I am a future soldier going into the army as a 35P later this year. After BCT I'll ship out to Monterey, Ca for DLI. I'm pretty excited about going there and learning a new language regardless if the army selects it for me. My questions to you are " What was life at DLI like?", "Did you enjoy your time there as well as your language?", "How did you feel when you were assigned Persian-Farsi?". Maybe you could make a post addressing these questions, but regardless Thank You for your informative posts.
So I will oblige you on my experiences at DLI. Remembering, of course, that I am getting older as the days go by and so Monterey is a somewhat distant memory from a long time ago :) I kid, I kid...
To answer your last question first, I wasn't given Persian-Farsi, I actually picked it when I re-enlisted in 2002. I picked it because at the time the DLI instruction was lacking Dari and Pashtu, and I wanted to deploy to Afghanistan after 9/11 (I joined the Army about 8 months before 9/11 occurred).
As for Monterey...for me, it wasn't my favorite duty station in the least. Monterey has a lot to offer and it is a lot better than many assignments you might find in the military, but I was so busy and learning a new language was so nerve-racking that I didn't really enjoy my time there. I have a biased opinion of Monterey that some might find downright negative, so I will do my best to outline some of the positives :)
For one, I am a fan of warm weather. The climate in Monterey is very wet and mediocre. It's always foggy in the mornings, lots of rain or at least drizzle, and the temperature usually ranges in the 50-70 degree range. It never gets really cold but it never really gets truly warm, either. Along the same lines, the water on the west coast is FREEZING. Most people cannot tolerate the temperature of the water unless they are wearing a wet suit. So while you may live right near the beach, you can't really enjoy the water.
Monterey is also a tourist town. That means any time you go somewhere, there are always a bunch of cheap tshirt shops, tourists, lines, traffic, and difficulty parking. Somewhat paradoxically, however, Monterey is very stuck uppish (I just made that word up, see how awesome of a linguist I am) and at least when I lived there from 2004-2005 there were almost no major chain restaurants. You had to drive 30 minutes to the nearest Wal-Mart. Groceries and gas were astronomical, as are the rent prices for housing.
Your best bet, if you are married, is to live off post in Pacific Grove. It's the closest and most reasonable place to live. When I first moved there I lived in Marina, which is only about 14 miles away from base, but a very long trip in traffic at the end of the day.
One great thing about the surrounding area is the things to do in your free time. You can check out the pier, San Francisco is only 110 miles north (make sure you call days in advance to get your ticket to go see Alcatraz though, because if you try to do it on a whim, you won't get tickets), there are beautiful houses to sight see, great bike paths to bike on along Seven Mile Drive...among other things...if you like to golf there is Pebble Beach golf course nearby, lighthouses, and all kinds of other things.
All in all it was a very stressful time for me as I was attempting to learn a language, so I don't think I got to enjoy it nearly as much as I could have. I think that if I went back as an instructor I would enjoy it a lot more. In addition to learning a language, as the only NCO from the Army that didn't fail out of the course, I was having to take charge of 20 Soldiers and do their counselings, teach them Warrior Tasks, test graduating classes on Warrior Tasks, grade PT tests, go to rifle ranges, you name it. So I didn't have much free time to enjoy myself.
One thing you have to REALLY be careful about is that DLI is almost like college. As such, there are ALWAYS parties in the barracks, people always going into town and staying up late, you name it. So many people fail because they get too wrapped up in the location and life there instead of doing what they were supposed to be doing - studying a foreign language. I have known MANY people who went to DLI for "simple" languages like Spanish, thinking that because they took a few classes in high school that they would be able to coast through and party all the time, only to find themselves failing out.
Even though Spanish, French, and other CAT II languages are "easy", they make up for the difficulty by cramming the language down your throat in 6 months instead of a year or more. The average linguist needs to know at least 2000 words to be completely fluent (I read that somewhere) so that's a lot of vocabulary to be studying in a short period of time.