This - counting my mini-vacation to and from Florida for a week when I lived in Utrecht before - is my sixth time in the Netherlands. And every time, I make some lucky guesses and some poor judgments about what I'm going to need.
For example, the Fossil purse I finally decided on has turned out to be the perfect bag. It's the perfect color (black), size (a paperback book), and material (corduroy), and has an extraordinarily useful strap. It's made to function like a belt, with metallic-ringed holes, meaning I can clip my keys through the bottom one and easily flash my electronic key anywhere I need to. (It gets us into the dorms and academic buildings plus acts as 'payment' for meals.)
Other things I've been glad to have: packets of trail mix, Dad's pocket-sized camera, my bike lock (which I crammed in at the last minute), my little notepads, my iPod headphone remote extension, and the black Target boots we bought less than 48 hours before departure.
On the other hand, I inconveniently left my Old English and Its Closest Relatives textbook at home, even knowing I would probably be working on my thesis here. Duuuhh. I also debated for days over whether or not to try to squeeze in Rena's Promise, another pleasure-reading book, about two sisters in Auschwitz. I finally decided not to, and wouldn't you know... the course I've been assigned (if the Creative Writing waiting list doesn't come through) is focused on the Holocaust! Sigh. Also, I only have one American plug, therefore I'm not really using my iPod speakers much, since that involves unplugging the computer, and we all know I never do that. :) Since it's only four months, I could have gotten by without them. The jury's still out on whether or not I needed three sweatshirts, but somehow I think the answer is no, since I'm almost certainly going to end up buying a UCU one before the semester is out.
One last random comment which has nothing to do with any of the above: I have discovered Firefox and plan never, never to go back to Internet Explorer.
Okay, so I decided to just revamp the whole thing. I was due for an overhaul anyway - needed to make it compatible with all screen resolutions and, it turns out, with all browsers. This should be better. Let me know if you see anything that doesn't look right. I'm off to the UCU picnic and then to my Spanish oral at 16:20. (Brace yourself for another entry on that - it's gonna be ugly.)
Anyone want to explain to me why my darker blue sidebar looks like crap in Firefox while it looks fine in IE? There should be a dotted black line outlining it, there should be a little padding on the left so the text isn't right up against the edge, and the darker blue color should obviously go all the way down the column and not stop at the bottom of the screen. And when it gets to the bottom of the screen, the column should stay stuck to the right, not move itself to the left. I don't understand what's going on here. Is this my computer (which would not surprise me) or do you guys see it like this too? Which browser(s) are you using? Please comment!
31/8/2005 Update 9:52am: Okay, I figured out the column-height thing... apparently in Firefox, "100%" means "do it for 100% of the screen" and not 100% of the actual content. I specified a column height - since the stuff in the right-hand column almost never changes anyway - and now it's all good, but I still can't figure out why the column stops 'sticking' to the right when it gets down below the level of the posts. It doesn't do that in IE. Back to wading through HTML...
Ha! I feel like I've just been handed a check for $500 ... I have been informed that I do NOT have to get a residence permit! It says very clearly 'if you stay longer than 3 months' in the information I received, but in the meeting today, they told us it's really 4 months! I wasn't actually planning to get one anyway, considering the fact that (a) the Australians in my building last year didn't bother with it and they got along fine, and (b) my passport didn't get stamped at Schiphol - don't ask me how - so they can't prove how long I've been here anyway... but since UCU had my name on a list I was afraid I might not have a choice. So that was the highlight of my day... €433 that I budgeted for and now don't have to pay! Woohoo! For once, Dutch bureaucracy works in my favor! Alert the media!
I'm eating my last bag of Costco trail mix right now (almonds, peanuts, M&Ms, cashews, and raisins, except I usually toss out the raisins), so I definitely have to go to Albert Heijn tomorrow. My body is used to a strict rhythm: small meal, swim, bigger meal, classes, snack, 3-hour nap, another snack, swim, large meal, sleep. This summer it didn't matter so much, since my sleeping and eating were all out of whack anyway due to my crazy work schedule, but this week we've been given two meals a day - brunch and dinner - and I'm not finding that to be enough. I'm satisfied when I leave the meal, but a couple of hours later I'm hungry again. I don't think there's a lot of protein in most of what they give us; that's another possible culprit (and another good reason to buy milk). Also, I have a lot more lean muscle than the average person - especially compared to these skinny Dutch people - and that means I need more calories. Ah, well, on Thursday (when classes start) we'll start getting three meals a day, so maybe that'll help. Hope so.
So today was the UCU Sportdag, meaning we spent the day in our "families" (that's what they call the groups we're divided up into) moving from station to station, doing all different sports. I missed the first two activities (dodgeball and tug-of-war) because I had to go meet Martin at Utrecht Centraal to pick up Jolanda's cell phone (which I now have, with 22 euro beltegoed, so it's 06-14170962 if you feel like calling me!) But I was there for the rest, which were: American football (actually a weird simplified made-up version of it), Ultimate Frisbee, basketball, soccer, volleyball, sumo wrestling (in giant heavy suits) and 'Gladiator', where you stand facing each other on two stumplike protrusion (above one of those rubber bouncy things like at KidZone) and use big soft heavy sticks to try to knock each other off. Everything was a lot of fun except for this one game where we had to run a lap around the quad all tied together, racing another team. We ran at such different speeds that it didn't work very well at the start, and my string actually ended up breaking - which was actually a relief, since I felt like I was being pulled forward and was going to fall any second. So the last three of us (me and the two girls behind me, Mierta (sp?) and Doortje) sort of disconnected and finished by ourselves, meaning that even though our team crossed the finish line first, we lost because we weren't all together. We lost at American football, too, but won everything else.
As for me personally, I won my rounds of Gladiator and sumo wrestling, got a couple of hot streaks of serving at volleyball, and also did really well at basketball and Ultimate Frisbee. (Ultimate Frisbee's apparently not a normal game here, but it went down big - a couple people actually asked me about starting a team!) And I loved the basketball game; it was just the way I like it: full-court and fast-paced, but played with people who are just average, not really stars, meaning I wasn't out of my league by any means. I was the only girl on the court, but I made several baskets and had some good plays. (Nobody seemed to know about picks, which made them a pretty effective strategy, except for the fact that my teammates almost never hung onto the ball long enough to give me the chance to pick their defender, LOL! The one time I did, the guy I picked was so much taller than me that his shoulder slammed into my jaw. It's a little tender, but it'll heal.) Anyway, in summary, it was a great day. I could have carried on playing basketball all day! All the other girls in the group (except for one, Linda) were sort of negative about having a sports day - for the past few days a couple of them were talking about how much they weren't looking forward to it, and most of them didn't try to join in a whole lot - but I thought it was the best day we'd had so far. Sigh. I miss swimming.
Anyway, so that took up the whole day, and then we all showered and met up again for dinner - fried fish, French fries, salad, peas/carrots/peppers, and chocolate pudding. The food isn't bad, but I do hate the fact that they don't serve milk with dinner. (And when they do serve it - only at breakfast - it's two percent, not skim.) But I'm going to the grocery store tomorrow and I'll get some milk and orange juice then (plus tea, shampoo, and a couple of other things).
Speaking of buying things, I've decided that I'm going to write down absolutely everything I spend money on - to keep myself accountable. It's been four days and here's my list:
8/25 €07.10 train ticket from Schiphol to Utrecht 8/25 €19.20 one long strippenkaart 8/25 €66.00 bed linens 8/25 €25.00 key deposit 8/25 €03.00 two glasses of wine (at the first party) 8/26 €2812.00 University College fees 8/26 €01.50 slice of pizza from my old favorite stand (while touring the city) 8/26 €70.00 bike 8/27 €29.90 thin dark brown coat (H&M) 8/27 €09.49 Internet cable 8/28 €20.00 T-Mobile pre-paid internet card
Total: €3063.19 (without UCU fees, only €251.19 ... not bad!)
(By the way, does anyone know how to make the Euro symbol on a laptop keyboard? I had to jack it from a random site.)
One last comment: Mom, you will love my jacket. It's exactly the one you'd have picked out for me if you'd been there, I know it. No, I don't have a picture, but I'll try to remedy that soon. I'm working on a UCU picture folder in my Flickr account, but it's only got three pictures in it so far, haha. More to come!
1.) The weather is really nice. It's cool enough to need a jacket, and rather windy, but there's a lot of sun, too. Hope it lasts!
2.) I'm planning to try to swim for this Masters team in Gouda, about 20-25 minutes west of Utrecht. I'm just waiting for the coordinator to e-mail me back with the practice times so I can incorporate that into making my academic schedule on Monday (classes start 1 Sept). There are also two 5k open water races in canals (in Vlissingen and Oosterhout) which I might try to do, but I'm not sure about those yet.
3.) Harvard and Brown STILL do not have their 2006 applications up. Oh, well, I suppose it doesn't matter... I'd rather do that stuff on my own computer, anyway; attachments would get complicated otherwise.
4.) Had I known about this UCU option last time I was here, I bet I would have done it!
I have another few minutes, so here's another entry. I don't have an internet cable yet, so I just have to use the school computers in the academic buildings until I get one, but that's okay; there's one right across from my dorm, which is where I am now. Actually, what I really need is a bike; then I can go anywhere I want and buy internet cables, GOOD milk and orange juice, etc. (Our food is included in the almost-$4000 fee, but I want skim milk and REAL orange juice, so I'm planning to buy them and keep them in the communal refrigerator.)
Anyway, I talked about getting here, but I didn't really talk about what it's like here. The website is here if you want to look (there are pictures and descriptions in English). I live in Building K, a.k.a. Reinier, and I have one of the few shared rooms on the whole campus (I requested that, because it drops E400 off the E3400 price). I share a room with Dia from Hungary, who is turning 20 next week; we hit it off right away. The room is enormous; we could probably fit two other beds in there with no problem. One wall has two big windows, so there's a lot of natural light; the curtains are orange, my bedspread is red and blue and Dia's is green. There are wooden bookshelves and armoires plus big desks and swivel chairs. The overhead light is a round white Japanese-lantern-looking-thing, and there's also a sink in the room (which is nice; the toilets and showers are at either end of the hall) with its own mirror and light. Basically, there's a lot of light, which I love, since my La Mancha apartment and bedroom are/were so dark.
(Speaking of which, while I'm thinking of it - any of you Gainesvillians know of an apartment I could rent for spring for under $500/month? La Mancha is raising their rates and frankly, their dingy, tiny apartments simply aren't worth that much.)
The campus is small, with a dining hall, a bar, basketball, tennis, and soccer courts, four academic buildings (all named after philosophers and scientists), a center quad, and a couple of dorms (students also live on the upper floors of the academic buildings). It's situated pretty close to the center of town (for those who know, it's on Prins Hendriklaan, just east of the Wilhelminapark) and everything is very pretty.
This week is the Introductieweek, so we're divided into groups with 'parents' (second- and third-year UCU students) doing activities with us and answering questions. Today we went on a sort of treasure hurt through Utrecht, which was okay, but kind of annoying since we didn't have bikes and had to walk the whole way. Plus, I already know where everything is, so a lot of this stuff seems unnecessary. But I won two free drinks by answering both of the riddles way before everyone else, haha. They were really easy... see if you can get them:
1.) You walk out of a bar and you can clearly see your black sports car 100 yards away, even with no moonlight and no streetlights. How is this possible?
2.) A man is found shot at his desk with a gun in his hand and a tape recorder next to him. When the police pressed Play, they heard 'I can't go on; I have nothing to live for,' and then a gunshot. How did they know immediately that the man had been murdered?
E-mail me if you want the answers. :)
Anyway, I'm still glad we have these groups, because almost everybody in my group is Dutch, so I'm making new Dutch-speaking friends pretty effortlessly. I also met an American girl this morning at breakfast, Miranda from California, and she was nice too. Usually we speak English if there are any non-Dutch speakers around, but if there aren't, we speak Dutch. I'm getting the usual comments about "Usually, people who learn a language at 18 can't get rid of their accent, but you don't have one at all!" and it feels great. Last night there was a party in the on-campus bar (which was a lot of fun) and I was talking with a couple Dutch girls from my group when another Dutch girl named Victoria came and joined in. She didn't know me, so during a break in the conversation she asked my name and where I was from. When I said, "Amerika," she got a shocked look on her face and reflexively said, "Oh - sorry!" (It made me laugh - sorry for what? For having the wrong mental impression, I guess.)
But it's weird - I can remember that just a few years ago, I hated the idea of going out to clubs and bars. I went a couple of times, with Linde and Tara, but I remember very clearly that when Marrit tried to take me and Scott out in August 2003, I was such a wallflower - drinking only water, not really dancing at all, feeling really uncomfortable the whole time. I wonder why that was? I don't know if I was uncomfortable just because it was a new situation or because it wasn't a situation that I believed I was supposed to enjoy - you know, the 'drinking is bad' stigma, etc. I was only 19 then. (My sister is 18 and sort of in that stage right now too... we'll see where she goes with it.) But now that I'm 21 I really enjoy going out... not every night, but it's fun a couple of times a month. I spent my 21st birthday at Market Street (a pub/club in Gainesville), and Renate and I went to Fat Tuesdays one night in the spring, and both of those times were great. As was last night. I wonder why it took me so long to 'grow up' like that? I guess I'm thinking about this because one of the girls I'm making good friends with, Doortje (from Den Haag), was there last night and she reminds me a lot of the 'old' me - staying pretty quiet, not dancing, not drinking, etc. I think she's only 18, though; I'm one of the oldest ones here. Since UCU is traditionally a full bachelor's degree program, which takes 3 years here, almost everyone is between 18 and 20. Oh, well.
Anyway, I guess the only thing left to talk about so far is the food: it's good. We had a sort of Mediterranean barbecue last night, with chicken shish kabobs and a mixture of yellow rice, carrots, peas, and tiny sausages. It was really good, especially when I realized that they had pindasaus and kruidenboter! I really missed those two things. (Pindasaus = peanut sauce - really good on French fries and meats - and kruidenboter = butter with herbs.)
Anyway, my feet are sore from walking around the city all day, and I bet Dia's back in the room now, so I'm going to sign off. Send me lots of e-mail, everyone!!! :)
Jacksonville --> Cincinatti. Nothing very eventful.
Cincinatti --> Paris. Oh yeah. We ended up being an hour late for takeoff, for the dumbest reason in the world. The flight attendants kept counting us over and over again, "Sorry, we have to count again, will everyone please sit down?" The French woman beside me obviously understood something I didn't from all the hushed French babbling among the employees; she was laughing, and when I glanced at her, she said, "It's the babies; they can't count the babies right. One says there are six, the other says there are eight. It's funny; there are three people running around counting babies." I laughed too.
Anyway, so we finally took off, and it turns out that all the bad things I'd heard about AirFrance were wrong - it was a really nice flight. The seatback TVs were actually touch-screens - ooh, high-tech - and I watched Tootsie and The Wedding Date. The flight seemed to go really fast; however, because of the delay, a bunch of us missed our connecting flights. I ended up hanging around Charles de Gaulle airport for two hours with a girl named Katie who was heading back to NL for the second time to play field hockey on a club team there. She was cool; we exchanged e-mails, and since the person who changed our tickets thought we were traveling together, we ended up next to each other on the last flight. They also gave us free breakfast vouchers - "Get anything you want"- but it turned out that 'anything we wanted' was limited to coffee and one croissant. Too bad.
Oh, and of course, I have to talk about the drunk woman. While I was waiting in line for the bathroom, a woman in the last row saw my Florida Swimming shirt and asked about it. It turned out that she was a golf coach at University of Kentucky, heading over to the Scandinavian countries for 2007 recruiting. We were having a nice conversation, but the woman next to her kept butting in with inane comments like, "I don't think international students should be allowed to come over to America on athletic scholarships," etc. Somehow we got onto the topic of the different 'tiers' of education in Europe, specifically the Netherlands (about the top 15% go to university, others go to vocational schools, etc.), and she seized my random '15%' number and ran with it. "But 15%, can you imagine? I mean, I wasn't top 15%, and I doubt you are," she said, pointing at me.
She already had my back up, and that crossed the line into full-blown irritation. "Well, I am, actually, but go on," I said. The Kentucky coach laughed appreciatively, but the drunk woman started in on me. "How do you know something like that? How can you know? I can't believe someone could just say something like that to me - 'I'm top 15% in the country'."
"Well, I can't believe someone I've talked to for thirty seconds would be so rude as to make the assumption that I'm not in the upper percentages," I shot back, thoroughly ticked off now.
I ended up having to list my academic credentials on my fingers before she would shut up, and when she finally conceded, I thought the conversation was over.
Not so. Know what her next question was? "If you're so smart, why are you going to Europe?"
Sigh. Or, as Catie would say, *facepalm*.
Anyway, I finally extricated myself from her, but she was apparently a horrible seatmate to the Kentucky coach (big surprise) - waking her up to ask if she was okay when she was simply trying to sleep, etc. Then she started yelling at the steward, who was yelling right back, "If you continue like this, I will not give you any more [wine]!"
"How dare you!" she raged, shaking a finger in his face. And on and on and on. I don't know how they finally placated her, but the Kentucky coach and I were apologizing to the nearby crowd on the way off the plane. "Not all Americans are like that, we're really sorry!"
Anyway. Paris --> Amsterdam. Once we finally got on the plane, things went smoothly.
Anyway, much anxious luggage-searching ensued (but I did get everything!), followed by much luggage-dragging (down stairs, onto trains, off of trains, onto buses, off of buses, and finally a few blocks down the road to UCU). I was drenched in sweat by the time I got there, but I did manage to get through check-in and move-in without too much difficulty. My roommate's name is Dia (actually Diana, but no one calls her that); she's Hungarian and very sweet.
Yesterday I worked a 14-hour day. At 1:30 AM, dazed and relieved, I dropped down into my own car and took off down I-95 southbound. As usual, my iPod was blaring and I was checking my speedometer constantly, reminding myself that it was within the last ten days of the month and that the cops were out en masse.
I'm not sure how I ended up there, since I don't remember passing anyone, but as we approached the Trout River Bridge (a scarily narrow bridge with no emergency lanes and a very low guardrail), I was in the left lane. In front of me was a red semitrailer carrying three brand-new cars, and in the right lane was a small, old, dingy, black car - I don't know the make; maybe a Honda - with five college-age kids crammed inside it. The shirtless driver had his window rolled down and his arm resting on the ledge. At that late hour, we were the only three cars in our "cluster" of traffic.
Suddenly, without signalling (or, apparently, looking), the semitrailer swung over into the right-hand lane. The driver of the black car had no time to react; the car-carrying trailer slammed into the driver's side of the car, sending the vehicle crashing into the low guardrail on the right side. Had the car been larger, such as an SUV, it probably would have gone over the rail and exploded on the boat ramp below; however, its low profile kept it grounded on the interstate. The force of the blow then sent the disintegrating vehicle ricocheting back off the right-hand guardrail and over into the left lane, immediately in front of my car. It was leaving a trail of bright sparks in its wake.
Despite the long day and late hour, my reflexes kicked in immediately and I braked as hard as I could. Seeing the sparks, my first thought was, It's going to catch fire. The second thought was, And I'm going to crash right into it.
Luckily, I stopped in time. It's a mark of my exhaustion that my first reaction was to glance back over my shoulder into the right-hand lane, looking for a space to simply merge back into traffic and go on. Two or three seconds later, the adrenaline kicked in. What the hell am I thinking? Hands shaking, I fumbled with my car's multiple bells and whistles, momentarily forgetting what I needed to press. Why is that music so infernally loud? Ah, there, it's off. What's next? Flashers, I need my flashers. Wait, why aren't they here on top of the steering wheel? Oh, wait, that's in the Sprinter. So where are they in my car, then? Oh, right, down here. After a certain amount of fumbling, I got out of the car. The teenagers were piling out of their totaled vehicle, looking shell-shocked. The driver of the semi, apparently panicking, had not even bothered to stop.
"Is everybody okay?" I shouted over the noise of traffic, walking towards the car. "Everyone all right?" Vehicles passed us in the right lane, crunching over the scattered scraps of plastic and glass. I winced at the noise. "Yeah, we're all okay," said the driver, looking pale. "Do you need a phone?" I asked. "No, we've got one," he motioned to his passenger, who was already on the line with the police. "Hey, where are we now?" the passenger asked suddenly, covering the mouthpiece of the phone. "Uh, 95 north..." I began. "They want to know what two exits we're between?" "Uhhh..." I squinted to read a faraway sign. "Heckscher Drive and... Edgewood Avenue, I think." Again, it was a mark of our adrenaline rush that none of us thought to simply say, "On top of the Trout River Bridge." I turned to the two girls, who were huddled together. "You two okay?" "Yeah," one of them said shakily. "Right when it hit, he grabbed me" she gestured to the third boy, "and held me down really tight." "I need a cigarette," said the second girl, with a weak smile.
At this point, I finally got a good look at the car. It was totaled. The front driver's side wheel was completely gone, torn from the car and flung a few feet forward. The sparks I had seen had come from the dragging axle. Much of the metal on the side of the car was twisted and peeled away, exposing the insulation and bracing inside. Both taillights were smashed, which made me realize they were lucky I had been there; if I had not stopped behind them with my flashers, someone would likely have plowed into them. In the early-morning darkness they were all but invisible. The gas tank's stem was also completely exposed, all the paneling torn away, leading me to wonder if our position right next to the car was really such a good one. But before I had a chance to worry much about it, the cops pulled up behind me.
There were two, a man and a woman. The woman was shaking her head. "This is the worst place to have a wreck," she said grimly. "They were really lucky," I responded. And they had been. They hadn't gone over the guardrail, they hadn't been plowed into from behind (thanks to me), and, most importantly, no one had a single scratch on him. The windows had been open - the driver had even had his arm on the ledge, right where the truck hit - and I seriously doubt that anyone had been wearing a seat belt. Yet, miraculously, they were all okay. I couldn't believe it.
After the police took my plate number and cell phone number, I was free to go. With the exception of a stray mattress lying across the left lane (who knows?), I made it home without incident. But it took a while for my hands to stop shaking. I've been rear-ended twice (once with my dad and once alone), but I've never been in a wreck anything close to that, and never seen one happen. That sort of thing is exactly why I never let anyone borrow my car at camp. "Don't you trust me?" I was often asked. My answer was always the same. "I trust you. It's the other drivers that I don't trust." This sort of thing is exactly the reason why.
Have you ever been in a car accident, or seen one happen in front of you?
8/16 - Retake the GRE and do even worse. Weigh my suitcase. Possibly buy seat for new bike. 19:00 swim practice.
8/17 - Trip to float the Ichetucknee with Kelly and others. Drive Mom's van; do not wreck it. Also, Catie's horse Charger gets moved to Tallahassee, to his new barn with a pond to cool off in.
8/18 - Back to work. 19:00 swim practice.
8/19 - Get paid. Swim at Cecil, dinner at Town Center with Anna, Nika, and Hayley. Buy my Philosophy Pumpkin Pie 3-in-1 stuff at Sephora. Also, Catie moves to FSU. (Oh, the shame!)
8/20 - 8:00 swim practice. 19:30 Jags @ Tampa Bay.
8/21 - 9:00 open-water swim practice. Possible second Ichetucknee trip with Shannon, etc. to make like UF varsity and swim against the current. Probable trip to Moe's with Greg (co-worker), who wants to buy me my last Moo Moo Mr. Cow.
8/22 - Make enormous, painful bank transfer to ABN-AMRO. Go to the gym one last time.
8/23 - Get shortest haircut of entire life. Lie in dentist's chair for two hours and promise to floss more at all. 19:00 swim practice. 21:00 swim team goodbye party at Pizza Palace for me and Wayne (he and his wife are moving).
8/24 - 12:47, fly out of Jacksonville International Airport.
Anyway, I finished the Yale application this morning, so now the only two schools left are Harvard and Brown, who are dragging their feet. I don't actually particularly want to go to Harvard (I'm holding out for Yale and Georgetown), but it'd be nice to have the acceptance letter and bragging rights. Although I don't think I'm actually too likely to get in - my GREs are 630 verbal (88%), 720 math (72%), 5.5 writing (86%), which is certainly not bad, but not fabulous either. I just retook it this morning and did even worse (ran out of time) so I guess I'll be sticking with those May scores. I usually top out standardized tests, so this is sort of a kick in the ego. *cries*
People who rock: Yale Tech Support (for resolving my issue literally within 20 minutes), my grandmother (who gave me a check for $1000), Martin's new girlfriend Jolanda (for lending me a pre-paid phone for 4 months in NL), and Richard (who gave me an aluminum Trek bike, for free! Granted, it needs some new parts, but it's an aluminum Trek!)
Okay, so the Brown application isn't going to be online until September. Boo. That means I'll have to do it from overseas. Ah, well, at least it isn't a very complicated application - the online form, the fee, a GRE score report, a transcript copy (already sent), and a personal statement. None of these other random requirements, like Harvard's 'Statement of Financial Resources'. Not even a writing sample. Which is good, seeing as I don't actually have an appropriate one of those. More on that in a minute.
In other grad school news, Georgetown has moved up to tie Yale for my number-one desired acceptance since I realized that (a) their linguistics doctoral program is the largest one in the whole school - take that, teeny UF program! - and (b) I would really love to live in DC. Plus there's the proximity to the NSA. So Harvard is now a distant third.
(Randomly: did anyone know that Yale's athletic facilities include an on-campus ice skating rink? Awesome!)
Anyway, I just searched Peterson's again to make sure I didn't miss anyone, and while I mostly just found state universities, which I've already covered, I also came across four others which I hadn't seriously considered: NYU, Stanford, Cornell, and Northwestern. At first I thought Oh my God, I've got to start all over ... but I can eliminate NYU right away because I certainly don't want to live in NYC, and Cornell doesn't seem to offer much aid. Stanford is a possibility, I guess, but it really doesn't impress me any more than any of my current seven choices, and it's so far away... it's not worth it to me. But then there's Northwestern, which, oddly, actually sounds kind of appealing. Their site is clear, informational, and nicely organized (yes, I do place value on that) and, like Yale, they offer funding to all Ph.D-ers. So I'm getting awfully tempted... but then... I already have seven picks... and it's in Illinois... and it's another $60 application fee... and they only accept 4-6 students out of all 55-some-odd applications... is it worth it?
I don't know. Probably not. I think it's time for a nap.
Oh, but before I go: someone help me narrow down these thesis topics. (This is what I meant by 'more on the writing sample' ... I may end up sending a first draft of this to a couple of schools a few months down the road, because at the moment I have absolutely nothing suitable. Most of the UF professors seem to prefer exams and/or menial homework assignments to actual papers. Bah.)
1.) Word order changes in Dutch (inversion as well as Subject-Verb-Object to Subject-Object-Verb order in relative and complement clauses) and how they are or aren't related to the evolution of modern English. This is my current favorite topic, largely because I already did a short paper on it and therefore halfway know what I'm talking about. I can include Afrikaans and Frisian as well, and maybe Flemish, although that one wouldn't really have any outstanding differences...
2.) German and/or English influence on the Dutch language and the Dutch people's resistance/acceptance of it. Dr. JDG suggested the German influence and I added the English part. Because it's true, the Dutch are always insisting, "No, no, no, our language is not at all like German!" which it most certainly is... but English is sneaking in right and left too, and it's actually the Belgians who are more protesting of that. (Maybe due to the French influence?)
3.) Random strong verb creation in English (i.e. climb/clum, bring/brung, drag/drug) ... why do we do this and why is it so much more prevalent in the South? Is Ebonics involved? (And is this in some way related to our now-common use of the simple past in the position where the past participle should go, such as in 'I had ate dinner' and 'He had went there'? I think people who have one of these speech features also often have the other as well.)
4.) I don't have a very well-formed fourth idea yet, but something to do with British English versus American English - maybe the vocabulary or history or something...? (For instance, how do we know OUR accent isn't the 'original' one? LOL.) I'm quite interested in this area, but I think I'd have a lot harder time coming up with something original here than I would if I used Dutch. (Hey, a new answer to the "Why, out of all the languages out there, did you choose Dutch?" question! Woohoo!)
Anyway, I had some other half-formed ideas but chucked them out, so these are the 'finalists', as it were. Other areas of interest include languages in contact, pidgins and creoles, bilingualism, and language acquisition. If any of you have half a clue what I'm talking about with all of this and/or have any ideas, please leave a comment, no matter how random or stupid you think it is, because it might provoke some sort of new thought pattern - which would be a relief, after hashing these possibilities out in my head over and over for the past eight hours while driving the Sprinter.
I've been meaning to do a post about diet for a long time now, so here goes. America. Has. Gone. Crazy.
I mean, really. Weight Watchers. Atkins. Overeaters Anonymous. South Beach. Jenny Craig. Curves. Bowflex. Five-minute workouts. Come on. Where did it all come from? Just find a form of exercise you can stand and make it a part of your daily life for twenty mintes - it's really not that difficult. As for dieting, well, let me just say that the only reason the low-carb diets work is because they make people eat a decent amount of protein which, in this white-bread, additive-and-preservative world, we often don't do. Protein helps with muscle repair, among other things, and keeps you feeling full for longer than carbohydrates do. Thus, you don't eat as much. Also, many people (myself included) tend toward a state of 'carb addiction' - if we fill our diet with lots of cereal, chips, cookies, pasta, etc. and don't balance it out, we end up actually wanting more carbohydrates. And massive amounts of carbs do make you gain weight over time. That's another reason to make sure you don't go overboard. Lowering your carb intake is fine. But carbs are the body's natural number-one source of fuel, and we only burn protein (read: lean muscle) when there are no carbs left to burn. That's not a good state to be in, regardless of what Atkins would have you believe - your body is essentially eating its own flesh.
In general, I like the old 40-30-30 rule - 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat. I adjust those a little for myself: I try to keep the fat at 20%; if I have a big event coming up, I'll eat a lot of pasta to amp up the carbs; if I've just had a tough workout, I'll aim for more protein than usual as well as high carbs. But, despite how this may sound, I do not have a calorie counter in my head, I don't really know how much a 'gram' is, and I don't spend every waking moment debating what I'm going to eat next. The basic question I usually ask myself is, is it naturally-occurring?
Yes? Fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, whole wheat/grain bread, whole-grain cereal, nuts, seeds, berries? Great. Go wild. (Well, just not too wild on the red meat.)
Sort of? Cheese, pasta, yogurt? Okay, eat it, just not too much.
No? White bread, chips, cookies, sugary cereal, Ben & Jerry's? Try to avoid it most of the time.
And no, I don't stick to it angelically. I love energy bars, for one (but I stick with Balance bars, which have 15 grams of protein), and also, it's an ingrained habit to have something sweet after lunch and dinner, whether that's a little square of chocolate or a dish of frozen yogurt. Also, I am a self-proclaimed 'freezer food' eater, mostly because I can't cook - I love Lean Pockets and SmartOnes dinners. But for me, it still usually works out, because (a) I have low blood pressure and therefore don't really have to worry about sodium, and (b) when I'm at school and in 'real' training, I'm supposed to eat around 2600 calories a day. But I do find that that provides a decent guideline for most people. Obviously, different people have different needs, but I've never heard of a fat caveman, have you?
Okay, so that was my eating tirade. I don't actually have much more to say, though, besides:
1.) Three schools down (UF, U Pitt, Chapel Hill), four to go. That took most of the morning.
2.) I get paid on Friday! Third-to-last payday... second-to-last decent one... *sniff*
3.) Confession: Hilary Duff's new song, "Wake Up," is stuck in my head.
4.) That Air France plane that just crashed is the exact type I'm supposed to fly on. Gulp.