Where did we leave off?
Let it be known, however, that the Defense Language Institute is the caveat of caveats when it comes to AIT. You’ll spend the first month-and-a-half in Phase IV and Phase V of AIT, but it’s not really your AIT station. You’ll go off to other places for more training after you’re finished learning your language and you’ll get to revisit Phase IV and V (or so I’ve heard) there.
But while you’re vigorously tearing off your black patch and readying for your Gold Phase (Phase V) patch, you should know some things — and this goes for everything in the Army, so I’m learning.
With more freedoms come more opportunities to make mistakes. This is true, but it really translates to having more opportunities to be lazy. And not the good kind of I’m-going-to-take-a-nap lazy. More like the I’m-not-making-my-bed-today lazy.
Make your bed. Make it every day. Platoon Sergeants will do random inspections of your room, and if your bed is not made, you’ll be served a counseling statement. Let me back up. You’ll be asked to sign a counseling statement after you’ve physically picked your mattress up off the floor and located where your Platoon Sergeant hid your pillow and sheets. I’m not confirming that this has actually happened to me, but I’ll just say that I’m still missing a pillowcase. God knows where it is — Odin’s Valhalla or Vonnegut’s Tralfamadore or someplace.
Also, keep your room clean. No one likes a mess. Especially not your roommate. You’ll have a roommate, by the way.
In the meantime, you’ll be finishing up your training classes and start a program called “Running Start” or “Head Start.” This is where you begin learning your language with students who have already passed their DLPT (this is the big end-of-term test to see if you’re qualified to speak your target language). I loved my Running Start teachers. They were both younger than me by about six or seven years — both energetic and high-speed. We started with the Persian-Farsi alphabet. Then learned a few words. Then made sentences. Then started grammar. It picked up quick, but I’m so glad I had the head start going in because it really helps when you enter class.
The best part about being in the Phase V program is that you finally get to hop on the bus and take it off post into Monterey. Of course, you need to be wearing your Army Service Uniform (ASUs) at all times while off post, but it’s a blast to finally have some freedom.
In my time off post, I had a great spaghetti dinner at California Pizza Kitchen at the Del Monte Center (it’s a big outdoor shopping mall), and saw the new “Divergent” film. It was the first time I had non-DFAC spaghetti and saw a film that wasn’t a military training PowerPoint since before Basic Training, and it felt great.
Phase V is nice. Running Start language learning. More freedom. Off post passes. And if you pass your PT Tests and keep your discipline counseling to a minimum, you’ll move onto Phase V+, where I am currently. You’ll move to your gaining company and begin language classes.
Then, then real fun begins.