New Schedules & Summer Shifts

Happy July everyone! I’m currently blogging from Fairbanks, Alaska and the 60 degree summers are a stark contrast to summer weather in Daytona Beach. I stayed in my hometown of Norfolk, Virginia for about a month and am going to be in Alaska until I return to ERAU in August for the Fall 2021 semester.

A view of one of the last sunsets I will see until I return to the east coast for the Fall 2021 semester!

I am looking forward to my final half of summer being filled with a smooth conclusion of my summer Arabic classes through the University of Arizona and post Project GO program testing, as much hiking as possible, and visits to all the Alaska coffee shops. Currently in the Fairbanks summer the sun shines almost all day, sunset is at approximately midnight and sunrise happens at about 3:00 AM. Since the night time only consists of sunlight and a few hours of dusk/dawn transition, my schedule has shifted a bit too. I intend to spend my Winter Break between the fall and spring semester in Fairbanks as well, but during that time I expect the temperatures will be about 40 below with lots of snow and only about 3 hours of sunlight everyday.

A view from the Airbus A321neo window en route to Fairbanks International Airport (FAI)! Working towards my B.S. in Aerospace Engineering I may be partial to the sky, but nevertheless flying is always my favorite!

My Alaska Summer online class schedule:

I typically wake up around 4:00 AM, do yoga, make breakfast and coffee, then hop on my Language Partner meetings from 5:00-6:00 AM, have a 30 minute break filled with another cup of coffee or tea, then I go to my professor’s Office Hours or meet with my program’s director or coordinators, followed by a total of four hours of class, then an hour of tutoring.

I am typically finished with class obligations by noon, just in time to make lunch, workout, and finish homework. Usually in the evenings I’ve been having fun enjoying Fairbank’s food truck scene for an afternoon snack or dinner, and going on evening hikes (since the sun doesn’t set until midnight). In my free time I have also been reading Bear Tales for the Ages: From Alaska and Beyond by Larry Kanuit, because Alaska has peaked my wilderness curiosity. In addition to my goal to try every coffee shop in the city while I’m here for the rest of the summer, I also have a goal to safely spot some wildlife, including but not limited to: a bald eagle, a moose, and a bear (from a VERY safe distance away). Bonus exploration: A few days ago I went to see Cruella in theaters which was very fun too!

As my life keeps changing and evolving, each day becomes more exciting and I am always looking forward to what adventures lie ahead. Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Online Class Tips & Tricks

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Norfolk, Virginia and my evening was pretty great. I finished my online classes by (yet again) doing some YouTube workout videos, taking a short walk around the neighborhood with my sister and her dog, going to a spin class, going to the grocery store, coming home to water plants, have dinner, and relax.

Today I figured out a quick life-hack for online classes and wanted to share. To start, I am typically a semi-on the-go person, so sitting down for 4-6 hours of Zoom class everyday (not including other digital meetings) makes me very tired and towards the end of the days I usually get uncomfortable staying still and sitting. Today, I figured out by placing my laptop on a tall table, then on top of a wooden box (books, magazines, anything you have), I am able to elevate my laptop to approximately eye-level so that I can do my classes while standing. If you have a stand up desk arrangement, a tall counter, or a raised bed this arrangement also works. 

From experience living in the dorms on ERAU’s DB campus, you have the option to submit a Maintenance Request form to get your bed height raised or lowered. Throughout the past year I did most of my online classes by placing my laptop on my bed and standing up beside the bed. My go-to school supply is also a clipboard, so that I can do my homework practically anywhere (typically I will lay on the floor, but can also move to a desk, chair, or bed depending on what is most comfortable at the moment).

Being home I tried out a few different online class spaces and am still in the process of experimenting, but I would like to officially announce that a DIY stand up desk (aka box on table) is working for me and standing instead of sitting helped me feel so much better today.

Current standing work station set up!

My other top online class hack is simple: drink water! I try to refill my water during breaks, but will definitely ask politely to my professors during class to take a quick water break. (I am in a class of one, so if you are in a larger class where cameras are not required you typically will already have this liberty.) Also, I like having coffee with me in the mornings, sometimes some quick snacks throughout the day like trail mix, carrots and hummus, or fruit and yogurt, as well as hot tea for my afternoon sessions. I’ve found that snacking throughout the day and drinking plenty of water keeps me focused and happy!

My favorite classmate!

If you don’t have a ton of control of the environment you are taking classes in, if you’re home, in the dorms, or at a friend or family’s house, focus on the little details that are in your control. For example, I like to open the blinds to use natural lighting while I’m in online class if possible, set oil diffusers, have little plants in the room with me, and clean my space at the end of every day so the next morning I have the opportunity to reset my workspace and start fresh. The little details make all the difference, so even if you are in a shared space you can still carve out a piece for you to feel comfortable to learn in. Hope this helps encourage or inspire you to recharge and reset with online classes even if you’re in the same space everyday. Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Online Classes & Decompressing

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Norfolk, Virginia where I am in the midst of online Arabic classes, and a study-filled summer with school, Language Partner meetings, tutoring sessions, Program coordinators, professors, and (of course) homework. Pros of online classes in the summer include that they can be done from the comfort of your own home. Cons of online classes include that sometimes it is difficult to be inside and sitting in front of a computer all day, especially when the weather is beautiful.

I find balancing online classes and course loads are almost harder than in person obligations because your brain is being exercised all day, while your body is stagnant. With the pandemic, society began to shed a light on mental health and prioritizing self care in a practical ways by incorporating small “wins” into everyday life.

This summer my small wins have been squeezing in YouTube workout videos before and after my 4 to 6 hour sessions of online classes, playing with pets in between my 5 minute computer breaks, and trying my best to stay off the computer and in front of a screen when I don’t have to. I’m the only student in my current online language program level so when I’m in class, tutoring sessions, or meeting a language partner it requires 100% of my attention. To balance being plugged in and continuously staring at a screen all day, I’ve been enjoying the silence of walking my sister’s dog after class or meditating, and trying to get as much sleep as possible.

Taking a break in between classes to pet my sister’s pup Daisy!

I typically get tired by the end of the day from studying so I look forward to good food, exercising, and hitting a hot yoga or spin class to decompress. My day consists of opposites: only working my brain, then only working my body. While I would prefer more variation in my routine, right now this is what’s working for me with my current schedule.

In addition to classes I’ve been keeping up with behind the scenes work for Orientation Team and Student Court. I’ve been trying to squeeze in reading, watching new movies on Disney + (like Luca and Raya and the Last Dragon), doing face masks, taking salt baths, sun bathing by the pool, walks on the beach, and other fun ways to decompress like listening to music and doing yoga. BUT, sometimes I’m exhausted from classes and I don’t have the energy to do much but sleep after a long day, and that’s okay too because when I’m tired it’s my body telling me I need rest, even if I haven’t done much physical activity.

I’ve found when my routine changes semi-drastically (cue the intensive summer language program), my go-to ways to decompress can sometimes feel more like things on a to-do list than actual time to relax. Relaxing can look different in different phases of your life, and even day-to-day, hour-to-hour, or minute-to-minute. Recognizing and checking in with where your body and mind are at, in order to know what you need is extremely important because it is always changing! Sometimes our go-to activities become more “things we have to do” and less so “the ways we decompress”.

Daisy teaching me how to stop and smell the flowers, even when we’re inside!

I’m at a changing phase of my life, so I’m still figuring out how to navigate decompressing from being constantly plugged into my computer and my phone all day. Using technology to communicate with my teachers, tutors, language partners, program coordinators, AND everyday life and school obligations (not to mention keeping in contact with friends and family which typically happens mostly online) is challenging, but the key is balance, which is a process.

Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

April & Pandemic Adjustments

Happy April everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and I have been incredibly busy lately. We have about a month left of school until finals and I feel like there is SO much to do before then.

Most of my classes have final exams and final projects, so the entire month of April is crazy slammed for me. In other news I am scheduled to get my first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in a few days and will be receiving the second dose of the vaccine during finals (so I am really hoping I don’t have any negative side effects because finals will happen whether I feel dizzy or not). I am hoping my professors will have some leniency given that the current day and age is full of a lot of unusual circumstances and getting vaccinated is a priority of the university (and my health).

My in-person study abroad program plans in Meknes, Morocco have changed to completely online due to the global pandemic. This means my summer plans for where I will be completing my online classes are up in the air. Typically in the past while I’m done online courses I’ve house-hopped with my family, but at the moment given the nature of travel restrictions, other than committing to bringing my laptop with me to log into Zoom, it’s difficult for me to solidify plans of where I will actually be.

A common theme that I’ve found reoccurring in my life recently is uncertainty, specifically having to do with plans for the future. My advice to you from one person who is going through it to another, is to take everything one day at a time.

I love to-do lists and setting milestones for timelines of where I want to be in completing assignments leading up to their due dates. I also recently deep cleaned by room! Washing my sheets and bedding, cleaning my floors, organizing my living space, and overall refreshing where I study, sleep, and workout has a big impact on my mental health, often an impact I don’t realize until I’ve reorganized and cleaned and feel so much better in the space around me.

Aircraft I designed for my AE 413 Aircraft Stability and Control class using Matlab

I’ve talked about time management and balance before, and as being busy seems to be a lifestyle for me, I’ve been setting aside time every day to stretch and do yoga or fit in a quick workout as a break between assignments. Sometimes taking a break and looking away from a problem or a page you’ve been working on for a while is just the thing your mind needs to process what you’re working on. 

Spring picture of my niece pup Daisy!

In the past I’ve found myself staying up thinking about how to complete engineering problems, so I like to “shut off” my working brain and switch into relaxation mode at the end of every day. I do this by setting a bedtime routine as best I can by having my shower “mark” the end of my homework for the day, and setting my oil diffusers with calming oil blends. I’ve found while being in the same environment of my room, the small changes such as setting up my bed for sleep make a big difference in my mindset and switching from work mode to off mode.

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

Updates & Free Time Tips

Happy March everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, it’s a rainy and cold weekend and I have been so busy lately that the weeks are really flowing together. 

Typically mid March, students look forward to a well needed break for a week with Spring Break, but this semester due to the global pandemic, we are experiencing a “new normal”. We had our first “study” day that was enacted to replace Spring Break, but with assignments still due and office hours still being held, it felt more like a normal work day than a break. Spring break typically is a week where students are able to not think about school for a few days before the final push to finals season, so this semester is especially challenging without the scheduled period to decompress.

In recent news my study abroad program through Project GO in Meknes, Morocco has been officially canceled due to travel restrictions and is moving to either an in-person program in Tucson, Arizona at the University of Arizona or an online program which is essentially a Zoom class like I did last summer. The benefit of a Zoom class is that since you’re doing it from home you can be mask-less and aside from video calling, class seems semi normal!

Some things that I’ve found keeping me sane and hopeful lately are leaning into the small moments where I get free time and filling them with good music, online yoga videos like YogaWithAdriene on Youtube, watching a movie on Disney+ (or Netflix or Hulu), texting my sister and getting updates on my puppy niece, or ordering Chinese food or pizza on a Friday night in.

I have definitely been missing my puppy niece lately!

When I’m extremely busy with school I’ve found that that I typically sleep less and eat less healthy food. This is especially prevalent when I am busy back-to-back, with homework, projects, and tests on the weekends instead of opportunities for extra sleep or relaxation. Thankfully there is only about a month and I half of school left, and I am looking forward to a much needed break!

Some key take-aways I’ve learned over the years that are especially important when I’m busy are having good food and maintaining a good evening/morning routine to keep me energized (as well as good snacks). Some of my favorite snacks to keep on hand are fruit, nuts, granola, fig bars, granola bars, pita chips, honey, and of course either peanut butter or almond butter. I also always have oatmeal and coffee! Typically this is my go-to for breakfast but I have been known to eat some after dinner as dessert or for a snack!

A solo selfie (from alone in my room) to remind you that there are still smiles under the mask!

This semester and this time in the world are especially challenging for everyone right now, so with that I remind you that you are not alone! If you ever need anything the Center for Faith and Spirituality, the Counseling Center, and Health Services are available to support you! 

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!

Spring Semester & School Supplies

Happy 2021 everyone! I am currently blogging from my hometown of Norfolk, Virginia where I will soon depart to head back to Daytona Beach, Florida within the next couple days to prep for Spring semester!

My favorite game of the holiday season de-stressing before returning to the ebb and flow of everyday life at school was hands down, Blokus! I like Blokus because it requires enough thinking to be considered tactical, but is also full of colors and shapes and fun, so it’s a great stress relieving, mind stimulating game!

Results of a family Blokus game!

A new semester always brings new responsibilities and different obligations, but some things stay the same that I like to call the bare necessities for back-to-school survival. Whether your classes are purely online, hybrid, or fully in person I suggest having these top three item power tools along with you. BONUS: if you procrastinate, as I sometimes find myself doing when prepping for a new semester, these items are all available at the ERAU bookstore on campus too.

Item 1: A planner/calendar! I use my Outlook Ernie email multiple times every day and being able to sync my Outlook calendar with my personal Apple calendar is essential! Now, if you prefer pen and paper I recommend taking some time at the beginning of the semester to write down all your deadlines and due dates. Pro tip: use one color/class so deadlines never get too confusing!

Item 2 (which compliments item 1 very well): Colored pens/highlighters! As a college student, whether your major is Aerospace Engineering or Aviation Business, you will probably find yourself (at some point sooner rather than later) taking notes in a classroom or virtual lesson setting. Organized notes are the key to academic success! Especially when looking back over your older lessons during finals prep at the end of the semester. You may even need your class info for future semesters and having an easily navigable notebook (or iPad virtual note folder) is the way to go.

Item 3: Paper! Engineering paper, lined paper, index cards, and my favorite and preferred paper – the blank white printer paper variety, will be your go-to all semester, so make sure you stock up! I use printer paper for homework assignments, making study guides, preparing formula sheets for quizzes/tests, and for scratch paper when trying to further understand/apply concepts. Get enough paper to last you…trust me on this one, you’ll use more than you think!

A visual of how we all plan to attack 2021, via my sister’s puppy playing with a holiday candy cane colored toy.

I hope you stock up on all your calendar, pen, and paper needs for school this semester, the ERAU bookstore is fully stocked and is a life saver for last minute needs. Sending productive and positive vibes! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon folks!

Home & Holidays

Happy December everyone! I’m currently blogging from Norfolk, Virginia. I’m home for the holidays and enjoying the rest and relaxation that comes along with it. I’ve spent the past couple days enjoying spending time with family, eating good food, watching the newest season of the Mandalorian on Disney +, going to Hot Yoga, and sleeping!

One of my favorite parts about being home for the holidays is spending time with family, including this Christmas pup!

I finished out the semester strong and I’m mentally preparing to take on spring classes and looking forward to summer plans! I’m currently applying to a few backup study abroad programs focused on language studies for my Arabic maintenance and improvement. Since this summer will be the last before I graduate and commission from Air Force ROTC into Active Duty Air Force, this will be my last chance to study abroad.

COVID-19 rules and regulations are paramount when considering any study abroad options and opportunities, but it can never hurt to keep your options open and apply to what interests you! I like options, so having a main plan and a few backup plans is my typical style. Since global and local conditions are ever-changing it’s hard to predict if I will actually be able to travel this summer, but if I am I will be!

I recently spent some time fishing with my dad for rockfish and it was so much fun! We left at about 3:00 am, drove 2 hours north to the dock, and stayed out on a charter boat until about 3pm with fresh fish! A very fun experience.

Fishing with my dad!

In preparation for Spring semester, I’m resting up and enjoying the break. Time to decompress is extremely important and while I am still doing some behind the scenes work for ROTC and Student Court on the break, I am definitely taking time to catch up on rest too. Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

End of Semester & Future Prep

Happy December everyone! I’m currently blogging from my Norfolk, VA, post online finals and although final grade reports haven’t been submitted yet, the semester should be completely at a close within a few days!

Let’s talk about how to balance relaxing over break and staying productive by prepping for the future! If you haven’t signed up for Spring classes make sure to do so as soon as possible to ensure you get slots in all the classes you need. If you are unable to get a slot in a full class, or are unsure what classes to sign up for, reach out to your academic advisor for help!

Unwinding over the break with my sister’s festive puppy in a winter sweater!

You can find your academic advisor’s contact information by going to the Ernie homepage, logging in with your ERAU credentials and Two Factor Duo Identification via the mobile app, clicking on Campus Solutions Student Homepage (CSSH), then on the Academic Advising tab on the far left once you get to Campus Solutions. The first page that loads should be the Advisors tab, where it lists the name, email, and phone number for your Academic Advisor that can help you with schedule planning and getting into the classes and class sections that you need.

While breaks are a great time to relax and unwind, they’re also a great opportunity to think ahead, prep for the future, and apply for scholarships and summer programs such as internships, study abroad opportunities, co-ops, or summer jobs! Start thinking ahead and prepping for the future as soon as possible to stay one step ahead for your future plans.

My sister’s festive pup enjoying a Puppuccino from Starbucks before a trip to the dog park!

I recently heard back that I received a Gilman Scholarship to help fund a study abroad opportunity this summer to continue studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan. While everything is still currently up in the air due to COVID-19 having global impacts, I am using the Winter break to create some plans and backup plans for the summer. I am applying to study abroad opportunities from Project GO for the domestic and abroad language learning programs, and through language learning opportunities with CIEE, the Council On International Educational Exchange. I have found that while I am working towards a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, my minor of Arabic Studies is my true passion, one which I look forward to fostering throughout my summer studies and in my future career post AFROTC!

Will report back soon folks! Enjoy break, stay grinding, and keep on keeping on!

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!