Closing Post

I have been extremely busy these past few weeks. I finished my internship, went home for a small vacation, drove back to Florida, and started school. I have a few key pointers that may seem obvious, but I feel should be restated. First, make sure to leave your internship on a positive note. Finish up any work you started and/or make sure to leave a copy of your notes, drafts, and work for coworkers. Although it is old fashioned, a hand written thank you note was also suggested. I sent my letter last week. Don’t feel intimidated. It’s not like it’s a personal letter to your grandma. Merely take the time to thank your coworkers and supervisors for x,y,z. My letter thanked everyone for their patience and guidance. I also included everyone’s name and a short sentence or two about a memory/particular thing I was thankful for. I genuinely enjoy writing letters. It’s important to leave a positive impact on wherever your internship was.

My “vacation” at home included completing a lot of chores. I went to the car shop three times in one week. I went to the DMV and dentist, which was not fun. I highly recommend that you make sure you visit your dentist, doctor, and any other locations that require you to be in your home state (aka DMV). There is always the option of going to the on-campus Health Services, but I find it easiest to schedule the doctor and dentist appointments in my hometown. Plus, when you are at home, you will be able to get the help from your parents. When I go to the dentist down in Florida, I will need to find a dentist, set up an appointment, make sure they take my insurance, and likely give them all my information from scratch.

A couple days before school started, I went to Target and saw many Embry-Riddle students. I walked by an aisle, and saw a mother excitedly telling her daughter to sit in a fluffy bean bag chair. For a split-second, I made eye contact with the daughter and she looked embarrassed. I remember the same feeling, but for all you incoming freshman, please let your parents spoil you and express their love for you, before they leave you for the semester. Additionally, I want to warn you of overbuying items that make clutter your dorm room. Make sure to start off with small purchases and slowly, gradually, add to your room. The worst thing is buying so many accessories and then not having any space for it. I also recommend buying a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit cups, soup, mac and cheese cups, and a reusable water bottle. For one thing, it can be a hard adjustment when you must pick your meals for yourself. During my freshman year, I ate so many fried foods and dairy that my stomach was upset for most of the semester. If your parents offered to buy you anything, I would recommend asking for gift cards to your favorite restaurants or shops because you may not know what you need now, but later in the semester it will be great to have a gift card.

This has been a great experience blogging, but I am signing off for now. Good luck with studies, be safe, and try new things!

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Hi all!

I feel I haven’t posted in a very long time and for that I apologize. This summer flew by! Let me begin by catching you up on the end of my summer and then sharing some news about this year.

First things first, my internship ended on a very high note! I got to give the introduction speech to our internship closing ceremony. My mom traveled from Colorado to come explore San Francisco with me and tour SFO. We had a blast visiting Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square. Of course we visited In n’ Out and went to many of San Fran’s touristy areas. At the end of it all, I was very excited to head home for a week before returning for RA (Resident Adviser), SGA (Student Government Association), and O-Team training. You will understand once you go home for a break… Breaks = time to catch up on all your doctors appointments!

I came back three weeks before school began for RA, SGA, and Orientation Team training. These trainings were very fun because I got to see all my friends again! I also had the chance to slowly adjust back to living on campus and having a different type of busy schedule.

RA training with my old roommate, Delaney!

Orientation went amazing! This incoming class was so involved and eager to integrate into our Eagle family. I loved that all our events throughout Orientation Week were packed. It makes me happy to see that so many students were pushing themselves to go meet other new students. My residence hall wing is also fantastic! The residents are always asking questions about becoming involved and it is quite the social floor, which is not typical of the Honors LLC (Living Learning Community).

Working Orientation!

In other news, Chris came to visit this weekend! The agenda included Disney World Hollywood Studios, Tia Cori’s Tacos, Chicken Salad Chick, a photoshoot, car shopping, and Crazy Rich Asians at the nice local theater. We had such a great time that saying goodbye this morning was extra difficult. Long weekends are always great for friends and family to come, but it also makes me sad when they have to leave.

Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios

Driving around Daytona Beach eating all the yummy food!

My personal favorite – Tia Cori’s Tacos!

As for this semester’s courses, they are the most challenging yet. I have accepted that I am at the core of all my education. What I am learning now is very in-depth and difficult concepts, but I feel my focus in class will allow me to take this knowledge and apply it in interviews and on the job. I love having such professional professors who really know their stuff! For example, my Management of Operations and Production professor used to be quite high up in UPS. His knowledge makes the coursework even more applicable and understandable.

In honor of my last first day, here is my first first day!

While I am busier than ever, I am excited to share that my summer classes and high school credit have pushed my graduation to THIS MAY! I am beyond excited and the reality of it all hit yesterday when I received the email to apply for graduation. I feel that I am ready for this next step in life. I hope to show everyone through my career search and final semesters here at Embry-Riddle!

I will be going back to posting bi-weekly, so check back in soon! ~ Maddie

Fall Semester & AFROTC

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach and the Fall 2018 semester is about to begin!

The past couple days have been filled with late nights and early mornings, but instead of studying or AFROTC, the latest concentration has been on move-ins of residents as a Resident Advisor and new student orientation from the perspective of an O-Teamer. An O-Teamer is an Orientation Team Ambassador (ie team member) and Orientation Team is essentially a group of enthusiastic, positive, motivated individuals who come together to welcome students to campus. To sum up the past week, orientation has certainly been very busy, but also a lot of fun. From Paint-U, Glowcade, to the beach bash, the magic show, the movie viewings, the magicians, and the hypnotists, the past couple weeks have been eventful in preparation for student arrival.

A fellow O-Teamer and I before Paint-U!

In other news, AFROTC is starting up again and I’m feeling slightly reminiscent into my AS100 year as I look forward to my AS200 year and meeting all the new AS100s. One year ago I was new to Embry-Riddle, AFROTC, engineering, and Florida. Just looking at how far I’ve come in one year absolutely amazes me and gets me so excited to see all the potential of younger generations as I’m actively contributing to the culture and atmosphere at Embry-Riddle. When I first started college I didn’t know anyone, and I was very nervous. This year I have such a strong support system of people I’ve met only less than one year ago, but feel like I’ve known my entire life. Riddle changed from a foreign place to a home, and I didn’t even realize that was possible when I first arrived. As the Air Force’s birthday approaches, and AFROTC prepares its annual celebration I’m looking back at photos from last year and how I greatly appreciated the irreplaceable connection with the people who surround me. We really were and are such a close community. I am so proud to be a part of our detachment.

The Air Force’s birthday in 2017!

I will be picking up my ABUs again pretty soon and as the semester kicks off I’m ready to be fully back in the swing of things. After spending the past month training and preparing for the school year to begin I’ve come to appreciate that no matter how much time you spend with any given group of people there is always something new you can learn from them every day. That beautiful phenomenon occurred to me as I bask in the nostalgic glory of how I’ve learned, grew, and bonded with the people that have been working besides me this past month.

Orientation Team group photo!

Will report back soon!

New City & New Semester Prep

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida.

I have officially moved back to Embry-Riddle’s campus and am currently taking part in Resident Advisor training. This includes a lot of informative sessions, crisis response training, and scenario practice, plus prepping creative hall decorations in preparation for my new residents to move in. I will be a Resident Advisor this coming fall in the Honors Living and Learning Community in New Residence Hall and am very much looking forward to meeting all my new residents.

Aside from RA training, I am helping prepare for student arrivals at the end of this month with Orientation Team and will be participating in Orientation Training in the weeks to come before classes start as well.

On another note, I am all moved in and am excited to get back on my school routine. I just finished setting up my dorm!

Bed!

Tapestry!

Nice views from my window!

This will be my second year in AFROTC and I can’t wait for all my friends to move back. One of my friends who is also in AFROTC, happened to be living in the same town in Kansas that I was temporarily at this summer while learning Arabic. She comes back to Daytona Beach in a few days and I can’t wait because I’ll have a workout buddy again.

Photo from after an event during my first semester in AFROTC with my friend from Kansas (middle)!

(Shout out to my amazing mentor and workout buddy from last year who graduated in the spring.)

My mentor from freshman year!

To update on the Arabic aspect of my life:

I genuinely miss speaking Arabic so much and constantly being around people who I could communicate with in the language. I find myself frequently slipping Arabic words or phrases into my conversations and unfortunately it only seems to confuse the English speaking people I’m talking with (oops). I am hopefully going to be able to continue my Arabic studies in classes here at Riddle this fall, but if all else fails I will be sure to join some Arabic language centered or Islamic culture related clubs. I am very eager to meet more Arabic speakers on campus to practice my language skills with. On another note, I have been actively communicating via texts with my old Arabic classmates and our professor via our group chat. Texting in Arabic is more fun than it sounds, plus it helps me work on my spelling! I wish I had more face-to-face time with Arabic speakers here in Florida, but hopefully I’ll meet some new Arabic speaking friends soon. Side note: I just ordered a new Arabic keyboard cover for my laptop which I’m so excited about!

Will report back soon!

The ERAU 86/FRS/BRZ Club Official Video

I promised the ERAU 86/FRS/BRZ Club would get an official video and here it is! It took a ton of time to plan, film, and edit! However, it was well worth it. If you are an owner or enthusiast of the 86/FRS/BRZ, come join us! Leave a comment on this post and I will give you more info and get you connected with the club!

Summer B: EE in Berlin – Week 4

And just like that, four weeks have come and gone. I’m going to miss my time here in Berlin. It was, as all cliches go, a life-changing experience that I would definitely do again. In typical Billy Nguyen fashion however, life is not always a walk in the park.

A week ago, I lost my camera and have been absolutely devastated. There were some photos on the camera that I might never get back, but the memories that remained will always be with me. But, I’m relatively optimistic. I know that I will never see my camera again but there is big news on the horizon soon for me. That, or it could just be another jab at my ankles while I’m already knocked down.

Anyway, let’s not dwell on the past. Actually, lets dwell on the past, but the fun part!

Last week, I traveled to the wonderful city of Budapest, which would make Hungary the fifth European country I’ve visited in my life. The city was originally split up into two different cities by the river. Not surprisingly, the names were Buda and Pest.

The city was super quirky and beautiful at the same time. Much like most major cities in Europe, a lot of the original architecture remained the same, though with some slight modern touches. Budapest’s transit system was also very unique in the offerings it provided.

The people we’ve encountered were super friendly, and the views were breathtaking. I definitely recommend visiting Budapest if you ever have the time to do so. Even if you can only do a day trip like I did, it’s totally worth it.

As I sit in my flat typing out this post, I know that another chapter of my life is coming to an end. While I’m very sad that it may be a while before I come back to Europe, the memories I’ve made and friends I’ve found are reminders of a time well spent in Berlin.

Traveling abroad is a surreal experience, and it makes me sad knowing that not a lot of people are as lucky as I am. Maybe that will change one day. For now, I think this is goodbye for now.

 

Finals & Nile Crocodiles

Happy July everyone! I’m currently blogging from Washington DC. (We’re not in Kansas anymore!)

In addition to all the usual events, my summer in Kansas concluded with an Arabic Homestay Dinner, conversation tables, presentations, a Saudi Arabian movie, an Oral Proficiency Exam, lunch field trips, dinners with our professor, a final exam consisting of listening, speaking, and writing portions, a final skit performance, and of course lots of coffee.

الحمد لله

I thankfully finished with an A in both semesters, but more importantly I made irreplaceable memories with my professor, tutors, and classmates. Also, thankfully, my last two weeks included more “mesa’a’ah” which is my newly discovered favorite Egyptian food.

Arabic Homestay Dinner at our tutor’s house!

Brief recap of the last two months:

After spending hours every day in person, emailing, texting, or calling each other I can honestly say I am so proud to have had the opportunity to study amongst likeminded individuals and to learn and develop language skills in such a supportive environment with my classmates, our tutor, and our professor.

I can now hold a conversation in Arabic, converse on a variety of topics, am more culturally aware, and confidently have a strong foundation of Arabic skills consisting of standard high language vocabulary and a lot of Egyptian dialect.

Family photo of our class with our classmate’s daughter!

For me learning Arabic was a chance to truly open my eyes to the beautiful diversities in the world, especially in Arabic speaking regions such as the Middle East where non-Arabic speakers commonly have a lot of misconceptions about not only language, but culture.

I have only begun my journey in understanding how culture contributes to perception, connotation, and communication. Educating myself is the start to contributing a more globally aware society, starting by breaking language barriers and expanding to clarifying misconceptions and squashing stereotypes. Learning Arabic has allowed me to start developing an understanding of culture and ways of life very different from what I, as a native English speaker, was typically used to. Despite cultural differences between geographical regions, languages bridge the gap between different people and creates an opportunity for communication and understanding to develop.

My classmate and I with our professor!

I would absolutely recommend Project GO to ROTC students, and I would highly encourage anyone up for a challenge to learn a new language as they have numerous benefits beyond the classroom. Learning languages truly helps to form more globally aware citizens. They broaden perspectives, open up doors for communication, educate people on culture, and can lead to amazing opportunities whether it be connecting people within your community, or meeting new people traveling abroad.

I am very thankful for this experience and excited to continue my quest learning Arabic inside and outside of the classroom in the years to come.

Visual representation of the word “ممكن” by my classmate and I, which doesn’t directly translate into English, but is ممكن a verb for maybe/sort of.

Side note: My professor is from Egypt, which houses the Nile River. In the Nile there are many crocodiles. Nile crocodiles can range from 15-20 feet long. Below is a visual representation of the size of a small (15-foot) crocodile, measured out by myself, my classmate, and our other classmate’s daughter.

One 15-foot Nile crocodile!

Will report back soon!

Summer B: EE in Berlin – Week 3

It’s a somber feeling knowing that for each post I make, I’m one week closer to leaving this beautiful and vibrant city. Thankfully, these past few days have been nothing but fun. And, they have put my worries to ease…for now.

This has been my lovely home for the past three weeks. It’s near the middle of the city, with great access to a supermarket, public transportations, and local restaurants. Look closely and you’ll see one of my friends.

Sometimes me and my friends go explore the city at night. Here, a bunch of us are debating where should we go play soccer in the middle of the city.

Last Wednesday our whole class took a big trip to Vienna, Austria. We only stayed in the city for a couple of hours, but it was really nice to see another city, let along another country, other than Berlin.

Sometimes, guest appearances are scheduled, while others are not.
Top: My good friend Piers Chapman and his friend Kim George paid me an unexpected visit while in Berlin.
Above: Another one of my friends, who I know from back home, is studying in Vienna and it just so happened that our schedules lined up when I was set to visit the city.

I think this trip was the first time I boarded a plane from the tarmac. It’s definitely nothing earth-shattering, but it’s definitely something that all avgeeks should experience at least once in their life.

With my third week completed, it’s time to take care of some loose ends and to really make my last few days in Berlin count.

Summer B: EE in Berlin – Week 2

Hello, hello! I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve stepped foot into Germany. There’s just so much to do, but so little time to do it. I guess I need to make these last two weeks count.

Aside from the large assortment of Audis and Mercedes(es?), Berlin has a lot of really quirky and classic cars. Everything from Volkswagen Microbuses to Porsche 911s, Berlin has it all.

It rained consistently for a few days last week. A lot of thunder and lightening, but mostly just light to moderate rain. It almost reminded me of home.

Given how easily our professor, Dr. Ilteris Demirkiran, is able to traverse the city and seems to know everyone we run into, we low-key think his is a spy.

The city has such a rich and diverse mix of architecture styles, and every section (or district) of the city is different from the next.

With class starting to wind-down, there’s going to be a lot more time to travel and explore Berlin. My class is also taking a trip to Vienna, Austria this Wednesday! Not super excited since it’s a 6 a.m. flight and we need to be up by 3 a.m., but it’s worth it.

Second Semester & Cultural Exploration

Happy July everyone! I’m currently blogging from Lawrence, Kansas (yes, again).

I am half way through my second semester of an intensive language course and I’m still alive, and possibly thriving? I took my second midterm of the summer and have only two weeks left until I’ve completed an equivalent of one year of Arabic studies in two months.

In the first two weeks of second semester (in addition to class, tutoring, quizzes, exams, midterms, homework, and studying) I’ve attended a cultural presentation hosted by a Kuwaiti Professor, a field trip to a middle eastern café, and an Arab cooking class followed by an Africa Eats Dinner. I also have a new tutor from Saudi Arabia.

 

Insight to how these things contribute to my journey learning Arabic:

Culture plays a huge role in influencing many different aspects of the Arab world. In my experience with the Arabic language thus far, my exposure to different regions of Arab culture has been extremely beneficial in helping me to understand how words sprout new meanings and have certain connotations in different contexts. This understanding is extremely important in developing not only fluency, but native-like communication. Furthering my comprehension of Arabic words beyond classroom utilization is especially useful when developing my own vista of words that don’t translate into English.

On my road to becoming a global citizen, and in preparation to be able to take part in foreign relations in the future as an officer, I’ve realized the extreme importance that breaking language barriers plays. The more native speakers I get to interact with and the more I learn about courtesies and take part in different customs of diverse Arab culture, I feel more personally connected with what I’m learning. Beyond standard educational benefits, I’m beginning to grasp how learning Arabic truly offers numerous intangible benefits that extend beyond reading and writing and tap into why communication is a vital skill in a globally interactive world.

Cooking Class Highlight:

One of my absolute favorite dishes I learned to cook is an Egyptian dish that doesn’t translate into English but is pronounced sort of like “mesa’a’ah”. This is an eggplant dish with potatoes, spicy peppers (we used jalapenos), and homemade tomato sauce with garlic, onions, and spices. All of the ingredients are cooked separately, then are added together in a dish and baked. This food is absolutely amazing and fairly simple to put together.

The actual name: المسقعة

 

In addition to learning Arabic, and dealing with the ever-present Kansas summer heat, I’ve been running in the early mornings or late evenings depending on the day and have expanded my caffeine repertoire on quests seeking new study spaces.

Will report back soon!