Wednesday, January 5, 2011


It’s January in China (hey, for you guys too? Cool!), which means that my students are knee deep in final exam preparations. (Though knee deep for Chinese student is, like, ankle deep or even instep deep, for most of the rest of the world. A short people. Short but proud.) In practice this means less fun for me. During the rest of the semester, my students are full of quips and funny observations, many of which have appeared in Reader’s Digest’s monthly “Foreigners Say the Darndest Things” column. These days, though, I spend each period explaining the final exam to my students, and they spend each period softly crying.

So thank the lord of non-native English speakers that I am still reading dozens and dozens of college application essays, which are, on the whole, so painfully earnest that I cannot bear to quote them here and invite the jeers of Reader’s Digest’s literate, worldly subscriber base. Today, though, I thought that I’d give myself a mid-week gift and let you in on my favorite typo of the year, so far. I know it’s January 5th. The bar is low. Whatever, I have a cold. I’ll take what I can get.

Today a student sent me an essay she is preparing to send to Brandeis University. In it, she discussed her interest in Brandeis, the research she’s done into Brandeis, how excited she is to experience Brandeis for herself.

Unfortunately, she persistently misspelled “Brandeis” and “Brandies”. My student managed to write a 500 word essay expressing her affection not for a liberal arts school named after one of our greatest Supreme Court Justices but instead for an after dinner spirit known for its caramel color and smooth, fruity taste.

Also, perhaps unrelatedly, she showed up for her last meeting with me in a smoking jacket. Jury’s still out, on that one.