The Uncertain Future

25 Awesome In-Flight Photos Taken by Pilots from the Cockpit - 500px

Almost anyone I talk to about my future career, they often ask me these two questions. Why do you want to become a pilot / what made you choose this career? Which airline do you want to work for? In today’s blog, I will be sharing my answers to these two questions.

Why do you want to become a pilot?

I am currently studying to become an airline pilot so my specific program is called the restricted Airline Transport Pilot/ Certified Training Program (R-ATP/CTP). What this means is that once I graduate with all my hours and my Bachelor’s degree of aeronautical science, I have some options of working either as a commercial pilot, flight instructor or an airline pilot. Who knows what my future will look like especially with the pandemic situation, but my ultimate goal is to become an airline pilot.
When I was a child, I loved cars and animals. I had boxes full of toy cars and everyone around me knew that I was always surrounded by cars. As I entered middle school, my interest shifted towards airplanes and helicopters. I often drew sketches of military jets and helicopters and I also collected miniature airplane models. However, aside from these hobbies, I didn’t have a any close family member who was in the Air Force or the airlines that I grew up looking up to. My only exposure to flying in general was the experience I had traveling abroad with my family.

During high school, we had college representatives visit our school once a year to promote and guide students in their college application process. One day, a college rep was standing in the lobby of my school with a campus map of a university that was placed right next to a runway. At first, I thought that map was the coolest thing since the rep also had small plane models sitting on the table. Her name was Terra (who is the international recruiter for ERAU Daytona Beach) and that’s when my story with Embry-Riddle began. Long story short, I got accepted to Embry-Riddle and I started attending this university from 2017. After spending almost four years at Riddle now, I am still fully committed to the future career of flying.

My first flight in a small single-engine aircraft came a few days after my first day of class. The university really got us into these planes from day 1 and we have been building hours ever since. The view from my “classroom” is absolutely stunning every single day, as we coast along the shorelines of Florida in our Cessna 172s. Flying above the clouds really changes your perspective and you start to realize how small the world is. To be able to look out the small window of your two-seater airplane and see the roads you take every morning commuting, and the Target store around the corner of your neighborhood, it’s an eye-opening experience.

I wanted to travel since I was young and traveling has always been part of my life. Before I heard about Embry-Riddle, my desired major was political science and international affairs where I was going to choose the path of a diplomat and pursue my passion for history, foreign affairs and diplomacy. This option would also give me a chance to travel the world with the help of the government. Either way, I wanted to travel the world and experience different lifestyles across the glove. I just thought traveling by flying an airplane in cool uniforms would be a better option.

What airline do you want to work for?

Some of my peers at the university have everything planned out already. One wants to intern with company X, get hired by them and one day become a captain of an A321 flying from Los Angeles to Atlanta. One wants to become a cargo pilot working out of Anchorage for company X or Y.
Then there’s me. “I would gladly fly planes for any company who wants to hire me!”

I thought I had a plan set out, but I also realized that life is very good at altering your plan without notice. Take the pandemic for example, where thousands of already-flying pilots were furloughed and the aviation industry was substantially impacted. If I learned anything from these trying times, I decided to stay even more open minded because things can go out of plan really quickly. My friends are already looking into their dream airlines’ commuting distances, health care benefits, company culture, scheduling, etc. I do believe that being proactive and planning your future is important. However, I just want to focus on my study and enjoy what I have going on at the moment. I always thought it was better to be more spontaneous than having everything planned out.

It’s definitely a new lifestyle that the world had to adapt to with a pandemic and especially in the aviation side of it, people and companies are hurting. However, I don’t want to discourage the current and future pilots as we will recover from this over time. It would be a great time for us to look at alternative paths and plan B, C, D, etc. It’s important to do the research and explore other parts of flying as a career so you don’t find yourself stuck on a single path that you’ve been relying on for so long. Fly safe!

Hope & Half-Way

Happy October folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, we’re about halfway through the semester, almost a month away from finals, and I’m so excited to visit Virginia again come Winter Break.

Mid-terms the past couple weeks were not easy. From my personal experience, college students are some of the most stressed out group of humans I have ever encountered. Maybe it’s because we’re all navigating excessive hours of homework, studying, class, and other university obligations, and there’s somehow only 24 hours in a day? I have found that I am currently coming out of the stressed wave from midterms and the only thing to do now is to keep cruising full speed ahead until the end of the semester. Stay on the grind of prepping for quizzes, doing homework, studying, and using the down time (can it really be considered down time?) between exams to mentally prepare for finals season.

Student Court’s group photo channeling Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ie Harry Potter vibes.

I have been enjoying the little moments recently. This especially includes the few and far between coveted days I get the luxurious chance to sleep in. I also have been feeling very grateful for the little moments I get to catch up with old friends, girl gang brunches never get old especially when they haven’t happened in a few weeks.

This semester has been mentally exhausting, whether it’s from online classes, a global pandemic, general life stressors, or a cumulation of everything, everyone I’ve encountered seems a little off. Navigating “normal” life with so many abnormal aspects doesn’t feel right. Check on your friends! The world could use a little more compassion, understanding, and connection right about now. I am extremely hopeful for the end of the semester and SO excited to use Winter Break to catch up on sleep and mentally recharge.

I have surprisingly made some new friends this semester and even though our interactions are limited to Microsoft Teams calls studying or phone calls, the little bit of connection feels extremely comforting in the cold virtual aura that online classes have presented.

A visual representation of how the Student Court feels about being a little over half way through the Fall 2020 semester.

In other news, SGA Student Court has been going great! As the newest Associate Justice to the team I’m constantly learning and increasing my understanding of how the university functions and its rules, policies, and regulations. We meet virtually once a week to give updates, work on appeal cases, and do other courtly duties. I am so happy to be on such a great team with motivated, hard working, and dedicated individuals who strive to advocate for students. Generally I like to think the universe is for me, and so is everything else, but particularly in this case I can 100% say the Student Court is for you, and I am too.

Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on folks!

Hi, I’m Carly! The Pilot (AE) Intro Post

Hello, world!

Hello there! I’m Carly McDonald from Berea, Kentucky. As you might notice above, I’m a freshman aerospace engineering major. However, I didn’t start that way- I actually switched my major less than one month into school. Before I was an aerospace engineering major, I was an aeronautical science major.

By now you might be thinking, “She did what?” or “She did not.” Yes, I did. This was me after my first flight here at Riddle:

First Riddle flight with N437ER on August 27, 2020.

So, what made me change, and how’d I get here?

When I was eight years old, I went as a pilot for Halloween. I had just brought my little sister home from China (she and I are both adopted), so I chose to ‘work’ for Cathay Pacific. I decided to be a Boeing 747 pilot since the Boeing 747 was the airplane that brought both of us into the United States. My parents helped me make my uniform, including a little crew member badge, and I went trick-or-treating in ‘uniform’ that year.

Me as a pilot for Halloween.

Fast forward eight years later. I was a sixteen-year-old junior in high school knowing that I wanted to major in something STEM-related. Several college magazines had arrived in the mail and my dad was looking through them while I ate lunch. He stopped at one page and pushed the magazine towards me and said, “Take a look at this one.”

I finished my lunch and looked over the college page, which was Embry-Riddle’s. The more I read about it, the more I liked it and wanted to apply. A few months later, in June, my family planned a college tour trip. We had just flown into DAB when I got my first glimpse of Embry-Riddle through the plane’s window. It was almost midnight when we landed, but I was able to recognize the student union as we landed on runway 25R.

The next day, I took the engineering tour. I was still undecided about what I wanted to do, but by that time, I had narrowed it down to aerospace engineering (AE) or aeronautical science (AS). My mom had registered me for the AE tour, and I loved it. I saw lots of different things that looked interesting: the rocket lab used by ERPL and ERFSEDS, the EcoCAR trophies, and so much more.

From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to attend to Embry-Riddle.

June 2019, post-tour.

Over the summer, I did a lot of thinking. I decided to apply as an AS major and pursue my eight-year-old self’s dream, but I still liked the idea of being an engineer. I eagerly submitted my application to ERAU in August of 2019, and on October 18, the decision came. I was actually away in Northampton, MA touring another college when my parents texted me a photo of the envelope. I told them to open it, and then they sent back a photo of my acceptance packet.

As my senior year progressed, I grew more eager to get to campus in the fall. I was invited to apply to the Honors Program, and in February, received my acceptance email. I planned to attend preview day before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and was extremely disappointed when I couldn’t attend, but I looked forward to my move-in day.

So… yeah, I have a lot of stuff.

My family decided to drive down so I could bring all of my stuff since I had a lot of it. (Pro tip: if the upperclassmen say “it won’t fit,” don’t listen to them, you can still make it fit!) I had a basic idea of what to expect my dorm to look like since there is plenty of information on the Internet. I’d visited the ERAU website so much over the past month in preparation for college that I practically had all of the links memorized.

Move-in day was kind of hectic, but I was able to successfully move in. ERAU gave us large blue bins to help cart our stuff in.

Move-in day!

As I settled into life at ERAU- and came to terms with the fact that I was finally at Riddle- I also thought about my major and what I wanted to do with it. I had continued to think about it all summer, and I had set my schedule up with mostly general education classes that would count to either the AS or AE requirements.

The decision didn’t really hit me until after a few flights. I was one of the lucky students; ERAU has a lot of AS majors, so not everyone is assigned a flight block. However, the one they gave me was from 5:30-10:50 AM, and I am not a morning person. I loved my instructor pilot (IP), but after a few flights, I realized that I didn’t really want to be a pilot as a career, which is the purpose of the AS degree.

After I made my decision, I told my advisor, and she pointed me in the right direction. I switched majors with relative ease and dropped my flight block. However, the add date for courses had already passed, so I was stuck in AS121, the private pilot ground school course, so I could maintain my full-time student status. That’s okay; it just counts as an elective class, so I’m still making progress towards the AE degree.

A little while ago- October 2020.

Currently, I’m taking fifteen credits, and I’m happy with my schedule. I’m part of several different activities on campus: the Honors Program, the ERFSEDS Pathfinder project, the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge Controls Development and Testing team, and I’m the Introduce a Girl to Engineering Workshop Committee Ambassador for the Society of Women Engineers. I think that I’ve made the right major decision for me (haha… a major pun… get it?), but obviously, that could change. We’ll see!

I’m super excited to join the blogging team and I can’t wait to start writing about all of the crazy educational stuff that I do here at Riddle. I’m still learning how college works, but if there’s anything at Riddle you want me to write about around here, let me know.

Bye for now!

Breaks, Balance, & Burnout

Happy October everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, it’s Midterm season and the Fall 2020 semester is halfway over!

I am very excited for Thanksgiving break, taking finals from home (with my sister’s amazing cooking), and an extra long winter break. I originally didn’t expect that having 3-day weekends canceled this semester would have a huge impact on me, but I was definitely wrong. Today’s topic is how to take small breaks when you can, and prevent burnout.

Pre-COVID family moments that have me looking forward to the extra long winter break this year!

Health is a dynamic part of everyone’s life, and it plays a huge role in how you’re doing academically. This semester I’ve been busier than ever, which is still astonishing to me. Navigating full weeks of classes back-to-back filled with lab reports, essays, homework, quizzes, and exams is rough! Time management and self care will be your key to success. 

Set goals! I keep an outline of my weekly schedule, with recurring class times, meetings, study group sessions, and homework times. I fill in the rest of my free time as my responsibilities change every week with (typically) more homework, workouts, and meetings. Knowing your limits is important. Sometimes you have to gauge if an extra hour of sleep is more important than an extra hour spent studying, or vice versa. I try to keep a similar bedtime every day to keep my schedule consistent. By trying my best to stick to my schedule and by checking off boxes on my to-do lists everyday, I find consistency in the chaos. 

My AFROTC Fall 2020 photobook picture.

You will most certainly find me on a Friday or Saturday night doing homework and going to bed by 8pm from being mentally exhausted at the end of a long week. I’m at the point in the semester where I am heavily reliant on coffee and internal motivation. I find I thrive when I am fairly busy, but there is a fine balance between healthy workloads that challenge you to grow, and feeling burnt out and exhausted. Rest and recovery are equally as important as grinding to get your assignments done and hard workouts. Progress comes with balance!

Hydration, quality sleep, healthy eating, time to de-stress, and time to process what you’re learning in your classes are all very important! I have in-person PT once a week with AFROTC, one Remote-PT, and an in-person LLAB, so I usually wake up fairly early. On the nights before, I set my alarm very early in the morning, I try to go to bed as early as possible, and set my future self up for success by laying out my uniform, prepping my gear, and making sure that if there are steps I can take the night before that will give me a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning, I take them.

Sometimes this is as simple as pouring water in my Keurig and filling my reusable pods with coffee grounds, but it makes a huge difference in my morning routine if all I have to do is press a button when I’m half asleep in the morning. For you this might look like studying for a quiz the night before instead of the morning of, or prepping your cover sheets for your homework assignments for the week on Sunday evenings. Set your future self up for success, anything I can do to make my future self’s life easier, more peaceful, or more well rested, I try to do.

My preferred schedule (that I adored sticking to over the summer) started with me waking up to the sunrise (preferably doing yoga and going surfing) and going to bed at sunset. My Fall 2020 school schedule doesn’t allow for my leisurely preferences, but I am very hopeful that my winter break will be filled with hiking, resting, lots of sleep good food, and my sister’s new puppy! My motivation lately has been looking forward to the future.

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, and I will report back soon!

Climb up the Ladder (Virtually)

spring 2018 expo - Career Services | Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

On October 13, 2020, ERAU will be hosting its annual Career Fair where a number of companies show up to showcase their businesses and recruit students. Due to the special circumstances this year, the career fair will take place virtually this time. Career fair invites a number of airlines like Delta Air Lines, United, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Frontier, and Spirit. Boeing, Embraer, Gulfstream and Northrop Grumman are also invited for engineering and business students. There are also government jobs and non-aviation contractor companies that visit to recruit students. It is very similar to your average college fair except you have the exchanging of resumes and business cards instead of college brochures.

This will be my fourth career fair I will be attending at Riddle. To be frank, as a low-hour pilot, there is not much that applies to you unless you enter your junior / senior year because often times, we just don’t have the hours or the certificates we need in order to get recruited. However, it is always a great opportunity to look for internships and talk to company recruiters about your potential interest in them. This year’s fair will be little different as everything will be conducted online. We have to exchange our resumes online through a program called “Handshake” and these companies will be hosting online meeting sessions to answer questions and showcase their companies.

Career Services | Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott, AZ

The university puts great emphasis on these career fairs so on the days we have the fair, our classes are cancelled. You can see many students attending the fair in professional attire in hopes of getting a chance to work at their dream company in the future. Our school is heavily specialized in pilot and engineering programs and as a result, the level of competition between similar major groups is intense. Before COVID, you could see people waiting in line for Boeing, or Delta Air Lines for hours, just to get a chance to talk to one of the recruiters. If you see the desk areas of these major companies, the pile of resumes reaches an impressive amount by the end of the day. I’m hoping that the shift to conduct this fair online will not only keep us safe and healthy, but it will reduce the somewhat “chaotic-and-competitive” atmosphere of our usual career fair.

I believe it is a fantastic opportunity that is given to us students and it really gets you to start thinking about the real world after graduation. I am grateful that the school hosts these events that get you to be ready for your career before you graduate. It makes you realize how competitive the real world is and prepares you with the right tools for you to succeed after you leave Riddle.

Everyone has their own goals and whatever the goal may be, it’s important that we don’t let laziness and insecurities of our own distract us from the opportunities that are given to us. Whoever works the extra hours and shakes more reps’ hands will increase his or her chance of landing a spot in that interview or the company’s job.

I hope everyone will have a chance to attend this event and find some success in reaching your end goal.

https://careerservices.erau.edu/opportunities/events/industrycareer-expo-information-student/

What Do We Fly?

Embry-Riddle Flight Training, Aircraft Fleet, and Observation Flight

This blog will cover the technical side of flying as I will go in depth about what we fly to train everyday here at Embry-Riddle. This will only apply to the Daytona Beach campus and some of the statistics may be out of date.
As a student pilot who is working to get his or her Private Pilot License and become Instrument Rated, they will most likely be flying the Cessna 172 Skyhawk. Some students working on the Commercial Pilot License and Certified Flight Instructor training will also be training in these planes but they will spend majority of their time in the Diamond DA42-VI. I will be going over these two planes and giving you an idea of what it’s like to fly in one of your college classes in the state of Florida.

Cessna 172 Skyhawk

Cessna 172 | Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach, FL

“Skyhawk 405 Echo-Romeo, wind 050 at 7, clear to land runway 7L, caution wake turbulence, departing runway a Boeing 737.”

There’s a chance you will hear this through your headsets if you are flying near Daytona Beach airport in one of these Cessnas. Currently possessing 51 of these Cessna 172s, ERAU operates state-of-the-art aviation programs in order to help students train with a high level of professionalism. To briefly go over some specs,

C172SP: G1000 Glass Cockpit / ADS-B / Single-Engine (Textron Lycoming)

Max Speed: 124 knots

Stall Speed (flaps down): 40 knots

Range: 515 miles

Endurance (Time): 4.2 hours

Fuel Capacity: 56 gallons

This airplane can take a beating which is why it is used for flight training by so many different flight schools. It is so stable the plane will refuse to stall, which is a maneuver we need to practice. A stall is simply when you yank back the yoke and the plane loses thrust to compensate the weight and drag which pulls the plane down. Your plane will then “drop” from the sky which is why we train to recover from such dangerous situations. The plane can also take some “hard” landings which is a common mistake for many beginner pilots.

ERAU takes pride in all their Cessna 172s being equipped with G1000 glass cockpit and ADS-B. G1000 is a flight instrument panel that gives the pilot all the information he or she needs in a presentable manner. It is the updated version of the traditional “six-pack” where all the manual gauges and indicators were used to fly.

Garmin G1000 vs. Avidyne Entegra Avionics | High Performance Aviation, LLC

One quick glance at the G1000 system can give the pilot all the information he or she needs which may include: Altitude, Airspeed, Heading, COM Frequency, Engine RPM/ instruments, Warning signs, Glide slope indicator, GPS Map, Terrain, Weather en route, etc. It is now more common for the airline pilots to be flying fly-by-wire airplanes with computer generated Heads Up Displays and glass cockpits.

The second one is ADS-B which is Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast. What it does is track all the aircraft that are equipped with ADS-B using satellites and ground controls which allows their locations to be displayed on the G1000 GPS map. It will tell you the other plane’s location, flight path, altitude and airspeed and this becomes very useful especially in practice areas where high traffic of student pilots fly in limited airspace. Only down side is that not all planes are equipped with this expensive gadget so it is important for us as pilots to not rely solely on our instruments but rather looking outside.

Interesting perspective of what it’s like to fly in one of our planes out of Daytona Beach Airport by @AirForceProud95.

Diamond DA42-VI

Diamond DA42-VI | Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach, FL

Diamond 42 is our only multi-engine, complex aircraft which you can see by the two propellers spinning on each side of the cockpit. Complex aircraft means the landing gears can be retracted and it has a constant speed propeller… which simply means you can adjust your propellers in order to adjust the performance and fuel burn. These planes use jet fuel unlike the Cessnas so they are truly designed for commercial students who are about to graduate and head out to the airlines.

DA42-VI: G1000 Glass Cockpit / ADS-B / Multi-Engine (Austro Engine – Jet Fuel Piston)

Max Speed: 188 knots

Cruise Speed (economy): 152 knots

Service Ceiling: 18,000 feet

Range: 1273 miles

Fuel Capacity: 76.4 gallons

Currently operating 10 Diamonds at DB campus, these planes offer great training for commercial pilots who are working on long cross-country flights to Key West or North Carolina. They are packed with state-of-the-art gadgets as mentioned before and the complexity of these planes allow students to train on a high level of professionalism even before they get hired by the airlines.

Another wonderful perspective of flying a DA42-VI by @AirForceProud95

I hope you got to learn something about the planes we fly here at Embry-Riddle. It is truly a gift and a privilege to be able to fly and have access to these amazing gadgets and aircraft that are maintained for our flight training purposes. It is always easy to overlook how valuable this opportunity is when we fly everyday.

“They Shall Mount Up With Wings of Eagles, They Shall Run and Not Be Weary” Isaiah 40:31

Fall & Figuring It Out

Happy September everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and I recently bought my plane ticket for winter break to head back to Virginia for Thanksgiving and virtual finals.

The first day of fall is very near and I am so excited for the air to start getting crisp and chilly, with rainy Florida fall days. Additionally, I’ve been very busy lately and it still boggles my mind how taking less credit hours (12) with more virtual classes, fills up my schedule more than taking 18 credit hours with in-person classes. I’m still adjusting and learning how to set boundaries, which is proving very tricky indeed. There is an unfortunate expectation with online classes that because classes are virtual, students are readily available 24/7, but I’m quite exhausted. There is a balance between virtual classes and life, and I feel like teachers, students, and staff are all figuring it out together.

My bitmoji enjoying some meditation after a long day.

Today my schedule consists of yoga, working out, breakfast, blogging, Aerospace Structures I homework, working on essays for study abroad program scholarships for Summer 2021, writing an essay for my Air Force class on a national security issue of choice, more study abroad scholarship applications, writing a letter to my brother as he is currently at basic training, an ROTC meeting, working on an Experimental Aerodynamics lab report virtually with my lab partner, going to get my daily wellness check, printing a slew of items, preparing myself for PT tomorrow (ie filling up my camelbak with water, laying out my PT gear, yoga because my muscles are sore and still recovering), and then sleep!

Teachers typically assume I have extraneous free time to relax on Saturdays and Sundays, but my weekends are equally as busy as my weekdays. I could use a 3 day weekend to get caught up on everything right about now. I am looking forward to the end of the fall semester, putting down my laptop and phone, and relaxing.

In other news my sister got a new puppy that I am so excited to meet when I return to Virginia in late November. Taking virtual finals with a tiny mascot seems like an amazing stress relief.

My sister’s new puppy Dasiy!

To be continued folks, keep on keeping on, stay safe and studious, will report back soon!

How to Fly a B747

It’s been two weeks since the fall semester began and this semester is already so special in many different ways. Firstly, COVID has greatly changed the atmosphere of our campus as most classes are now taught online or in split format. Students are all wearing masks, cleaning their work stations and getting their daily wellness checks done. Secondly, it is the beginning of my senior year at Riddle and senioritis is slowly peeking around the corner to drain my motivation for school. However, there is one class that I want to share with you and I think it’s safe to say this is one of the coolest and the most favored class by aeronautical science students.

This class is one of the upper-level AS courses called EFMS (AS435). EFMS stands for Electronic Flight Management System and in simple terms, it’s learning about the programming and the operation of flight computers in a complex aircraft. Now for this class, that complex aircraft is a Boeing 747-400 which is a famous large passenger / cargo aircraft that many might recognize as the Queen of the Skies.

Boeing B747-400 – Artheau Aviation
Queen of the Skies

In this class, you will learn how to operate the Mode Control Panel (MCP), Control Display Unit (CDU), Air Data Computer (ADC) and the Flight Management Computer (FMC). Now you might be wondering, what the heck are all these acronyms. Well, don’t be intimidated by these letters because these computers are simply designed in a way that you can fly this giant airplane by pushing buttons and turning knobs. *Spoiler: Yes, this is how all the major airlines fly in the air when you are flying back home. Those pilots in the front are just pressing buttons.*

Now let me show you what these devices look like and what you can expect from a higher level AS course when you come to Riddle. It’s not a bad classroom environment to show off to your high school or hometown friends in different schools.

So many screens and buttons!

First thing you will notice is the classroom / “lab” is full of these little stations that surround the edges of the room. Each student is now responsible for each station (due to COVID restrictions) but before the pandemic, two students would share one station and take turns flying the airplane.

That brown device with orange buttons (left bottom) is the control display unit and I like to think of it as the keyboard of your airplane where you can push in all the letters and the numbers for your flight plan. Of course you have the joystick and the throttle lever (bottom right). That long device with buttons and knobs is called the mode control panel and that is what you use to fly this airplane.

Just plug in where you want to fly to!

This is by far one of the coolest classes I have taken and I would love to recommend this class to anyone who is in the AS program. You can fly a B747 without worrying about the passengers in the back or burning tons of money for jet fuel in real life. I hope everyone is staying safe and enjoying any cool classes or side projects you might have.

September & Self Care

Happy September everyone! I am currently blogging from the road to Daytona Beach, FL navigating a half online semester half in-person semester in the midst of a global pandemic and it’s interesting to say the least. The first official day of Fall is Tuesday, September 22, 2020 and I’m looking forward to that.

Three day weekends have been canceled this semester as we aren’t coming back to campus post-Thanksgiving for finals season. Which takes the joy out of looking for a short break every few weeks and transforms the semester into more of an ultramarathon, with no breaks! Pandemic navigation on campus during these new unprecedented times can be challenging to say the least.

Things that have been keeping me sane throughout the pandemic are splurging on little self care luxuries like:

Setting technology boundaries! Try not to check your phone after a certain time every evening, or at least try to distance yourself from it directly before you go to bed.

I’ve been forcing myself to do a lot more yoga and be super compassionate with myself on days when my energy isn’t extremely high.

Trying to eat a balanced diet! Fresh fruits and veggies are extremely important and food effects how your body feels, your mood, and your energy.

I bought a fall essential oil to diffuse in my room and make my space more cozy and peaceful. Autumn is my favorite season and I love all the colors and flavors that go along with it, so Plant Therapy’s Maple Leaf Essential Oil Blend was a no brainer for me, especially considering how often I use and appreciate it.

Since I’m in AFROTC my nail polish has to be conservative and compliment my skin tone, thankfully I am still slightly sun kissed from summer so I got a cozy burnt orange fall Essie color that makes me really happy when I’m wearing it, which coincidentally was inspired by bazaars in Morocco (where I was supposed to study abroad this past summer).

My Starbucks Pumpkin Spice coffee grounds also make my mornings a little sweeter, specifically when adding oat milk and a dash of cinnamon. 

My hall decorations are fun and light hearted for the semester being Pac-Man themed!

Some of my hall Pac-Man decorations!

I hope you are finding solace in the little things and treating yourself with favorite items, music, activities, and spending time with people who help you feel your best.

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, and I’ll report back soon!

Back to Reality

The year 2020 felt like something you would see in a movie. The world has seen a handful of unfortunate events and circumstances unroll that will make this year go down in history. I left Florida back in April when the pandemic was starting to break out. I was fortunate enough to go back home and stay over the summer with my family in South Korea. I recently made my return to the US as I prepare myself for the fall semester. It’s time to get the gears turning but during my “jet-lag period”, I was able to reflect on a summer break that I will never forget.

Korea has somewhat flattened the curve in terms of COVID so during my stay, all businesses and services were open to the public with very little restrictions. Everyone was wearing masks and health precautions were in place. Most new cases were quickly identified and announced by the government to avoid contact with impacted places or people, so it felt strangely normal considering the gruesome situation of this pandemic.

Me and my family got to spend some quality time as we stayed home most of the time. We did some local traveling to places that were isolated in nature as we attempted to physically and socially distance ourselves from crowded places.

A small town near Ji-ri san (famous mountain range in south west Korea)
Gang-neung (Coastal city on the east coast of Korea)
Sok-cho (Another coastal city on the east coast) & Mt. Seorak (famous mountain range in the east coast of Korea)

I got to enjoy a ton of natural landscape and scenic views of Korea and it definitely helped with the isolation part of self-quarantine. Summer in Korea is very similar to that of Florida where the humidity and the 80-90 degrees weather makes it tough to do anything active outside. However, getting to enjoy a bit of a cool sea breeze and the shades of trees on the side of a mountain, it was nice to get some fresh air and a change of scenery.

On my way back to the states, I was able to enjoy the entire row of Delta’s A350-900 to myself as the flight was operating at its minimum capacity. All the seats were spread out and none of the middle seats were available for purchase. Everyone at the airport was wearing masks and it was definitely a strange travel experience.

The future of our semester is in the unknown and it is slightly intimidating as we prepare to open up to our full capacity. The university is doing the best they can to minimize the spread of the disease, but it’s hard to imagine this semester looking anything like our previous semesters here. Our best bet is to be cautious and aware of those around us and to do our best to practice active mask-wearing and social distancing inside and outside of classrooms. Here’s to the rest of 2020 and hopefully a healthy fall semester.

This little guy knows what’s up