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!

Transitions & Post-Semester Plans

Happy May everyone! Back again blogging from Virginia Beach, a bit of a transition from Daytona Beach. While the beaches are still closed as Virginia is on a stay at home order until June 10, the beach is currently open for exercising, fishing, and surfing, so keep checking back as I will provide updates on my latest adventures. Today is 80 degrees and sunny, I went for a 4.5 mile walk on the boardwalk when I woke up, followed by ten minutes of core exercises, 20 minutes of yoga, a 1.5 mile run, and a divine post run smoothie (truly smoothies taste better after a run, is there a science behind that? Aerospace Engineering has yet to lead me to that answer). I also had the privilege to lay in the sun today in the backyard for about an hour which was SO nice. 

The rest of my day I plan to do some more exercises and yoga, ride bikes to the market to hopefully scavenge some fresh fruits and veggies (the grocery store has been looking BARE, but I prefer local fresh produce anyway), and I will be watching either A Bug’s Life or Monsters, Inc. I haven’t decided yet. Tomorrow I have a Zoom Interview for a Student Government Association position on the Student Court as the Associate Justice, and a virtual Orientation Team meeting over Zoom to discuss new online Orientation preparation and training to best assist the incoming class of 2024’s transition to college life, which is very exciting.

I concluded the last week and the Spring 2020 semester with a Jet Propulsion exam, and Solid Mechanics final exam on the last day of finals week lasting until 9pm. I recently started my summer endeavors by having an interview over Zoom for my Arabic Language Oral Proficiency Placement Level and by submitting an essay in Arabic. Additionally, I transitioned from Northern VA staying with my sister, to Southern VA, and my current May plans include a lot of working out, social distancing, sleeping, and brushing up on some old material (grammar rules, vocabulary, and spelling will definitely be on the list of things I go over) before my summer Arabic classes begin.

A perk of being at my mom’s house is that she loves gardening and being outside when the weather is nice.

Some new plant babies!

My summer study abroad plans have been transformed into summer study domestic via online class plans, but I will still be participating in the Project Global Officer program (Project GO), available for all branches of ROTC students to apply to in order to spend a summer domestically or internationally learning a foreign language critical to national security needs as a professional development opportunity to help you better support the needs of the Department of Defense upon graduating college and commissioning.

More greenery that I will be co-habitating with for the duration of the summer.

Keep on keeping on folks. Will report back soon!

Half Way & Happenings

Happy February everyone! Back again blogging from Daytona Beach, Speed Week has calmed downed, and we’ve been having some particularly mild weather: a bit cold and rainy, but Florida tends to be wonky before getting to the consistent sunshine with afternoon showers (aka nap time).

Valentine’s Day recently passed and February is flying by! Things around the corner include *drum roll please* Mid-term exams, the Spring PT test… and also, Spring Break! We’re almost half way through Spring semester and I can barely believe it! 

My sister sent me a very positive card, a super cute scrunchie, and some Namaste socks for V-day! I love care packages.

Some notable things I get to do with my position this semester in ROTC as the Mission Support Group, Force Support Squadron, Deputy Commander, aside from assist the Squadron Commander, are plan Dining Out, a yearly event where all cadets and cadre wear Service Dress (the fancy blues), gather for a meal, celebrate notable accomplishments of the Cadet Wing, and announce new Wing Staff for the following semester. I also have the amazing opportunity to team up with an upperclassman cadet and organize an Air Force Retirement Ceremony for a Major in our cadre. I have the privilege of gaining insight to this exciting event at a very young point in my career, which makes this opportunity THAT much cooler.

Another super cool thing I do in my position that I’ve particularly had a lot of fun with in preparation for Dining Out, is collaborating with other Professional Officer Course (POC) cadets to design the logo that will be on the Dining Out gift. I’ve got to work with a particularly talented POC cadet who I also collaborated with to help design the Spring 2020 AFROTC Detachment 157 Semester Patch.

Additionally, being an RA has been even more fun lately because I helped to organize a Tye-Dye event that will be happening shortly. I’ve attached the flyer I designed below, but essentially it’s an Area Initiative as a community builder for the residence hall I live in where we invite residents to come de-stress and get creative, and colorful!

Additionally, I recently solidified my summer plans, which was a huge stress relief and also an opportunity I anticipate to be extremely challenging and fun. I will be participating in Project GO Study Abroad in Morocco working on Arabic Year 4. More details to come on that, and I am very excited to give some future updates on my Arabic learning experience. Keep on keeping on folks. Will report back soon!

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! 

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!

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