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

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.

Endings & New Beginnings

Greetings and salutations folks. I am currently blogging from my hotel room and it’s my last night in Daytona Beach for a while, or at least until August. Tomorrow I’m road tripping back to my home in Virginia and about a week later I’ll be heading to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama for 14 days of Field Training at the first session for summer 2019. Upon completion of training, I have about a day to catch my breath before I head to Arizona for Project GO, round two furthering my Arabic studies.

Out of my entire sophomore year, and quite frankly my time at Riddle thus far, this past month has been the absolute best. Now I say best with the full disclosure that I had still had homework, quizzes, presentations, group projects, tests, and final exams, but I honestly had a great time because one: my mindset, and two: the people I surrounded myself with.

My grades this semester were the best they’ve ever been in college so far and nothing monumental changed in priorities. I’ve always put school first, but this semester I put myself first in a lot of situations too. I made genuine connections with friends that helped me to de-stress so much. I took time for myself to do yoga and meditate and workout. I wish I could tell you I got a ton of sleep this semester, but I didn’t, truthfully I had very many late nights and very stressful nights trying to grasp concepts while studying. My classes this semester weren’t easy, but somehow my outlook changed and I went from overwhelming myself with concern over grades to going with the flow and putting more focus on learning material, and also unwinding. My work/life balance this semester was something that definitely improved from freshman year. Even in studying for finals, I strategized by putting in a few solid hours of studying and practice problems, taking a break, then getting back into it. Rest is SO important, especially for your brain.

Now that the semester is over, I am spending my short break before I go off to training by reading, working out, and hopefully sleeping a lot more. Books that I’ve dove into recently are The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. I have also recently discovered my new favorite poet too, her name is Morgan Harper Nichols and her art is immensely insightful, powerful, and healing.

In other news, before leaving Daytona Beach, I had the privilege of going to brunch with some of my favorite gal pals, and I got to attend my good friend’s commissioning ceremony, where he officially became a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

Brunch with one of my best friends before we part ways for the summer.
Post commissioning ceremony with this newly sworn in Air Force Officer.

Now as I prepare for my journey back home, Field Training, and a summer of Arizona heat studying Arabic, I would like to leave you with this: every ending is an opportunity for beginnings. Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on!

New City & New Semester Prep

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

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

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

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

Bed!

Tapestry!

Nice views from my window!

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

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

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

My mentor from freshman year!

To update on the Arabic aspect of my life:

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

Will report back soon!