Balancing the Busy & Preventing Burnout

Happy March everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, there’s approximately two full months of the Spring semester left, it’s Midterm season, its PT test season, and for me its a season highly saturated with Matlab coding. My go-tos for being very busy during this time are adding clay face masks to my nighttime routine (to help my skin combat wearing cloth face masks all day), drinking lots of coffee (and lots of water to balance the lots of coffee) and in the true nature of a college student – adding peanut butter and hot sauce to basically all my food for fast flavor for my microwave rice or noodles.

I am currently in the thick of it, in terms of being extremely busy. Something I struggle with balancing during the busiest times always seems to be powering down at the end of the day. Sometimes I have weeks of “on” mode, constantly go, go, go, next assignment next due date next quiz/test to study for, next time commitment, and it’s hard to actually slow down. While tapping into the productive flow state can be helpful for a few days or a few weeks, it is certainly not sustainable in the long term. That being said, I am absolutely guilty of planning my weeks ahead of time, scheduling my days with lists, and powering through by showing up for each item on my list. The thing most of us forget to prioritize in all that though, is time for ourselves!

Outside of yoga, coffee and conversation in car rides is one of may favorite ways to relax.

Usually when schedules get busier the first items that gets “kicked off” my To-Do list are the items that have to do with self care and taking time to wind down. This leads to burnout! 

I am a strong believer that we make time for the things that are important to us, but also that sometimes there isn’t enough time in a day to complete all the tasks we elect to do.

Tips and tricks I’ve found that help me center myself and prevent burnout: 

Balance is key! I have found that showing up for myself has never had negative effects. Taking a moment to calm down, meditate for a few minutes, go for a run or a workout, or nap when I need it is essential. You know your body/mind best so if you need to schedule time to check in to assess what you need to help you feel and perform your best, do so!

One of my other favorite ways to relax is looking at pictures from my sister of my puppy niece, Daisy! Never fails to brighten my day.

Let’s circle back here, while it is absolutely essential to take care of yourself, a balance is absolutely essential too. For example, I don’t like doing my homework, and my classes are stressful, but in order to eliminate my stressors I could either do my homework and get through them, or not do my homework and avoid them. Doing my homework leads me to be more stressed on my own time, but less stressed during tests/exams.

Not doing my homework and taking a break is sometimes needed, but it’s important to differentiate between taking breaks and neglecting your responsibilities. When you need a break, take a break, but if you find yourself not finding motivation to do ANY homework, circle back to why you signed up for the classes in the first place and think about your end goal.

Whether that goal is graduating, passing a class, earning any type of degree, commissioning into the military, all of us have motivation of what made us choose to be in college and why we stay. Find your reason and reflect on how it will feel to get your degree or reach your end goal. When things get tough, circle back to what keeps you going!

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

Spring & Back in the Swing of Things

Happy January everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida. First week of Spring 2021 semester down, and it’s definitely been an adjustment getting back into the swing of things. At this point, this is the start of my 8th semester, not including summer classes, and you would think it gets easier as time goes on, but it still takes me a little time to get back in the flow of things. I find that I enjoy my breaks so much that returning sometimes is a little difficult, as I’m sure a lot students find coming back from the leisure and comfort of a relaxing break.

Hiking in VA while I was home in December!

That being said, in order to thoroughly enjoy resting I work hard to get to the end of each semester, so it’s well earned and thoroughly enjoyed, although short lived. The next 3.5 months of Spring semester will surely fly by quickly, full of busy schedules, challenges, and (unfortunately) no Spring Break. As the weather gets warmer hopefully I’ll get some free time to get outside and relax as I got to do while home in Virginia!

My favorite things about Spring semester in Florida are outdoor workouts, $5.00 smoothie day (typically post-run) at Smoothie King on Fridays, and the beach. I also enjoy being back at school because I listen to a lot of new music. I like to listen to music on Spotify (where it’s only $5.00 a month for Hulu + Spotify for students!!) while I do homework, study, and answer emails/GroupMe messages. I also enjoy checking out suggested new songs while on walks and during workouts, which helps me look forward to the things I would typically enjoy a little more, which is always extra exciting!

Spending downtime outside over break!

I thoroughly enjoy doing YogaWithAdriene videos on Youtube in the mornings too. I had a morning Yoga routine all Fall semester and getting back into a new school routine for Spring is always nice. I recently tried out the GetBendy program with ElleFitActive that is basically a yoga incorporated stretch routine which is perfect for the mornings, nights, and before or after workouts. Super important tips for getting through the Spring semester, especially when the weather starts to warm up, are staying hydrated, stretching in between workouts, and getting enough sleep!

Sometimes being back at school (especially with online classes) can be monotonous and adding little bits of variation and fun/happy moments to break up your days are extremely beneficial! If you can fit in a quick walk around campus in between classes, a short yoga or workout video on YouTube, or even a healthy snack or an afternoon tea/coffee pick-me-up, it might work wonders for an afternoon slump from staring at a computer all day. I hope you find creative and personalized ways to help you get through a semi-to-fully virtual semester! I will be reporting back shortly with some tips and tricks that I’ll be trying out over the next few weeks to combat the health slumps that usually accompany the stress each semester brings. Keep on keeping on folks, stay healthy, will get back to y’all soon!

Finals & Fall/Winter Break

Happy November folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and Thanksgiving is so close I can almost taste it (the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie of course).

The fall semester has rapidly been coming to a close and with about a week left until Winter Break starts its hard to see past all the assignments and even fathom a break that is, despite what my stressors persuade me, going to be upon us very shortly. I don’t typically doubt myself, but I do surprise myself because sometimes my schedule is so busy it’s hard to picture being able to accomplish so many tasks in one day, much less a week! 

A plot from my Aerospace Structures Homework that I’m currently working on via Femap/Nastran

In the spirit of being thankful (Thanksgiving vibes) I am grateful that I have the amazing opportunities to continually challenge myself in academics, professional relations, physical fitness, and leadership skills. Cue the teleprompter voice, this is all made possible in part by… time management skills I didn’t realize I had, setting daily reminders via Siri on my phone and laptop throughout the day, many To-Do lists, calendar notifications, alarms, and most importantly – my tried and true Go-To… coffee! Kidding, I am very thankful to have a support system of friends and family and I am so excited to go back to Virginia in about a week to see them!

Final exams are just around the corner, right after Thanksgiving, and the semester is truly so close to coming to an end. My motivations are good food, sleep, and quality time watching Christmas movies at home.

Over the winter break, post finals, I plan to work on Scholarship and Study Abroad opportunity applications, practice my Arabic by exploring further into the world of Arabic music, TV, and movies, and of course, rest!

Upon reflecting on the past few months, the hardest part of this Fall Semester, that I foresee will be a challenge in the Spring as well, is not having breaks or time to rest and recover between classes and assignments. Having long weekends and breaks canceled means that professors continuously assign homework, tests, quizzes, and projects until finals. This is especially disheartening considering my current Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings are filled with due dates, in addition to every weekday. I go directly from one subject and assignment to the other and it’s sometimes hard to see the light that the end of the semester brings when you’re in the thick of it.

College extensively exceeds the typical 40 hours a week “full time” work schedule, which is something I couldn’t have prepared for beforehand and is not something I am 100% sure I am prepared for now, despite taking part in it weekly. On the bright side, time never stops, and we get through it. My advice is to keep a positive attitude and keep pushing, one week, day, or task at a time. Progress is progress. Finals are quickly approaching and so is the rest and relaxation that follows! Will report back soon folks. Keep on keeping on!

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!

Safety, Sanity, Sanitary

Spring Break 2020

When most of us got out of class as we headed into our spring break, we didn’t expect what kind of change we were going to be dealing with during the break. The outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread rather rapidly, and our school extended our spring break. The admin concluded that our classes will be conducted online with all of our campus events cancelled. This caused a lot of travel and academic plans to be changed by our faculties and staff as well as the student body. As a flight student who is planning on staying to finish my rating, I noticed how empty and deserted our campus feels now that the majority of our students have made their way back home.

I realized that some students who are staying to finish their flight training or who couldn’t plan to travel back home might be stuck around here for some time. It can be difficult when all your friends are away and you are stuck at home or around campus because many places are closing down for safety reasons. I wanted to write a blurb about how to maintain your safety, sanity and sanitary as we prepare for the worst.

Safety

Daytona Beach just hosted their annual Bike Week 2020 which really marks the beginning of spring break season. Thousands of college students and visitors make their way to Daytona Beach to enjoy the beaches and the warm weather. That is more reason for the Riddle student body to be cautious as they hang out around certain parts of the town. As we all know, the beachside with Seabreeze and A1A gets bombarded with tourists coming in and we all experience increased traffic on ISB and Beville. We have to be careful of motor accidents and other incidents that could take place with increased population from out of state.

Sanity

It is hard to keep yourself busy and on track when you are sitting on your couch back home. It can be especially more difficult if you are still in Daytona Beach. I have been trying my best at keeping myself busy and active with the resources I have.

I have been traveling around locally as my days are mostly free of classes now. I took advantage of some of Florida’s best natural perks by kayaking and going on walks by the beach and the state park. If you have your own car or one of your friends does, you can also explore by leaving Daytona Beach and going to places like Orlando or St. Augustine. You really have to actively try to stay fit and mentally awake as the temptation of procrastination grows larger everyday.

Sanitary

Lastly, let us practice common sense and take care of ourselves by washing our hands and avoiding interactions with a large group of people. The time we are going through is absolutely crazy and it may seem like the end of the world but with simple practices, we can prevent and solve the issue at hand. Especially the flight students who are here to fly, we have been using Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer before, during and after our flights. It should become a habit as we try our best to disinfect our aircraft.

It is a tragedy and an unfortunate turn of event but we have to make the most out of the situation that was given to us and move forward. To those who are still in town, keep your head up and always stay safe, sane and clean. Blue skies, tail winds and coronavirus-free!

Keep the spirits high!

Travels & Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Fall Semester & AFROTC

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach and the Fall 2018 semester is about to begin!

The past couple days have been filled with late nights and early mornings, but instead of studying or AFROTC, the latest concentration has been on move-ins of residents as a Resident Advisor and new student orientation from the perspective of an O-Teamer. An O-Teamer is an Orientation Team Ambassador (ie team member) and Orientation Team is essentially a group of enthusiastic, positive, motivated individuals who come together to welcome students to campus. To sum up the past week, orientation has certainly been very busy, but also a lot of fun. From Paint-U, Glowcade, to the beach bash, the magic show, the movie viewings, the magicians, and the hypnotists, the past couple weeks have been eventful in preparation for student arrival.

A fellow O-Teamer and I before Paint-U!

In other news, AFROTC is starting up again and I’m feeling slightly reminiscent into my AS100 year as I look forward to my AS200 year and meeting all the new AS100s. One year ago I was new to Embry-Riddle, AFROTC, engineering, and Florida. Just looking at how far I’ve come in one year absolutely amazes me and gets me so excited to see all the potential of younger generations as I’m actively contributing to the culture and atmosphere at Embry-Riddle. When I first started college I didn’t know anyone, and I was very nervous. This year I have such a strong support system of people I’ve met only less than one year ago, but feel like I’ve known my entire life. Riddle changed from a foreign place to a home, and I didn’t even realize that was possible when I first arrived. As the Air Force’s birthday approaches, and AFROTC prepares its annual celebration I’m looking back at photos from last year and how I greatly appreciated the irreplaceable connection with the people who surround me. We really were and are such a close community. I am so proud to be a part of our detachment.

The Air Force’s birthday in 2017!

I will be picking up my ABUs again pretty soon and as the semester kicks off I’m ready to be fully back in the swing of things. After spending the past month training and preparing for the school year to begin I’ve come to appreciate that no matter how much time you spend with any given group of people there is always something new you can learn from them every day. That beautiful phenomenon occurred to me as I bask in the nostalgic glory of how I’ve learned, grew, and bonded with the people that have been working besides me this past month.

Orientation Team group photo!

Will report back soon!

President’s Day Weekend

Approaching Toronto-Pearson International Airport on a beautiful Saturday around noon.

Approaching Toronto-Pearson International Airport on a beautiful Saturday morning.

During the President’s Day weekend, I flew back home to Montreal to see my parents and some friends. In some parts of Canada, some people also got to enjoy an extra day off due to Family Day.

I left Florida early Saturday morning just before 07:00AM instead of Friday, since I have an evening Biology lab that ends at 8:45PM. At that time, it is too late to catch a flight, unfortunately.

I arrived in Montreal around noon after I had a connecting flight through Toronto-Pearson. I texted my mom earlier in the day and asked her to bring my winter coat. When I got out the plane, I didn’t even need it since it felt actually warm for winter. It was about 45 degrees and there were no clouds in the skies. I guess I picked the right weekend to visit!

My aunt was also in town for a business trip so we had a family dinner in the evening. The next day, I met with a friend who is currently applying for college. I tried the best I could to convince him to come to Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Like me, he is also an “avgeek” so I told him ERAU was a perfect place to study aviation. Hopefully, he’ll come for a visit and see for himself.

Overall, it was a fun relaxing weekend and I already look forward for Spring Break!

Nicolas

Unexpected Very Long Weekend

As many of you know, the ERAU Daytona Beach campus has been closed from Thursday to Saturday morning due to Hurricane Matthew. Embry-Riddle announced on Saturday that classes would resume on Tuesday. This leaves time for students and faculty to return home in the Daytona Beach area. Many have driven away from Daytona heading west and north to places such as Tampa and Atlanta. I know people that even flew away north to escape the hurricane.

Knowing that the storm was approaching the state of Florida and that Volusia County would require evacuation, I left Daytona Beach on Wednesday night after classes and headed to my friend’s house in the Orlando area. On Thursday morning, we went to buy soil bags to protect the house from potential flooding. The store didn’t have any sand bags in stock.

The next morning, we woke up and Hurricane Matthew had already passed and was continuing on its way to the north. Compared to the east coast of Florida, Orlando was not badly hit by the storm. From the location I was, there wasn’t any debris on the ground. I am still in Orlando since my apartment does not have electricity. I will head back to Daytona once the power will be restored, hopefully before classes start on Tuesday.

Due to the gravity of Hurricane Matthew and the damage it made, ERAU students are enjoying a long five day weekend. This weekend is also Thanksgiving weekend back in Canada (Columbus Day in the US). Many will take these extra days off to cleanup debris around their house. Others will try to get some homework done. As of Saturday, many areas of Volusia County were still without power. It might take a few days before 100% of the residents get their lights back on.

Industry/Career Expo Postponed

Embry-Riddle has decided on Wednesday to cancel the annual “Career Fair”  due to the hurricane. The majority of the company information sessions and the interview day on Friday were cancelled as well. Career Services announced that the event will be postponed until the 2017 Spring semester. Keep checking your emails because Career Services will soon announce the new date for the expo!

Until next time!

Nicolas