First off, Mom and I drove to North Carolina on Sunday and stayed at my aunt's house for two nights; the three of us went to visit Chapel Hill on Monday and I loved it. So much, that I just put my deposit in the mail this afternoon. So now I can say, with one hundred percent certainty, that I am going to grad school, I am going to do a masters program in linguistics, and this is all going to happen at Chapel Hill.
Pros: the campus is beautiful, it's not that far from home, I'll get some money in the second year, I can take Persian, the other grad students seem really cool, and there's a coach at the natatorium who has lots of open-water experience and can put me in touch with some Channel swimmers.
Cons: I get no money the first year (meaning I'm going into debt for the first time in my life), the club team's practice pool sucks, all the housing I've seen so far is really expensive, and the weather is colder.
But no school is perfect. The biggest drawback for me is the horrible pool (one of those where you walk in and get slammed by a wall of hot, humid air), but I had the impression that the coach I met at the natatorium might be able to let me practice in the same time slot as the varsity team (they don't take up anywhere near the entire pool). If so, that would eliminate that complaint. I'm really glad I bumped into her. (Well, I didn't exactly BUMP into her - I found my way down onto the pool deck, saw her putting the varsity swimmers through their paces, and walked right up to her and asked if she could answer some questions. LOL! Yeah, I'm a little pushy. But she was really nice and seemed genuinely interested in helping me out. Hope that's still true in the fall.)
Other highlights of the trip:
- my aunt's house (which is beautiful and huge and way out in the country),
- on the drive back, Mom singing along at the top of her lungs to all the Sesame Street songs on my iPod,
- my aunt's 'lowcountry' dinner (made primarily of shrimp and cheesy grits, which may sound like an improbable combination, but was excellent),
- getting the chance to reread The Da Vinci Code (who knows when I would have found the time otherwise?),
- finally getting the Cracker Barrel meal (Country Vegetable Plate!) that I've had coming to me ever since December,
- and, of course, the Gators stomping UCLA into tiny little pieces in the NCAA Championship. Woohoo!
As an aside: Chapel Hill is a better school than I thought it was. They rank pretty high on the 2006 college lists, and in my admissions letter, it says that they had over 11,000 graduate applications and only took 1800. So I'm in that elusive 16%. Wow. Suck on that, Georgetown!
But anyway, the two days since I've been back have been insane, because whenever you miss school you end up having to do twice the work in half the time in order to make up for everything you missed. So I had to write a French composition, plan a Spanish presentation, and complete a thousand other menial assignments. Tonight, I have to fill in a (long) Latin verb chart and translate a story, do a little Wolof, and study for my French exam tomorrow. Then I have a Latin exam on Monday, after which things will finally calm down a little.
The good news is that we're not going to the Georgia meet after all. Okay, so that's not exactly good news, but the universe seemed to be conspiring to keep us from going: the cost was going to be $80 per person, the only available hotel was an hour from the pool, everybody had conflicts with the departure time, and then Anna's brother Michael topped it all off by attempting to drive their 7'6" conversion van (which we were going to take) into the 7' O-Dome parking garage and cracking the top. So we talked about it for a long time before Tuesday's practice and decided not to go. Which is disappointing - it would have been my last meet with this team - but also a big relief. Plus, now I can go watch Catie in her circus performance, assuming we can get our hands on some tickets.
One other thing of note this week. We had an assignment for weight training to find our resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you'd burn if you did absolutely nothing but lie in bed all day long), the thermal effect of our food (the number of calories that our bodies use to digest and process our food), and the amount of calories we burn with exercise. Adding all those numbers together gives you the number of calories you expend each day, i.e. the number of calories you should be consuming if you want to maintain your current weight. Well, my resting rate of 1500-something, my food digestion of 150-something, and my exercise calories of 1900 (2 hours of swimming plus 45 minutes of biking every day) added up to almost 3600 calories! I didn't think that could possibly be right, but my teacher insists it is, that swimming in particular burns a ton of calories. I don't understand it, though, because I don't eat anywhere near that amount - I eat around 2500 calories a day, and I thought that was a lot - and yet I'm maintaining the same weight, not losing weight. Odd.
And then when I brought it up with a couple girls from my swim team and had them try to guess what my number was, they guessed 1200 and 2100. These are girls with backgrounds in physiology and pharmacy! When we discussed it in depth, they told me that the 'standard' 2000-calorie diet was too much for the average woman and that they were only supposed to eat around 1500 calories a day. Well, I don't know where they're getting their information, but they are wrong, wrong, wrong! I don't care which website you check, they all say that women need around 1900-2000 calories a day and men need around 2500. My RESTING metabolic rate was over 1500 calories. I sincerely hope that these girls are underestimating the amount that they eat. Otherwise, I don't know how they manage to swim!