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psycholinguist

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Everything posted by psycholinguist

  1. I know the feeling. Congrats on making a hard decision, though. Best of luck!
  2. Awesome! Congrats to our MIT-ers!
  3. I would very much recommend it. One of my undergrad professors said that when he hears from prospective grad-students, the names stick in his mind because he knows that those applicants really want to work with him. Letters can be short - something along the lines of: Dear Professor Z: I am a (student/alumnus) (at/of) (School X) looking into applying to graduate school in linguistics for next September. I am very interested in (subfield) and (topics) and have taken an interest in your work. Are you currently accepting new graduate students for then?
  4. I did a semester abroad in the UK when I was an undergrad, and all they gave me in the end was a single sheet with my grades on it. Furthermore, it had them listed on the UK scale (80+ is awesome, 60-80 is an A-, etc.), meaning that to North American eyes they looked like disproportionately low percentages. I ended up simply photocopying the sheet and attaching a note pointing out that the marking scale was a little different, and that my grades were equivalent to one A and two A-s at my undergrad school (which is what the study-abroad office had informed me). That was fine. Honestly, I would just do your best with whatever they give you. It's your main undergrad transcript that is the really important part, anyway.
  5. Hello! I don't have much background in conversational analysis per se, but in spite of my name I actually am a sociolinguist, and so additional suggestions: UPenn's sociolinguistics subprogram is legendary (William Labov, Gillian Sankoff, etc.); the University of Vermont has Julie Roberts; the University of Ottawa has Shana Poplack; York University has James Walker; and, uh, we at Toronto have Jack Chambers, Sali Tagliamonte, and Naomi Nagy. Also, if you're into phonology and willing to go as far as Chicago, then check out the work of Janet Pierrehumbert at Northwestern; I think she's primarily a phonologist/phonetician, but she dabbles in pretty well everything, including psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics. Anyway, there are lots of options! I recommend looking up specific people, perusing their lists of publications, and seeing which titles/topics/whole papers excite you!
  6. In terms of the actual amount of work, grad-school hasn't been any worse than undergrad for me. It's the nature of it that is different: things you work on are often so much more long-term that it's easy to feel stressed-out by them full-time. As an undergrad I was the sort who got all Type-A during the week, usually did all my homework on Friday night, and only then could relax for the weekend since I had nothing left to be hanging over me. In grad-school I've had to learn to spend a bit of time on a project and then put it aside and take breaks, because when you're working on this many big projects, you can't easily get to the point at which you've run yourself out of homework-assignments and required-reading. I've had to learn to force myself to put the work away at the end of the day and take it easy for a bit. That's all you can do. If you have any tendencies towards procrastination, I'd say try very hard to do away with them immediately upon getting to grad-school if not sooner (however you need to - academic counselling, self-help books, Zen Habits, resolutions, browser add-ons, anything). I've watched it undermine the grad-school careers of a few people now. Procrastinating is more stressful than actually doing the work, and it totally eats up your time. It's just a habit, but it's so self-reinforcing that it can really be a danger.
  7. This is very interesting; personally I understand both sides here about equally. When I was in high school I dressed exactly the same way every single day and never once changed my hairstyle; I saw this as being admirably unwavering and dependable and mature amidst a set of unreliable, erratic, fickle peers. (Turns out I was just going to school with a bunch of ordinary teenagers.) I also insisted on sitting in the same desks in the same classrooms, eating lunch in a single place, just generally letting people know what they could expect of me, etc. It was nice to have a routine; this freed me from having to spend time worrying about what to wear or looking for people to eat lunch with or so on. In retrospect, though, I was way too obsessed with consistency for the sake of itself. Nonconformity doesn't mean refusing to change one's behaviour, period; it means being free-spirited and independent-minded, and making changes only if you yourself really want to. Although I don't care what my high-school classmates thought of me (I wasn't close to them and was happy to leave them behind), I probably alienated myself by giving off the impression that I didn't want anyone messing with my precious little rituals. Furthermore, being that scripted (uptight, even) is often a great way of convincing people at a distance - especially teachers and professors - that you're the ostentatious sort. I'm not saying that some degree of extra conformity is necessary - hardly - but I'd advise caution if you're feeling the urge to go around being a little in-your-face about feeling yourself so much the self-confident outsider. When I got to college I couldn't keep sitting in my favourite high-school spots, obviously, and I had to learn to adapt. I got used to having a more-varied schedule and actually started buying a whole range of clothes for myself; the change was a bit of a shock, but getting out of what had really begun to seem like a huge number of pointless habits was an immense relief. I haven't compromised myself or my values in the slightest; my personality is best expressed through my interactions with people and my schoolwork, not whether I happen to be wearing a pair of blue dress pants and a white blouse for the 387th school-day in a row. And these days I deal with everyday background changes a lot more readily than I did in high-school; back then I'd nearly throw a fit if someone had moved 'my' desk out of the room.
  8. I do like that I can wear xkcd T-shirts and that sort of thing to class if I want. One of my friends who has a Real Jobâ„¢ says that she never gets to wear any part of her Threadless collection anymore and that it kind of sucks.
  9. I agree entirely. Was alarmed to see last night that people are downvoting Just me for no particular reason, or for reasons having more to do with her history on the board than anything else. That actually does border on picking on her; and bullying is something that a) should be intolerable in the first place, and we ought to have grown out of years ago, particularly as a bunch of (mostly) very intelligent, thoughtful, well-adjusted adults. Just me does have a habit that gets on the nerves of some people here (posting a long thread about her problems, getting lots of good advice, rejecting all of it one post at a time, and then passive-aggressively abandoning the thread because she feels as if she's been totally misunderstood), and it's true that whether we're contending with a target-of-abuse or a case of victim-playing-personality-disorder is decidedly nebulous; but that's not a good excuse to get stand-offish and/or take a few gratuitous, anonymous shots at her. In fact, either way, a few less-than-warranted downvotes are counterproductive; think about it. Whether or not her backstory is true, Just me needs (at the very least) some psychological assistance, and we've done everything we can do about that. In the meantime, I recommend that innocuous posts of hers be treated at face-value, and anything talking about being a victim be given minimal attention since we probably have nothing more to say on that subject, especially if her situation isn't going to change. Can we all agree on that? (Apologies for talking around you, Just me. Addressing [select] others here.)
  10. Heh, no big deal. From now on you can delight pretty well every linguist you happen across by not asking them the question! * grins *
  11. w00t! (Also, this is dripping with personal-bias, but: I did my undergrad degree at Cornell and their English department looked awesome. I only ever took one English class while I was there, but I can at least say that the building it's in is lovely and the faculty are a bunch of real characters!)
  12. You never know! Departments are all different, and there's no way to predict whether Professor A from Top School will take an interest in Applicant L for very subtle reasons. I'm friends with a guy who applied to the University of Y, Y State University, Southern Y University, Z College That No One Outside Y Has Ever Heard Of, and (on a whim) Harvard. Results: five acceptances. The hardest part for him was getting the news to sink in! (The thought of actually doing his MSc at Harvard weirded him out, but he thought about it, visited the campus and two others, and ultimately decided to go there. Had a great experience.)
  13. Congrats on being ready to give it another shot! Just remember that no one can ever keep you from applying again. Soon enough you'll find your place. (My first round was a disaster, but I've had two thrillingly successful ones since. Grad-school applications are such a long-shot sometimes and for so many crazy reasons. Rejection does not mean you aren't well-suited for grad-school! [The MA program I was in had 14 people in it. Next year there'll be 8 in it. Does this have anything to do with the quality of the applicants? Nope.]) As others are saying, you're completely on the right track. And I couldn't agree more with everything that runonsentence said, in particular. Contacting faculty makes a huge amount of difference: a) it breaks the ice, it makes your application more memorable; c) and a lot of professors pay the closest attention to people they know really want to work with them. This is the best piece of advice I got from an undergrad professor: get in touch, express enthusiasm for the person's work, ask lots of questions. Don't be shy about requesting letters-of-recommendation. First of all, writing LORs is part of the job (and if you choose well, they'll enjoy writing compliments about you!). Second, your professors want to help you succeed: in fact, when you report to them that you didn't have any success, they might feel just as bad about it as you do! So go for it.
  14. Six. One from childhood, one from my mid-teens, and four from my undergrad school. Two of the six are also grad-students, but that's just how things have worked out. One is in the same field, but that commonality was only tangential to how we originally met. That said, grad-school is a great social environment for me...and this is coming from someone who is quite introverted and who didn't start enjoying the company of larger groups until she finally, finally got out of high-school. By this point if you're still in school, it's (99% of the time) because you really, really, really want to be there. And in your department there are people who are excited by all the same things you are. Most grad-students are enthusiastic, bright, hard-working, down-to-earth, and delightfully nerdy. Love it. I sensed as a young child that there was something I really liked about being on a college campus, but I didn't realise until much later that it might have had to do with such places being full of the sorts of people I actually want to interact with.
  15. Nah. There's just a high member-turnover-rate since this whole 'grad-school admissions' thing happens every year. A few of us have stuck around. Welcome!
  16. I'm starting to agree. I've been worrying about Just me for months - little money, few ways of escaping, dissatisfying graduate program, reportedly abusive mother, reportedly abusive stepfather, reportedly abusive former boss, reportedly abusive parents-of-partner - and although there have been a good dozen people who have rushed to provide her with as much kind, sympathetic, empowering advice as we can think of, apparently not a single word of it has had an effect. Abuse is a serious issue, and those who are subject to it are certainly often rendered powerless and very psychologically passive, but this is getting so extreme that it's almost beginning to strain credibility. Apparent contradictions (she lives with her mother and can't get out; oh, but she lives in campus housing and one year had a room of her own?) are not helping. She gives us just few enough details that we can't verify assertions such as there being no shelters within reasonable distance, and it all adds up to a lot of frustration for everyone who wants to believe her story and therefore wants to see her removed from a sickeningly toxic environment as soon as possible. Call the police as soon as possible, tell them your location, wait for them to show up, and then get the hell out of there simply by going to sit in the backseat of a cop-car. Requires no money, no friends, no vehicle of your own, no open health-services building - just a pay-phone and 90 seconds. The police have connections to domestic-abuse shelters, they have cop-cars, they have resources across the state and the nation. There are still pay-phones all over every college campus in the U.S.; students have cellphones, but not all staff-members do, and besides, physical telephones need to be there for emergencies. Speaking of which, you don't even need a quarter in order to call 911 from one of them; clearly, if you can type a post on this board, you can spare 90 seconds. If things are as bad as you say they are, then several people will be facing charges - rightfully - and your mother in particular will be separated from you by force. Permanently. You can leave school, stop having to worry about taking art classes, look for a job you like the sound of, undergo counselling and re-establish a healthy emotional balance, and slowly, slowly rediscover a) free-will, and optimism. Your life will be your own. This is my final piece of advice.
  17. Ouch. Could be worse, though. (While working on M*A*S*H, Alan Alda commuted from New Jersey to Los Angeles every weekend for eleven years. He didn't want to have to move his family, and he figured that sooner or later the show would be cancelled.)
  18. I have a younger sister in exactly the same situation: not all that academically motivated, a few past health-issues that didn't help, just finished high-school and has no immediate plans. Heh. Anyway, some ideas: 1. Youth Challenge International: Run by the Canadian International Development Agency. Volunteering opportunities across Canada and the world. 2. Does your sister have Canadian citizenship? If so, she's probably eligible for Katamavik. 3. There are also leads to be found at Volunteer Canada and the Cultural Careers Council of Ontario.
  19. Go for it. I did this a year ago and had absolutely no trouble at all. (From my hometown in B.C., I'd been travelling for two weeks out East. In the process, I'd acquired, uh, 21 books, some clothes, and a new pair of shoes. All that wasn't going to fit in my one suitcase; so I went to the nearest post-office and bought a nice big packing-box, put in the less-fragile things, and duct-taped the heck out of it. Worked just fine!
  20. One of the (many) things I love about being in graduate school is that by this point, the overwhelming majority of the remaining schoolyard bullies have found other places to be.
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