represents a significant obstacle for good concentration, and of course it has long-term consequences for good mental growth.

From my own experience I must say I easily remember the “meaningful” things mentioned here, and we can say this is almost an obvious fact. But in some cases it’s not that obvious. I guess sometimes it’s hard to tell whether an important experience or relevant information must be considered that way or not, it depends on people's reasoning.

There’s a phrase I heard even when I was a child, and that’s “Human beings learn through repetition”, and as time goes by, almost anybody can believe it and certainly be oriented through these wise words, of course, based again on psychology studies.

Brain health advices and recommendations help people think a bit more about taking the feeding habits seriously and how a proper diet can keep your mind working well. Even though I knew fruit juices and soft drinks can’t substitute water, I still have the bad habit of not drinking it (well, too few times), maybe I should start doing it often even if I’m not thirsty, this is about my own health after all. I didn’t know at all that a ph imbalance from dehydration makes the body secrete stress hormones. It’s incredible how much our body depends on water to the point that if we do not consume it in the proper amount, it can even change our behavior sometimes.

To close, this slideshow helps us to remember that motivational thoughts really improve our lives, such as consider taking options instead of limitations, and in general be self-secure on anything we do frequently, since these sorts of things are perceived eventually by our brain, simply an organ but the center of our life as well.

5. I teach, I learn

I think learning shouldn’t concern only academic matters, it must be treated as a constant process of the human being, in every phase in life. However, since academic learning plays a very important role in our life’s path, I’ll be emphatic on my primary/secondary education and university fields.

My primary school memories are quite unclear to make a deep reasoning about my learning in this period. I could say this was the beginning of my life in many aspects, since my mind started to open to basic knowledge.

Having said that, it comes to my memory the period of transition between basic, and (in a certain way) advanced knowledge. My high school period was quite hard for me, so many subjects were the reason for that, and it’s kind of difficult to keep an eye on each one of the mentioned subjects. Personally there wasn’t a “favorite” subject I can tell, but certainly there were easier subjects than others for me; for example literature and English were the most “pleasant” if I might call it that way. However, on the last two years the most relevant fact about subjects was that I found out how much I hate physics, that abstract and extremely difficult science in my opinion. I think many of the physicists can’t live well thinking about the origin of the universe or something like that.
Ironically my physics teacher was a very insane man; sometimes he used to talk about nonsensical things out of context (even out of the context of the class).

Fortunately right now I have nothing (or almost nothing) to do with physics since I approved the 2 (and all in my case) courses in the university, and by the way, I’m obviously changing the topic to my university stay. I can definitely say this is the most enjoyable phase in my life, since my studies are restricted to the things I like, and although the subjects are difficult sometimes, I don’t feel the same “pressure” as with secondary ones. The teachers here, I might say, are almost wise ones, most of them have high academic degrees, such as masters or even PhDs, and the best of all is I can talk with them when I need help, I couldn’t do this when I was in secondary school, certainly.

In a bit radical change of topic, the "multiple intelligence" test shows me that I have a variety of aspects in my life I should appreciate; in particular my result shows that the Intrapersonal (Myself smart) aspect seems to be the most meaningful one. Indeed I knew this kind of result was the most accurate since I know myself well. This result was followed by Virtual/Spatial (Picture smart) aspect; definitely another accurate one. These results show me that I could be a good learner in many things because my intrapersonal and visual capacities could help me to be more focused on any subject I’d want to study.

On the other hand, I could not say the same thing about being a teacher, maybe for topics I like a lot (i.e. languages), but it could be only in special situations I couldn’t know right now. It's not necessarily true a good teacher could be a good learner, or vice-versa, it’s something kind of relative for me, and also it is my opinion of course.

Finally I might say any of the two options, teaching or learning, are rather good if we know how to manage them, and certainly both are difficult and worth making, these are dedications made especially for the learning and cultural progress of human beings.

6. My PC and Me.

About the time I spend on my computer I can tell simply by this way: while I’m in my house, my computer remains working. So far there have been many things I’m often doing with it, but at present, most of them involve web sites checking/writing and downloading p2p content.

My using of Openoffice (MS office’s Linux alternative) is restricted to homework basically, and in the case of document writing in certain occasions I write letters or other important documents. Maybe I’m not completely getting familiar with the advanced functions of those tools because I use them only for basic and specific needs.

When I turn on my computer, I always get connected to my messenger client (Amsn), I could say while I’m in the computer the contacts window is always open, although I don’t chat frequently with many people at the same time because I know most of them personally and I prefer sometimes talking face to face.

The videogames case is a tough one, since my stay at the university doesn’t allow me to put the games I really want on my computer. I admit I can’t just install a certain game and leave it on my computer while I’m not playing, my willpower is quite weak in that sense so I prefer not to put anything at all.

In closing, I’d say I have a “symbiotic relationship” with my computer, as my tool of work, my portal to information, and some other things I couldn’t do while I'm outside my house.

7.Short details about my life

Honestly I’m not used to writing about myself but I guess I’ll try at this moment. I was born in 1988 in Los Teques, that’s the capital of the Miranda State. I did that last emphatic reference since some people think the southwest of Miranda is simply the “Miranda Heights” or just “San Antonio de los Altos”, this last one a nearby town.

I have been living in Los Teques through my entire life, and since it is a small town there are not many interesting facts to mention here. I did my primary and secondary studies in the same school, called “Boyacá”, a little school pretty much near my house, about 3 blocks. I always say in my town there’s no such thing as a “town centre”, because you can find certain locations by walking a few blocks, so if you like the big cities you will not like this place at all. However it is a relatively quiet place and I’m not complaining.

My likes and dislikes aren’t the big thing: I like a lot to travel; I have traveled around almost the entire country, although there are a few places remaining such as Maracaibo city and San Cristobal. However I really would like to travel around the world, it’s a shame I haven’t left the country so far, and the farthest point for me has been Margarita Island, since it was a trip by ferry.

In my leisure time I like to play tennis, and often go to Caracas city with friends to see what I can find. When I’m at home I’m almost the entire time in front of my computer, as I said before in my last post in this wiki.

In the future I’d like to have a decent job, and maybe after a good financial situation in a foreign country, I’d like either, if possible, to do graduate studies. It’s a shame that my country is going through this hard political situation, and I think this doom will remain for long term, so it’s hard for me to establish my future life while there are some kind of reactionary leaders who want to sink this beautiful land.

8.Procrastination: Don’t get used to it

Surprisingly a curious thing about this topic is that I did know this kind of behavior before I read about it, although I didn’t know how this was called. Exactly the same thing happened when I read about agnostic people, so it’s a relief when we found the formal explanation of something we already know.

In my opinion, the lack of motivation is the main reason of this problem; it’s a matter of priority: what kind of activities motivates you the most. Unfortunately when we talk about responsibilities there’s no way we enjoy everything we do, since most of the occupations of our daily life require an effort that consumes our energy “unnecessarily” or simply a task that makes us feel uncomfortable or bored.

In my case, I would say I don’t procrastinate at all. Certainly I don’t have enough motivation for a couple of things I must do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t complete such things. For example, if I have an exam, I usually study a few days before it (between 2 or 3) but I’m talking about intense study, so these are the days when I take my occupations “seriously”. Ironically I don’t like when people hurry me, but I dedicate all my efforts when there are a few days remaining to finish off my tasks. This is an intrinsic pressure I don’t realize sometimes.

It all depends on the way people take their “rhythm of life”, since some people can get used to hurrying too much for doing activities that probably at the end don’t go well, or there could be others that don’t bother doing things quickly, instead they take their time to finish a well done task. “Slowly but surely” as some people say.

The way to avoid procrastination depends on the person as well, because we can’t generalize about the willpower that people could have. What I mean is that it’s hard to avoid procrastinating if you don’t have enough power of focusing yourself in things that require a lot of work, indeed you should have willpower to avoid being “trapped” by distractions. However, I don’t agree in a part of the text of physicspost.com that says the distractions are useless activities. This is not necessarily true, since you can avoid productive activities by doing other productive activities, it depends on the context of the situation. Some tasks may be more convenient than others, even if both are productive tasks.

Personally I don’t think procrastination is a “disease”, but a bad habit we must avoid to have a relatively organized life. We must take our responsibilities seriously if we want to get respect from our friends and relatives, and if we want to reach our goals, we must know that it will require a lot of our efforts in some cases.

Useful grammar exercises.

I like a lot this kind of exercises, and I learn a lot from it, especially critical mistakes I make when I’m writing.

I got a 6/12 in the “Make versus Do” test :O, time to take seriously the difference between these verbs.

I got a 15/20 in the “subject-verb agreement” (before correcting the wrong answers of
course) test, this was a tricky one though.

I got a 13/15 in the “Do you do it?” test. It was interesting although I didn’t have many problems in “doing it”.

Finally I got a 10/13 in the “adverb or adjective” test. These were funny and educative tests, I’ll try to take a few more later.

9.First impressions: First sights and judgments

It is an easy task to make an opinion from something we see for the first time. It might be thought appearances tell us a billion words before our eyes, but in fact it's true. However, we must be careful of the consequences of making a wrong reference from the image we perceive from the beginning, because we can make a prejudiced opinion.

Certainly we can tell many abstract things about a person or situation if we don’t look carefully from the right and rational angle; here is the example of that short and curious video of 27 seconds. From the first angle I thought it was a thief running away from the members of his band, maybe he was betraying his mates by stealing something stolen by them (a bit twisted I know). From the second angle it is a more simple situation, I saw just a thief trying to steal a man, by punching him first. The third angle reveals the true situation obviously.
But we cannot realize we are misunderstanding the reality by simply watching a video, we can find perfectly these kinds of situations in daily life, even with a person, and maybe with more complex angles to discover.

In general, making first impressions as an accurate perception about the reality is incorrect, but the key word “stereotype”, at least for me, is another subject matter. The word “stereotype” is mostly applied to persons (it could be for situations, why not?), but basically I think stereotypes are real, and indeed this is directly related to prejudiced instincts. This is not about first impressions, but it is about being analytical with the behavior of others and with oneself.

A first sight, a first encounter, although we cannot avoid appearances easily, as time goes by we would realize our brain's reaction in the beginning may be questionable. It is necessary to be deeply involved with anything we want to recognize by its true form, in a totally objective context, our mind and vision shouldn’t play with us anymore.

More grammar exercises

15/20 in the “tense coherence” test, the first one. If you choose the wrong answer you receive the reason of the mistake, it’s very convenient.

15/20 again in the “what is the name of the tense” test. Though but my Spanish skills helped me a lot to identify the correct tenses.

The third test is the first one; it must be a mistake from the page.

52% in the fourth test. However I did not understand very well what to do here, maybe a few examples could help.

In the “transition words” test I got a 18/20, an easy one

10.--30-minute essay: How to improve my community

Note: This is the paper I wrote in class without any changes, I talked to the teacher about the corrections I should do.

My hometown is not a glamorous place since it has many urban problems. First I must say the community of Los Teques is a town not well planned in terms of construction and land distribution. The streets are too narrow basically, and you can hardly walk even if there are not people around. However, there are worse problems remaining I would like to address here. These are: overpopulation and street vendors .

In terms of overpopulation, this for sure makes harder the circulation of traffic and, in this nonsensical case, of people. Also it is kind of annoying that Caracas city is just a few minutes from Los Teques, because most people work in Caracas, so my hometown is called a “Bedroom city”.

On the other hand we have street vendors. I would call them simply as a big nightmare since I was born, because they disturb both traffics: people’s and vehicle’s . Personally I think the solution to remove those people won’t be an easy task.

In my opinion I think the solution remains on people themselves; in my case I would organize good urban plans to make a more livable town, and maybe remove a couple of buildings that definitely overfill the surroundings...

11.How would life be in a New Country

When we are far away from our home and our relatives for a long time, we often need to make a change in our lives, it is more obvious if we move from our native country. The way we talk, the relationships with other people, and even the clothes we are wearing in some cases change as well.It depends on how radical is the difference between the customs of our country and the new one you would move into.

Each country has its own way to organize its own society, and in order to be well incorporated in the society we must adapt ourselves to the new surroundings. In my case there are enough reasons to adopt new customs, since actually I would like to meet new people and understand their traditions. Particularly I like the way Europeans have a very well organized life, at least many of the things I have read from these countries are good, for example they have very clean streets. However, this example corresponds to "advanced customs", and it's a fact of their mature culture too.

I don't think I would leave all of my native customs , but certainly in a foreign country I would like to be well received. The new customs I would adopt are a matter of convenience, because at least in my case these would be customs that make me a more complete and civilized person.

How has this EFL writing course affected you as a writer, reader, university student, EFL student, life-long learner and/or future professional in a globalized world? Are there certain aspects of writing, learning or living you are more aware of, for example? Give specific reasons and details to support your answer.

The course is oriented to a more "mature" audience in terms of working with a foreign language; however, I think it worked very well this time, even for the "beginners" in this subject. Obviously the best way to be oriented about the correct structure of written text is by our own experiences, that's why the course has taught me to learn by myself, more than I am used to.

As for the group it is very important since we can see the frequent mistakes made by people of my age. This is a good reason to start thinking about teaching other people to improve their writing, the peer revisions are a good example for this purpose.

The English language is a vital instrument for me right now, since I hope in the future I could use it more frequently, the globalization will be almost a fact and I don't want to be far away from this reality, in my opinion.

The university could show me that I still have many things to learn in order to be a future professional, and this course offers the possibility of comunicating in a more universal language. Also it could show me that I can perform my skills as a reader and a writer even if it isn't in my native language.

Finally I can give a very good evaluation of this course in general terms, because there is the simple reason that there's always something interesting to learn everyday. I like foreign languages as much as my formal studies but people who are not used to this kind of knowledge should reconsider their opinion.