Summer Classes & Downtime Recommendations

Happy June everyone! I am currently blogging from Norfolk, VA and I have some news! Life updates: since the Spring 2021 semester has concluded I got my second 4.0 GPA semester in the B.S. Aerospace Engineering program. This is my fourth out of five years at Riddle, and with only two semesters left… I am very excited!

Small life update: I recently bought a car from a friend who graduated and moved away! I recently drove from Florida back to Virginia, and will be spending my first month of online summer classes in Norfolk and Virginia Beach on Meknes time, before maybe traveling a bit in July and doing my online classes from some places I’ve never been before (stay tuned)! Thus, my May schedule has been filled with traveling back to my home state of Virginia, virtual Zoom meetings for Orientation Team and SGA Student Court, pre-program testing and orientations for my summer Arabic classes through Project GO, the University of Arizona, and the Arab American Language Institute in Meknes, Morocco, sunbathing and working out, and reading and finishing the book Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Love getting the chance to spend time more with family after the semester ends.

My recent transitional go-tos for staying fit this summer and focusing more on eating healthy and resting/recharging have been going to Hot Yoga in my hometown. Typically Yoga Studios, gyms, and other fitness establishments offer starting specials and since I’ll be back for a month it’s definitely fun to try new things! I’m looking into trying a Spin Class which is essentially a workout on a stationary bike that looks fun too. In addition to being able to venture into fitness studios, I’ve been doing yoga on my own outside in the mornings and I am looking forward to being able to get some sunrise surfing sessions in before June ends. Also, my Youtube fitness class faves are still Yoga With Adriene, Chloe Ting, and POPSUGAR Fitness.

I’ve actually had some down time lately before my summer classes start and plan to read Black, White, and the Grey by John O. Morisano and Mashama Bailey by the pool or at the beach. I have been listening to Leon Bridges, Russ, and am patiently waiting for Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars’s new group Silk Sonic to release their new album on Spotify. Downtime things I’ve been interested in lately are Intuitive Eating, different podcasts on NPR’s Short Wave series (a usually 10-20 min episode on random science topics), catching up on the Handmaid’s Tales on Hulu, and getting excited for Disney+’s release of Raya and the Last Dragon.

Playing catch up on my life, I’ve been trying to do more things I don’t get to enjoy as frequently during the school year. I recently attended a Virtual Zumba Dance class taught by another O-Team member that was a ton of fun, and not something I would typically sign up for.

Homemade pizza in the pizza oven is a super fun perk of being home!

I’ve also been receiving the email newsletter that comes every Friday called Girls’ Night In and the daily (30 second read) newsletter called The Daily Good. Usually I get a ton of emails everyday and checking them can be stressful, so having a few fun reads with good recommendations makes looking at the official emails in my inbox more bearable.

Keep on keeping on folks! Will report back soon with virtual summer class and schedule updates!

April & Air Force Updates

Happy April everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, we’re about two weeks out from finals and my life is currently hectic. I find that when I am faced with a lot of assignments and not a lot of time I rely heavily on routines and lists. Some of my favorite tried and true routines that I’ve found which work best for me include being very productive while I do laundry and drink coffee!

Something really interesting that I have been thinking about lately in my *limited* free time has been that there is a huge difference between free time and availability, although the two are often confused! A lot of times in college you will most likely be asked when you have class, meaning that the time you don’t have class is “negotiable availability”, but its very important to schedule in free time during your weeks to prevent burnout!

A super cute stress survival guide with fun tips that I find online I wanted to share!

Something very exciting that I got to do this week was submit my “dream sheet”! A dream sheet is an Air Force Form 53 where you list out six potential career fields you want once you enter active duty. You rank the six choices from your top to your least favorite choice. My top three were Intelligence, Information Operations, and Public Affairs, but there’s always a chance I get engineering too (because of my degree in Aerospace Engineering).

The reason I don’t want to be a professional engineer post college is simple, I’m not passionate about it! I am extremely grateful that on my fourth of five years working towards a degree in Aerospace Engineering I have been as successful as I have and that I only have one more year left. I am graduating May 2022 and I am so excited!!

My puppy niece Daisy with a big stick, also showing that if there is will, there is a way!

My time at Riddle has opened my eyes to things I am passionate about though, including joining the Air Force post college thanks to Air Force ROTC solidifying my already prospective goals from the time I was in high school. While in college I also realized I was very passionate about language learning!

Riddle is a heavily tech reliant school and while it does have many great programs outside of engineering and pilot training, I was already too far in when I realized I really liked languages! I made the conscious decision to follow through on earning my Aerospace Engineering degree in hopes that in my career post college in the Active Duty Air Force I will be able to use my language skills more frequently.

Riddle does offer options to minor in a variety of language studies, but if you’re in higher level classes the language programs aren’t extremely extensive. I’ve supplemented this by spending all my summers participating in language learning programs like Project Global Officer, available to all branches of ROTC students, in order to maintain and expand my Arabic fluency. If there is a will, there is a way!

I hope this inspires you to find out what you’re truly passionate about and consider if there is a way to be practical as well as have some fun along the way pursuing your goals and seeking new opportunities! More exciting updates to come, keep on keeping on folks, 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!

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!