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!

Study Abroad Scholarships & Summer Plans

Happy February everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, posted up in a local coffee shop on a Saturday morning grinding away on homework. I have some exciting news! I recently got accepted to participate in an amazing opportunity this summer with Project GO! I’ve talked about Project GO in the past because I started my language learning journey in Summer 2018 with Arabic!

Project GO is a program offered through the Department of Defense to all military branches of ROTC students where they are offered scholarships to learn critical languages either domestically or abroad over the summer.

Since I am in Air Force ROTC, I spent my first summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years with Project GO learning Arabic domestically in Lawrence, Kansas at the University of Kansas. I continued my studies throughout the year at ERAU Daytona Beach and decided to add an Arabic Studies minor to my academic curriculum. The following summer in 2019 I spent at the University of Arizona studying Arabic domestically as well. Last summer in 2020 I was selected to study Arabic abroad in Morocco with Project GO, but unfortunately due to the global pandemic, travel lockdowns were set in place and Morocco’s borders shut, so I continued studying throughout the summer on Arizona time with online Arabic courses. (Shoutout to Zoom, I am VERY familiar.) 

A perk of Pre-Pandemic studying with Project GO in Arizona was the amazing hikes!

Also, in 2020 I was selected to receive a Boren Award to study Arabic abroad in Amman, Jordan, but unfortunately (again due to the pandemic) I was unable to do so, and the Boren program allowed me to postpone using my award in Summer 2021. Boren is a National Security Education Program initiative that offers scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students to study critical languages abroad.

The difference between Project GO and Boren is that the Boren Awards program is open to all students (not only ROTC) and is a bit more flexible on choosing your specific language, country, foreign host institution, and courses. The Boren Awards program is more heavily reliant on self-initiative and providing your own plan for language learning, as well as proposing the funds needed for the expenses of your endeavor and applying for the Boren Award to do so.

View of the sunset from the University of Arizona’s campus while I was studying Arabic there.

With Project GO, you have the option of language and learning level, along with different host universities (domestically) that host both domestic and abroad programs where you are able to choose up to three programs both domestically and abroad to apply for (a total of 6). If you are selected to receive a scholarship, the foreign host institution is already paired with a domestic institution and essentially requires less planning from a student/participant’s perspective.

That being said, I have officially accepted a study abroad opportunity for Summer 2021 with Project GO where I will be continue my advanced Arabic studies in Meknes, Morocco and I am extremely excited. Will report back soon folks, keep on keeping on!

Routines & Realizations

Happy July everyone! I am currently blogging from Virginia Beach, Virginia and I am loving the hot weather, despite having online classes that I keep me inside for most of the days.

The year 2020 in general has looked abnormal for a lot of people. I was originally supposed to be studying Arabic from Meknes, Morocco but right now I have officially finished my first semester of an intensive advanced Arabic course online through Project GO with the University of Arizona, which is how I spend 40+ hours a week dedicating my time.

When I’m not studying, in class, doing homework, meeting with professors, tutors, and language partners on Zoom calls I have had the amazing opportunity to go surfing in the mornings at sunrise. I even saw some dolphins in the water very close to my board recently! Moments like that remind me, despite how limiting my rigorous school schedule is all year round, it’s up to me to find a balance where I am enjoying life and finding happiness despite current situations.

Additionally, one of my favorite life hacks for online class is realizing that I can position my laptop on my kitchen counter while I’m in class so I can stand instead of sit which makes a HUGE difference in my overall mood and how my body feels (considering its approximately 8+ hours a day on Zoom calls).

I’ve been finding solace in working out with my friends or my sister from different parts of the country via Zoom, listening to music, podcasts, or classic Disney movies while I bake, and going for bike rides. 

I have really been loving roasting vegetables and baking because they make the entire house smell delicious while I’m inside all day and then I have delicious food to eat when I finish studying! Recently I’ve endeavored on vegan dark chocolate brownies, banana bread (2 different recipes), and a banana tarte tatin inspired by Nadiya’s Time To Eat on Netflix.

More vegan treats! From top left to right: more banana bread, almond vanilla berry puff pastries, dark chocolate brownies with walnuts and chocolate chips, and banana tarte tatin inspired by Nadiya’s Time To Eat on Netflix!

The plants that are thriving and keeping me sane in the garden recently are three types of basil, rosemary, beets, peppers (bell, banana, and jalapeño), beets, asparagus, thyme, and a plethora of other beauties that are bringing my happiness during this time.

I’ve also been trying to keep a semi-solid morning routine by waking up and putting a face mask or letting a face wash sit while I set essential oil diffusers, light candles, burn incense, start making coffee, do morning yoga, meditate, and/or read or write for a few minutes then continue on my day with either watering the plants, working out, going surfing, finishing some homework or last minute studying, and making breakfast.

My days are usually pretty packed until the late evenings around 7pm when I do another short workout and some yoga before showering, finishing up more homework/studying, eating dinner and repeating the process. In the chaos and long days my free time in the mornings are definitely my most favorite and sacred part of my day where I get to reflect and connect with my wellbeing before channeling my energy towards school all day.

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, and I will report back soon into my second semester of intense online advanced arabic!

Current Events & Coping

Happy June everyone! Recent times have been increasingly trying given the current global and nationwide issues that are being brought to light. Progress is only achieved through change, adapting, and overcoming obstacles through education, activism, action, and solidarity. I am proud that Embry-Riddle has spoken in support of both safe health practices and in support of promoting positive change in our society. There are a lot of emotions coming to surface for many people right now, so I’m here to assure you that during times of uncertainty, change, and progress it’s so important to educate yourself on topics that impact our society, culture, government, and ways of living!

There are so many amazing resources to help with activism, education, and coping for the current situations facing our country. It’s SO important to remember you are not alone! It’s important to educate yourself and others, and stand up for your beliefs.

On top of all the stressors of everyday life, I’m taking Arabic language classes this summer with Project GO through the University of Arizona and I had my second Language Testing Institute Initial Arabic Oral Proficiency Exam yesterday – digitally, which lasted approximately 45 minutes over the phone while connected over Zoom with a testing proctor. Finding a balance between how I can help others while not neglecting the effort I’m putting in working on myself has probably been one of my biggest struggles lately.

A preferred place to clear my mind from last summer in San Diego, CA.

I am here to share with you some options I have found that are great tools to help cope during the current socio-political climate in modern day times, if you too are feeling like things are out of your control, the future is uncertain, or if you are angry, frustrated, sad, or feeling any other emotion as a response to the happenings in the world, or in your life, today.

  1. Establish a routine. Even though there are many uncertain events occurring, it’s important to establish at least a small sense of security and routine. Even if your routine is stretching, meditating, or having a coffee when your wake up. I find when I schedule time to work out in my day I feel more accomplished, sleep better, and am overall happier despite current frustrations. Sometimes napping, reading, or eating at a certain time can be beneficial as well. Make your routine personal, and beneficial to you and your well being.
  2. Have time to decompress, center yourself, breathe, or reflect, otherwise known as “you time” or down time. Find something you enjoy that can help you relax and clear your thought process so that your thoughts and actions can become reflections of the change, progress, or version of yourself that you wish to see and share with the world.
  3. Reach out if you need help! There are many people who are struggling and feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to about current situations. Reach out the Counseling Center or to a trusted friend to talk it out. You are not alone and your feelings are valid.
Another preferred place to clear my mind from last summer in Tucson, AZ.

To recharge after a long day, I’ve been finding solace in working out and doing yoga over Zoom with my sister and my friends daily, in addition to getting fresh air. If I’m in the mood to laugh, I have been watching Space Force on Netflix or Ramy on Hulu. If I feel like breathing and centering myself, I’ve been taking bike rides, going for walks, surfing, watching classic Out of the Vault Disney movies on Disney Plus, and having in-depth conversations with my friends in our group chats. Our natural reactions and feelings towards current events are completely valid and we have the choice to express those thoughts and emotions in positive ways that promote change, equality, and principles we stand for and believe in either through love or through fear. I employ you to lead with your heart, choose love, and know that you are not alone, I stand with you. Will report back soon! 

Transitions & Post-Semester Plans

Happy May everyone! Back again blogging from Virginia Beach, a bit of a transition from Daytona Beach. While the beaches are still closed as Virginia is on a stay at home order until June 10, the beach is currently open for exercising, fishing, and surfing, so keep checking back as I will provide updates on my latest adventures. Today is 80 degrees and sunny, I went for a 4.5 mile walk on the boardwalk when I woke up, followed by ten minutes of core exercises, 20 minutes of yoga, a 1.5 mile run, and a divine post run smoothie (truly smoothies taste better after a run, is there a science behind that? Aerospace Engineering has yet to lead me to that answer). I also had the privilege to lay in the sun today in the backyard for about an hour which was SO nice. 

The rest of my day I plan to do some more exercises and yoga, ride bikes to the market to hopefully scavenge some fresh fruits and veggies (the grocery store has been looking BARE, but I prefer local fresh produce anyway), and I will be watching either A Bug’s Life or Monsters, Inc. I haven’t decided yet. Tomorrow I have a Zoom Interview for a Student Government Association position on the Student Court as the Associate Justice, and a virtual Orientation Team meeting over Zoom to discuss new online Orientation preparation and training to best assist the incoming class of 2024’s transition to college life, which is very exciting.

I concluded the last week and the Spring 2020 semester with a Jet Propulsion exam, and Solid Mechanics final exam on the last day of finals week lasting until 9pm. I recently started my summer endeavors by having an interview over Zoom for my Arabic Language Oral Proficiency Placement Level and by submitting an essay in Arabic. Additionally, I transitioned from Northern VA staying with my sister, to Southern VA, and my current May plans include a lot of working out, social distancing, sleeping, and brushing up on some old material (grammar rules, vocabulary, and spelling will definitely be on the list of things I go over) before my summer Arabic classes begin.

A perk of being at my mom’s house is that she loves gardening and being outside when the weather is nice.

Some new plant babies!

My summer study abroad plans have been transformed into summer study domestic via online class plans, but I will still be participating in the Project Global Officer program (Project GO), available for all branches of ROTC students to apply to in order to spend a summer domestically or internationally learning a foreign language critical to national security needs as a professional development opportunity to help you better support the needs of the Department of Defense upon graduating college and commissioning.

More greenery that I will be co-habitating with for the duration of the summer.

Keep on keeping on folks. Will report back soon!

Half Way & Happenings

Happy February everyone! Back again blogging from Daytona Beach, Speed Week has calmed downed, and we’ve been having some particularly mild weather: a bit cold and rainy, but Florida tends to be wonky before getting to the consistent sunshine with afternoon showers (aka nap time).

Valentine’s Day recently passed and February is flying by! Things around the corner include *drum roll please* Mid-term exams, the Spring PT test… and also, Spring Break! We’re almost half way through Spring semester and I can barely believe it! 

My sister sent me a very positive card, a super cute scrunchie, and some Namaste socks for V-day! I love care packages.

Some notable things I get to do with my position this semester in ROTC as the Mission Support Group, Force Support Squadron, Deputy Commander, aside from assist the Squadron Commander, are plan Dining Out, a yearly event where all cadets and cadre wear Service Dress (the fancy blues), gather for a meal, celebrate notable accomplishments of the Cadet Wing, and announce new Wing Staff for the following semester. I also have the amazing opportunity to team up with an upperclassman cadet and organize an Air Force Retirement Ceremony for a Major in our cadre. I have the privilege of gaining insight to this exciting event at a very young point in my career, which makes this opportunity THAT much cooler.

Another super cool thing I do in my position that I’ve particularly had a lot of fun with in preparation for Dining Out, is collaborating with other Professional Officer Course (POC) cadets to design the logo that will be on the Dining Out gift. I’ve got to work with a particularly talented POC cadet who I also collaborated with to help design the Spring 2020 AFROTC Detachment 157 Semester Patch.

Additionally, being an RA has been even more fun lately because I helped to organize a Tye-Dye event that will be happening shortly. I’ve attached the flyer I designed below, but essentially it’s an Area Initiative as a community builder for the residence hall I live in where we invite residents to come de-stress and get creative, and colorful!

Additionally, I recently solidified my summer plans, which was a huge stress relief and also an opportunity I anticipate to be extremely challenging and fun. I will be participating in Project GO Study Abroad in Morocco working on Arabic Year 4. More details to come on that, and I am very excited to give some future updates on my Arabic learning experience. Keep on keeping on folks. Will report back soon!

Transitions & Training

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, yes that’s right folks the eagle has landed!

In the past week I’ve been all over the country in my journey and travels to finally get all my things packed and ready to come back to school. I concluded my summer studies of third year Arabic at the University of Arizona with a series of reading, writing, and spoken examinations, then hopped on a plane and “high tailed” it back to my city in Virginia for about a day, before road tripping back to the lovely humid state of Florida. The change from 5% humidity in Arizona to 90% humidity in Florida is drastic but, fear not, do-able.

Turkish coffee my friend from Libya made my roommate and I while we were studying for our final Arabic exams!

Now that I am back in Florida and reunited with my beloved Keurig and seemingly endless supply of coffee and tea, I realized that Daytona Beach really does feel like home. My cozy room, blogging in the morning from bed with a cup of tea and an airport view, amazing sunsets, my favorite run loop, beach vibes. While the school year isn’t in full swing yet I’m back at RA training prepping hall decorations, door tags, and bulletin boards, and have my Orientation Retreat rolling up in only a few days too. There’s almost an entire month of preparation for new students to come in the fall and I am extremely excited.

Coffee from a cafe in Tucson

In other news I’m half way moved into my dorm room (ha). Somehow I forgot to bring hangers and haven’t had a chance to hang up any of my clothes yet… so I’m one Walmart trip or one amazon order away from being unpacked. I also omitted plants from my journey to Florida but I am in the market for some so look out for updates on that! Also my road trip from Norfolk, VA to Daytona Beach, FL with the ‘rents and my pup Kita was one for the books. Sleeping in the back seat with a sweet dog was absolutely fantastic.

My dad driving us down to Riddle, with my favorite sleeping pit bull.

To sum it up I will be continuing my Arabic studies this semester as an independent study at Riddle, which is one of the classes I’m most excited about, aside from AFROTC starting up again, and of course being an RA on the sports student hall and getting to meet my residents, and leading my Orientation group. Overall, I’m just excited for the semester to start. That’s what’s popping in my life right now. Will report back as the looming Fall Semester approaches. Keep on keeping on.

Sunshine & San Diego

Happy July everyone! Also happy summer! I’m currently blogging from Tucson, Arizona with the temperatures in the 100+ everyday, typically around 108 and the intense sunshine and low humidity that accompanies the desert. 

The first semester of my third year level Arabic class has concluded with me obtaining a final grade of an A. I took a small vacation during fourth of July weekend to San Diego, California with some friends who also speak arabic, which was a great break. 

I’d never been to California before so this spontaneous road trip that began with my friends and I renting a car for the long weekend, stopping for snacks and coffee, then setting off, was so much fun. The drive from Arizona to California is only about five hours, for some that might feel like a lot, but the scenery of the desert, the mountains, and eventually the ocean, plus great music and four friends who had only met a month before was truly a wonderful adventure.

A mountain side view of the Pacific Ocean in San Diego.

We only had a few days to explore the city so we spent them at about three different beaches, Coronado, Pacific, and Imperial, watched fireworks seaside on the night of the fourth, and visited many 24 hour Mexican food places. We also briefly hiked along some coastal mountains and I thrived in all the vegan food options that San Diego had to offer. For the record, my love of chips and salsa has only increased. My favorite beach foods are now veggie pizza, apples, and chili powder covered mangoes. I commend California for satisfying my morning brunch and coffee shop needs as well. 

Sunset at the San Diego Harbor!

We also spent time in downtown San Diego exploring the harbor and all the restaurants and shops in Little Italy. Not to mention we had some quite entertaining encounters with Birds, the motorized scooters, not actual birds. They are an extremely popular form of transportation there and while they are an effective way to get around they are also so fun to play with when you’re with a group of friends. I highly encourage you to try them for the experience, if you have not.

In other news, I have just completed my first week in my second semester of third year Arabic at the University of Arizona and I have less than a month left here. My first semester flew by and while I am enjoying the nice break from studying engineering, the classes here are rigorous but definitely not as stressful, or perhaps I’ve just gotten better at managing stressful situations? Will comment more on this when school starts back up in the fall and my normal engineering and AFROTC schedule is back in full swing again.

Side note: I added some new stickers to my laptop case, a small Arizona one in the shape of the state and an Arabic one. 

My laptop case featuring two new stickers… I need to get some Riddle stickers to add to it when I get back to Florida.

The Arabic sticker says: ان مع العسر يسرا which means with every hardship comes ease.

Keep on keeping on folks and enjoy the summer, stay cool! Will report back soon!

Productivity & Priorities

 !أهلا و سهلا

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Tucson, Arizona where the weather forecast is 100+ for as far ahead as predictable, and clouds are still a rarity, despite it being monsoon season. 

A small sample of the abundance of cacti that call Tucson home on the University of Arizona’s campus.

I am currently blogging from a shaded outdoor patio on a lovely Sunday morning at a local coffee shop. My Spotify playlist as of recently consists of Arabic music, coffeehouse study tunes, and meditation beats.

I am a week away from finishing my first month here in Arizona, aka one semester of an intensive language program. This coming week I have class two days before my final exam and then a short break for the 4th of July. 

I have found myself spending a lot of time in cafes and coffee, tea, or expresso houses as of recently, and while this is a recurring theme no matter what city I’m in, upon reflection of this I have begin to learn a bit more about myself, which leads me to my next topic (essential to college students): under the topic of time management falls the balance of prioritizing your responsibilities and effectively managing your free time.

Weekday mornings with my wing buddy typically consist of alternating places to grab coffee and breakfast.

While in Tucson studying intensely my schedule had been pretty full, but I’ve found while it’s absolutely glorious to take time to relax and unwind, I thrive in the chaos of a busy lifestyle. I find myself being most attracted to filling up my days and weeks with plans in the calendar on my phone, making daily to do lists, and even when I study or do homework I feel most productive in areas that are calm where I can buzz away at my work and get in the zone. 

Here’s a peaceful view from the pool I took the other day as the sunset over the mountains and reflected beautifully on the water.

When I’m at Riddle during the Fall and Spring semesters my favorite places to study are in my room with music, in study rooms, or in Starbucks outside. There is just something fundamentally appealing about working outside in the sunshine with technology. As I currently soak up the juxtaposition of working on my computer with the sound of cicadas in the background and the familiar universal chatter of coffee shop conversations, I find a productive home in the atmosphere that I am attracted to in every city. 

It’s so important to know yourself and find out under what circumstances you do your best work in. While this may take some time to figure out, and definitely some trial and error, the process of learning more about yourself and how to initiate prime productivity conditions is 100% worth it.

For example, certain subjects in school I prefer to study in groups, while others I prefer to work alone on. If you put a little time and effort into figuring out what atmospheres you prefer to do work in before classes get chaotic with exams and projects, it is extremely advantageous in preparation for your future self under stress during crunch time.

I wish everyone a continually relaxing and productive summer. Will report back soon. Have a happy 4th y’all!

AZ & AFROTC

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Tucson, Arizona, where I lay comfortably in the shade around 6am on a Sunday morning. 

A few fun differences in Tucson from Daytona Beach include the high elevation, the extremely dry heat, the seemingly more intense sun, lots of cacti, and Tucson is surrounded by mountains on three sides, which makes for some pretty amazing views. Whenever I introduce myself to people here and tell them I go to Riddle their first impression is the I attend Prescott because it’s only a few hours away, but truth be told I’m an ocean soul and I attend Daytona Beach, which makes for an even more interesting conversation.

I am currently just finishing up two weeks in AZ which means I’m about half way through my first semester of Arabic 405 which is Advanced Arabic I at the University of Arizona where I have tests every Friday and I have already taken my midterm examination. 

Arabic 405 is an intensive course in which Monday-Friday I have four hours of classroom time every day, followed by an hour break for lunch, office hours (which are essentially an extension of class) with the professor for two hours, followed by an hour of tutoring, a break for dinner, then two hours of language partner time, in addition to homework, projects, and additional studying I do on my own. My schedule is definitely busy, but typically it always is, and learning Arabic while challenging, is extremely fun.

I got some more photos from my time at Field Training during the Max 1 session!
Behold Alpha Flight at the Assault Course Finish line.

While I’m attending UA for summer courses with Project Global Officer there are students from all over the country here with me from the Army and Navy ROTC programs. My class consists of a total of five people, two of which are from Project GO. That being said, there are no extra “ROTC obligations” over the summer. Although naturally it’s encouraged to workout, we don’t have scheduled PT sessions or wear uniforms, and our primary job right now is to learn Arabic. I highly recommend studying over the summer because it makes it so much easier to give maximum effort when you don’t have any other classes to worry about.

Here’s a flashback from Dining Out this past Spring 2019 semester! Currently missing my AFROTC family.

Aside from this my acclimating to AZ has been a moderately rocky one, pun intended. My body was not used to the dry air or intense heat as I grew up on the coast and Riddle is by the beach too. But I’ve been running in the mornings or in the late evenings to escape the heat… even though the difference between 108 and 98 seems negligible, and I typically spend the weekends exploring Tucson’s coffee shops, restaurants, or going hiking or to the pool. Stay tuned for pictures of cacti and coffee to come. Will report back soon, stay cool folks. P.S. it’s monsoon season in Tucson and I’ve still yet to see any rain.