Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A 55,000 (won) Book...That Fails

After much parental pressure I finally ordered myself a GRE prep book. I'm really glad I have a math teacher and former GRE prep course teacher for a sister-in-law or it would have taken me hours to choose a book. After discovering that NONE of the Korean bookstores listed The Princeton Review on their websites (and yes, I searched in Korean and English), I got on Amazon and decided I might as well get the best tool available and got the fancy, 2010 edition, complete with DVDrom tutorials and a plethora of extra online resources. The book costs $34.99, which all things considered isn't horrible. However, since I have no money in US dollars (I used my meager savings to live off of when I got here before my first pay check, also to pay for the ridiculous visa paper work stuff needed to get to Korea) I had to pay in won. This means the book cost me 43,975won (this is using today's exchange rate, I think it was closer to 47 when I ordered the book) plus 10 bucks for shipping and handling. (Another 12,569 won) Now it seems like I'm complaining an awful lot about paying for a book, which is a bit hypocritical considering that my book buying budget per month is larger than what I spend on transportation, clothing, toiletries and what have you per month. I'm not complaining about the price of the book. I'm COMPLAINING ABOUT THE PRICE OF A BOOK WHEN FORTY PAGES ARE MISSING. They printed the introduction twice and LEFT OUT PAGE 1-40 COVERING VITAL TEST TAKING STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To say I am peeved is the understatement of the century. In the states, no big deal, I could call up customer service and I'm sure it would be solved easily. Now I have to stay up super late or get up at the crack of dawn in order to reach a human during customer service hours, not to mention the fact that I need to somehow send the book back (The post office closes at 5, I work until 6 or 7 everyday and it is no where near my work. Additionally, it has no Saturday hours.) and wait another TWO MONTHS for the new book to arrive. This brings my level of peevishness to rather high level.

Let's rewind to 2 hours ago when the book arrived at school.

The assistant brought me my package while I was checking homework during Earth Class (mid-high level proficiency elementary school students). Being the curious kids that they are, they wanted to know what it was...especially given the grimacing face I was making at the box. I explained that it was a study book as I pulled it out of the packaging.

Student A: Yuck! Studying!
Student B: ...but Alex teacher, it's an ENGLISH study book. (Student B is convinced I don't study Korean nearly enough. This is probably true.)
Me: I know but it's for a test I have to take in English.
Student A: Ewwww, tests.
Me: I KNOW! You think your book is hard, this book is EVIL!
Me: (squinting at Student B's HW) ... A say mouse toy? Do you mean a talking mouse toy?

The level of anxiety and nausea I felt about the book, the test, and thinking directly about grad school continued to rise until I discovered the missing pages. Think about how being car sick feels...it was around that level of anxiety induced nausea. Then all that lovely

Kim BapImage by Pabo76 via Flickr (kim bap)

mess of emotion was replaced with irritation and anger. I started studying the math section anyways over my kim bap dinner and calmed down once I started taking notes. Despite any reservations I may have about the grad school, taking detailed, color coded and organized notes always calms me down. I even bought a special new notebook for the occasion which made me feel a little better. Also purchased, giant gold star stickers that my kids are OBSESSED with. They are practically the size of their hand. Talk about a good reward for doing your homework well.

The picture only post will be attempted in a separate post. Notice the kim bap picture above? I installed a tool called Zementa that helps you make blog posts more interesting by making relative links and pictures easy to add in (it takes just a single click to add a picture in like the one above AND IT DOESN'T MESS UP THE HTML FORMAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I'm not sure how much I'll be using it but it is pretty nifty. Now you don't have to go back to my blog post on kim bap to remember what on earth I'm talking about. Though I must admit, the kim bap I eat looks much tastier.

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Nancy K said...

When you call them make them send it to you faster. Be the Alex we know and love and make a stink.
See if you don't have to send it back. Complain big time!
the parental pressure unit

Alex said...

Dear Parental Pressure Unit #1,
I love you dearly. Also, that's a good point. I mean, it's not like they can resell a book that is missing 40 pages.
The Grateful Daughter

Rachel said...

Funny GRE story. I majored in Biochemistry in college -- it is neither biology or chemistry. When I decided to go back to college and get a graduate degree I flipped a coin to decide whether to take the specialized GRE in Biology or Chemistry. Biology won out and I did lousy. BUT, my years of real world experience after college was the over-riding factor in my acceptance. The other GRE part I did fine in. Years later I took the GMA and used study books and they really helped. So the moral is don't stress over the tests, real world experience is much more important -- and many schools are not putting much weight on the tests, but still doing it more out of habit.

Alex said...

Having worked in an admissions office for 3 years (and at Sarah Lawrence of all places) I do realize how arbitrary standardized tests are. Sarah Lawrence refuses to look at anything but TOEFL and course related tests like the IB and AP anymore. I think the anxiety comes from having to think about grad school in general, more than the actual test taking bit.

Josh said...

"parental pressure unit" is correct. Raise an unholy stink! something-something.... I'M IN FRIGGIN KOREA! YOU SEND NOW! DOUBLE FAST!

Alex said...

I wonder what a 'holy stink' smells like as opposed to an unholy stink...

Josh said...

holy stink = insence in a temple/church

unholy stink..... think exorcist

Alex said...

~giggles madly~

Jessica said...

The comments to this post were almost as good as the post. All I can say is the GRE is the devil. I took it senior year and it IS the DEVIL. Although I have the exact opposite problem; Math-no problem, English-problem. This is mostly because I prefer to argue with standardized tests which doesn't work. Definitely raise a stink it is well deserved. Also when you do take the GRE don't show up early thinking you'll have time to study, cause I did and they made me go right in. And definitely wear what you think will be comfortable in an air-conditioned room, they won't let you bring a jacket in (they didn't let me and I was freezing). So yeah. Also yay for taking notes to sooth the soul. You know I am right there with you. I shall stop babbling now....

Alex said...

...that is one of the first things the book says not to do Jess! Funnily enough, I got a really great mental image of you grumbling at a computer screen.

Note to self: Wear layers that look nothing like jackets.

FredL. said...

perhaps you could enlist the help of the parental pressure unit to apply pressure to the needed pressure point to get Amazon to ship the new copy FEDEX today at their expense.


Rachel said...

And, I also took my GRE's in February in a building with no heat (something had screwed up). I had a stiff neck for days afterwards (but I think back in those days we were allowed to wear coats).