Almost Break & Finals Anxiety??

Howdy & happy November folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach on quite possibly the coldest day of the semester thus far, a whopping 57 degrees Fahrenheit with overcast skies, spotty rain, and wind. Nothing says cold rainy days like, you guessed it, weekend classes (on not only Saturday, but Sunday too). And with finals looming around the corner, the cherry on top of that stress, is the anxiety of classes on the weekends. On a more positive note, Thanksgiving Break is about two weeks away so that is HUGE iridescent light at the end of the tunnel, but for those of us with back to back tests now on weekdays and weekends, it’s a life full of challenges…not to mention finals haven’t even started yet (AHH).

The metaphorical grind that you may have heard of referenced in pop culture truly extends to the life of college students, in particular Riddle students, faculty, and staff…yes we ALL work on the weekends, 21 days and counting, hollllla! Deadlines are approaching and I have to say in the midst of the seemingly endless back to back “work” days, the highlight of this has been that we’re all trucking through it together. The other night I went to gym after I finished up with one of my evening classes to meet up with some friends, knock out arms and abs before going on a run, and LET ME TELL YOU, the gym was PACKED. One thing Riddle students appreciate almost as much as the stress of classes, is the opportunity to destress (particularly in a way I absolutely recommend) with workouts!

Truly in the face of this adversity I must add that although I am challenged, tired, and sometimes flustered, I would not trade the experiences I am going through right now for anything because we are truly so privileged to be in the situation where we can even complain about problems of “too much school”. Shoutout to the surplus of opportunity for access to education, honestly we’re extremely blessed.

Group photo of the girls in my AFROTC class before a Morale training event the other weekend!

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving Break to unwind and recharge before grinding through finals. Don’t forget to stock up on your coffee, tea, and snacks! Will report back soon y’all, after I have had ample sleep and home cooked food over Thanksgiving (YUM), keep on keeping on!

Advice & AFROTC

Happy November folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, in the post midterm grind, and the semester ends in almost a month. Just like most of our students, time FLIES.

Coming to college is big transition, I’m three years in, a seasoned pro…just kidding! I’m still learning and growing everyday. My birthday was last week and I took a moment to consider this: before college I always had a plan for life, but somehow along the way I outgrew my plan, had some twists and turns, and here we are. So in the essence of reflection, here’s some advice for my younger self, what I wish I would’ve known coming to college:

As corny as it sounds, be yourself. You are multi faceted, you will not fit into every box you try, and you don’t have to! We are dynamic people with dynamic aspects of personality and interests.

My first year of college I struggled with feeling like I fit it. I’m majoring in Aerospace Engineering and I love planes! But I never seemed to be as plane obsessed as the people in my classes. I learned that I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not. College is about finding yourself and embracing what makes you different. I love planes, but if I spend my free time doing yoga instead of researching them I’m no better or worse than anyone around me, just different. Embrace your differences! Expand your friend groups sooner than later. Have friends that you can talk to about classes, about ROTC, about home life, and friends that you can talk to when you want to unwind! Don’t feel bad for saying no to hanging out. Self care is extremely important. If you want to spend your Friday nights working out, doing face masks, and going to bed early… DO IT! You make the rules.

My mom sent me some shells for my birthday that I put my air plants in!

You’re not alone! AFROTC is something completely new to all freshmen, do not feel alone in figuring out how to balance school and ROTC. Find mentors! I still talk to my mentor from freshman year, who has since graduated, gotten married, and is an officer in the USAF. There are always people who have been through what you’re going through, who are going through it at the same time, and who will be going through it soon. Use your resources! Ask for help from those with knowledge, walk through it together with the people by your side, and share advice with those who have yet to experience what you’re going through. Never doubt yourself. You got this.

My friend and I post early morning beach PT!

Will report back soon y’all, keep on keeping on!

Recharging & Responsibilities

Happy October folks! I’m classically blogging from Daytona Beach, currently camped out at the ROTC building on a Sunday afternoon doing homework. Fall break was this past week and it was definitely well needed. I stayed local for the break hitting up coffee shops, catching up on sleep, and doing large quantities of homework.

As midterm time is among us, I had most of my tests before fall break, but midterms also mean RA deadlines! This means new hall door decorations, new bulletin boards, and more biweekly hall traditions! This also means time for the Fitness Assessment in AFROTC which consists of one minute of push-ups, one minute of sit-ups, and a 1.5 mile run for time.

At a local coffee shop close to campus drinking lavender chamomile tea and doing incompressible aerodynamics homework.

Something surprising that I realized over the break was… that I miss my friends! I know, this may not seem like an out of ordinary thing, but I almost don’t realize how inter-connected my everyday life is with the people around me. Now, if we zoom out a bit and look at the big picture four days is not a lot of time, but when you consider that I see my friends multiple times a day in different settings it feels off when they’re not around.

To put it in perspective: I wake up early and go to PT or to Leadership Laboratory (LLAB) with my AFROTC family, go to class until about 2pm, usually find myself back at the ROTC building a few more times for various meetings, paperwork, or presentations, then I workout with my ROTC friends, typically have an RA duty shift in the evenings or a staff meeting, then I go to sleep and copy paste and repeat Monday-Friday. 

I tend to not view myself as a very social person, because of how much I value my alone time to rest and recharge by doing yoga, meditating, or sleeping, but in reality I spend the majority of my days being social. The main point I’m getting out of this, is that I’m pretty much an introverted extrovert. Once I’m recharged after a day or two I thrive in the busy hustle of everyday life hopping between my friends from AFROTC, O team, RA, classes, etc.

Before the break I had a math test, a compressible aerodynamics test, and an incompressible test, a technical report document due, in addition to arabic homework and other meetings, presentations, and responsibilities. When I study, unless I’m doing practice problems in a group, I typically prefer to be in my room or reserve a study room in the library.

But in particular, when studying for my compressible aerodynamics test recently I found myself outgrowing my desk with my spread of papers so I migrated to my floor to go over material. After a few hours when I finished I got up and realized that my creative learning process may be a little unconventional, but it works… 

My post studying floor space before my compressible aerodynamics test.

I hope everyone bounces back to find your post Fall Break groove and keep pushing until Thanksgiving Break and finals. Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on!

Perks & Personal Favorites

Happy October folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach. I’ve come to appreciate a few aspects of Riddle recently that I may have taken for granted in my past years. Let’s begin:

  1. The 24 hour College of Business (COB) computer labs with free color printers (hello late night life hack!)
  2. Night Flight! This is a free safety escort service provided by the Campus Safety and Security Department where they send officers to pick you up anywhere on campus at night in a golf cart and take you to your next desired location. I have found this very beneficial when I lose track of time doing homework in the engineering building only to realize when I’m ready to leave it’s raining (thank you Florida weather), but genuinely thank you to the Night Flight team for keeping the students safe and making my life so much easier!
  3. Fitness classes at the Fitness Center: I’ve always loved them, but there’s still so many I’ve yet to try because every instructor is different and they’re all great. My personal favorites are Yoga, Boxing Conditioning, and Cycling, although I have heard good things about Pilates…
  4. The Academic Advancement Center (otherwise known as the A^2 Tutoring Lab) that has tutoring in SO many subjects, and even if you’re not taking a specific class and just have questions about subject material in those classes they’re super helpful (ie me when I get stuck coding Matlab or using CATIA)
  5. Some honorable mentions/personal favorites: AFROTC, because it’s a huge family and one of my absolute favorite parts about Riddle, and Arabic class, which is a close second.
14 Words for Love in Arabic from a poster I found during the summer

I would also like to include some Life Hacks for college in general:

Tea- best hot and while studying

Recently received a package of fall goodies in the mail from my grandma, inclusive of this amazingly fall smelling caffeine free tea which is perfect for late nights

Popcorn- best in the afternoon or at any time of night while doing homework (AFROTC cadets have a popcorn maker in the Cadet lounge and typically there is fresh popcorn multiple times a day which always smells and tastes great)

My photo from the AFROTC Fall 2019 Cadet Wing Organization Leadership Chart

Water- always, but especially if you are tired in class, as well as before & after workouts

Hoodies/Cozy sweaters- best worn during chilly fall nights making s’mores by the fire pits, or to the local COBB movie theater at Daytona One (which happens to be less than 5 minutes from campus and offers $5 movie tickets on Tuesdays!)

My friend Kara and I on a homework break

To sum it up, I’m busy but extremely grateful and I love Riddle and everything it has to offer. Will report back soon! 

Fall & Fresh Updates

Happy September everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, the official Autumn season begins September 23 and runs until December 21, I’ve been busy lately, and I’m trying my best to not be stressed.

I’ve found myself becoming a bit overwhelmed with the constant high speed flow of life recently, so as I woke up this past Sunday morning I took a couple minutes to set intentions for the week, write my to do list, and drink water. In the midst of the chaos when I find myself getting anxious about everything I need to accomplish for the day, I have to remind myself to take a step back, breathe, reset, relax, and take it one step at a time.

On a happier note, Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year, so despite Florida not having the most stereotypical autumn experience, I still try to make the best of it. I’m on my 3rd year at Riddle and thus far I have made it to a Floridian pumpkin patch every year (typically in late fall when the weather is in the low 80s).

As I currently drink my cup of coffee with pumpkin spice almond milk creamer and do homework in my room that smells like apples from my oil diffuser, as long as I don’t go outside, it’s basically fall, right? My prize possessions are definitely my calculator, my Keurig, my laptop, and my essential oil diffuser. Which you probably already deciphered because I drink a lot of tea/coffee, do a lot of homework, and I love yoga.

My newest fall essential oils that I am obsessed with! They make my entire room smell amazing. The scents are Maple Leaf, Fall Rain, and Harvest Moon.

As I note I would like to add my supply of “fall” flavored teas is growing. A classmate asked me the other day how many cups of tea I drink a day and I really had never thought about it, but I make tea all the time and typically always have a cup with me (in my reusable to-go cup of course).

Me enjoying the mere idea of fall even though it’s hot outside.

Now that we’ve caught up, as a Professional Officer Course (POC) cadet in AFROTC this year (under-classmen are referred to as General Military Course (GMC) cadets until after they return from Field Training the summer between their sophomore and junior years) I earned the privilege of being able to have a clipboard during training to conveniently carry around my orders, other needed papers for the day, and of course pens, sharpies, and a ruler.

Everyone’s clipboard is different, and in my opinion, essentially represents you as a person. I decided to decorate the top of my clipboard, which is covered by my daily orders in training to stay professional. My clipboard also has a large letter of my flight on the back, and my name which are the visible portions when conducting leadership laboratories (LLABs) and physical training (PT). 

To provide a small amount of background on my clipboard decorations, in the backyard of my house in Virginia we have a surfboard hung on the fence that we’ve been putting stickers on for years now. The stickers are from wherever we travel, and everyone in the family puts new ones on all the time, so the next time you look at it it’s constantly changing and growing. Naturally when I got my clipboard I had been gathering some smaller stickers from my travels and wanted to adopt the same philosophy. 

The top of my AFROTC clipboard that isn’t normally visible, but makes me happy knowing that it’s there!

Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Transitions & Training

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, yes that’s right folks the eagle has landed!

In the past week I’ve been all over the country in my journey and travels to finally get all my things packed and ready to come back to school. I concluded my summer studies of third year Arabic at the University of Arizona with a series of reading, writing, and spoken examinations, then hopped on a plane and “high tailed” it back to my city in Virginia for about a day, before road tripping back to the lovely humid state of Florida. The change from 5% humidity in Arizona to 90% humidity in Florida is drastic but, fear not, do-able.

Turkish coffee my friend from Libya made my roommate and I while we were studying for our final Arabic exams!

Now that I am back in Florida and reunited with my beloved Keurig and seemingly endless supply of coffee and tea, I realized that Daytona Beach really does feel like home. My cozy room, blogging in the morning from bed with a cup of tea and an airport view, amazing sunsets, my favorite run loop, beach vibes. While the school year isn’t in full swing yet I’m back at RA training prepping hall decorations, door tags, and bulletin boards, and have my Orientation Retreat rolling up in only a few days too. There’s almost an entire month of preparation for new students to come in the fall and I am extremely excited.

Coffee from a cafe in Tucson

In other news I’m half way moved into my dorm room (ha). Somehow I forgot to bring hangers and haven’t had a chance to hang up any of my clothes yet… so I’m one Walmart trip or one amazon order away from being unpacked. I also omitted plants from my journey to Florida but I am in the market for some so look out for updates on that! Also my road trip from Norfolk, VA to Daytona Beach, FL with the ‘rents and my pup Kita was one for the books. Sleeping in the back seat with a sweet dog was absolutely fantastic.

My dad driving us down to Riddle, with my favorite sleeping pit bull.

To sum it up I will be continuing my Arabic studies this semester as an independent study at Riddle, which is one of the classes I’m most excited about, aside from AFROTC starting up again, and of course being an RA on the sports student hall and getting to meet my residents, and leading my Orientation group. Overall, I’m just excited for the semester to start. That’s what’s popping in my life right now. Will report back as the looming Fall Semester approaches. 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!

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.