Soup recipe that you can either sub green split peas or go half and half with lentils for future soup making adventures: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/green-lentil-soup-with-curried-brown-butter-recipe.html
I love Heidi Swanson's website when I'm looking for inspiration. http://www.101cookbooks.com/salads/
I am from rural south Louisiana and I was taught to measure rice the same way so it might just be a thing in cultures where the people grow rice.
I am an academic advisor for a large university and our students are required to take different types of courses with flags on them including an independent inquiry flag which is attached to the internship conference courses. Other colleges within the university require an internship as part of the curriculum. So yes, in some cases that little pass/fail or credit/no credit mark on your transcript is worth something.
On Life Pause
Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed is about a similar situation with some anthropology thrown in for good measure. So terrible and interesting!