New Semester, New Year, New Digs

Hey everyone! Welcome back to our scheduled broadcast. I hope everyone had a fantastic winter break. Despite only having three weeks off from school, I vowed to make the most of my break….that was until I actually flew back to NJ and realized that it was really too cold to do anything.

Flying into New York, I was greeted by the pleasant sight of snow...which soon melted the next day.

Flying into New York, I was greeted by the pleasant sight of snow…which soon melted the next day.

So what did I do during break? For the first week I helped my parents out at their shop since Christmas and New Years were right around the corner. Not surprisingly they own a nail salon and since I’m lacking in the manicure department, I was basically a receptionist for seven days.

Once the holidays blew over, I started making plans with some of my friends who were home for break. The thing about going to school in the South vs. North is that everyone starts and ends school at different times so it’s always a ballet trying to find times that work for all parties involved. In the end, some plans worked out while other didn’t. No biggie: That’s what summer vacation is for!

I didn't go on a lot of photo trips this break sadly. Hopefully the summer will allow me to make up for it.

I didn’t go on a lot of photo trips this break sadly. Hopefully the summer will allow me to make up for it.

I did get to see Rogue One in theaters though! That was the first time I saw a Star Wars film in theaters and it was honestly an enjoyable experience. I think near the end I had to use the restroom, but I was so captivated by the action and story that I was glued to my seat. The movie had so many memorable moments and just listening to the audience react to the film made me miss going to the movies.

I sadly didn’t get to go to New York City like I wanted to though. I keep forgetting how much effort it actually takes to plan out a trip to the city. In my experience, you need an itinerary of places and things you want to do. Without one, you’ll probably get lost and side-tracked and might forget why you even came to the city in the first place. The weather was also a major factor.

Speaking of weather, it actually snowed! I was so excited to see snow before I flew back to Daytona. While shoveling and driving in snow is a bit of a chore, you have to admit that it is fun to play with. If anything, it adds a whole new layer of atmosphere to your environment.

Time slows down, you can hear the slush on the road as cars drive by, and kids emerge from their homes and enjoy their one out of three snow days. I wish it snowed earlier, like around Christmas like it’s supposed too, because it’s just nice to be around it.

But, like all good things, my break was over. Three weeks with my family was well needed and I was very sad to leave. However, while traveling to Daytona, my sadness turned into excitement when I realized that I have not only another semester to make up for the last one, but that I kinda have a new lease on life.

Watching rockets launch on the beach is one of my favorite pass-times.

Watching rockets launch on the beach is one of my favorite pass-times.

I have had a lot more time to myself, I have some goals that I want to accomplish, and overall, I’m starting to understand my limits and how I operate. Hopefully this knowledge and sudden urge enlightenment isn’t just a phase.

Break-ception with Astrophotography

I think with all the breaks we’ve been having and have had so far in the month of November, we might as well just take the whole month off right? Not quite.

With the semester nearing its end, the classes, assignments, tests, and projects are certainly upping their level of difficulty. In addition to school, juggling three jobs has also been quite difficult. Time management is key and I’m still working on it. Hopefully Thanksgiving break will give me some time to catch up with all my classes since things have been getting a bit cluttered in my schedule.

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Day & Age – The Killers

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ITS SO PRETTY.

Thankfully, the breaks we’ve had so far allowed me the opportunity to travel deep into the Floridian wilderness for some stellar astrophotography! Ocala National Forest is definitely one of my new favorite places in Florida just because of how beautiful it is at night. I mean, sure you have to drive like one hour and thirty minutes out of your way to get there, but you’re greeted by breath-taking views of our vast galaxy.

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Stars and constellations make themselves known while the Milky Way comes out of hiding where you can see it with the naked-eye: I almost broke down and cried because of how beautiful it was. Because I was so far away from civilization, I had to be careful with my surroundings…which can be hard to do as you’re admiring the scenery around you.

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That’s not my truck.

I recommend traveling with a few friends, bring some snacks, and the proper photography gear if you decide on traveling to the vast expanse of Ocala National Forest. Keep checking the weather days in advance to make sure the weather will be clear and not cloudy. The first time I went, I drove so far that I somehow drove past the clear weather and found myself surrounded by fog: Not cool.

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Shutter Speed: 30 seconds, Aperture: f/2.8, ISO 2500 & Focal Length: 16mm

In the realm of photography, a camera that allows for manual control and a tripod are pretty much what you need shoot photos with. In your settings, try the following exposure settings:

  • Shutter Speed: Between 20-30 seconds.There’s a thing called the “500/600 Rule” which basically involves taking either 500 or 600 and dividing it by your focal length, which is how wide you’re currently shooting (i.e. 16mm). The resulting number is the shutter speed you need to shoot at/below to stop the stars from “moving/streaking” in your image.
  • Aperture: Try to open up your aperture to its widest setting. Most lenses can do f/3.5, while other lenses can do f/2.8. In the world of photography, 2.8 is wider than 3.5.
  • ISO: This is your sensor’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more light it captures. Keep in mind, the higher the ISO, the more likely you are to get noise in your images. Because my 5D Mark III can handle noise fairly well, I shot at ISO 2500.

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If your photos turn out too dark, try increasing your ISO. Likewise, if your photos are too bright, consider decreasing your ISO to lower the amount of noise in your photo. Most importantly, set a 2 second delay after you press the shutter button. This will allow you to take the photo without having the camera move after you’ve touched it.

With that said, go out and have fun. That’s the most important thing!

Fall Break

Well, Fall Break is now behind us which means that there’s about six to seven more weeks left of the fall semester. I’m amazed at how fast we’ve gotten to this point and everything that’s happened since the beginning of the semester until now.

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Tennessee is so beautiful.

For Fall Break, I went home with my roommate to Tennessee, and needless to say, I was really excited since I’ve never been to to Tennessee before. We left Port Orange at 5 a.m. and embarked on a 10-hour road trip north. We encountered scenic roads, strange billboards, and interesting individuals: All the hallmarks of a great road trip.

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The architecture is beautiful as well.

When traveling through the country, I-95 is typically the only interstate I used, so traveling on I-75 was different for me. I saw things that I normally wouldn’t see on I-95, got to pass through cities I’ve never visited before, and got a better understanding of the United States geographically.

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I also visited Nashville International Airport.

Once we made it through Georgia, I was greeted by the large, looming mountains of Tennessee. Coming from a place like New Jersey, where the land is constantly flat with no major land changes, this was a real treat: I’ve never seen mountain formations like this before, and with fall rapidly approaching, the browning of the trees made me feel like I was in New England. Coincidentally, the homes in the area where my roommate lived were modeled after New England homes. I guess if I had to compare, Tennessee has a rural Pennsylvania vibe to it.

My Canon 5D Mark III died, so I had to use my roommate's Nikon D7000 for the day.

My Canon 5D Mark III died, so I had to use my roommate’s Nikon D7000 for the day.

The next two days involved sight-seeing around town and Nashville. While I’m not a huge fan of country music, Nashville wasn’t too bad. Then again, I really only spent time around the state capital building and the bicentennial park so I didn’t really get to see Nashville in its entirety. It’s kind of like trying to see all of New York City in one day: It’s impossible. I do plan on coming back to Tennessee though. There’s so much I want to do, and now that I have an idea of what the state is like, it’ll be easier to budget my time.

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So. Many. Mountains.

Sunday morning, we left my roommate’s house at 5 a.m. but this time took the scenic route home instead of the direct way we took there. The scenic route involved heading east into the mountains by North Carolina, southwest to Georgia, and then south back to Florida. Even though the route added an extra five hours to our journey, I think it was worth it. Tennessee just has something really unique and beautiful about it which no other state I’ve been to seems to have. Driving on the mountain roads with the morning fog was awe inspiring, and sharing the backroads with bikers was equally breath-taking. Passing through Georgia and Florida was pretty normal with nothing important to report. After driving non-stop, we managed to make it back to our apartment around 10 p.m.

The famous US 129 Harley Davidson store.

The famous US 129 Harley Davidson store.

I think this Fall Break will go down as one of the many highlights of 2016. I got out of my comfort zone, traveled to places I’ve never been to before, and got to see a lot of things that I didn’t know existed. Most importantly, the break gave me time to rethink my life and relax from all of the stress this semester has accumulated. I learned that I need to pace myself and take things one step at a time, which may seem cliché, but is probably something that will save me from breaking down one day.

With that said, I’m going to try hard to finish this semester on a strong note. Until my next blog entry, stay curious and be safe.

New Year, New Goals!

We’re back! I haven’t posted an update in the three weeks I’ve been here, so I feel terrible about that! A lot of stuff has happened since May so I’ll do my best to recap everything since.

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Thanks to Pokemon GO, I learned that I could bike for three hours straight.

Summer vacation was actually an enjoyable experience for me! I took a chemistry class and lab at my local community college, got to spend a lot of time in New York City, and hung out with my friends. As always, I wish I was able to do more, but with school and scheduling conflicts there was only so much I could do.

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Central Park is still my favorite place in New York City.

The chemistry class and lab were very interesting. I haven’t taken chemistry since sophomore year of high school so trying to recall all knowledge on the subject was a fruitless affair. I can say with definite certainty that I did not miss chemistry, and I’m glad that I won’t have to do anything else with it soon. It’s funny though, after taking the class, it seems like all of my courses are becoming a bit reliant on chemistry.

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Before school though, my family decided to take a road trip from NJ to FL.

Over the summer I also bought myself an old Polaroid camera, and I love it. The Polaroid SX-70 is definitely no Canon 5D Mark III, but you don’t buy an old camera to use for work: You buy an old camera because it’s fun to use. I love how the camera taught me shutter discipline and forced me to think about the photos I take. If anyone is interested in seeing more Polaroids, follow my Polaroid Instagram @oldformat!

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Roosevelt Island is really neat too! This is where you can get nice photos of the UN Building.

Another memorable experience for me this summer was that I got to fly in a small airplane for the second time in my life! My friend invited me to join him on a flight down to Cape May, NJ, which was like a 45 minute flight when compared to the 1 hour and 35 minute drive it would’ve been. We flew on a Piper Arrow and it was very relaxing to fly in. Yes, my friend actually let me fly it for most of the flight and it was such a surreal experience.

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*Flies complex airplane* *Proceeds not to take photo of it*

As summer came to close, I said my goodbyes, packed my things, and sat on the AutoTrain for 17 hours for my trip back to Daytona Beach to start the semester. Going into this semester, I had a “Go get ’em” attitude about it, and I think that’s really important to have. You need to be motivated to tackle a semester or else you’ll start to slowly get bogged down with school work and commitments.

As far as commitments go, I’m now the Photo Editor for The Avion Newspaper, I’m still a tutor for the Digital Studio, and I currently have five classes. Even with all of these things taking up a majority of my time, I still somehow manage to find time to spend with friends.

For instance, a week or two ago I went to Disney World for the first time. Yes, shocker right? I spent like ten hours at Epcot and three hours at Magic Kingdom. It was amazing, and it was even more amazing since I got in for free! Though, I probably spent an admissions worth of money on pins.

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Epcot is the best park.

Last week, I got to see a rocket launch and it felt nice to be back at Riddle doing what I loved: Photography. With all of this stuff happening within the first three weeks of the semester, I can’t wait to see what Fall 2016 has in store for me.

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Oh, hello there OSIRIS-REx.

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SPACE.

Until the next update, remember to make smart choices and be curious!

The Final Push

Hello, hello! Sorry about that weird awkward gap thing that happened. One of my posts got posted a bit latter than expected and it threw off my whole posting cycle.

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Anyway, since the rocket launch, things are starting to pick up since we’re at that point in the semester where everyone’s trying to cram everything into the last few days of class. I can’t believe we’ve come so far since August!_MG_1300

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Me: “What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you on the job?” Her: “I can’t answer that!”

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SPIN.

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SMALLPOOLS?

On The Avion front, aside from covering the Atlas V launch that happened last month, I was able to cover another volleyball game, a fantastic Presidential Speaker Series with former CIA agent Valerie Plame, and Embry-Riddle’s annual homecoming carnival.

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Embry-Riddle held a candlelight vigil for the victims of the November 13th attacks in Paris.

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In terms of school and classes, I have never seen so many group projects and tests crammed into one month. It actually got to the point where I had to deliver two team presentations in one day, one of which had to last for a full 50-minutes, so that was fun.

As usual, Physics II is kicking my butt and so is Calculus II, but I’m slowly gaining traction in both subjects. I guess I’ll be living in the library for the next couple of days so I can study for finals.

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I swear Deland’s Amtrak station isn’t a creepy place.

Thanksgiving Break has been really interesting to say the least. For starters, my and my roommate took a 20-hour train ride up the Northeast Corridor via Amtrak. At the time, taking the train was definitely cheap and with my roommate’s destination being Virginia and mine being New Jersey, we were together for a majority of the train ride so it was not too, too bad.

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Because of my travel accommodations last year, I missed my high school’s annual Thanksgiving football game against our rival high school. I’m glad I was able to see it this year because it’s been about two years since I’ve been to a high school football game. It was nice to see all my friends and former classmates after so many months of studying. It was also nice to be welcomed back by the cheer team after not being on the team for so long.

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Ah, New Jersey. Home of pork roll sandwiches and gas station attendants.

Flash forward a few days later, I’m back on the Amtrak train headed to Florida. It’s always a somber moment whenever I leave home, but thankfully I’ll be back in two weeks time.

Looking back at the beginning of this semester, I definitely noticed that I changed as a person. I was able to overcome a lot of the obstacles thrown my way, and for the ones that I couldn’t conquer, I used those as a learning experience.

With only a few days left in the semester, it’s time to apply what I learned as Finals Week approaches ever so quickly. I feel some-what confident in my self which is a first. So on that bombshell, happy holidays everyone. I look forward to telling you about my winter in the Spring of 2016!

I Should Be At A Rocket Launch Right Now

Hello, hello! Things have been crazy the past few days and it’s only going to get crazier from here on out.

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10/10 will do again. Thank you Newman!

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This Embraer E-175 was only 15 days old when I took this picture last week.

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The cockpit is very stylish and somewhat roomy!

For the last two weeks, a friend of mine, who happens to be a flight instructor for Riddle, had been coaching me in the flight simulators that we have here on campus. He put me through engine failures, landing patterns, IFR approaches, and stalls. As someone who really enjoys flying but cannot afford to do so in reality, this is a great substitute, and I really do appreciate him doing that for me. Plus, having a flight instructor guide you through everything makes flying the simulators a lot more fun and meaningful.

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I didn’t understand Rachel Week’s costume. She told me who she was dressed as and now I feel stupid.

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This guy’s costume was the best I don’t care what everyone else said.

This Wednesday, I covered Tri Sigma’s 8th annual fashion show which was very interesting. Because I’ve never covered the fashion show before, I was technically going in blind when I accepted the task. At the end of the day though, I was able to capture some memories that will last a lifetime for everyone involved, and I got practice in shooting fashion shows: a win-win if you ask me.

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Actually this guy was the funniest.

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ERMERGERD ITS A ROCKET. ERMERGERD.

Probably my biggest highlight so far was that I was cleared by the Air Force to cover ULA’s (United Launch Alliance) IIF-11 launch that was supposed to happen today (Friday). Unfortunately, the launch was scrubbed until Saturday because of a leak in the water suppression system. It’s also because of the scrub that I won’t be able to cover the Stewart Airshow that’s happening this weekend as well.

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“Oh so artsy b&w image.”

Regardless, I had a blast on Thursday going out and setting up remote cameras out on the launch pad. I got to meet some really nice people and saw some familiar faces from the last time I was at Cape Canaveral which was back in April for SpaceX’s CRS-6 launch. I was also amazed at how close ULA let us media credentialed individuals get to the rocket. I was definitely a lot closer to the Atlas V than I was to the Falcon 9.

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Lens flairs so unnecessary they call me JJ Abrams.

With this semester coming to a close in just 4-5 weeks, (I know right?) I find it hard to believe that we’re now at this point in the semester. Actually, let’s just forget that the end is near and look towards my next update. Sounds like a good plan. Cheers!

Minor Updates

Hello, hello! I hope everyone is doing well. The past two weeks have been a killer for me, especially with all of my classes starting to kick into high gear. There’s nothing really important to report on sadly (I know, it’s really depressing), so it’s gonna be one of those updates.

In the past two weeks, I had to write a precis (yeah, I still don’t know what that is) for my SIM 200 about in-flight simulation which in of itself is a really cool topic to read up on. On top of that paper, I had to compile a rhetorical analysis for HU 143, my intro to rhetoric class. I did amazingly well on my precis considering I never wrote one before, and I did ok on the rhetorical analysis, which I also have never written before.

My PS160, physics II, test was fun and so was my MA 242, calc II, test. In COM 219, speech, I had to give a narrative speech and I did well on that. Now I’m preparing to deliver my informative speech on photography in a few weeks in conjunction with studying for this Friday’s test.

I will say that my SIM 200 class is very interesting. One week I was in the GAT trainer, which is a disorientation simulator, and ran through two disorientation tests. Only 13 more and I can be certified…for something! Another week we went into the simulation bay to look at Riddle’s Level D CRJ 200 full-flight simulator. This thing is massive and thinking about the price of this thing makes my head hurt.

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This thing is ridiculously small…

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…really small.

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Look at it! Look at this machine!

In the extra-curricular activities life, I’ve contributed a few written articles for The Avion, which is weird because I don’t like writing at all. I’m a better photographer than a writer, but people say otherwise so maybe I have an act for both?

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I recently had the opportunity to attend one of the volleyball games which was fun! Good job Lady Eagles!

Working at the Digital Studio as a tutor is fun. I’ve gotten to meet some really cool people and learned a lot of new skills. I’m really excited to see where that goes.

I’m sorry if this update was short, and maybe boring, I promising to find interesting things to write about next time! Until then, be curious, ask questions, and watch Doctor Who.

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This past Sunday was the “super lunar eclipse”…or at least it was supposed to be since we couldn’t see anything thanks to the clouds.

And We’re Back!

Hello, hello! After a much needed 4-5 month hiatus, we’re back! And I’m not just talking about me being back on the blogging scene, but rather everyone coming back to Embry-Riddle. So on that note, welcome back returning students and faculty, and hello to the new students and faculty getting their start at Embry-Riddle this semester!

This summer has been a jam-packed one for sure. With things ranging from collegiate visits and parades to work and traveling, Summer 2015 may have been my most productive summer to date.

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Summer 2015 also marked the time where I started taking “artsy” pictures.

With victory and triumph in my veins after conquering the spring semester, I boarded my flight bound from Orlando, Florida (MCO) to Newark, New Jersey (EWR) and rode the train home once I got to New Jersey. It was probably 1AM when I finally got to my house on May 1st. Unfortunately for me, most of my friends were still in school/college. Needless to say, I did not spend May wisely and spent most of my time at home. (Whoops.) I did however, visit my high school to catch up with some teachers and friends. I even spoke to a few freshmen classes about college and how to prepare for the next 4-5 years of their lives.

Suddenly June came barreling in, and I suddenly found myself in a chaotic ballet of commitments and unexpected events. My sister’s orientation for Penn State University was during the first week of June so I had to put off working in New York City until the week after. Despite the logistics, 4-hour drive, and uncomfortable hotel beds, it was a fun time. Most importantly, my sister enjoyed the school which is what really mattered.

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I guess Penn State ran out of rock climbing walls.

With Penn State’s orientation over and my sister finishing high school in 2 weeks, I went back to work in New York City. Not much has changed since I left last summer, but it was still nice to go back to work in place that was familiar to me. The atmosphere and pacing is so different from life here in Daytona Beach, and that’s the lifestyle I was accustomed to.

Sometime in the middle of July, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team defeated Japan during the Women’s FIFA Cup and to celebrate, there was a ticker tape parade in New York City. Conveniently, my office was on Broadway and I managed to get some really nice pictures. It was my first ever ticker tape parade and it was really special considering the last one was in 2012 after the Giants won the Superbowl.

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ERMERGERD. ERMERGERD.

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I saw people just dump entire packets of paper outside their windows. It was crazy.

Annoyingly, August rolled around signalling the end of my summer vacation a few weeks later. By that time, I finished my internship and spent my time at home preparing for the fall semester. I managed to go out and photograph a few sunrises, the Perseid Meteor Shower, and sunsets. It was nice and a fitting salute to my home state before leaving for Riddle.

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I saw the Milky Way in person for the first time ever!

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The last sunrise I saw in New Jersey. *sheds tear*

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Oooo.

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On my flight back to Orlando, I ran into William Stirna who was a graduate of Embry-Riddle’s class of 1994!

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With things at Embry-Riddle in full swing now, nothing’s really changed since I left last spring. My classes are very interesting with SIM 200 being the most “technical” class I’ve taken to date. My professors are wonderful and they make class enjoyable, and I’m honestly glad things worked out the way they did. So, on that bombshell, thank you for reading, and I’ll talk to you all soon!

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This isn’t Daytona Beach, but this was taken in Florida…that counts right?

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“Oh so artsy.”

Music and Rockets: The Unlikely Encounters of the Third Kind

With the end of the semester nearly 2 weeks away, things are really starting to pick up across campus. From the events and activities on campus to my classes and projects that need to get done, there’s so much to do and so little time.

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Let’s start with the Touch ‘N’ Go Big Show. Every year (or is it bi-annually?) Embry-Riddle’s entertainment board, Touch-N-Go, has a concert on campus and this year they managed to book the Plain White T’s and Smash Mouth. While I never really had the opportunity to listen to their music as a kid growing up, I definitely knew who they were and was really excited when I found out they were coming to Riddle. Because I volunteered to cover the event for The Avion, I got the opportunity to meet both bands and interview them along with two of my friends from the newspaper. With heavy rain storms predicted, Mother Nature did not disappoint. But, despite the hour-long delay and heavy rain, the concert was absolutely amazing, until the generators that ran all of the equipment on stage started cutting out during the Plain White T’s’ performance. After the massive fireworks display and the bassist playing “The Star Spangled Banner,” with vocals provided by the crowd, the night came to an end and the show was over.

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Flash forward two days later and I found myself biking to the Student Center (UC) at 6AM Monday morning to cover SpaceX’s rocket launch at Cape Canaveral. This was my first rocket launch ever so to say that I was excited would be an understatement. Again, thanks to the power of college journalism, I was lucky enough to get media credentials through The Avion. Thanks to the media credentials I received, I got to actually go to the launch pad and saw the Falcon 9! It was truly awe-inspiring to actually be at the Kennedy Space Center because it’s like you’re standing in a time-capsule: everything looks like it did back in the 1960s! Even the buses we rode on were the old iconic flat-faced white buses that were common during the 60s. Unfortunately the launch was scrubbed T-minus 3 minutes until launch which meant I had to come back the next day. After emailing my teachers and getting their approvals, I was good to go. All in all, after seeing the rocket launch and meeting all of the people I met, including a student from Embry-Riddle’s Prescott campus, it made me realize how lucky I was.

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So, year 1 of college complete. I probably look like an idiot sitting in the library looking bewildered but wow. I can’t believe 7 months of college flew by that quickly. I’m really excited for Fall 2015 and what else is in store for me at Riddle. Unless I’m told to put out another update before I leave on the 30th, enjoy the summer, do adventurous things, and remember to be curious.

We have how much time left?

In terms of time, this might be the 2nd to last post I make for this semester which is crazy. I can’t believe the semester went by so quickly.

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It was a really foggy night when I got back from NJ.

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Good vibes all around when flying.

Spring break was lovely and, even though I miss it, I know that in three weeks time it’ll be summer vacation, so I can’t complain. It’s nice that we get like 3-4 months off because I could really use that time to get caught up in my hobbies and school work, not to mention going back to interning in New York City.

I’m very excited for the Touch ‘N’ Go “Big Show” this Saturday! I hope that I can get credentials for the event just like last year with Gabriel Iglesias as it would be a nice way to end my Saturday work day. I’m also working on getting credentials for a rocket launch next week; hopefully the date stops moving around because it’s really hard to plan out your itinerary when the dates keep getting scrubbed.

At this point of the semester I’m starting to really focus on my school work and the results have been very promising! CAD class is wonderful, though we’re diving into tolerances which is starting to mess with my head. Psychology gets very interesting with each lecture. Hopefully I can find a similar class to fill my high-level social sciences (crosses fingers.)

Aside from all the other usual stuff that goes on, I’m still writing letters and postcards to my friends and keeping in touch with my family, and writing to people has so much more meaning and worth than just sending a text message. I dare you to try it.

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So jealous that the math teachers have this view of campus.

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Nothing makes your better than getting a letter.

 

Unfortunately the past two weeks have been somewhat of an “off-week:” no real action going on, but that will change when the next post rolls around. So, until then, cheers!