Impromptu Writing 4/18

Describe the picture 1:

In the picture, we can see a figure sitting in the center, the background behind him looks like the inside of someone’s apartment. The figure seems to be an old man wearing strange clothes and a mask in light blue. He looks like an old version of superman with that costume. The man is eating an orange, and there are several oranges in a basket on the table in front of him. In the background, we can see a window on the left side of the picture, and there are two red sofas close to the window.


Tell the story (picture 2):

My name is Lucy and I have been living in a village with my family for 12 years. I have a pet dog, whose name is Tony, who has been with my family since three years ago. As my parents all have jobs on the farm, they are very busy every day and seldom spend time with me. I always feel so jealous of other kids in our neighborhood who can go to the zoo or the swimming pool with their parents on the weekends. However, after Tony became our new family member, we soon became each other’s closest friend and spend much more time together. With Tony as my friend, I do not feel lonely anymore.

Reflection on Trimester 1 Goals

Goal: To speak fluent English with less grammar errors

I think I made great progress in achieving this goal. During the second trimester, I had my English IB oral exam, which was focused on the topic of climate change. At first, I met some difficulties when practicing for the oral exam, as my intonation was flat and I could not speak fluent sentences when I was thinking. In order to solve these problems, Ms. Singer firstly helped me to practice the pronunciations of words, like words including “O” or “Th-”. Then we read “I Have a Dream” speech from Martin Luther King Jr. to practice intonation. My speaking skill improved a lot from the practice, and I also found that I would speak much more fluently if I took notes before because in this way I would not have to think about what I should talk about next when I was speaking. Fortunately, I was able to speak fluently and with very few grammar errors during the actual oral exam, and I got a good grade. We also had a presentation in EAL class based on the articles we read from the book Half the Sky, the presentation lasted for 45 mins and I also did a great job on that. I will continue practicing speaking and try to speak English even more fluently in the future.


Goal: To read a book in English without Chinese translation

I completed only a half of this goal because I did read books in English, but I only read a part of them. As I mentioned above, we read articles from the book Half the Sky in EAL class, and I also read some sections from history text books. I think my English skill has been improved a lot because when I was reading these books, I was able to understand almost all the contents, even though there were still some vocabulary words that I did not know. I think I will definitely read some extra-curriculum books as well when I have more time.

Interview Questions

1. How many countries have you been to and which country besides the US did you stay for the longest period?

I have been to countries including Great Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. I grew up in China so of course I stayed in China for the longest period.

2. What was the main reason you left your country? What did you do after you move?

The main reason I left China was that my parents wanted to send me to the US for better education, so I moved to the US right after I graduated from my middle school. I attended high school, which is Dwight, after I moved to NYC, and I will attend college in the US as well.

2. Were there other reasons that motivated you to move?

As the decision was made by my parents, I did not have much to say about it. However, I have to admit that one of the reasons that I did not feel reluctant studying in the US was that I thought students here do not have much pressure about their academic performance. Although I found myself wrong after I moved, I still think that at least US students have a better school life than Chinese students generally do.

3. How did you choose where you would move?

My parents chose to move to NYC because one of my cousins lives near Manhattan, so they thought maybe she could take care of me after I moved. Also, my father likes big cities, and my hometown in China, which is Fuzhou, is also a city (but not as big as NYC), so he thought I would get used to the new environment more quickly in NYC.

4. Who helped you in the US?

All my teachers and classmates at Dwight helped me a lot. As my English skill was very poor in my first year at Dwight, most teachers allowed me to use translator in class, and other students also helped me to keep track of class materials.

5. What kind of help did you need most?

I struggled a lot when learning how to take subways and to see the subway map. When I moved to NYC in 2014, my hometown did not develop a subway system yet so I never really took subways. The subway map here looked so complicated at first, and I mistook the express train for local train for several times. Therefore, until now, I still have a habit of making sure the train I am taking and the subway station I am going before I actually go out.

6. What is the biggest cultural difference between the US and China?

I would say the food culture. When I first moved to the US, I could not really get used to the food here because many people here like to eat bread, or bagels, which I did not like. Instead I like eating rice and noodle, and although there are so many Chinese restaurants here, I feel like they all taste different from the food I had in China. Also, another interesting fact is that the McDonald’s tastes very very different in the US and China, and I have to say I love the McDonald’s in China more because everytime when I order the Happy Meal, I can get different toys. (correct me if McDonald’s here has toys as well 😉 )

I got this from KFC’s happy meal in China. I don’t have toys from McDonald’s with me right now but you get the idea.

7. How did your lifestyle change?

As I mentioned before, the transportation in NYC is very convenient so I hung out with my friends a lot when I was in 10th and 11th grade. In my hometown, although the transportation was not bad but I had too much school work so I did not really have time to go out and relax.

8. Did it have an effect on family relationships?

I would say not really. My mother lives with me now and my father has his own business in China. My mother and I go back to China during every winter and summer break, and we basically meet my father twice a year, each time we live together for one or two weeks, which is not so different from the times we met when we were living in China. My father is very busy with his business and he works in another city, so we usually use social media to talk to each other.

9. Did you have to learn a new language?

Yes. My English has improved a lot since I moved to the US, and at first it was kind of ironic for me to feel that even though I had studied English for more than five years in China, I could not even communicate fluently with people here. However, I soon realized that the environment is very important for language learners. In the US, everyone around me at school are talking in English, and I complete all my homework assignments (except for Mandarin) using English, so it really provides me a perfect environment to learn and practice my English skill.

10. How could you manage learning different languages in a short time?

This question does not fit me very well because I can only speak Mandarin and English, although I can also read Japanese but I spent a long time learning it by myself, as well as learning English. However, I do feel that talking to native speakers and observing the way they talk are very important to practice oral skill. Also I think just memorizing vocabularies or grammars does not work for me, so maybe it is also important to actually understand and use them in writing or speaking. I knew a guy in China who incorporated all the SAT vocabularies he learnt into a love letter to his girlfriend, and I believe this is also a good way to learn a new language. 🙂

Impromptu Writing 1/25/2017

Describe the picture:

In this picture, we can firstly see a city with lots of modern buildings. However, if we pay close attention to it, we will find that half of the city is actually under water, and the group of buildings looks like small islands in the middle of an ocean. It is hard to imagine that this city is still a habitat for human, especially some lower buildings has already covered by water.


Relate to climate change:

This picture reminds us of the potential consequences that may be left by climate change. Through the buildings under water, viewers will know that this picture implies the rise of sea level. One of the causations of it can be water pollution. When people leave garbage on the beaches, those garbage may dissolve and go into the sea, which will raise the sea level in a relatively short time. According to research, many cities nowadays, like Manhattan and Hong Kong, have the possibility of being covered by water in the future. Therefore, we have to protect our environment and reduce the water pollution in order to avoid the situation in the picture from happening in our real life.

Impromptu Writing 12/7


In the photo, the first thing caught my eye was a little girl in the center. She is wearing a blue dress, and standing on the top of an old car. The car is white and has some graffitis on it. The background of the photo is composed by two elements that to some extent contrasts with each other: the car is surrounded by green grasses, which is more natural, while behind the car we can see there are fire and smoke, which symbolizes destructions or wars.


I am a reporter working for the New York Times. Currently, I am in a middle East country that has a war going on. My goal is to record the effects that the war caused on local citizens. Yesterday, when my colleagues and I were hiding behind grasses and taking photos of the war, I noticed that there was a girl standing on the top of an old car alone. She was facing toward the sky, and looked fearless but also hopeless. I immediately took a photo of her, and asked her to get down from the car. We then had a conversation together, and she told me about her own experience as a war refugee.


Roommate Blog

My first reaction toward this email was that I laughed so hard throughout the reading. I was pretty amused by the way this email was written and the content of it. However, at the mean time, I also realized that it is true for my parents to say that once I get into colleges, I will start to learn how to survive in and get used to the society in the real world.

In the email, the girl who sent it seems very rude and careless about her roommates’ feelings. If I were her roommate and got this email from her, I would firstly feel upset and extremely nervous about my first year of college — for freshman students, it is an important year for them to adapt to the new environment, many of them need to learn how to do housework while keeping on track with their schoolwork. Therefore, it will be ideal for them to have roommates who are friendly and caring, rather than selfish and indifferent. Also, as the girl wrote in the email that “…I don’t really care just as long as you both know this and understand that I’m not gonna settle for anything…”, I can clearly see that she is probably spoiled by her parents, and thinks that everyone should follow her willings.

This email makes me feel uncomfortable also because I do not think teenagers with this kind of attitude are ready for college life. However, according to many people I have talked to, college is the place where it can change you from a teenager to an adult mentally. Although I think this statement is not absolutely true because it depends on what type of colleges you get in and what kind of students you are, I expect this girl to experience countless conflicts with other people during four years, learn how to communicate with others politely and thoughtfully, and thus become much more mature after graduation.

I feel like many teenagers in China are similar to this girl to some extent. Although I have never met anyone as rude as her, I know people who are very arrogant and always expect everyone to follow their willings. We call this kind of people “princes” or “princesses” as sarcasm, and almost all these “princes” or “princesses” I know have no friend and experienced an extremely hard time when moved to new environments. I think most of the Chinese teenagers who became this type of people are the only child in their family, and thus were spoiled by their parents, or even grandparents, which I think is definitely bad for them because in this way they will not be capable of having good communication and social skills.

If I were the person who received this email, I would forward it to the faculty who is in charge of arranging dorms and roommates for students, and ask if I can change to another room. I really hate having conflicts with others, so I guess I would not argue anything with her, and if I fail to change room, maybe I would choose to ignore her as much as possible.

The Week

1. Listen to the following podcast and then answer the questions:

What advice does the speaker give to you?

  1. avoid 8:00a.m. classes
  2. skip the clubs for the first year and leave the time for adjusting to the new environment
  3. check in with others and yourself, talk to others if you are not feeling great
  4. do exercise
  5. academic fun

What other advice have you received?

  1. find internships to gain work experience
  2. keep a good relationship with roommates
  3. sleep early

What do you think will be the hardest adjustment as a freshman in college?

I think the hardest adjustment will be to live alone, as many students live with their parents before they go to college, they may not know how to do laundry or clean the room, just like the podcast mentions.

2. Explain the following cartoons:

In this cartoon, Donald Trump is on a boat and he is using a gun to shoot at something underwater through the bottom of the boat, while his own boat is leaking and about to sink. I think this cartoon criticizes that Trump is busy dealing with random problems that are not important, rather than solving issues that are more urgent.

In this cartoon, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are fighting with each other by using their extremely long noses. I think this cartoon makes a reference to the story of Pinocchio, and it implies that both Trump and Hillary tell lies when they are competing for the position of US President. Also, we can see that Hillary has a longer nose, which indicates that the artist of this cartoon thinks she is faker than Trump.

3. Read the following and answer the Questions: If you became an internet sensation overnight, would you use this fame to make money? Do you consider Ken Bone a sellout?

I think I would not. If I became an internet sensation overnight like Ken Bone, I suppose my fame will not last long because I am not star or celebrity. Therefore, if I use my fame to make money immediately, people will consider me a sellout and vain, which will make me feel embarrassing. However, although I do consider Ken Bone a sellout, I can understand his decision to use his fame to make quick money. I think no one can reject the opportunity to have a free lunch.

4. Question: Imagine you are the man in this picture. Tell us your story.

I have lived in this village since I was born. When I was 3, my father started his own business in our little village by selling crops to other villages and even to the city nearby. Since then, my father’s business grew bigger and bigger, and we became the richest family in our village. When I turned into 18, my parents sent me to a college in the city because they wanted me to take over my father’s job after he retired. However, during four years studying in college, I found my talent in art. I enjoyed making arts in our school studio, and I even opened several exhibitions before graduation. Therefore, I really want to continue my passion for art. However, after I told this to my parents, they opposed my decision strongly. After begging them for countless times, they finally compromised and told me that they would recognize my talent in art if I could paint all the huge head sculptures during a very important religious ceremony in our village. Now I have been working on these sculptures for three days and I am about to finish, I really hope that people in the village and my parents will love my work.

5. Question: You have 3 minutes to search for the following answers on the web. Set your timer and make sure you STOP at 3 minutes. This is to help you practice skimming and searching. I am not worried about if you answered all the questions.

  1. Who won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year?

Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature this year.

2. Who is this person?

Bob Dylan is an American songwriter, singer, artist, and writer. He has been influential in popular music and culture for more than five decades. (from Wikipedia)

3. Name 1 song he is famous for.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

4. How old is this person?

He is 75 years old.

5. Has Ms. Singer-Zhou seen this person in concert before? (Hehe just kidding, but the answer is YES!)


Flying Cars

Do you think flying cars will be a thing of the future?

Yes, I do think we will have vehicles similar to flying cars in the future. The development of technology has been very rapid in this century: just think about the Wright brothers invented planes only 113 years ago, and within a century, planes developed from a new invention to a common vehicle in people’s lives, so I believe that vehicles, as an important tool for most human beings, will develop even faster in the future.

What would be the pros and cons?

If flying cars are exactly same as what the article described, I think they will definitely make people’s daily lives more convenient, as people do not need to take plane anymore. Also, as individuals can have their own flying cars, they can fly to their destination in anytime instead of waiting for a long time in the airport. However, this also brings the cons of flying cars: based on the fact that most of the drivers of flying cars are normal people, how can they deal with the emergency? Do they know how to fix system bugs when they occur? Therefore, I think flying cars can post potential dangers for drivers who have little knowledge about how to fly planes.

Are people this sarcastic in China?

It depends on individuals. Some people are more straightforward, while others may be more sarcastic. However, when talking about political topics or negative social phenomenon, Chinese people tend to be sarcastic because these are complex topics which are more appealing to those people who are smart enough to understand the sarcasm in them.

How does sarcasm compare in the USA vs China?

I honestly do not know much about this question because I am not a sarcastic person, but I think that the sarcasm in China is as sarcastic as it is in the USA. People need to use sarcasm to express their thoughts or feelings that can not be conveyed effectively by just normally saying them, and sometimes there is humor in sarcasm as well.

How about exaggeration?

Chinese people use exaggeration a lot. I am not sure about older people, but teenagers or young adults love to exaggerate their feelings. For example, when I get up in the morning during winter, I would say “I’m too cold that I can’t get up”; when I feel hungry, I would say “I’m gonna die because I’m so starving”. Also, many young people, especially teenagers in China, like to say that they have serious depression, anxiety, autism, etc. At most of the conditions, they were saying these just because they had a bad day and wanted someone to be nice to them.

First Week of 12th Grade

“I can’t believe I am already a senior student!” At the night before the first day of school, I posted this on my weibo, a Chinese microblogging website. Within 10 mins, I got comments from many of my middle school classmates in China, and they all had the same feeling. I often make jokes about how I feel like I am just graduated from middle school, and I think it is because time has been flown so fast for me after I came to the US.

I still remember those days when I hung out with other Chinese junior and senior students at Dwight when I was in 10th grade, and I admired them very much, as they were very reliable and kind. I often asked for their helps when I met difficulties with my life in New York and with my classes at school. I had especially a deep feeling when I attended our first assembly in the first week of 12th grade: we started to sit in the section for senior students, and I only have the experience of looking others sitting there before. That was when I first realized that, we have become the oldest students in the school, and it is now our turn to help younger students.

Almost everyone says that 12th grade will be a tough year. As seniors, we need to prepare for not only college applications, but also the IB exams. The extensive workload in the first week of 12th grade already gave me a taste of how tough a senior’s life will be. It made me recall the time when I just turned to 9th grade, which is the last year in Chinese middle schools. At that time, I experienced a hard time adjusting to a senior student, and I felt extremely stressful and exhausted before I got used to it. However, this year, I did not feel as terrible when I turned into 12th grade from 11th grade: I already gotten used to sleep on 3:00 am everyday, and 2 or more exams on one day. However, it is true that I feel very tired. It is very challenging for me to prepare both SAT and TOEFL tests while keep track of all school work, but I also consider this as an important experience that one should have before they get into colleges or the society.

Although I feel tired, I know that my friends in China are having a tougher time. Senior students in China have to take the college entrance examination, which may probably be the most important exam in their lives, before they go to colleges. Different from SATs and ACTs in the US, they only have one chance to take the exam, and if they fail, they fail. Therefore, many Chinese students began to prepare for this exam very early: one of my friend, who is a 11th grade student in China, told me that her first class starts on 7:00 in the morning, and the last class ends on 10:00 at night, while they still need to do homework in home.

I hope all senior students can get over this year smoothly and do not leave any regret. No matter what kind of future they are dreaming for, 12th grade should become a hard but unforgettable year for everyone.

Summer Vacation

Summertime has always been a period of time for students and teachers to relax and prepare for the new school year. However, this summer vacation was thought to be not fun at all by myself: as I would become a senior student after the vacation, all my family members thought I should spend my summer studying for tests and preparing for college applications instead of hanging out with friends all day long.

As I mentioned above, I spent most of my summertime preparing for SAT. Like most Chinese parents, my parents stressed the importance of getting a good SAT score to me frequently, and my mother even signed up a SAT prep class for me. Therefore, after I arrived at my hometown, Fuzhou, I only had one day to rest and I started to take the class in the prep school the next day. The course lasted from the end of June to the beginning of August, every weekday I stayed in the school from nine a.m. to about five p.m., as well as on weekends.

At first I felt very reluctant going to the prep school because it would really take up most of my summertime, but after I actually took the classes, I changed my mind: although the classes were still boring, my classmates were very friendly and funny. We have six students in a class, and all of us are studying in different states in the US, so we had a lot to talk about. We sometimes hung out to have lunches together during lunch period, and I still remember once we ordered a delivery from a sushi restaurant to our school, but when it was delivered, we found that its size was much larger than we imagined: two boys in our class had to carry the delivery from elevator to our classroom, watched by every students and teachers they met. “I feel like we became the rockstar in the entire school!” one of them said, and the rest of us all agreed with that.


I also remembered that on July 22nd, the day before my birthday, my classmates decided to play a popular interactive game called Escape the Room as my birthday gift. Escape the Room is a game which several players will be locked in a specific room or setting, and they had to find out clues hidden in setting in order to get out of the room. We went to the place after school, and according to the staff’s recommendation, there was one setting that is is not hard, although it involves some kinds of horror elements, almost all of the players loved it. Therefore I picked this setting, called The Silent Hill, and I regretted as soon as I stepped into the room. After the staff locked the door from outside, all lights in the room turned off, with the sound effects of thunder and woman’s screaming. I was really scared throughout the entire game that I stuffed my fingers into my ears to avoid hearing the sound effects, and I barely remember what the plot was about. Fortunately, I recovered from this mental trauma very soon after the game, and we also had a dinner together at that night. I think this experience may be the most unusual birthday gift for me so far.

Although I still hate SAT and SAT preps so much, I enjoyed the time I spent with my classmates a lot. We created a chat group online, and despite the fact that we all came back to the US and are not studying in the prep school anymore, we are still contacting with each other. I am really glad that I could establish such a warm friendship with these people during my summer vacation.