Finals & Staying Connected With Friends

Happy almost May everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, I have one more final exam to take from the comfort of my bedroom, and I’m SO excited for the semester to be finished.

Some small updates: I’ve recently discovered the Popsugar Fitness Youtube channel which is filled with great workouts ranging from a few minutes to over an hour and everywhere in between that are perfect to do while social distancing. You think the 4 min arms won’t get you, but let me tell you WHEW, it’s gold. Four minutes is a perfect way to get a small break from studying without losing your train of thought about a complicated Jet Propulsion problem.

The aftermath of my 4 hour Jet Propulsion Final Exam featuring iced coffee with dark chocolate oat milk

I have been turning to music a lot lately to deal with stress, calm down, and feel connected with my friends from far away. Spotify+Hulu+Showtime is only $5 a month for college students. On Spotify there is an option to make a Collaborative Playlist which is essentially an outlet for you to create something with your friends from far away, where all editors have the option to add/remove songs at their leisure.

My best friend and I always say that our lives parallel because we seem to feel the same emotions at the same times and despite moving away to different states for college, we go through a lot of similar experiences and feel the same ways. Different mood Collaborative Playlists are so helpful in situations where you miss the people you are close to, especially when you would be sharing the same songs or listening to them in person together if you had the chance. This is seriously an underrated way of connecting while social distancing that I highly recommend.

My most recent entertainment recommendations include: Insecure, a hilarious show with a great music soundtrack on HBO-Go, and Outer Banks, a suspenseful and dramatic show on Netflix that gives me nostalgia for living close to the water growing up. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime Video is also absolutely hilarious and based in the 1950s so the costumes, language, music, and overall culture are all extremely interesting.

In addition to studying and binge watching shows on my laptop, I have been getting in my daily yoga, workouts, and walks with my sister. Longer walks on the sunnier warmer days or weekends of course, we went on a 5 mile hike the other day and it was beautiful. Gaining some perspective in the midst of the global pandemic we are all facing is truly (and literally) a breath of fresh air.

Hiking with my sister!

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, wash your hands, cover your faces, and I will report back soon!

Quarantine Blog

Greetings from my room in Seoul, South Korea. I have been isolated in my quarantined house as the government requires all individuals coming into Korea to be tested and quarantined for 14 days in light of the COVID-19 pandemic spreading around the world. It works out perfectly as I prepare for my final exams coming up near the end of April so I have been studying and catching up on my readings.

The past two weeks have definitely been an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Starting from my first flight out of Daytona Beach, it had a whopping total of 9 passengers on board and my second flight to Detroit had every middle seat empty. The check-in gate for my trans-pacific flight, we had gate agents conducting temperature checks before boarding. The majority of passengers had masks and gloves on and many of them had cautious looks on their faces as they carefully boarded the airplane.

McNamara Terminal in Detroit Airport
My flight from Detroit to Seoul Inchon on this A350-900

Upon landing in Inchon International Airport, I noticed the taxiways had multiple planes parked and stored along with dozens of gates closed for parked aircraft. The customs and security was more intense with members of the Korean army and their version of CDC dressed in full body hazmat suits. We had to wait in line to fill out a number of documents and answer questions from those agents.

Planes are parked everywhere

Day 2 upon my arrival, I was tested negative for the COVID-19 and my 14-days began. I couldn’t hug my family or go outside of my place and it can be very tempting especially when the spring weather outside is so pleasant. However, the government here is trying their very best to contain the second wave of COVID-19 and everyone is encouraged to practice social distancing and stay home.

I had to sit at a separate table while we had dinner at the airport (Better safe than sorry)

As an aspiring airline pilot, it hurts to see how heavily the global airline industry is hurting from the impact of COVID-19. After going through a firsthand experience of seeing empty seats on my flights and the deserted terminal buildings, it is difficult to see the daily news of more airlines cancelling their operations and losing money and pilots.

Many people in small, local businesses and medical / first responders are struggling more than ever. I can only imagine what some people are going through during these rough times. I hope everyone can stay safe and healthy. However, I think it is more crucial that we can all be a little bit more selfless and thoughtful by actively practicing social distancing and being more conservative with stocking up with supplies.

Now would be a great time to find a good book to read, a TV series to binge watch or a new hobby to pick up as you spend your days at home.

Quarantine & Self Care

Happy April everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, where I am blessed to be quarantined with my sister who is an amazing chef. Currently sipping on whipped iced coffee with coconut sugar and vanilla almond milk and it’s lovely. I would like to provide a Quarantine update as April is the last month in the spring semester, and focusing on your studies is as important as balancing that with time to relax.

Staying constantly plugged in is something I’ve definitely struggled with while adjusting to online classes. So when I’m not monitoring my laptop or my phone, here are some things I like to do in Quarantine besides study, take notes, and do homework:

If you have the luxury of living in a semi-rural to rural area, take walks, runs, or hike! I’m working out, taking vitamins, drinking a lot of water, running, going on walks, hikes, or hilly/wooded area treks, eating healthy, and doing yoga daily. My personal favorite is Yoga With Adriene on Youtube, a virtual online yoga class with everything to relaxing sequences to power yoga that will give your muscles a run for their money. I usually practice her videos in my dorm room at school when I don’t have time to go to a class at the fitness center and they are perfect to do in your backyard or in your house, while using safe social distancing techniques (6 feet bubble)!

Try to branch out from boredom by listening to new music, or tuning into free social media live-streamed digital concerts from your favorite artists.

Catch up on podcasts! For me Crime Junkie by audiochuck, The Long Distance Love Bombs Podcast by Dr. Jeremy Goldberg, and Press Send with Chinae Alexander by Dear Media are my favorites to stream on Spotify.

Catch up on some shows or movies!

Things I’ve personally been watching include:

Hulu: Dave, Little Fires Everywhere

HBO-Go: Euphoria, Ramy Youssef: Feelings

Netflix: On My Block, Night on Earth, Tiger King

Disney +: All of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Ice Age, Ratatouille

Social media cleanse! The rule I’ve been following lately is to unfollow any pages that does not inspire or motivate me, or if I don’t think I’d be willing to stop and have a conversation with someone in person, there is no reason why I would need to keep their life online, so I unfollow! Be picky about what you expose yourself to, it’s under-appreciated self care!

Side-note: The Spring 2020 AFROTC Det 157 patch design I collaborated with another Professional Officer Course (POC) cadet came back from production, so now we have a decal. I’m super excited about it (even if I won’t be able to physically have it until the Fall 2020 semester, @social distancing).

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, wash your hands, cover your faces, and I will report back soon!

Finishing 1st Semester & Family Time

Happy January everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida where I left after finals in 80 degree weather in December and returned to 80 degree weather in January. 

To provide a small bit of background, I set goals every semester, whether it be goals for my RA position, goals for my classes, my personal fitness, or my AFROTC position. I started off Fall 2019 semester riding the wave of my Spring 2019 semester GPA being the highest its been since I started my college career, so of course I made the goal of making Fall 2019 even better. I would like to officially report back saying that, while 18 credit Fall Semesters are not my favorite, I have proven fairly successful and I achieved my goal of raising the bar higher for my best semester GPA.

That being said, now I have a new goal to beat and maybe one day I’ll make it to that 4.0? Game on Spring 2020!

After finals, closing the residence halls, and a few plane rides, I made it back to Virginia safely for the holidays where I spent time relaxing, working out, watching the Grinch one too many times, reading, hiking, and drinking all the kombucha and tea.

Some of my favorite moments from Winter Break were going to an ornament making class with my family and a bunch of friends and cousins. (Yes, my non-conventional holiday experience included a Christmas palm plant instead of the traditional tree. I live by the beach!)

I made a clay gingerbread man ornament!

Another highlight from my time off from class was seeing my pup, she’s a pitbull named Kita and loves naps (JUST like me)!

We love a good restful vacation. I’m excited to be back to school though. Will report back soon. Big things to follow, stay tuned folks.

Almost Break & Finals Anxiety??

Howdy & happy November folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach on quite possibly the coldest day of the semester thus far, a whopping 57 degrees Fahrenheit with overcast skies, spotty rain, and wind. Nothing says cold rainy days like, you guessed it, weekend classes (on not only Saturday, but Sunday too). And with finals looming around the corner, the cherry on top of that stress, is the anxiety of classes on the weekends. On a more positive note, Thanksgiving Break is about two weeks away so that is HUGE iridescent light at the end of the tunnel, but for those of us with back to back tests now on weekdays and weekends, it’s a life full of challenges…not to mention finals haven’t even started yet (AHH).

The metaphorical grind that you may have heard of referenced in pop culture truly extends to the life of college students, in particular Riddle students, faculty, and staff…yes we ALL work on the weekends, 21 days and counting, hollllla! Deadlines are approaching and I have to say in the midst of the seemingly endless back to back “work” days, the highlight of this has been that we’re all trucking through it together. The other night I went to gym after I finished up with one of my evening classes to meet up with some friends, knock out arms and abs before going on a run, and LET ME TELL YOU, the gym was PACKED. One thing Riddle students appreciate almost as much as the stress of classes, is the opportunity to destress (particularly in a way I absolutely recommend) with workouts!

Truly in the face of this adversity I must add that although I am challenged, tired, and sometimes flustered, I would not trade the experiences I am going through right now for anything because we are truly so privileged to be in the situation where we can even complain about problems of “too much school”. Shoutout to the surplus of opportunity for access to education, honestly we’re extremely blessed.

Group photo of the girls in my AFROTC class before a Morale training event the other weekend!

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving Break to unwind and recharge before grinding through finals. Don’t forget to stock up on your coffee, tea, and snacks! Will report back soon y’all, after I have had ample sleep and home cooked food over Thanksgiving (YUM), keep on keeping on!

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!

Training & Traveling

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Dallas, Texas, where I will be in the airport the next few hours waiting for my flight to Arizona. 

Firstly, May FLEW by. Going from finals, to moving back from Daytona Beach to Virginia, then going from Virginia to Georgia, then to Alabama for Field Training, then back to Georgia, then to Virginia, now to Texas, then to Arizona, where I will reside until the beginning of August. Aside from training lasting two exhausting weeks in the Alabama heat, traveling (inclusive of packing and unpacking, then repacking and unpacking again) is also very exhausting.

I successfully got through spring semester with the highest term GPA I’ve had since starting at Riddle, and I credit that mostly to the hours I spent studying and not going to the beach, despite popular belief when I tell people I go to college in Florida.

In preparation for Field Training I cut out caffeine beforehand, which was gruesome, but you truly don’t realize how dependent you are until you pass through the withdrawals and realize that a good amount of sleep is a good substitution for a cup of coffee or tea. Nevertheless, upon completion of Field Training, despite getting 8 hours of rest every night, I was absolutely exhausted and my airport Starbucks run was very much appreciated.

My favorite part of Field Training was hands down the people. I was in a flight of twenty people that hailed from all over the country and I most certainly underestimated how quickly you can become attached to strangers in two weeks. The transition from individuals to a team to a family is literally awe-inspiring. In a nutshell, Field Training was an experience that will stay with my for the rest of my life and definitely fit the stereotype of “the most fun you never want to have again”.

The Alphacados with our amazing FTO and CTA, FT MAX 1 Summer 2019

Now that I am almost to the end of hopping around the country in such a short period of time, I am excited to go forth with my Arabic studies at the University of Arizona through Project GO, get back into a routine of class and working out, and of course explore all Tucson’s coffee shops while soaking up the sunshine & becoming aquatinted with some of the infamous saguaro cacti. Will report back soon, stay cool folks.

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!

Finals & Finishing Up

Happy April everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, where I will be until approximately the first week of May when I pack up and move out for the summer. I must add that the spring time in Florida is particularly lovely, and aside from the occasional outlier variations in temperatures, it has been for the most part in the 80s sans the one 98 degree day and the 55 degree day (shoutout global warming).

In recent news AFROTC has officially concluded for the spring 2019 semester, and this year’s Field Training Preparation Group ended with a total of 68 real mvps. Typically in ROTC the freshman class starts out with about 200 and each year the numbers get smaller and smaller. I’m honored to have had the amazing opportunity to stick it out with my group of 68 class A citizens.

Spring 2019 Det 157 FTP Group’s last PT at the pool!

I must include that I recently went to Cinnamon Tree Cafe with one of my best friends and afterwards worked on a group project for our Modern Middle Eastern World Affairs class on the topic of the Arab Israeli Conflict in the Middle East, outside in the Florida sunshine relaxing by the pool. The weekends are my favorite.

Crepes, coffee, and presentation prep on a Saturday morning with this gem!

Something that makes me extremely happy in lieu of the dark cloud of final examinations approaching is that the basil I planted in my room a few weeks ago when I hosted the staff activity at my building’s weekly Resident Advisor meeting is thriving.

My basil babies in all their glory. The morning light they get from my window in my room is so great and they’ve really taken off.

Another really great aspect of Riddle that I’ve recently opened my eyes to, is that despite our school not being huge, it has enough people that you’re always meeting someone new, but also has the comfort of being able to spot at least a few people you know wherever you are on campus.

Even though there’s one week left to the semester before finals begin, I’m still meeting new people and making new friends, which is honestly so unexpected. It seems to be that when you’re not looking to make new friends people walk into your life exactly when you need them the most, even if you don’t initially realize it. 

Despite being very busy and stressed with classes, scheduling, and packing for Field Training this summer, I’m still finding ways to stay sane by going on runs with my friends from ROTC, having group study sessions at cafes, practicing yoga and meditating regularly, and going on walks to clear my mind. I highly recommend self care especially at particularly stressful moments in the semester.

Views from my dorm as I study.

Now, I’m off to turn in some Aerospace Flight Vehicles homework and go to my Differential Equations class. Keep on keeping on folks, study hard, remember to take time for yourself even if you may feel like you have no time at all, and I’ll see you on the flip side of finals!

RA Life, AFROTC, & Rest

Happy December everyone! Finals are over!!! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, but in a few hours I’ll be in Orlando departing from MCO, then I’ll be heading back home to Norfolk, Virginia. 

Just a brief recap of fall 2018 before the new year and spring semester begins: This has single-handedly been the most challenging semester of my life, but I passed all of my finals and my classes, friends, so thank you so much for the support. Key shout-outs here go to the boxing girls and my best friend Obie wan.

Many students have already left Daytona, but RAs are the last ones to leave (as well as the first ones back) as we do health and safety inspections and have to check all the rooms to prepare our residence halls for shutting down and for opening back up to residents. Fret not though, this process only takes a few days and after that is freedom. 

I am so excited to be able to relax over break. I’m sure it will be filled with all the things I love and only get to have sparingly while I’m in college, including but not limited to: lots of working out, home cooked meals with fresh vegetables, yoga (YESSS), seeing my best friend home from college, living walkable distance from the beach, my dog Kita, and also my family. I may read a book for leisure, shocking I know, as well as listen to lots of music. I also will be sleeping in glutenous amounts and will be going to all my favorite local coffee shops. Taking a break every once in a while is so well needed and deserved for both students, professors, and faculty. Everyone has been working so hard since August, we all really deserve this chance to reset, relax, and recharge before the spring.

Next semester in AFROTC will be Field Training Preparation which is extremely exciting as well because after that comes Field Training during the summer, which is one step closer to commissioning and graduation. Field Training in a nut shell is essentially a 15 day “boot camp” which is very strenuous and is a required step to complete before GMC (General Military Course) underclassman become POC (Professional Officer Course) upperclassman in fall 2019. Over Thanksgiving my early Christmas present was new running shoes and, although I feel I’ve broken them in, as soon as next semester hits I will probably rethink that.  

Some of my family from AFROTC and me after our final Pass in Review ceremony of the semester

Also here’s a picture from when I contracted around this time last year and swore into the United States Air Force, which if I haven’t mentioned before, was an absolutely amazing experience and I 10/10 recommend.

But for now, we are in break and de-stress mode and I will continue to get through the holidays with an open mind, lots of exercising and stretching, and good food. I miss cooking so much, but one thing I do not miss though is the cold weather. Perhaps I’ll have a white Christmas in Virginia? I do prefer the moderate climates a bit more though, as per expected with the majority of my year spent in Florida and other hot places.

For everyone traveling this holiday season, or even just driving a few minutes away, remember to de-stress and relax over break and state safe. Will report back soon! Happy holidays and almost happy new year!