Current Events & Coping

Happy June everyone! Recent times have been increasingly trying given the current global and nationwide issues that are being brought to light. Progress is only achieved through change, adapting, and overcoming obstacles through education, activism, action, and solidarity. I am proud that Embry-Riddle has spoken in support of both safe health practices and in support of promoting positive change in our society. There are a lot of emotions coming to surface for many people right now, so I’m here to assure you that during times of uncertainty, change, and progress it’s so important to educate yourself on topics that impact our society, culture, government, and ways of living!

There are so many amazing resources to help with activism, education, and coping for the current situations facing our country. It’s SO important to remember you are not alone! It’s important to educate yourself and others, and stand up for your beliefs.

On top of all the stressors of everyday life, I’m taking Arabic language classes this summer with Project GO through the University of Arizona and I had my second Language Testing Institute Initial Arabic Oral Proficiency Exam yesterday – digitally, which lasted approximately 45 minutes over the phone while connected over Zoom with a testing proctor. Finding a balance between how I can help others while not neglecting the effort I’m putting in working on myself has probably been one of my biggest struggles lately.

A preferred place to clear my mind from last summer in San Diego, CA.

I am here to share with you some options I have found that are great tools to help cope during the current socio-political climate in modern day times, if you too are feeling like things are out of your control, the future is uncertain, or if you are angry, frustrated, sad, or feeling any other emotion as a response to the happenings in the world, or in your life, today.

  1. Establish a routine. Even though there are many uncertain events occurring, it’s important to establish at least a small sense of security and routine. Even if your routine is stretching, meditating, or having a coffee when your wake up. I find when I schedule time to work out in my day I feel more accomplished, sleep better, and am overall happier despite current frustrations. Sometimes napping, reading, or eating at a certain time can be beneficial as well. Make your routine personal, and beneficial to you and your well being.
  2. Have time to decompress, center yourself, breathe, or reflect, otherwise known as “you time” or down time. Find something you enjoy that can help you relax and clear your thought process so that your thoughts and actions can become reflections of the change, progress, or version of yourself that you wish to see and share with the world.
  3. Reach out if you need help! There are many people who are struggling and feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to about current situations. Reach out the Counseling Center or to a trusted friend to talk it out. You are not alone and your feelings are valid.
Another preferred place to clear my mind from last summer in Tucson, AZ.

To recharge after a long day, I’ve been finding solace in working out and doing yoga over Zoom with my sister and my friends daily, in addition to getting fresh air. If I’m in the mood to laugh, I have been watching Space Force on Netflix or Ramy on Hulu. If I feel like breathing and centering myself, I’ve been taking bike rides, going for walks, surfing, watching classic Out of the Vault Disney movies on Disney Plus, and having in-depth conversations with my friends in our group chats. Our natural reactions and feelings towards current events are completely valid and we have the choice to express those thoughts and emotions in positive ways that promote change, equality, and principles we stand for and believe in either through love or through fear. I employ you to lead with your heart, choose love, and know that you are not alone, I stand with you. Will report back soon! 

HBD & Homesickness?

Happy January folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach and it’s cold! You might be telling yourself, well it’s winter, but last week was 80 degrees and now the nights are in the 40s! You may say, okay, well wear a jacket and it’s warmer in the sun, and I agree those are great solutions, except when you’re at PT before the sun is up and it’s also extremely windy! Florida cold fronts are no fun, all in favor of bringing back beach weather say, “I!”.

As I sit here typing this blog, in between finishing an Electrical Engineering lab report, sending a slew of emails, finishing some essays, and in preparation to do homework for my Arabic and Solid Dynamics classes I have to add, I’m tired!

I worked a 12 hour shift yesterday at the Rolex 24 hour race at the Daytona International Speedway, so Sunday was my only “weekend”, if you constitute more than 12 hours of homework as a break? To say the least, I am looking forward to the end of this week and hopefully getting 12 hours of sleep!

In other news, my sister turned 28 last week! So, HBD-Happy Birthday!!! To a wonderful human, mentor, role model, overall good person who I aim to be like.

Something a friend who lives in Arizona asked me recently is, “How do you help your residents cope with homesickness?” I wanted to address this on my blog because you are not alone! There are so many college students who feel homesick, and I am here to offer you some great tips.

Tip 1: The Counseling Center, you can absolutely go to counseling to talk about your day or how you’re feeling, and they are professionals! 

Tip 2: Text/call/FaceTime/social media message your family when you miss them, or set up specific times or days in the week where you can sit down and talk to them! If it’s important to your mental health, add it to your schedule, that way you ensure it is your priority.

Tip 3: Make friends! College is full of people looking to find their “people.” My friends and I call it our vibe tribe, which isn’t necessarily what you have to call it, but have someone you can talk to, hangout with, study with, or just do nothing with. Homesickness dissipates when you are having fun and aren’t feeling lonely.

Some of my tribe & I!

Tip 4: Join a club, organization, ROTC, or a sports team! Be a part of something bigger than yourself. ERAU had an Activity Fair last week and there are SO many clubs and groups you can be a part of, it filled up the entire Lawn with tables! And if you can’t find the right club for you, you can always make your own! All you need is some friends and one faculty advisor and you’re in business.

There are so many things you can do to find a sense of community and a true “home away from home”. Find your people, find your place, and do your thing! Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on folks.

Updates & Welcome Back

Happy January everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, still reminiscing on winter break, but back a few days before classes start for my RA position doing Spring Training and preparing the residence halls for students to return.

Part of this prep includes the “new year new me” philosophy and I took part by getting a well needed hair cut.

Although I do love my friends at school, I have also found myself missing being around my family tribe at home. I got to travel a little bit along the east coast over winter break going to southern Virginia to Philly to DC then back Florida.

While I was in Philadelphia I got to visit and meet a bunch of my cousins! We also celebrated my brother’s birthday by attending a Philadelphia Eagles versus the Dallas Cowboys football game at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles ended up winning against Dallas and as you can imagine, the post game fireworks and overall atmosphere of the stadium was one of a kind. It’s fitting that I wanted the Philadelphia Eagles to win just as much as I want the Embry-Riddle Eagles to win.

Yes, there are a lot of us, and yes we took up an entire row of seats. I highly recommend going to NFL games with a large group. It was my first game and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I am now off to finish hall decorations, make door tags, and do room inspections for my RA position. I also need to write some essays for applications for Study Abroad Programs for Summer 2020 to continue learning Arabic. Will include pictures of my hall decorations, classes I’ll be taking this semester once my schedule is finalized, and first week of school updates in my next post.

Keep on keeping on folks, happy New Year, and welcome back! Will report back soon!

Travels & Thanksgiving

Greetings and salutations folks! I am currently blogging from Charleston, South Carolina at the airport en route back to Riddle in all my post Thanksgiving glory.

I started my break migrating north from Daytona Beach to Norfolk, Virginia where the November weather was blissfully crisp for about 5 seconds before I got cold and realized that my Florida wardrobe was not prepared for 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Once back in VA my family packed up and road tripped it to Charleston, South Carolina where I spent the remainder of my holiday. 

In Charleston, my family and I ran a 5k in the historical district on Thanksgiving morning, followed by heading back to our hotel to get ready then driving a few hours to our cousin’s house where we spent the remainder of the afternoon eating and napping.

We spent the rest of the break exploring the outdoor city market in downtown Charleston, stopping at local eateries and coffee shops, as well as sight seeing and of course making a stop at the beach.

I wish the Thanksgiving break had lasted longer, but because of how late the holiday fell in the month of November this year, upon getting back to school we only have one more week until finals!

I wish I spent my break relaxing and sleeping a lot, but honestly I stayed up late doing homework in hotel lobbies, came to the airport early to knock out assignments before my flight, and hid out in multiple coffee shops during the trip trying to catch up on assignments. I came back from break a day early to do homework and work on projects before class on Monday too. It’s super difficult relaxing knowing I have a bunch of deadlines and final exams looming around the corner. On the bright side though, I suppose there is only a few weeks until the semester is over, and I plan to sleep a lot over winter break!

I hope all of you find your post Thanksgiving Break groove and proceed full speed ahead to finals season! Will report back soon. Winter break is around the corner, keep on keeping on!

Self Care & Semester Prep Thoughts

Happy end of July from Tucson, Arizona, from which I will shortly be migrating south for the winter back to Florida to my Daytona Beach home where RA training, Orientation Team, and AFROTC fall semester prep awaits me.

While going back to school in the fall is certainly exciting and I love being involved in so many great things on campus, I had a moment recently thinking about the future and all the obligations ahead of me… and honestly it was a little overwhelming. Then I took a step back and realized I was stressing myself out for no reason. I am where I am because I have overcome so many things and I have earned these opportunities that I sometimes refer to as “responsibilities”. 

Stopping to breathe and appreciate the Arizona clouds in monsoon season.

This blog goes out to my younger self who started college three years ago with a wild passion for trying new things, taking risks, and finding myself:

The first piece of advice I would tell my younger self, who was extremely eager to move to Florida and gain some real independence from high school life, is that while yes it’s good to get a running start and socialize and meet new people, be yourself above everything. I am naturally not very extroverted, and for some reason when I first moved to college I felt pressure that I needed to be, but in reality it was only in my head. 

College is about finding yourself and becoming more of who you are without limitations, so why was I imposing these rules of how I should act on myself? Maybe to fit in? But I learned the best part about college is you don’t have to “fit in” and I wish I would’ve realized that a lot earlier.

I spend my lunch breaks during the week eating peanut butter sandwiches laying under shady trees and listening to music with my roommate as a short break before we start afternoon office hours, tutoring, homework, and studying.

Now I suppose I am not your “conventional” college student, but really is anyone conventional? I used to dream of turning down plans on a Friday night to workout with some gal pals, do a face mask, practice yoga, read a book, and be in bed by 8pm, but I was never courageous enough to stand up for myself and do it! I always felt guilty and “obligated” to hang out with people, but I realized the stigma around being selfish and taking care of yourself is extremely blurred. You can’t be the best version of yourself if you’re burnt out and constantly running on empty. As a naturally introverted person I recharge when I am alone, and it’s important for my mental health!

Moral of the story is: Self care is SO important! I see no problem now turning down plans for self care, and I am so much happier now that I don’t make myself feel guilty for “me time”. At the end of a long, stressful, busy week it is WELL deserved to rest, and to always listen to your body (I am very guilty of this) when you start to get sick. Typically if I start to feel under the weather I go into a period of doubt where I think if I ignore my symptoms they will go away, I tell myself I’m too busy and don’t have time to be sick, but lets be real… this makes it worse! As soon as you feel yourself start to become a little under the weather, rest!

In the midst of my busy schedule I always ensure I have time to check in with myself, even if it’s just 5 minutes at the end of the day, to survey how I’m doing physically, mentally, and emotionally and to take a little time to work on those things if they’re not great. Take time for yourself in the midst of everything to breathe and check in, typically that’s when you need it most.

Arizona sunset from the top of a parking garage my roommate and I ventured to en route back to our dorms one evening.

Keep on keeping on folks! I’ll catch you back in a few weeks closer to the chaos and excitement of the new school year. Remember to be kind to others and yourself always!

Sunshine & San Diego

Happy July everyone! Also happy summer! I’m currently blogging from Tucson, Arizona with the temperatures in the 100+ everyday, typically around 108 and the intense sunshine and low humidity that accompanies the desert. 

The first semester of my third year level Arabic class has concluded with me obtaining a final grade of an A. I took a small vacation during fourth of July weekend to San Diego, California with some friends who also speak arabic, which was a great break. 

I’d never been to California before so this spontaneous road trip that began with my friends and I renting a car for the long weekend, stopping for snacks and coffee, then setting off, was so much fun. The drive from Arizona to California is only about five hours, for some that might feel like a lot, but the scenery of the desert, the mountains, and eventually the ocean, plus great music and four friends who had only met a month before was truly a wonderful adventure.

A mountain side view of the Pacific Ocean in San Diego.

We only had a few days to explore the city so we spent them at about three different beaches, Coronado, Pacific, and Imperial, watched fireworks seaside on the night of the fourth, and visited many 24 hour Mexican food places. We also briefly hiked along some coastal mountains and I thrived in all the vegan food options that San Diego had to offer. For the record, my love of chips and salsa has only increased. My favorite beach foods are now veggie pizza, apples, and chili powder covered mangoes. I commend California for satisfying my morning brunch and coffee shop needs as well. 

Sunset at the San Diego Harbor!

We also spent time in downtown San Diego exploring the harbor and all the restaurants and shops in Little Italy. Not to mention we had some quite entertaining encounters with Birds, the motorized scooters, not actual birds. They are an extremely popular form of transportation there and while they are an effective way to get around they are also so fun to play with when you’re with a group of friends. I highly encourage you to try them for the experience, if you have not.

In other news, I have just completed my first week in my second semester of third year Arabic at the University of Arizona and I have less than a month left here. My first semester flew by and while I am enjoying the nice break from studying engineering, the classes here are rigorous but definitely not as stressful, or perhaps I’ve just gotten better at managing stressful situations? Will comment more on this when school starts back up in the fall and my normal engineering and AFROTC schedule is back in full swing again.

Side note: I added some new stickers to my laptop case, a small Arizona one in the shape of the state and an Arabic one. 

My laptop case featuring two new stickers… I need to get some Riddle stickers to add to it when I get back to Florida.

The Arabic sticker says: ان مع العسر يسرا which means with every hardship comes ease.

Keep on keeping on folks and enjoy the summer, stay cool! Will report back soon!

Productivity & Priorities

 !أهلا و سهلا

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Tucson, Arizona where the weather forecast is 100+ for as far ahead as predictable, and clouds are still a rarity, despite it being monsoon season. 

A small sample of the abundance of cacti that call Tucson home on the University of Arizona’s campus.

I am currently blogging from a shaded outdoor patio on a lovely Sunday morning at a local coffee shop. My Spotify playlist as of recently consists of Arabic music, coffeehouse study tunes, and meditation beats.

I am a week away from finishing my first month here in Arizona, aka one semester of an intensive language program. This coming week I have class two days before my final exam and then a short break for the 4th of July. 

I have found myself spending a lot of time in cafes and coffee, tea, or expresso houses as of recently, and while this is a recurring theme no matter what city I’m in, upon reflection of this I have begin to learn a bit more about myself, which leads me to my next topic (essential to college students): under the topic of time management falls the balance of prioritizing your responsibilities and effectively managing your free time.

Weekday mornings with my wing buddy typically consist of alternating places to grab coffee and breakfast.

While in Tucson studying intensely my schedule had been pretty full, but I’ve found while it’s absolutely glorious to take time to relax and unwind, I thrive in the chaos of a busy lifestyle. I find myself being most attracted to filling up my days and weeks with plans in the calendar on my phone, making daily to do lists, and even when I study or do homework I feel most productive in areas that are calm where I can buzz away at my work and get in the zone. 

Here’s a peaceful view from the pool I took the other day as the sunset over the mountains and reflected beautifully on the water.

When I’m at Riddle during the Fall and Spring semesters my favorite places to study are in my room with music, in study rooms, or in Starbucks outside. There is just something fundamentally appealing about working outside in the sunshine with technology. As I currently soak up the juxtaposition of working on my computer with the sound of cicadas in the background and the familiar universal chatter of coffee shop conversations, I find a productive home in the atmosphere that I am attracted to in every city. 

It’s so important to know yourself and find out under what circumstances you do your best work in. While this may take some time to figure out, and definitely some trial and error, the process of learning more about yourself and how to initiate prime productivity conditions is 100% worth it.

For example, certain subjects in school I prefer to study in groups, while others I prefer to work alone on. If you put a little time and effort into figuring out what atmospheres you prefer to do work in before classes get chaotic with exams and projects, it is extremely advantageous in preparation for your future self under stress during crunch time.

I wish everyone a continually relaxing and productive summer. Will report back soon. Have a happy 4th y’all!

Arabic & Eid

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Tucson, Arizona, where the air is hot and dry, I drink an unfathomable amount of water every day, and I study Arabic all of 7/7 days in a week.

Before I begin here’s a photo with my flight from Field Training on graduation day at the Propeller and Wings statue on Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

Now that I’ve reminisced on my conclusion of AFROTC for the summer, when I arrived in Tucson at the beginning of June, Ramadan had a few more days left. Allow me to provide a small backstory:

A HUGE aspect of learning a new language is studying the culture of the language, the people who speak it, and the places where it’s spoken. Culture is a dynamic part of a society that can be experienced through food, clothing, religion, dialects, music, stories, and much more.

While the best way to gain exposure to a language is to study abroad and immerse yourself in all the country has to offer, in my case I am in Arizona, so I relish in my limited but still essential exposure to the Arab culture.

Religion plays a large part in the Arabic language and culture from certain phrases within the languages, to religious holidays celebrated widespread in countries throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa. Disclaimer: while not ALL Arabs practice Islam, and not ALL muslims speak Arabic, there is a large overlap.

Which brings me to my first topic of being in Arizona for the conclusion of the month of Ramadan, where muslims fast from sunrise to sunset with no food, water, chewing gum, or smoking. At the end of every day during this month long period the fast is typically broken by eating dates and having a large well balanced meal surrounded by family and friends. Now, at the conclusion of the entire month of Ramadan called Eid al-Fitr, Muslims gather in prayer and celebration, in which some of my classmates and I were welcomed with open arms to celebrate with the community in a huge outdoor park starting with prayer, then amazing food, and ending with great conversation.

Another student and I at the Eid al-Fitr celebration!

Aside from being able to celebrate Eid with so many wonderful people, in Project GO we also gain valuable knowledge and exposure to culture throughout weekly Dardasha events in which thus far we’ve had the pleasure of attending a performance from a Syrian violinist, meeting the Jordanian Ambassador to the United States of America, watching an Egyptian film, attending a Saudi cultural event, and talking with people from Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia about their countries and the role that language and culture play in everyday life.

I look forward to participating in many more cultural events this summer, continuing my Arabic studies, and hopefully some rain falling from the sky, as monsoon season thus far has been a dry one. Will report back soon, keep on keeping on folks!

!ما السلامة

AZ & AFROTC

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Tucson, Arizona, where I lay comfortably in the shade around 6am on a Sunday morning. 

A few fun differences in Tucson from Daytona Beach include the high elevation, the extremely dry heat, the seemingly more intense sun, lots of cacti, and Tucson is surrounded by mountains on three sides, which makes for some pretty amazing views. Whenever I introduce myself to people here and tell them I go to Riddle their first impression is the I attend Prescott because it’s only a few hours away, but truth be told I’m an ocean soul and I attend Daytona Beach, which makes for an even more interesting conversation.

I am currently just finishing up two weeks in AZ which means I’m about half way through my first semester of Arabic 405 which is Advanced Arabic I at the University of Arizona where I have tests every Friday and I have already taken my midterm examination. 

Arabic 405 is an intensive course in which Monday-Friday I have four hours of classroom time every day, followed by an hour break for lunch, office hours (which are essentially an extension of class) with the professor for two hours, followed by an hour of tutoring, a break for dinner, then two hours of language partner time, in addition to homework, projects, and additional studying I do on my own. My schedule is definitely busy, but typically it always is, and learning Arabic while challenging, is extremely fun.

I got some more photos from my time at Field Training during the Max 1 session!
Behold Alpha Flight at the Assault Course Finish line.

While I’m attending UA for summer courses with Project Global Officer there are students from all over the country here with me from the Army and Navy ROTC programs. My class consists of a total of five people, two of which are from Project GO. That being said, there are no extra “ROTC obligations” over the summer. Although naturally it’s encouraged to workout, we don’t have scheduled PT sessions or wear uniforms, and our primary job right now is to learn Arabic. I highly recommend studying over the summer because it makes it so much easier to give maximum effort when you don’t have any other classes to worry about.

Here’s a flashback from Dining Out this past Spring 2019 semester! Currently missing my AFROTC family.

Aside from this my acclimating to AZ has been a moderately rocky one, pun intended. My body was not used to the dry air or intense heat as I grew up on the coast and Riddle is by the beach too. But I’ve been running in the mornings or in the late evenings to escape the heat… even though the difference between 108 and 98 seems negligible, and I typically spend the weekends exploring Tucson’s coffee shops, restaurants, or going hiking or to the pool. Stay tuned for pictures of cacti and coffee to come. Will report back soon, stay cool folks. P.S. it’s monsoon season in Tucson and I’ve still yet to see any rain.

Training & Traveling

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Dallas, Texas, where I will be in the airport the next few hours waiting for my flight to Arizona. 

Firstly, May FLEW by. Going from finals, to moving back from Daytona Beach to Virginia, then going from Virginia to Georgia, then to Alabama for Field Training, then back to Georgia, then to Virginia, now to Texas, then to Arizona, where I will reside until the beginning of August. Aside from training lasting two exhausting weeks in the Alabama heat, traveling (inclusive of packing and unpacking, then repacking and unpacking again) is also very exhausting.

I successfully got through spring semester with the highest term GPA I’ve had since starting at Riddle, and I credit that mostly to the hours I spent studying and not going to the beach, despite popular belief when I tell people I go to college in Florida.

In preparation for Field Training I cut out caffeine beforehand, which was gruesome, but you truly don’t realize how dependent you are until you pass through the withdrawals and realize that a good amount of sleep is a good substitution for a cup of coffee or tea. Nevertheless, upon completion of Field Training, despite getting 8 hours of rest every night, I was absolutely exhausted and my airport Starbucks run was very much appreciated.

My favorite part of Field Training was hands down the people. I was in a flight of twenty people that hailed from all over the country and I most certainly underestimated how quickly you can become attached to strangers in two weeks. The transition from individuals to a team to a family is literally awe-inspiring. In a nutshell, Field Training was an experience that will stay with my for the rest of my life and definitely fit the stereotype of “the most fun you never want to have again”.

The Alphacados with our amazing FTO and CTA, FT MAX 1 Summer 2019

Now that I am almost to the end of hopping around the country in such a short period of time, I am excited to go forth with my Arabic studies at the University of Arizona through Project GO, get back into a routine of class and working out, and of course explore all Tucson’s coffee shops while soaking up the sunshine & becoming aquatinted with some of the infamous saguaro cacti. Will report back soon, stay cool folks.