Thanksgiving Break in Daytona Beach

…We stay hungry, we devour our Thanksgiving dinner!

After my pre-Thanksgiving weekend and the two days of class, Thanksgiving break has finally arrived. Last year, due to COVID-19, finals were virtual and Thanksgiving and Christmas break were merged into one long two-month break. I went home then, so I’ve never experienced Embry-Riddle during break time.

I did miss my family. To me, Thanksgiving break was a little too short and a little too late for me to want to go home- I’d be seeing my family in two weeks, and I saw them when they came to see me at the SWE conference earlier this year. The only family members I hadn’t seen were my cats, but I got plenty of pictures of them over the break, including this one, where my cat is curled up in my windowsill.

Chocolate the Cat!

It was also really quiet here, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I did a lot of homework on Wednesday and Thursday, and also made a trip to Walmart on Wednesday. It was, as I predicted, pretty packed. I ended up getting my groceries (hopefully through winter break?), including my favorite holiday treat: eggnog. I know that “Is Eggnog Good?” is a hefty debate topic, but I’m on the side of eggnog being good.

Thursday was Thanksgiving. One of my other friends had also stayed for the break, so we decided to go to dinner at IHOP. For those on campus without access to a car, the Boundless All-You-Can-Eat dining location also does a Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day, and from what I’ve heard, this year’s was really good. At IHOP, I ended up trying the new Winter Wonderland pancakes with blue marble-looking frosting, and they were delicious.

After IHOP, we checked FlightRadar24 and found out that a Delta flight was on final approach. So the two of us jumped in the car and tried to get to the airport’s cell phone lot to watch it come in, but we got held up by several red lights. We did end up seeing it come in as we were waiting, and it wasn’t the worst spot ever, but we couldn’t hear it well, unfortunately.

Delta flight (last flight of the day) on Thanksgiving on final approach.

Friday was pretty uneventful too. I ended up going to Steak n Shake for a very late 9 PM dinner with the same friend, getting a chocolate milkshake. We ended up driving around Daytona for a little bit, and then around campus. It was like a ghost town- everyone was gone, and even though it was 10 PM, there were NO cars in the student union parking lot. Usually, on a weeknight, people are still doing their late-night studying, so you’d see at least a few.

We parked facing the runway, and the most unusual thing about the break was the lack of flight training going on. We were there for a decent amount of time and barely saw anyone going in and out. The flight department was officially shut down on Thanksgiving, but flight training continued on Friday. It was unusual to see maybe one ERAU plane in the entire amount of time we were sitting there.

Holiday break runway-watching.

Saturday and Sunday were also quiet. On Saturday, people started coming back from break, but the bulk of people arrived on Sunday night. By then, the halls were lively again, and I’d see people as I passed by instead of standing in a seemingly-abandoned ERAU.

Did I miss my family? Yes. Was I glad that I stayed for break? Also yes. I got caught up on a lot of my homework, and I had plenty of time to do it so I wasn’t stressed about doing it all during one short time period. I had two thermodynamics homework assignments, an essay draft, physics, and math homework to do which I all successfully did over the break.

It was also very nice to sleep in until 11 or 12 each morning and not have to worry about attending or missing classes. The break was definitely needed before the push to final exams, which are in about two weeks. The last day of finals is December 15, and I, unfortunately, have one during the last time period of the day. It’s fine, though- I’ll be studying hard over the next few weeks.

I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle! (We’re having a preview day and family weekend in the spring semester, so I might see you there!)

Pie a Theta Phi and the Lucy Launch

Lucy in the sky with diamonds, Carly on the ground with homework.

So, the back half of last week was eventful for me! On Thursday, Theta Phi Alpha had a “Pie a Theta Phi” event. We had shaving cream pies, and people could donate money to pie sisters in the face. Participation to be pied was completely voluntary, and to be honest, I didn’t expect to do it. One of my friends ended up coming by and asking if I was one of the people who could be pied. Not thinking anything of it, I told him that if he doubled the donation, then he could pie me in the face.

So, he doubled his donation.

It was quite the experience. Thankfully, he was nice and it didn’t end up too messy. The friend then offered to let me pie him back for $10, which I immediately took the opportunity to. It just so happens that he’s a new member in ERAU’S FIJI chapter (FIJI is the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity). His fraternity brothers then decided to donate to pie him in the face, which was entertaining for all parties involved.

And for two people who didn’t expect to get pied in the face, I think I ended up having the least messy experience. Thankfully the sisters of Theta Phi had come prepared, and they had plenty of towels and water for us to clean off with.

Pie a Theta Phi unexpected guests!

Friday was pretty normal, except for the fact that I tried to go to bed super early. NASA was launching their Lucy mission and targeting a 5:34 AM launch. I’d already decided that I wanted to go see it, and thankfully, one of my other friends had a car with seats available. So, a few of us piled into his car around 4 AM and made the drive down to Titusville.

One of my favorite things about Embry-Riddle is the number of students that love watching rocket launches. For every rocket launch that I’ve wanted to go to, I’ve been able to find a ride. And even for launches that aren’t on the East Coast, I’ve been able to join a small group. (For example, the Firefly Alpha launch- mentioned in a previous post.)

Lucy launchpad!

The Lucy launch went off right at 5:34 AM. It was kind of chilly outside, so I was glad I was in pants and a hoodie. (There was also an abundance of mosquitoes at our watch site, and thankfully, I only got one mosquito bite.) We watched the launch curve slightly to the left and fade into the sky as we listened to the soft rocket rumble. And once it had disappeared, we packed back up and went back to Embry-Riddle.

We ended up getting back around 7 AM, and I was dropped off at my dorm. I ended up sleeping until 12 PM and got on with the weekend homework haul. It’s great living on the Space Coast, though. I’m studying aerospace engineering, and every rocket launch is a reminder of what I’ll be doing for a career one day. One day, I’ll be able to say that I helped put something in space.

So, with that, I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully at Riddle! (And maybe in the industry?)

Homecoming 2021

In which I looked like a Sims character when standing on the field.

Me at Homecoming as part of the Court! Photo courtesy Christian Muller.

In case you missed it, last week (October 4-10) was homecoming week! In the week preceding, homecoming court nominations opened, and to my surprise, I was nominated for homecoming court. I was shocked but honored to be nominated.

Homecoming week was super fun. On Thursday, the Student Engagement and Student Union (or SESU) department hosted the First Thursday festival, where candidates introduced themselves to the student body. Campaigning had been going on all week, and the voting ended on Friday at 5 PM. There was also a dance on Friday.

The Homecoming game was on Saturday. Because Embry-Riddle doesn’t have a football team, the Homecoming Royals are crowned at halftime of the soccer game. I arrived at the game early with a few friends and headed over to the student tailgate area. There were several student government officials and students, so my friends and I ended up hanging out over there with them.

My friends and I pre-crowning!

A few minutes later, one of the Avion photographers showed up and took professional pictures of the Homecoming court. He took individual photos and group photos before finishing with several pictures of the court as a whole.

Anticipation for the crowning was high. The two royals were Jim Myers and Kyla O’Connor, both seniors in the College of Business. I was happy for both of them- even though I didn’t win, I was extremely thankful for the opportunity. I didn’t expect to win as a sophomore, it was great just to be nominated.

After the game, I changed and attended the Touch-N-Go Homecoming Concert. The headlining artist this year was Lauv with MAX as the special guest. I went with a few friends, but we ended up leaving a little early to go and find a good spot for the firework show, which was immediately after. The three of us ended up getting pretty close to the fireworks and then ended up parting ways for the night.

I really enjoyed Embry-Riddle’s 2021 Homecoming. The student union was beautifully decorated for the entire week and the events were super fun. I’d never been to a concert before the Touch-N-Go concert, and I thought it was a great experience. I will definitely be attending next year’s concert, whoever the artist may be. The best thing is that as a Riddle student, I get to help choose the artist- Touch-N-Go picks several artists and then surveys the students to select the winner.

See you in the next post, and hopefully at Riddle!

The 2021 Homecoming Court! Photo courtesy of Christian Muller.

Midterm Exams and Carpool Karaoke, Riddle Style!

In which the blog takes a musical turn, and we’re the main characters!

So, in the past two weeks, I’ve been studying a lot. I had a statics exam on Friday, October 1, an over-the-weekend calc 3 test from Friday to Sunday (October 1-3), an essay due on Monday, October 4, and a physics exam on Thursday, October 7.

I ended up doing really well on the statics and calc exams, and I’ll be getting the essay grade back soon. I spent a lot of time studying for both, but at the same time, you have to have a study-social balance in college or else you’ll get burnt out. So what did I do when I wasn’t studying?

Carpool karaoke!

Carpool karaoke started as a thing between me and one of my best friends last year. She and I would go drive around anywhere between 10 PM and 2 AM on days that we had only afternoon classes and had made sure that all of our work was done. On weekends, sometimes we’d even be out until 3. Carpool karaoke was also accompanied by a run to the nearest gas station for slushies:

The OG Carpool Karaoke.

Carpool karaoke eventually ended up adapting to be a group activity after gradual introductions of various people. It really depends on who’s free at what times, and we only go if a decent amount of us are available.

The group has adapted a lot. We’ve ventured out from straight musical songs (with World Burn from Mean Girls being a favorite) to pop and everything in between. It also fluctuates with whoever comes along- we might play more pop music as opposed to musicals if certain people are there, and vice versa.

Depending on who’s driving, we’ll also go to different places. Some people drive north and we hang out on the beach for a bit, other people will drive to DeLand and back, and some will just drive in circles around Daytona. And sometimes we’ll do multiple routes, depending on how long we stay out.

Our group’s been kind of slow with the whole karaoke thing since it’s midterm exam season. However, we got the opportunity to go on Tuesday night! I ended up in the back middle seat while one of my other friends took a turn driving.

Instead of going to the beach, we quickly stopped to get gas at Buc-ee’s. After walking around Buc-ees and getting a few things there, we deicded to go over to Steak ‘n Shake. It was kind of busy, but we didn’t mind waiting for a bit. And of course, we ended up taking a group picture.

Steak n’ Shake! Featuring the O-Team baseball tee.

After that, we ended up going over to DeLand and back while hanging out and talking. We ended up staying out from 9 to 11ish, so we could all be responsible and get sleep before classes tomorrow. I know that a few of us have also had (or have!) tests this week, so it was a good mid-week activity to do.

I’ll see you in the next post… and hopefully (doing your own version of carpool karaoke?) at Riddle!

Inspiration 4 and Star Trek Trivia!

Oh, nothing much, just watching the product of my future career, right? Heck yeah!

It’s been an exciting week here in Daytona!

If you’re following space news, you’d see that the Inspiration 4 launch was a success. If you’re following Embry-Riddle news, you’d see that there are two Embry-Riddle alumni involved with the Inspiration 4 launch.

Being a space enthusiast myself, I decided that I’d like to see the launch up close. While you can see launches from the Embry-Riddle campus (and even hear the slight roar of the rocket!), there’s no reason why I shouldn’t go down since it’s only an hour’s drive or so. My roommate from last year and I ended up hitching a ride with one of our other friends who was going anyway with a few other people.

Five of us piled into one car, and we ended up doing a bit of carpool karaoke on the way down to the launch. We found a spot pretty close to the launch site in a boat launching area. The launch window opened at 8:02 PM, and we made sure to get there early.

There were a lot of bugs outside, but thankfully, we’d brought some bug spray. A few other people had found the same spot we had and many had professional-looking cameras. I’m not super good at photography, but I love looking at other people’s pictures.

When the rocket ignited, the whole sky lit up. (Side note: if you ever get a chance to watch a rocket launch live, do it. If you’re not busy, watch a live stream- a few of my friends and I watched the Firefly Alpha launch a little while back.) Here’s what my phone got:

Pretty rocket!

It took a few moments for the rumble to reach us, and by that time, the rocket was shooting across the sky and through the clouds. A few minutes later, we saw this:

Pretty rocket 2!

We were lucky enough to be in a spot so that the rocket appeared to curve across the sky. After the rocket disappeared, the five of us got back into the car and went back to Daytona and to our dorms. And that was my Wednesday night: no homework, just rocket science.

Thursday through Sunday was Panhellenic (sorority) recruitment, which was super fun, and I’m excited to see the Panhellenic community grow! Another one of my other favorite events this week was Star Trek trivia, which I’d hosted with one of my favorite professors, Dr. Lear.

I’d made a deal with her that if I showed up in a Star Trek uniform, that she’d get me a pink drink from Starbucks. As I have a slight addiction to Starbucks, I showed up in this:

Star Trek: Enterprise era uniform!

True to her word, Dr. Lear did end up buying me a Starbucks before trivia started. There were plenty of people there, including several of my friends. The trivia event was during another event called the Skyline Social, which had food and drink for purchase along with activities to do.

Trivia had three rounds, and Dr. Lear and I took turns reading the questions. We did an intermission poster giveaway in between the first and second rounds, and in between the second and third, we had a drawing contest. One of my friends wasn’t playing, so we ended up roping him into judging the drawing contest.

He had up to 20 points that he could distribute as he pleased. He decided to be nice and ended up giving everyone points. The final question was probably a little too hard since nobody got the correct answer, but trivia was really fun.

Riddle hosts Star Wars trivia in the spring, and Dr. Lear thinks that the next trivia event is going to be Harry Potter. I enjoyed co-hosting, so maybe I’ll be able to do it again! Last year, Dr. Lear hosted Star Wars trivia and over 200 people came out to play. (Even though I’m not a Star Wars fan, I was there too since I got extra credit for coming.)

If you’re at Embry-Riddle, I highly suggest going to Skyline Social trivia nights. I’ll see you in the next post, and hopefully at Riddle (and trivia night)!

From both me and Dr. Lear… Live long and prosper!

How My First Week of Classes Went

At least when I fell off my longboard I was 30 feet away from Health Services…

Well, the first week of classes has officially ended, and we’re getting through the second. I’ve already gotten plenty of assignments to keep me busy.

Yes, the sign is really that big! Mask removed for photo only. Both photographer and I are fully vaccinated.

On the first (and second!) day, I was lucky enough to find all of my classes and not walk in the wrong direction. Since I was part of the 2021 O-Team, I wore one of our shirts to class on the first day in case anyone had questions. I ran into a few people who did, and I was happy to help.

Activities seemed to resume, for the most part, as normal. Currently, Embry-Riddle expects you to wear a mask indoors, and most activities picked up within the first two weeks. For example, the Society of Women Engineers’ first general meeting is Wednesday, September 8, while the first chapter event of the semester for my sorority was on Monday, August 30- the day school started.

Unfortunately, I had a minor longboard incident on the second day of school. While I’m okay, I accidentally ran over a crack and skinned my knee. Normally, I would’ve called the school’s Emergency Response Team, which provides free medical care on campus from trained students, but I was really close to Health Services and just went there. They took a look and gave me a bunch of bandages and instructed me on how to take care of it.

Thursday was the most eventful day of the week for me. While I only have one class (YES!), the school hosted a free petting zoo.

Birdie!

In the zoo, there were a few other animals including a fennec fox, giant yellow snake, and an elderly spotted cat. I also saw a chinchilla, fancy chickens, a calf, and several goats. It was pretty fun.

That night- September 3- a few of my friends and I decided to watch Firefly Aerospace’s launch of the Firefly Alpha. We reserved one of the student union study room, and one of my friends brought his laptop. We arrived early and hung out for about two hours- an hour before the launch and an hour waiting for the next attempt.

Although the Firefly Alpha didn’t make it to its planned trajectory, it was really fun to hang out with my friends. It was a fun first week, and I did some more hanging-out on Labor Day weekend.

Of course, I’ve also been doing a lot more work than I did last year. As classes get harder, you might have less homework, but it’ll be more time-consuming. I’m glad tutoring is starting up again- the tutors are super helpful, and they’re the reason I got an A in Calculus II last year.

See you in the next post, and hopefully someday at Riddle!

I Participated in O-Week, This Time as an Orientation Ambassador

I am once again suggesting that you come to orientation events.

Well, it’s that time of the year again- orientation week for new students! I remember that I was soooooooo excited last year when I moved in. Funnily enough, I moved in last year on August 16, and this year moved in August 17 for Orientation Team, AKA O-Team.

We spent a few days on retreat preparing for orientation week, where we learned the welcome dance, practiced our chants, bonded together, and fine-tuned skills needed for orientation. I had the weekend off, and orientation week began on Monday. In the morning, Merrick (one of the other bloggers!) and I worked at the student union help station answering questions.

Merrick and I!

Throughout the day, the O-Team attended various events around campus. On Monday, I gave several unofficial tours of the campus and helped bring pep to the ice cream social. There, I high-fived students in the ice cream line while holding the orientation flag- a very high honor! That night was super fun- many people won prizes from the Bingo game that was going on.

On Tuesday, I helped pack s’mores bags for the fireside s’mores activity. Inside were graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows that students could use to make s’mores. Although the event got rained out, we were able to hold part of it outside! We danced to the Wobble, the Cupid Shuffle, and the Cha Cha Slide before we got rained out. In addition, other music was played, and students and O-Teamers formed a large dance circle. I found myself into it and ended up pulling out this move.

Splits!

On Wednesday we finished the last scheduled big block of move-in time. After helping get people checked in, we went to the student union and socialized with new students. I worked the welcome table again with a different person and then went to check the Eagle to Eagle rooms. The Eagle to Eagle sessions are in a small classroom setting and led by an orientation ambassador (so you can call me Professor Carly McDonald, I guess?) who presents information about the campus.

I made sure that my room was set up, and thankfully, everything was working. My Eagle to Eagle session is for people who live on the fourth floor of New Residence Hall 2, and I’m excited to meet them tomorrow.

COAS 318!

One question I get a lot is “How do you have so much energy?” Well, truth be told: it comes from other members of the team. Everyone is here because they want to make new students feel welcome and give them a successful start to their time at Embry-Riddle. When one person is excited, the energy radiates through the team and bounces off of the rest of us, and that’s why you’ll see us chanting in the student union at 8 AM and 8 PM.

I’ve really enjoyed every aspect of O-Week since the O-Team is one big family. It’s great to help out and meet new students, which is what being on the O-Team is all about. You make a lot of friends on the team, too- and they’re just a text away in the future, weather it be during O-Week or finals week.

Hopefully I’ll see you around if you’re currently at Embry-Riddle, and if not… see you in the next blog post!

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!

Spring 2021 Closing & Fall 2021 Prep

Happy May everyone! I’m currently blogging from Savannah, GA where the local coffee shops and restaurants are treating me well. Today is officially two weeks past my second COVID-19 vaccination shot and I am so thrilled that society is readjusting to being mask-free and more holistically health conscious (meaning prioritizing mental AND physical wellness). Today ERAU-DB sent an official University Communications email from the Office of the President noting that face masks are now optional for everyone on campus according to CDC guidelines! This is such exciting news given the state of the past year and how the global pandemic has impacted everyday operations. Also, I start my Arabic online summer classes in about a week through Project GO! I officially closed off my fourth year (of five) at ERAU this Spring 2021 semester with a term GPA of 4.0. With only two more semesters left before I graduate and commission into the USAF through AFROTC, I have high hopes for one more successful year and now I am excited more than ever that it will be a year mask-free as well!

Orientation from years past!

Orientation Team had our first summer meeting to start preparing for new students arrival to campus in August. The O-Team is bigger than ever and I am very happy to be able to get to know everyone and bond before we meet all the incoming students for Fall 2021. O-Team is a huge family made up of a diverse group of students and together, we span almost every organization on campus, including almost (if not) all majors, a variety of different backgrounds, and we come from all over the world. O-Team is a powerhouse full of helpful student resources, who together are knowledgeable about all things ERAU, are fluent in most languages, and full of positive energy. As a welcome team for those new to campus, your Orientation Leaders and ERAU experts, full of first hand experience and trained in all things ERAU, are here to help make your transition to college as simple, and as fun as possible!

Per the latest ERAU update, effective immediately, masks are now optional and we’re super excited to welcome new students as we resume normal operations!!

I joined O-Team because the first student I met at ERAU helped me during Orientation, then as I moved into my Residence Hall that same O-Team leader was a Resident Advisor (RA) on my floor too! That same student ended up being one of my mentors throughout her time at ERAU before she graduated, one of my best friends, and even my Big in Greek Life! She pioneered the way for me at Riddle. Connections and friendships I had with upperclassman as a freshmen inspired and motivated me throughout my years in college. Those relationships inspire and motivate me today to reach my goals and help others do the same. While people come to college for the academics, the environment and the connections they make at the university are truly key players in why students choose to stay. Whether you’re a traditional extrovert, introvert, combination, or something completely different, college offers a social outlet for you to explore your interests through the variety of clubs, organizations, majors, minors, and extracurricular activities that ERAU has to offer. Our university gives you the tools you need to help you find out how to be true to yourself, explore your interests, find what you’re passionate about and what motivates you, and help you succeed as a student and as a professional in the workforce post-graduation.

Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon with more updates to follow on how summer classes are treating me and more preparation for the Fall 2021 semester!