Classes are going well so far, with the possible exception of French. Here's the breakdown:
Wolof: The TA is out of the country at the moment - apparently the biggest Muslim holiday of the year is tomorrow and he wanted to celebrate with his family in (I think) Senegal - so Dr. McLaughlin is teaching class for the first week. I liked the fact that she jumped right into teaching IN Wolof - having us repeat things and learn the answers to them, drawing little pictures, etc., but using no English whatsoever. I learn best when I can see things written down, so it was a little overwhelming at first, but it was really cool. And it's exciting to be learning a language that's so different from anything else I speak. It's a whole new code to break. Plus, there are only two of us in the class - the other student is a girl called (I think) Krista. Anyway, this class should be worth getting to campus at 9:30 every day for.
Latin: I'm noncommittal on this one so far. The teacher seems competent - young, but very no-nonsense. There are two other Jessicas in this class, so I established myself as 'Jess' to try to make things a little easier, but I think there'll still be some confusion.
Spanish: I actually met this teacher, Aixa, on the Runways shuttle over Christmas break. He expects everyone to make a one hundred percent effort, one hundred percent of the time, and will settle for nothing less, but he's very funny and nice. I was a little worried going into this course because it's labeled 'Advanced Conversation', but I speak a lot better than some others in the class (and my accent is definitely better), and I understood everything Aixa said despite the fact that he talks extremely fast. It's only worth one credit, but it should be a good course. I'm glad I signed up.
French: This is the one I'm not too enthusiastic about. The class is full of freshmen and students who are trying to knock off their language requirement, so pretty much no one is there because they truly want to be. That includes the teacher. There are so many ways to make beginning language courses interesting and fun - look at what Dr. McLaughlin did with Wolof! - but she basically just sat and read the text of the first few pages of the French book, and had us repeat a few things. I was disappointed that we started on such a basic level - bonjour, comment ca va, tres bien, je m'appelle So-and-so, comment vous appelez-vous, etc. - and then did nothing else. I already knew all those phrases (guess more stuff stuck than I cared to admit from my 5 weeks of French in sixth grade) and I thought we'd do a quick refresh and then move on to vocabulary and such. But after she'd covered those conversational basics, she just ended the class early. I know we have to go slow - two of the three other people in my group were just hopeless at even these basics - but I wish she'd speed up. If things keep going like this into the second week, I may ask her if I can do some extra writing assignments, the way Pauline gave me for Dutch during freshman year. I'm not there to knock off a requirement; I want to actually learn the language, and I want to do it at MY pace, which is fast. My top three pet peeves: (1) The teacher is a master's student, meaning she's my age, yet insists that we call her 'Mademoiselle So-and-so'. (2) The packet of textbook, workbook, dictionary, and CD costs $140. And (3) worst of all, the teacher has an American accent when she speaks French. I find that so incredibly annoying. How are we supposed to learn to do it properly if she can't provide a proper example?
Weight Training: We didn't actually lift on the first day, of course, but the class looks like it's going to be pretty good. We're going to be able to design our own programs, beginning about halfway through the course, so that means we can focus on what we specifically want to improve - which in my case is my shoulders. Hopefully this class will help me get through Tampa Bay without blowing them out like I did in Key West.
Anyway, so that's the course breakdown. I'll keep you posted.
Other good things so far: I met the new Dutch teacher, Rosemarijn (who's very nice), and I got to SWIM with Club Alligator again, which rocks. We only did 3500 yards last night, but at least I felt like I was working the whole way, and not just pumping out 'garbage yardage'. And that's every weeknight, so I'll be back to some semblance of a normal exercise schedule again. We have a meet in Ohio on the 21st - that'll be an adventure. As for my Tampa Bay training, though, I'm going to start doing a couple of distance practices in the morning - or, if I can get ahold of Coach Troy's email, I may ask him if I can train with the varsity distance swimmers - and work my way up by 2000 yards each week, starting at 18,000 and peaking around 40,000 on the first of April; then I'll taper down for the swim on the 22nd.
Bad things so far: I got another flat tire yesterday (which I just got fixed), and we still don't have Internet at home. Monique (a friend from linguistics class, and my new roomie) has to be the one to call since we're going to use her credit card, and she works every day, so the chance hasn't come up yet. Which is annoying, especially since I have to print some things out for class tomorrow. I can occasionally mooch off my next-door neighbors' wireless connection, when they turn their computer on, but that hasn't happened since last night around 6pm. Maybe I'll just take my laptop outside and wander around until I find someplace where I can steal from someone else... the office, maybe...
Something else I'm ticked off about is La Mancha. I've been getting the runaround from them for months now and I'm sick of it. See, when I left for the summer and fall, I put a security deposit down on my apartment so it would be there for me when I got back in the spring. But in the meantime, they raised the rent to over $500, and frankly, La Mancha is just not worth that much. So I found a new place to live, with Monique, which is much cheaper (and, in my view, much nicer), so I've been trying since November to call the management group (CSW) and get them to cancel my old apartment and refund my money. Only problem is, they never pick up the phone. I've left repeated messages for them, as has my dad, with no result. Finally I walked over to La Mancha after class yesterday, intending to storm into the office full of righteous anger, only to discover that the office is gone. So I tracked down the night manager, who said he didn't know who the owner of apartment 56 was (the complex recently got turned into condos) but to call Action Real Estate, and they would be able to tell me. So after many, many attempts to get through to them, each foiled by one thing or another, I finally got ahold of a representative today... who switched me to someone else... who then switched me to someone else's voicemail... a guy named CJ who then, to his credit, promptly called me back and was very friendly, telling me that he didn't understand why they had no record of me, and giving me the name of someone over at BDS Management, the company who had La Mancha before it turned into condos and CSW got it. (He also said, "It shouldn't be a problem to get it back, if we can just find it!") So I called him, and he transferred me to the property manager, Roz, who was not half as friendly as CJ but who seemed to know her stuff - when I mentioned my security deposit, she said, "I show that as being received in May of '05," which is correct. So apparently there IS a record of me somewhere, and I should get a call back on Thursday from her "with the status of this." Hopefully the first words out of her mouth will be, "What address should I send it to?"
All right, well, I guess this is long enough for now. (I can now cross 'post to website' off my interminably long to-do list...)