Anyway, so there have been some interesting developments over the past few days. The first is that I got rejected from Georgetown - meaning all the Ph.D programs except Brown have rejected me, and I'm sure that one's coming. And yet, surprisingly, I'm not really disappointed. I'm actually a little relieved. (I mean, two master's programs have accepted me, and I've got a good feeling about the third one, so it's not as if I won't be able to go to grad school at all.) Relieved? you say. But you wanted that program so much! Yes, I did. But after e-mailing with a professor of mine, as well as that ex-NSA employee who lectures here, I came to some conclusions. The first is just conscious realization of something I already half knew - which is that linguistic Ph.D programs are about theory, theory, and more theory. I like the theoretical side of linguistics just fine, when I get it in passing during a semester-long class - but I don't love it, and that also isn't where my personal talents lie. I'm good at learning languages - decoding patterns, memorizing vocabulary, working on accent, and putting it all together - and that sort of thing generally gets very little play in a Ph.D program. Sure, I could probably be decent at the theory side of linguistics if I wanted to be - just buckle down and do it, like with AP calculus or IB history in high school - but the fact remains that that isn't where my natural interests lie, and so a Ph.D program is probably not the best fit for me. The natural course of things is that we are usually most interested in the things we are good at, and vice versa. All my life, I have been (successfully) encouraged to shoot for the highest point I could - the Gifted program, the International Baccalaureate program, the National Merit scholarship - you name it. So I automatically started applying for Ph.Ds, because that was 'the best' program there was. I didn't really stop to consider whether or not, this time, the supposed 'best' was actually what I wanted.
The second conclusion, coming from the ex-NSAer, is that I should go ahead and do the master's in linguistics as planned, but take a less-commonly-taught language alongside it. He says that NSA is getting deluged with applications for the program I'm hoping to do, their Language Enhancement Program, that it can take 6-9 months or longer for them to review your application, and that the candidates they're tending to take first generally have a little experience in one of the government-required languages already. The girl he got into the program two years ago had a master's in linguistics and a year of Arabic. So I've been researching possible languages to take - what's offered at each of my three candidate schools compared to what NSA wants - and I've reached the conclusion that Pittsburgh is pretty much out of the running. They only have four less-commonly-taught languages - Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian - none of which I'm particularly interested in. Chapel Hill, on the other hand, offers pretty much everything you can think of, including Persian (which some of you may know as Farsi... it's spoken in Afghanistan and Iran), which is an Indo-European language (meaning it shares some basic behaviors with the languages I already know), but it uses the Arabic alphabet (with a few additions) and is of rapidly rising government importance. I'd really like to take that. So now I'm crossing my fingers for a UNC acceptance. (They've got a good chance of paying me, too, in the form of a TAship.) But if I don't get in and it comes down to Pitt or UF, I'll probably end up staying here, in which case I could take Arabic. The linguistics director at UNC said he should be able to let me know early next week, so cross your fingers for me.
Other high points of the week so far: I've registered for my lifeguard recertification, my Utrecht credits are finally in (at least I think they are, based on a fragment of an e-mail conversation between The Powers That Be yesterday), and Sony has improved and updated their line of TX laptops. Exciting stuff, that.
Just a quick athletic update: so far this week I have swum a distance practice, a brutal IM practice, and a sprint practice, biked three hours and lifted weights twice. I'm physically tired, yes, but nothing is sore, and that makes me extremely, extremely happy. We did more than 500 yards of butterfly on Tuesday night, and normally that would have sent my shoulder into a tailspin. But it's fine. The weightlifting is really doing something. I might actually make it though Tampa Bay (30 more days) with only minimal pain. I'm feeling hopeful, anyway.
Okay, so it's now 8:16, one minute after the time at which I would have been climbing out of bed had I not woken up a full 45 minutes ahead of schedule for some reason, so I'm going to go have some breakfast and do a little cursory studying. Busy day today - exam, meeting, get-together with the Dutch club, and, of course, swimming. So... later!