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Jan 19, 2016

Last Tuesday, I had an impromptu trip(1) to Olympia, the capital of Washington State. I have been taking exams to become a medical interpreter in Spanish and English, but those exams can't be taken in Wenatchee. If you want to take the test, you have to sign up online when a spot(2) becomes available, and that doesn't happen very often. You usually have to wait for at least three months. I have become impatient with the whole sign up process, and all the waiting involved, so when I found an opening(3), I immediately signed up. I had only a week to prepare, and then a three and a half hour drive to get there. The drive was easy enough as I drove on main roads the whole way. I also took the opportunity to record a lot of vocabulary and sentences to listen to in the car. As I approached Olympia it poured with rain. I could tell that the area receives a lot of rain each year as the trees are covered with moss. This was quite a contrast to where I live now.

I arrived in plenty of time to find the testing center. It was in a very large social services building, up several flights of stairs. The closer I got to the exam room, the more nervous I became. "Now calm down Anna," I said to myself. "If you don't pass it this time, you'll just have to try again." The lady who administers the test was very nice. She made me feel comfortable, and she also gave me some good advice about relaxing and speaking clearly and slowly.

After the exam I headed over to the State Legislative building which is the main landmark of the city. It was surrounded by mist, and looked as if its domed roof was going to disappear into the clouds. I didn't stay long, as I had a long drive home. I just wanted to catch a glimpse of this political center, and the beautiful building that represents it.

1. 'Impromptu' describes a sudden and unplanned or unexpected event or other kind of noun.

a. Our get-together led to an impromptu group singing.

b. As I was volunteering in the class, I became an impromptu teacher because Mr. White, the English teacher,  suddenly felt ill. 

c. After talking on the phone with her brother, Mary bought a ticket and took an impromptu trip to see him. 

2 & 3 'A spot' can mean an available place or appointment, as can 'an opening'. Opening, however, is more common, and applies better to appointments. In speech, we can often use both in the same sentence.

a. She had a spot on the radio show where she read a few lines and sang a song.

b. Finally there was an opening to see the dentist; I had waited for weeks.

c. There were a few openings for the exam to choose from: 11am, 2pm, and 4:30pm. I chose the 2pm spot/ opening.


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