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!

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!

Online Classes & Group Projects

Happy December everyone! I’m currently blogging from my hometown of Norfolk, VA where I just finished up the Fall 2020 semester online! Today I’m going to be giving some tips of how to navigate online classes and group projects.

My first tip, and probably the theme of all my tips is that communication is key! This comes into play especially if/when you have questions or don’t understand a concept in class and need clarification. Reach out to your Teacher’s Assistant (TA)! TA’s are typically the ones grading homework and holding virtual Office Hours, in addition to Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions per the recommendation of your professor. A TA is usually a Masters, or Graduate student who is taking classes or doing research at ERAU, so I find they are more relatable to talk to (closer in age) and help explain concepts in more understandable ways because they were probably taking the same classes only a few years ago. If your class doesn’t have a TA, you can always reach out to a TA for a different section of the same class and since the material is the same, they should be able to help you too.

Screenshot of the automatic messaging system attached to Canvas that makes communicating with professors and TAs super easy!

Reach out to your professors! Email and Canvas message will be your best friends. The messaging system on Canvas is extremely easy to use. First go to Inbox from the Canvas homepage, then Compose, and you are able to select your course and message your professors instantly!

One of my professors availability this past semester was 24 hours a day. While that seems a little extreme, the point is your professors are there for you if you need help and they want to support you. My professor gave us his email and phone number and told us we could email, text, call, FaceTime, or Canvas message if we needed anything. If your professor has more structured office hours, you can always reach out to your TA, another class section’s TA, a different professor for the same class, or a different professor in the same department for help outside of your own professor’s availability.

Make a study group! Navigating group projects can be difficult sometimes, but if you already built a relationship with the people in your class, it makes reaching out and collaborating much easier! Some of my favorite Apps to use when working on Lab Reports or Group projects are GroupMe, which makes group messaging super easy and efficient, GoogleDocs which is the perfect way to divide and conquer a lab report because multiple people can make edits at the same time, and of course Zoom, MicrosoftTeams, and FaceTime for video calls and group meetings.

Hold your friends accountable! When working in groups on Lab Reports, group projects, and other collaborative assignments, set deadline reminders in your phone’s calendar and remind your peers when the due dates are approaching! Be a good group partner by being active in your group, completing your sections in a timely manner, and collaborating and communicating when needed to ensure everyone is on the same page! Some professors have Peer Evaluation sheets that you are required to hand in as an assignment to accompany group projects or presentations. Be honest on your Peer Evals! If a member in the group isn’t pulling their weight, let the professor know. Don’t let your learning or your grade suffer because your team member didn’t complete their portion of the assignment or didn’t perform as well as you needed them to.

My favorite Canvas homepage screen to see at the end of the semester!

Will report back soon folks! Good luck on finals 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!

Hope & Half-Way

Happy October folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, we’re about halfway through the semester, almost a month away from finals, and I’m so excited to visit Virginia again come Winter Break.

Mid-terms the past couple weeks were not easy. From my personal experience, college students are some of the most stressed out group of humans I have ever encountered. Maybe it’s because we’re all navigating excessive hours of homework, studying, class, and other university obligations, and there’s somehow only 24 hours in a day? I have found that I am currently coming out of the stressed wave from midterms and the only thing to do now is to keep cruising full speed ahead until the end of the semester. Stay on the grind of prepping for quizzes, doing homework, studying, and using the down time (can it really be considered down time?) between exams to mentally prepare for finals season.

Student Court’s group photo channeling Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ie Harry Potter vibes.

I have been enjoying the little moments recently. This especially includes the few and far between coveted days I get the luxurious chance to sleep in. I also have been feeling very grateful for the little moments I get to catch up with old friends, girl gang brunches never get old especially when they haven’t happened in a few weeks.

This semester has been mentally exhausting, whether it’s from online classes, a global pandemic, general life stressors, or a cumulation of everything, everyone I’ve encountered seems a little off. Navigating “normal” life with so many abnormal aspects doesn’t feel right. Check on your friends! The world could use a little more compassion, understanding, and connection right about now. I am extremely hopeful for the end of the semester and SO excited to use Winter Break to catch up on sleep and mentally recharge.

I have surprisingly made some new friends this semester and even though our interactions are limited to Microsoft Teams calls studying or phone calls, the little bit of connection feels extremely comforting in the cold virtual aura that online classes have presented.

A visual representation of how the Student Court feels about being a little over half way through the Fall 2020 semester.

In other news, SGA Student Court has been going great! As the newest Associate Justice to the team I’m constantly learning and increasing my understanding of how the university functions and its rules, policies, and regulations. We meet virtually once a week to give updates, work on appeal cases, and do other courtly duties. I am so happy to be on such a great team with motivated, hard working, and dedicated individuals who strive to advocate for students. Generally I like to think the universe is for me, and so is everything else, but particularly in this case I can 100% say the Student Court is for you, and I am too.

Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on folks!

Fall & Figuring It Out

Happy September everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and I recently bought my plane ticket for winter break to head back to Virginia for Thanksgiving and virtual finals.

The first day of fall is very near and I am so excited for the air to start getting crisp and chilly, with rainy Florida fall days. Additionally, I’ve been very busy lately and it still boggles my mind how taking less credit hours (12) with more virtual classes, fills up my schedule more than taking 18 credit hours with in-person classes. I’m still adjusting and learning how to set boundaries, which is proving very tricky indeed. There is an unfortunate expectation with online classes that because classes are virtual, students are readily available 24/7, but I’m quite exhausted. There is a balance between virtual classes and life, and I feel like teachers, students, and staff are all figuring it out together.

My bitmoji enjoying some meditation after a long day.

Today my schedule consists of yoga, working out, breakfast, blogging, Aerospace Structures I homework, working on essays for study abroad program scholarships for Summer 2021, writing an essay for my Air Force class on a national security issue of choice, more study abroad scholarship applications, writing a letter to my brother as he is currently at basic training, an ROTC meeting, working on an Experimental Aerodynamics lab report virtually with my lab partner, going to get my daily wellness check, printing a slew of items, preparing myself for PT tomorrow (ie filling up my camelbak with water, laying out my PT gear, yoga because my muscles are sore and still recovering), and then sleep!

Teachers typically assume I have extraneous free time to relax on Saturdays and Sundays, but my weekends are equally as busy as my weekdays. I could use a 3 day weekend to get caught up on everything right about now. I am looking forward to the end of the fall semester, putting down my laptop and phone, and relaxing.

In other news my sister got a new puppy that I am so excited to meet when I return to Virginia in late November. Taking virtual finals with a tiny mascot seems like an amazing stress relief.

My sister’s new puppy Dasiy!

To be continued folks, keep on keeping on, stay safe and studious, will report back soon!

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!