+ I just applied to a different camp (not good old Ton-A-Wandah) as a cabin counselor, swim instructor, and lifeguard for a few weeks this summer, and I really hope they take me. It's in Maine, and they would pay for the flight and my lifeguard recertification as well as my salary. Keep your fingers crossed.
+ Assuming they do take me, my Eurail trip will most likely be bumped up to May, meaning right after graduation. I've got an e-mail in to Christine (my 2004 camp co-counselor and one of my two best Dutch friends) about that, since she wants to come with me for at least one country's worth of the trip, preferably Italy. I hope May works out for her, since the tickets - airfare and otherwise - will be a heck of a lot cheaper before the 'real' summer gets started.
+ Also, tonight I opened up the Word file of my old IB Extended Essay (which is in Spanish... see, at one point I was truly fluent, no matter what I sound like now!) and realized that not only can I read it with practically no difficulty - which I couldn't do a couple of years ago - but that I can actually see some of the weak points in it, as well. That's really cool. The judges gave me the highest possible score, but I always privately thought it was just because they couldn't read it.
+ I'm working on getting my UC thesis approved as a UF thesis, but I'm dreading all the hoops I'm going to have to jump through. I'm afraid I'm going to be told that there are tons of holes in my research, or that my simple comparison of language stages isn't complicated enough for a thesis, or something else that requires a lot more work on my part, which will then make me give up and rip the paper to shreds while crying my eyes out. I spent so much time and effort on that thing while at UC that I'm almost afraid to change it. Oh, well, nothing ventured nothing gained, right?
+ Speaking of which - only three more weeks until I start hearing from grad schools. I'm nervous, but I'll be glad to finally have some certainty. Here are my official predictions: I'll get into the three Masters programs (U Pitt, UNC Chapel Hill, and UF), be rejected from three of the four Ph.D programs (Harvard, Yale, and Brown) and maybe, just maybe, get accepted to the Ph.D at Georgetown. They have something like a 38% acceptance rate for grad students, which is pretty good compared to those other three, so I'm not giving up on that one just yet. So that's three yeses, three nos, and one maybe. We'll see what really happens.
Anyway, so here comes the long rambling entry, because I'm putting off doing my homework.
Yesterday was a good day, academically. Mamaram had a doctor's appointment, so he set up a movie for us, Faat Kine, and left us to watch it. The movie is in both French and Wolof, depending on what the characters feel like speaking - mostly French, it seems - but there are English subtitles, so we followed it fine. And it's a decently interesting movie, albeit not very creative (thus far).
Then I had a Latin exam, which went (I think) extremely well; I only forgot one word, 'foolish'. (Come to think of it, I still haven't looked that up. *grabs Wheelock* Hmm, 'stultus'. Okay, well, there's no immediately apparent linguistic reason I should have been able to guess that; I feel better now.) There must be some joke I could make about that - being so foolish that I forgot the Latin for 'foolish', or something, but I'm just not seeing it right now. Anyway, I think I got everything else right, all the declensions and dictionary entries and conjugations and translations - even my wild guess as to the translation of 'ager' (farm) - so I'm expecting an A. I'll find out tomorrow.
And then in French we had a writing workshop, to write a letter to a Belgian student talking about our families and activities, which was nice because we could work alone at our own pace and be creative to an extent. We were told to use dictionaries, the textbook, the teacher - "anything except each other" - so I grabbed Monique's (awesome) dictionary and verb book and went to work. I wrote at least twice as much as anyone else, and took certain creative liberties to try to eliminate that 'choppiness' that one always sees in beginning language students' work. All we've learned so far are descriptive adjectives, words for certain activities, and a few verbs in the present tense, so everyone else's composition is probably going to look about the same, but I focused on writing an actual conversational letter rather than regurgitating the words I'd been taught. That meant my hand was never far from those reference books (I needed a few complicated things like the future tense of 'to have', etc.), and the 'flow' did deteriorate somewhat as the last few minutes of class ticked away and I had to find a way to end the letter, but I was pleased with the end result. It was the first time I felt like I'd really done something to be proud of in that class, something that was finally somewhat close to my actual level of ability. My first exam was a 95% and I didn't even study. I realize this all sounds horribly arrogant, but my point is that it was a relief to have a challenge yesterday, even if I myself had to be the one to set it by not following the traditional route like everyone else. I'm always getting the comment 'tres creatif!' on the things I write on my homework and tests, and I bet I'll be seeing it again on this composition.
(By the way, yes, I know that 'tres' needs an 'accent grave', but if I put accents into Blogger they come out as weird symbols. But maybe that's just me. Okay, testing: 'très'. You people in the computer, do you all see an E, or do you see the weird symbols that I see? Leave a comment!)
Anyway, the only problem was that today we peer-edited those first drafts, and the weaker students were paired with the stronger students. Well, that's great for the weaker students, since they get corrections and feedback right away, but the guy proofreading mine didn't have the slightest clue what to do. In the end, he complimented my 'grasp of the French language' (ha!), but admitted he couldn't really find anything wrong with the composition. So I turned it back in without rewriting and was the first to leave class. Whatever. I just couldn't be bothered. With the bluntness I develop around one AM - frankly, if she isn't going to pair me with a student who's advanced enough to handle me (and there are a couple), then it isn't my problem.
I half like the class because (and this sounds terrible) it gives me a chance to feel superior, but I half hate it, too, because I feel like I'm being forced to crawl along at everyone else's pace instead of being able to take full advantage of the learning opportunity and work at my own level. Why, oh why, aren't there Accelerated Beginners courses for French the way there are for some of the other languages? I asked the teacher for extra work during the second week of class, and she said she'd try to think about things I could do, but she never came up with anything. Now I'm starting to see flashes of the recalcitrant high school student in myself, the one who sits with her head propped on her hand and that half-bored, half-challenging look on her face the whole time, mumbling all the answers in an indifferent monotone. We all went to grade school with people like that - heck, my first boyfriend was the embodiment of that type of student. I just never really thought I was that way myself.
One of the most influential teachers I ever had, who taught our Gifted-track World Cultures class in sixth grade, once mentioned that it takes average students 10 repetitions before they can memorize something and use it effectively. He then said that it takes Gifted students only six repetitions. Using that as a model, and throwing in the facts that (a) I'm a linguistics major and (b) I already speak Spanish, I think we can knock that number down even further when it comes to French. But if I mention that to the rest of the world, or complain about the slow speed of the course, I sound like the most arrogant stuffed shirt on the planet. And, you know, maybe I am. But right now, I don't really care. Hey, that's what a blog is for, right?
Anyway, on to another subject: swimming. I was angry at myself tonight, because I did something dumb. I snuggled into bed for a nap, like I do on the afternoons when I haven't gotten a lot of sleep the previous night, and I set the alarm for six, a half hour before I had to leave for the pool. And double-checked it. And triple-checked it. And... set it down on the floor beside my bed, instead of back in its normal position on my desk, where I have to physically push back the covers, get up, and take a step or two to turn it off. This should be sending off a red flag.
Then I woke up. First thought: It is way too dark in here.
Sure enough, it was 19:36. Apparently I'd done that thing again, that thing where I turn off the alarm in my sleep and have absolutely no memory of doing it. Anyway, after a moment of indecision - to go or not to go? - I got up and got my butt to the pool, and swam a little extra after the rest of the team had left (including a 500 free for time which was a 7:26, ten seconds faster than last week, yahoo!), but I still only got 4000 in before the pool closed. Bah. That makes me angry, because we're going to be tapering next week (my 30k week) for our meet on Saturday, meaning I'll get only about half of my yardage goal, so I really wanted to try to make 28k this week, or close to it. But then the pool was closed last night for a men's basketball game (Monique and I went running instead), and then I overslept tonight. Grrr. So even with a Sunday night practice, I'm probably still going to be at least 4000 yards short.
As I've said before, general fitness can, to an extent, make up for a lack of sport-specific training (boy, do I sound like a physiology textbook or what?), and I knew going into this whole add-2k-every-week thing that there would be weeks when it wouldn't work out, but I'm a perfectionist and it bothers me. All the biking, running, and weightlifting aside, if I don't make it across Tampa Bay, I'm sure I'll grumble for weeks about how 'I just didn't train enough.'
Of course, realistically, if I don't make it, it'll more than likely be because of my shoulder, in which case no amount of swim training would have helped and in which case it may also very well be bye-bye English Channel 2007. Josh, my weight training coach, says that there are specific exercises you can do for rotator cuff injuries (which my friend Brittany, in the same class, has), but that for biceps tendon injuries like (we suspect) mine is, the best thing is just ice, ice, and more ice, and not doing anything that hurts. So, in accented My-Big-Fat-Greek-Wedding father voice: "There you go!"
Hmm. Which means it might actually be better for me to train a little less - a consistent 30 to 35k per week, say, instead of building all the way to 42k - in hopes of 'saving' my tendon for the big day. Note to self: ask Josh what he thinks about that.
Okay, enough with the whining. I have French homework that has to be turned in on paper tomorrow and I haven't even started, because I've been sitting around eating, talking to Monique, looking at old research papers, eating some more, watching Fear Factor, reading blogs, eating still more, and writing this long whiny entry. But really, I'm not going to be able to sleep anyway, due to my little unscheduled three hour nap this afternoon, so I guess it's really not a problem.
Hooray for Friday...