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the Jedi Academy

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9/5/09 01:54 pm

So I've never had to reeeeally look at tuition and fees and such. I don't really have to either, but I pay my rent through the University billing system, so I saw all of those tuition charges listed on my bill. And then, thankfully, all of those waivers made for each and every stupid university fee as well as the tuition made by Center for Latin American and Carribean Studies. But geez, it's a lot! Not to mention the extra $10,000 (per semester, presumably) for being an out-of-state student.

Of course there's no way i would be in grad school if I actually had to pay any of that, but my parents did have to cover it when I was an undergrad. Thank goodness we had the opportunity to work a loophole and I was an in-state student the whole time I was at UCSD despite coming from an out-of-state school.

My $15K stipend (plus I'm getting paid around $900/month as a research assistant for this semester, so far) is certainly more than enough for me for this year, and I should be able to get the same next year. IBut after that, I think the stipends aren't quite as much money any more. I might be able to get funded from multiple sources that could add up to that, but I don't know. Either way, I want to save some of this money for later, since I'm starting with zero and I need to work my way up. Granted, I only work for 9 months of the year, and I can apply for some funding for the summer--or at least compensation for summer travel research--but I want to be able to save for later. Just looking at furniture made me realize how much of a luxury some of that stuff is--especially all at once. I'll work it out over time, though.

8/16/09 01:08 pm

Well, anyways, I'm in Illinois now, in my very first apartment that I have to myself. I'm still having quite a time getting furniture--it was totally unfurnished and I'm trying to get everything off of Craigslist. It's tough because I have no way to pick up furniture myself, since all I have is a car. Everything new is just way too expensive, and I don't want to get stuff that I really have to put together, since I'd have to do it by myself. I remember trying to assembling my desk in San Diego last year WITH people and it was a giant pain. I still need a lot of things, like a proper desk, and a couch. And I need some rugs, because I hate these tile floors that accumulate dirt and dust. But I do have a lot of time for this stuff.

Otherwise, this place is livable. The food situation kind of stinks, because most of the supermarkets don't really have the kind of food I'm used to (where's the Trader Joe's??). There is a good natural foods store, but it's pretty expensive. The farmer's market, though, is good--but it's only once a week, and of course only until November. Hmmm.

I did have a good last month or so in the Bay Area. I went to this one day game against the Pirates by myself and I sat with these very cool middle age couples that I want to be like when I get to that age. I've been to games where everyone around seemed to know each other and like each other, but it was always in some other ballpark. But these were Giants fans, and they immediately adopted me. I also went to some other good games this season--like J. Sanchez's no-hitter (!!). They're having a good season, finally, so I'm glad I got to go to some good games. Since I'm out here in the Midwest and have a car, I'm going to drive out to Cincy for a final hurrah on Tuesday. It's sort of far, but Lincecum's pitching, and I'm kind of bored.

Miserable day yesterday--I bought a TV Tuner for my computer yesterday because I really didn't want to shell out the money for a real TV until I actually get paid (I'm not entirely certain that's all squared away yet anyways). Anyways, I got home and found out that the one of the screws that holds together my computer was really, really screwed in tight. My dinky little screwdriver didn't work, so I went out and bought another one. And *that* one didn't work, because it was too big. So I went out again and bought like a jeweler's set, and that was pretty dumb because they weren't really strong enough to unscrew the damn thing. After steaming about it for a little while, I tried the original screwdriver and it started to work, miraculously. Of course, once it was all in, it took forever to make the tuner work on my computer, so that was frustrating, but it did finally work. And I can watch Mad Men tonight--and that was the important thing here. :)

Anyhow. Looking forward to working this week--starting work on Monday and orientation sessions on Weds. and Thurs. And, of course, looking for furniture. But I can't wait for routine again.

2/5/09 10:26 pm

Up and down day, sorta.

The good: Did awesome work in Phonology. And the big one--I must have done something right, because I got an acceptance letter (well, e-mail) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign for the PhD program in Linguistics. Beyond amazing. That's my top choice, both in terms of the program I like and the fact that I thought I had the best chance of getting in there. I had no idea they would tell me so early. Like all of my friends applying to grad school, I've been freaking out daily about whether or not I would get in anywhere.  Before you say, "Daniel, you are very well qualified and love academics and would make a great grad student", I have to remind you that this is a tough year for grad students because of the economy, and that I know UCSD's grad program pretty well, and nearly all of the first-years did not directly come out of undergrad. Plus, UCSD only accepts 20% of their applicants. 20%! If UIUC is at all similar, then I was one of those lucky few. And who knows what they were looking for. The good is that I networked pretty well to get into this school. One of my old professors is teaching there now, and he knows me, but more importantly he knows the grad student I work with now extremely well. I also name-dropped in my application as best I could.

EEEE! I can't believe it, I really am going to be a grad student! I hope it makes me infinitely cooler. If I indeed go to UIUC, I hope I don't freeze my butt off. I probably will anyways for the first year, but whatever, right? It should be a FANTASTIC program for me. I spent all morning (BEFORE I found out) looking at Google Maps to see where the heck Urbana is. Basically, out in the middle of nowhere, two hours from Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. There's no Whole Foods, no Trader Joe's. But it's a fairly big university, so there must be a lot there at least. Who knows! It'll be an exciting adventure.

I also got to celebrate with several people during the day/night. You have no idea how happy that made me feel.

The bad: Two-fold. First, because I was freaking out and talking with people during the afternoon, I didn't have enough time to finish homework that was due late this afternoon. It's bad, I'm a little embarrassed, but.. I think I should be able to make it up, grade-wise. I'm not sure I really care, either--I am IN a grad program, not in a waiting list, so you know what? I'm almost like a second-semester senior.

And it rained this afternoon through the evening. I pulled my car out of the parking lot and I gently ran into someone who stupidly parked his car in a No Parking zone right in front of the parking permit machine. Yes, he shouldn't have been there because it's right in the lane of traffic, and it was hard to see because it was raining and his car was black, but I plain old just didn't see him. There's a tiny dent in his car, and we swapped insurance info, etc. Blargh. I really don't want my insurance to go up because of a little minor thing.

1/22/09 02:08 am

No Doctor's Today, Thank You 
by Ogden Nash

They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful,
well, today I feel euphorian,
Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetite of a
Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes,
Today I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle
any swashes?
This is my euphorian day,
I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away.
I will tame me a caribou
And bedeck it with marabou.
I will pen me my memoirs.
Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was!
I wasn't much of a hand for the boudoirs,
I was generally to be found where the food was.
Does anybody want any flotsam?
I've gotsam.
Does anybody want any jetsam?
I can getsam.
I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer,
I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer.
I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because
I am wearing moccasins,
And I practically know the difference between serums and antitoccasins.
Kind people, don't think me purse-proud, don't set me down as
I'm just a little euphorious. 


(I'm having such a good week...)

1/7/09 08:25 pm

OK, despite when I thought earlier, I actually am going to make some New Year's Resolutions--well, really just resolutions for this quarter and maybe the next:

1) Straight A's in my classes. I did that last quarter and have done that most of my undergrad career (with a few minor awful exceptions), but I need to keep my GPA to be sure I graduate cum laude, and the only way I can "maintain" it is to get almost all A's anyhow. I'm not sure if it's mathematically possible, but maybe I can raise it to a 3.8 overall and get magna cum laude or something.

I don't really know if it matters, actually, but the truth is that I like my classes well enough to want to do exceptionally well. For the first time since... I don't know--high school feels like forever ago and an entirely different type of teaching--I'm right with the professor during all of the lectures, and sometimes ahead of them, asking all of the good questions. I think that's the best part--people know who I am in my classes now.

2) Eat more. And eat more more interesting foods. Right now I don't really mind if all of my money goes to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. I've also decided to watch some more cooking shows not necessarily to make those things but to get ideas of good combinations of food.

3) Try to wake up at 7:30-8 every day. I'd forgotten that I really am more of a morning person, and now that I have 9:30 classes TuTh, I really do need to be up that early.

4) I have every single Friday off--take advantage!!

5) Spend more time with people that I know... I-House, other Linguistics people--see if I can make it into the grad student group.

6) Pretty much out of my hands at this point, but I'd really, really like to go to grad school this year. I don't know if I have the strongest application or if I did everything right... but cross your fingers for me.

7) Perhaps I'll learn Italian, if the verbs aren't too irregular.

10/6/08 11:19 am - *yawn*

01) Are you currently in a serious relationship?
02) What was your dream growing up?
03) What talent do you wish you had?
04) If I bought you a drink what would it be?
05) Favorite vegetable?
06) What was the last book you read?
07) What zodiac sign are you?
08) Any Tattoos and/or Piercings? Explain where.
09) Worst Habit?
10) If you saw me walking down the street would you offer me a ride?
11) What is your favorite sport?
12) Do you have a Pessimistic or Optimistic attitude?
13) What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with me?
14) Worst thing to ever happen to you?
15) Tell me one weird fact about you.
16) Do you have any pets?
17) What if I showed up at your house unexpectedly?
18) What was your first impression of me?
19) Do you think clowns are cute or scary?
20) If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be?
21) Would you be my crime partner or my conscience?
22) What color eyes do you have?
23) Ever been arrested?
24) Bottle or can soda?
25) If you won $10,000 today, what would you do with it?
26) Indoors or outdoors?
27) What's your favorite place to hang out at?
28) Do you believe in ghosts?
29) Favorite thing to do in your spare time?
30) Do you swear a lot?
31) Biggest pet peeve?
32) In one word, how would you describe yourself?
33) Do you believe/appreciate romance?
34) Favorite and least favorite food?
35) Do you believe in God?
36) Will you repost this so I can fill it out and do the same for you?

7/16/08 04:40 pm

I'm back in the United States!! (Philadelphia, at least). Flight to San Francisco in about an hour.


7/16/08 07:06 am

California, here I come,
Right back where I started from.
Where bowers of flowers bloom in the sun.
Each morning, at dawning,
Birdies sing an' ev'rything.
A sun-kissed miss said, "Don't be late."
That's why I can't hardly wait.
Open up that golden gate,
California, here I come!

I can't believe I've stayed up the entire night watching the longest All-Star Game ever.

7/15/08 05:34 pm

I love how the only thing left on my Outlook Calendar is "Go Home".

It's a good thing I'm going home soon. The US dollar continues to spin out of control--we're at €1 = $1.59... "up" from $1.34 the day I arrived. I'm going to have a number of euros to my name when I go back, so I'm actually going to make some money on it since I withdrew this money a few months ago. Small consolation for the year. You will, however, stop hearing me complain about exchange rates and things from now on, though. Though, I know that some things are just more expensive in general in the US, so I'll still get to complain about money. :)

Emotionally, I'm more than ready to go back. I think I did what I needed to do in Europe--at least what fits into who I am. No, I'm not an entirely different person because of oodles of alcohol and partying, but I opened myself up enough to figure out what it was that I did and didn't like. I am a little different. I appreciate a lot more things now. I met a lot of very different people this year, people that I probably otherwise would not have talked to, so I did get to learn a lot of things that I was missing--seeing that there really is a lot more to people than what meets the eye on any given day. Despite that, I know now that the world is a lot more full of people that have interests and tastes that don't coincide in mine, so I know have learned to appreciate more the people whose interests and tastes do. Perhaps the best example of this was two trips that I took during the month of May: one with my friend Vicky and the other with my friend Kelly. I enjoyed both, but after spending a few straight days with just one other person, you really get to know them well. There was a certain point in conversations with Vicky that just made me scream, because of both her very radical way of thinking and her inability to communicate it to me. It never happened with Kelly--and it was also clear that we shared an outlook on travel--spend our days looking at museums, cool architecture, and chatting away the night in a café. It doesn't hurt that she's also from UCSD--I think most of us UCSD-ites are more similar than we think. It's a hard to define group, but we do share a lot in common, somehow.

I appreciate my parents a lot more, and what they do. Traveling is tiring, especially when you're staying in hostels every day and have worry about scrounging for food. If you're well-off and stay in hotels and eat in restaurants, travel is a lot easier, obviously. I've experienced both, so I know what the difference means to the traveling mindset. But it's not just the accommodations--it's also the amount of planning that I know my parents do before going on a trip. The nature and frequency of my trips this past year made it difficult to really dedicate a lot of time in advance to learning about what I was going to be seeing before I went, but the real toughy is trying to figure out how to maximize your time. A lot of my time on my trips were spent sitting on transportation because of scheduling quirks. I would have not preferred to have sat on a train (and a bus, and then a train again) the entire day going from Hungary to Slovenia, but that's how it works sometimes. I think my parents have done a great job in the past avoiding those sorts of situations. And there was that one time where we had nowhere to stay in Galicia, and we had to tough it out during a rainstorm. That trip went really well planning-wise, except for that one day, which absolutely blew up in our faces. But that's part of the adventure, I suppose.

As a single traveler for most of the year, my trips really were defined by the people I was with. I only went on a trip with the same person twice--Ángel. Most of these people were my friends already, but I met an awful lot of other people, especially my last day in Portugal, and then all across Eastern Europe. It's definitely an interesting experience to spend time with someone that you know you will never see again. You can lie. One person misheard me and thought that I go to UCLA, and I never bothered to correct him, why not? I don't really like lying, but I probably do it too much. I decided to not lie the other day when I came home to Barcelona. My roommate, Anna, was out of town, but she left me my keys in her room. I knew where they were, but instead of searching for them and having to put them back later, I just texted her, and she called me to help me find them. She was glad to talk to me, so it was a good idea anyways. But she's my friend.

What I've certainly learned to do with people--strangers--is just talk and let them talk. You never have to agree with anyone's weird beliefs, you just don't have to let them know it. Just be friendly. I made a number of "friends" that I didn't talk to more than a half hour during the past 6month. There was the couple from the Netherlands at the bus stop in Montjuïc here in Barcelona, the group of middle-aged Americans touring Konopiste in the Czech Republic, the big group of English speakers from around the globe in Prague, the Mexican family in the night train to Krakow, and the older British man wandering the streets of Ljubljana. You just can't be afraid to approach strangers.

I think, though, the biggest thing this year was living in a big city. A big old European city. I knew before coming that I would like living in a big city, from my visits to downtown San Francisco and such. And I wasn't disappointed in Barcelona, which is such a cool city to walk around and just take in. I've learned to appreciate public transportation and cities where you can walk around so much. Our cities just weren't built that way--even the smaller towns in Europe have walkable centers. I haven't driven in nearly a year, and while I miss it, I totally see what the problem is with driving in general. I'm not sure how I'd deal with the weather, but I think I'd like to live in New York City once.

So that's about it. My advice to everyone is to take advantage of what you have in front of you--or at least try to find out what that is. I love day trips, and now I'm going to be looking for things to do in the San Diego area instead of just sitting on my butt every weekend. I have a car, so I should take advantage of it! I guess, in a roundabout way, I'm saying what Buster said a long time ago on "Arrested Development": "That’s what you do when life hands you a chance to be with someone special. You just grab that... that brownish area by its points and you don’t let go no matter what your mom says."

6/18/08 03:02 am

3 AM: Hooray birthdays!
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