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

Balance & Busy Schedules

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida pulling a power weekend (meaning I’m on call working at my Resident Advisor position) after following a power week of working 12+ hours daily jumping from Orientation Team activities to RA move in shifts and I feel like I haven’t had time to catch my breath, even though classes haven’t actually started yet.

I’ve spent most of August hopping from trainings and working with the same people (masks ON Eagles). My residents are finally moving in and I’m very excited to meet everyone, even if it is primarily over email, GroupMe, or Zoom meetings. Between door decorations, hall decorations, bulletin boards, presentations, meetings, welcome and orientation events, it’s a wonder I’ve even been getting sleep lately. We LOVE good time management skills.

Much to my surprise, I’ve still found time to do yoga every morning and alternate my calisthenic workout days with my cardio days in between my busy schedule. I am a firm believer that people make time for what is important to them. For example, if you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with obligations and options make a list and prioritize your commitments. Be SURE to include your commitments to your self care too! Mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health are very important to a well balanced lifestyle.

O Team with my favorite leader!

Most questions I get related to college life from new students are centered around academics, which are extremely important, but not to the extent that you neglect your well being.

Story time! My first semester of college I was getting between 4-6 hours of sleep every night and I was mentally not in a great place, even though I was giving academics the majority of my attention. While there may be many outlying influencing factors in this, my second semester of college I made an agreement with myself to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Amazingly, I found that my final letter grades were identical in ratio to my first semester, with no deviations.

Only did my grades start improving when I started focusing on my ACTUAL wellbeing, my overall health, and balancing my time between myself and everything else.

O-Team is our favorite team!

In high school, middle school, and elementary school I took a fair share of mental health days, didn’t go to class on my birthday, and most certainly didn’t go to school if I was sick. When I got to college I was extremely stressed and constantly felt like I was trying to catch up and compete to not fall behind in the work culture.

What you give your time and energy to is SO important, and a little self care goes a LONG way. If I am crunched on time and need to decide on an extra hour of sleep or an hour of working out, my answer constantly changes depending on how I’m feeling and what I need to accomplish for that day or for the next day. You have to make the best decisions for yourself. Set boundaries. Don’t stretch yourself too thin! Prioritize your time, energy, and commitments, while reflecting back on your needs.

Will report back soon folks! Keep on keeping on!

Moving In & Dorm Room MUSTS

Happy August everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and I’m officially moved in!

My sister drove me down from Virginia Beach and now I’m in Florida! 

I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m smiling in this picture!

This year has brought a lot of changes globally and locally, as well as personally for me. Adjusting to all these changes builds resilience and helps to overcome adversity in the future.

Going into my fourth year at ERAU, the past three years I’ve had the amazing opportunity to live and work in the same resident hall, but this year things are changing! It’s definitely an uncomfortable switch, but these are uncomfortable times in general and thus far in my life I’ve learned a positive attitude and a little optimism go a long way. That being said, please enjoy these before and after photos of my new living space courtesy of my sister’s and my efforts.

Before of my dorm room!
Me, ready to clean and unpack (also smiling)!

Some dorm rooms necessities that I recommend for everyone include, but are not limited to:

An essential oil diffuser! I absolutely ADORE mine and when my space smells clean it helps me to feel a lot more relaxed and productive.

A Keurig! If you are a coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or instant broth/instant noodle consumer, Keurigs come in a bunch of cool colors and sizes that are perfect for a dorm room and since I thrive in living conditions that include both morning coffee and afternoon/evening/late night tea this is the perfect fit for my living space.

Snacks! My dorm room and overall college living essentials (especially on the BUSY days) are snacks! I personally like granola, nuts, cereal like Cheerios, dark chocolate chips, dried fruit, granola bars, apple sauce, protein powder for quick protein shakes if you’re in a hurry, and other drinks like Gatorade and Coconut water.

My cleaned and organized room!

My space definitely feels a lot homier now, as I tend to be a bit of a nomad and love to travel and take on new adventures. The last three summers since I’ve started college I’ve spent learning Arabic through Project GO and hopping around from the University of Kansas, to the University of Arizona, and this past summer I was supposed to travel to Meknes, Morocco to continue those studies before the global pandemic struck. My plans for next summer are to travel to Amman, Jordan and continue my Arabic studies with the aid of a Boren scholarship I received to continue my Arabic language explorations.

Keep on keeping on folks! Will report back soon, hopefully with a lot of my trainings complete and even more excitement for the adventure into the future.

Wrapping Up & Recapping

Happy August everyone! I am currently blogging from the road to Daytona Beach on an approximately 11 hour drive from Virginia Beach, Virginia back to ERAU-DB for the Fall 2020 semester (amidst a pandemic)! I will be recapping on my summer and my past week.

I am recently finishing up a slew of tests and final exams for the second semester of my ARB 406 Class – Advanced Arabic II, that I took this summer online through Project Global Officer (Project GO) via the University of Arizona. It has been a BUSY week to say the least, and a busy summer, and a busy year, but for now let’s focus on this past week leading up to my journey back to campus. I am arriving early this year because I have Resident Advisor (RA), Orientation Team (O-Team), Student Government Association (SGA) Student Court, and Peer Mentor Training for my position in University 101 (UNIV – 101) courses this year. I’m sure August will fly by, I have no problem staying busy!

This past week, I had two reading/writing tests for one hour each, a comprehensive two hour final exam, a three hour reading and listening test, an oral video project in Moroccan Arabic dialect, and an Oral Proficiency Interview for Project GO.

I’m definitely ending a chapter of my summer life, as the past two months Monday through Friday I’ve been in class, meetings, tutoring, language partner sessions, and study hall from 11:30am until 7:00pm everyday, not including homework, studying, projects, virtual zoom tours around the city in Meknes, Morocco on the weekends, cooking clubs, and cultural activities like guest speakers, presentations, and movies. When I tell people I took summer classes online, they don’t anticipate that I spent over 40 hours a week as culturally and linguistically “immersed” as I could be without leaving the USA. Because my routine was so busily scheduled recently, this past summer flew by for me! Things that have kept me sane were weekends in the backyard with my family, and cooking delicious vegan comfort food with my mother.

Vegan nachos via my mom and my dinner endeavors during my last week of final exams for my summer Arabic class.
Vegan pizza!
A pool day this past summer with my family!

The highlight of my summer was definitely spending it (virtually of course) in class with my friends speaking Arabic, going surfing at sunrise before my classes began, and discovering workout videos on Youtube (Popsugar Fitness and YogaWithAdriene are my faves!).

Some of my classes have already switched to online and it will definitely be strange to wear a mask around campus now, but I feel hopeful about the Fall semester and excited to embrace the changes needed to keep us safe!

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

Routines & Realizations

Happy July everyone! I am currently blogging from Virginia Beach, Virginia and I am loving the hot weather, despite having online classes that I keep me inside for most of the days.

The year 2020 in general has looked abnormal for a lot of people. I was originally supposed to be studying Arabic from Meknes, Morocco but right now I have officially finished my first semester of an intensive advanced Arabic course online through Project GO with the University of Arizona, which is how I spend 40+ hours a week dedicating my time.

When I’m not studying, in class, doing homework, meeting with professors, tutors, and language partners on Zoom calls I have had the amazing opportunity to go surfing in the mornings at sunrise. I even saw some dolphins in the water very close to my board recently! Moments like that remind me, despite how limiting my rigorous school schedule is all year round, it’s up to me to find a balance where I am enjoying life and finding happiness despite current situations.

Additionally, one of my favorite life hacks for online class is realizing that I can position my laptop on my kitchen counter while I’m in class so I can stand instead of sit which makes a HUGE difference in my overall mood and how my body feels (considering its approximately 8+ hours a day on Zoom calls).

I’ve been finding solace in working out with my friends or my sister from different parts of the country via Zoom, listening to music, podcasts, or classic Disney movies while I bake, and going for bike rides. 

I have really been loving roasting vegetables and baking because they make the entire house smell delicious while I’m inside all day and then I have delicious food to eat when I finish studying! Recently I’ve endeavored on vegan dark chocolate brownies, banana bread (2 different recipes), and a banana tarte tatin inspired by Nadiya’s Time To Eat on Netflix.

More vegan treats! From top left to right: more banana bread, almond vanilla berry puff pastries, dark chocolate brownies with walnuts and chocolate chips, and banana tarte tatin inspired by Nadiya’s Time To Eat on Netflix!

The plants that are thriving and keeping me sane in the garden recently are three types of basil, rosemary, beets, peppers (bell, banana, and jalapeño), beets, asparagus, thyme, and a plethora of other beauties that are bringing my happiness during this time.

I’ve also been trying to keep a semi-solid morning routine by waking up and putting a face mask or letting a face wash sit while I set essential oil diffusers, light candles, burn incense, start making coffee, do morning yoga, meditate, and/or read or write for a few minutes then continue on my day with either watering the plants, working out, going surfing, finishing some homework or last minute studying, and making breakfast.

My days are usually pretty packed until the late evenings around 7pm when I do another short workout and some yoga before showering, finishing up more homework/studying, eating dinner and repeating the process. In the chaos and long days my free time in the mornings are definitely my most favorite and sacred part of my day where I get to reflect and connect with my wellbeing before channeling my energy towards school all day.

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, and I will report back soon into my second semester of intense online advanced arabic!

The Beach and the Sand

Proper Social Distancing on the Beach

We are officially halfway done with summer B which is only 6 weeks long but it sure does make you have a busy 6 weeks of studies. These first 3 weeks have been so busy going to class every day and cramming 15 weeks of materials into less than half the time. Being halfway done and so close to being in my last semester calls for a well-needed break, so I decided to head to the beach. With current times, it is the most important thing to remain social distancing everywhere and continue to measure the dangers of activities. This means my friends and I struggled a little bit to be able to find a beach that was very uncrowded and without a doubt we found one at Ormond Beach. Everyone was very respectful and we were all at least 12-15 ft apart and there were not many large groups. It was very comforting to see people adhering to the new public etiquette practices and made me feel a lot safer at the beach. It was the perfect afternoon. The sun stayed out for the whole day, the waves were soothing to hear, and water was the perfect temperature. I could not have thought of a better way to relax with a couple of friends. It was a nice and safe way to be off campus for a short period of time and allowed us to get some sun.

The Beautiful Waves

Now that my lovely beach afternoon is done, I am headed back to my studies to finish the semester off strong and prepare myself for my final semester this fall. This summer has been very different, but I am glad to be taking it easy before the hustle of the fall semester. I cannot wait to see what this fall holds for me and my friends here at Embry-Riddle.

Back to School!

Summer B in-person classes have just started, and I have been preparing for this week by getting hand sanitizer, masks with filter, and travel Lysol wipes to bring with me to class. Being in-person for class after the quarantine was different, to say the least, but a good different to ease into the new social norm of wearing face masks and social-distancing.

My supplies for the week

Before I even went to class, I got my mandatory wellness check like I have been all summer. Today, there was someone who checked to make sure I had my wellness check done on my way into the engineering building where my class was being held, and they were ready to take anyone’s temperature who had not already gotten one. The professor came into class and had a clear face shield for us to be able to see his full face. The class went very well, and we all cleaned our computer stations with Lysol wipes before we left the classroom for the day. All of this may seem like a lot, but it is good to have the new cleaning and social standards on campus and to know that both faculty and staff are looking out for each other.

Me social distancing and wearing a mask in class

This past week has been a nice way to prepare to come back in the fall, and see what is expected for when more students are here. I am hopeful that this summer semester will go smoothly, and I am faithful everyone will help each other stay safe and healthy by wearing masks and social distancing. I am excited to see everyone come back for the fall and resume a more normal social and school life than the past few months have provided. Stay safe everyone, and remember to wear a mask, wash your hands often, and social distance!

Announcements & Roles

Happy June everyone! I am currently blogging from Virginia Beach, VA and I found out I’m going to be a Peer Mentor for University 101 (UNIV 101) for the Fall 2020 semester! University 101 is a class exactly what it sounds like, essentially a “How-To” for the behind the scenes (ie paperwork) side of college navigation, a *sometimes* confusing yet necessary aspect of university life. Most engineering students take this course, while Aeronautical Science, Aviation, and Business students attend a slightly different version of the class catered towards their unique degree paths.

A Peer Mentor for UNIV 101 is a leadership position available to graduate and undergraduate students as a learning coach, student advocate, trusted peer, and source of information about the University and its offerings/resources. I like to see it as an extension of being on Orientation Team as an O Team Ambassador. In this position I will be in the UNIV 101 class sessions (sort of like a Teacher’s Assistant) and help students become familiar with university resources such as ERNIE, Canvas, and Campus Solutions. I will be an additional resource for answering questions like locating advisor information, finding the course catalog, online registration, navigating placement evaluations, and Academic Study Plans!

In Air Force ROTC we make academic study plans mapping out our classes for each semester up until graduation, which is very helpful in ensuring you meet all of your course requirements for a timely graduation and something that the UNIV 101 course immensely facilitates and provides resources to help you plan and communicate with your Academic Advisor.

Recently reflecting, I realized I hold a lot of leadership positions on campus.

I am a Student Blogger (of course),

a Resident Advisor (RA),

an Orientation Team Ambassador (O Team Ambassador),

a Student Government Association (SGA) Student Court Associate Justice where I am the acting Clerk (essentially a spokesperson),

in Air Force ROTC with the leadership position I am assigned as a Professional Officer Course (POC) Cadet for the semester,

and now a Peer Mentor for University 101 as well…. In addition to getting a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a Minor in Arabic Studies, and miraculously I still find time to workout!

My current progress!

If anyone has questions on time management or any of the positions/organizations I’m a part of, feel free to reach out on this platform or if you see me around campus! Additionally if I specifically am not a part of a group that you want to join, there is a high chance that I know someone who is and I can put you in contact with them!

My summer classes have officially kicked off and we’re almost halfway through summer which is mind boggling to me. As my third summer participating in Project Global Officer learning Arabic I can say that I definitely prefer in-person learning as compared to online courses. Learning a new language in itself is difficult, but sitting at a computer for 8 hours a day is almost more difficult to me.

I will report back soon on how my language learning is progressing over Zoom, and more information about my current summer class schedule and how my on campus leadership positions impact my time management during the fall. Stay safe everyone!

Looking Forward to the Rest of the Summer

What a unique summer it has been so far here at Embry-Riddle, but as we get closer to the end of June, we are preparing for more students to come live on campus and start in-person instruction again. Some people who have been living and flying here will be leaving for the summer and others will be coming to start their summer instruction. Because of this, housing and residence life has been getting ready by reminding students about moving out and beginning to check rooms to make sure they are ready for incoming students. The school, as well as Florida, has been opening up a little more for us to engage in. The school just opened the gym, with new cleaning and distancing rules to help everyone stay safe and healthy, as well as recreational places outside are now open, like the tennis courts, volleyball courts, and tennis courts, and it surely has been nice to be able to use them again and socialize a bit more.

I am currently taking a math class online, but I am also about to begin an in-person computer programming class. I am excited as well as nervous to begin in-person classes, but the university has put so many precautions and practices into place such as continuing to social distance during class and wearing face masks that make me feel more comfortable to transition back to face-to-face classes, plus it will be a good stepping stone when everybody returns in the fall.

I am very much looking forward to having a little more interaction with new residents, as I had a few on my floor this past term. I hope everyone coming in this summer is also excited to get back to more of a normal school life, and enjoy the rest of the summer while completing milestones for their career goals, and maybe sneak away to the beach every now and then.

I’d Rather be Flying

After having spent about two months back home since returning due to the situation with COVID-19, my body is starting to itch to return to the skies. I never fully understood those bumper stickers and license plate borders that said “I’d rather be flying right now” even as an avid aviator. Flying may be a hobby for some and a career for others but it’s a skill that only gets more refined the more you are in the air. There is a reason for airline pilots being evaluated and trained in simulators every 6-9 months because just like riding a bicycle, your skills get rusty.

I plan on returning to campus near August when the situation with COVID-19 and civil unrest have somewhat settled down, but the country is currently going through one of her toughest times. It breaks my heart to be on the other side of the globe as I see the world suffer in so many different ways. Sometimes I wish I could take off to the skies and briefly take a break from thinking about all the issues that are on the ground.

I have about 170 flight hours since I started my flight training and a good chunk of those hours were spent in the night or by myself without an instructor on board. When you get to fly to different locations in various conditions, you start to appreciate the beauty of flying even more. I would like to share some special moments of my flying career as an appreciation post in the absence of flying.

Discovery Flight

This was my “Discovery Flight” which was my first time getting to fly in a smaller, General-Aviation aircraft like the Cessna 172 we have at Riddle. After breaking through a thick layer of morning fog and low clouds, we broke out over a coated layer of what seems like a soft, cotton candy floor. The feeling of seeing the sunrise over the cloud layer is something you can’t describe with words.

Long Solo Cross Country

This was my long cross country flight for my commercial course. It was from Daytona Beach to Dothan, AL, Tallahassee, FL and back to Daytona. It was a whopping 6 hour round-trip in a single Cessna by myself. It was rough getting up early in the morning but once I got to the plane, my mind was as sharp as it ever could be since I was responsible for my life for the next 6 hours. It was a special experience getting to fly for so long without my instructor sitting next to me.

Bumpy Ride

This was one of the bumpiest flights in my flying career. There was a low pressure system around Southern Florida and my instructor and I were trying to get to Vero Beach for our last cross country flight together. It was in no way an attempt to dangerously beat the weather and we were well clear of the actual cold front coming up. However, we often ran into huge layers of clouds and thanks to our IFR flight plan, we were able to fly through them all. There were times when the bumps were so strong it would knock the pen off my kneepad.

Instrument Course

Instrument course is probably one of my favorite portions of flight training. You get to fly at night which means you get to enjoy beautiful sunsets like this one and enjoy the stars that will soon paint the sky above you once the sun actually sets. The air traffic becomes less congested and the controllers are more relaxed so it’s a more pleasant flying experience overall.

I have listed some special moments of my flying experience and these are unique to every pilot. The nature of our industry is always evolving and we are forced to work in environments that are constantly changing. I hope the world will soon heal from all the pain it is experiencing at the moment and that more planes and pilots can take off into the brighter future. Blue skies and tailwinds!

Leave your worries behind!!