AIT has been both a rewarding and trying experience for me.
School ... I studied my butt off for some classes and coasted through others. I am very excited that my hard work paid off and I was able to graduate at the top of my class. Everything is rushed compared to a normal college class. They squeeze quite a bit of information into a short period of time, so make sure you don't fall asleep or miss too many days of class.
I would really suggest a laptop and internet access. It will definitely help for school and some of the other online courses you may need to take while in AIT. If you don't have a laptop you will need to visit the library or education center and use their computers. Not only was a laptop good for school, it also became a main source for entertainment. It's hard to rely on being able to watch what you want to on a day room TV, plus if you're in the day room right in the middle of a show or a movie, a sergeant can walk in at any time and ruin it for you. On my laptop I was able to watch a number of movies and TV shows in the relative privacy of my own room. Everyone seems to have an incredibly large library of movies that they share so it's pretty easy to find something to watch.
I would strongly suggest (especially for the younger kids) enrolling in one of the savings plans that the army has to offer. It's kind of like a 401k for soldiers. Pick a percentage of your money to go in one of these plans and forget about it. Let it grow and you won't even miss the money because it comes out of your check before you even see it. AIT makes it very easy for you to spend your money. I witnessed a lot of guys running out of money before their next paycheck would come. Be careful and make sure to only spend money when you need to.
Try your hardest to let the stupid things roll off your back. There are going to be a whole mess of NCOs that don't give a damn about you. There some that care about the soldiers that they are in charge of, but they seem to be few and far between. I know it can be frustrating for them dealing with a bunch of kids right out of high school, but it was also very frustrating for me being treated like a kid. Privates in general here get treated like crap. This even goes for the army civilians on post. They treat the privates like crap because they know the privates can't do a thing about it. This can wear on you after 6 months of AIT and it was one of the things I hated the most about this experience.
It also gets tiring dealing with NCOs who need to have their egos stroked. You'll run into sergeants all the time that like to yell at privates just for the heck of it. I guess it makes them feel better. PFC Metal swore they had a quota kind of like cops and speeding tickets. Every NCO needs to get so many good yellings in each day to meet their quota.
One of the great things about AIT however was the fellow soldiers. You bond with other soldiers that you live with this whole time. You are all going through the same crap every day. You'll make friends and these friendships will help with all the other negative things that seem to pile up during AIT. I have a lot of fond memories of all the funny and crazy things we all did together.
Congrats Distinguished Honor Grad! I've been reading your blog for sometime now. It's a great resource for those thinking about becoming a Soldier. Keep up the good work at your next assignment and throughout your career in the Army -- you've chosen an honorable profession.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - 11:25 AM