Life Updates & Lab

Happy November everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, the weather is getting colder, Thanksgiving is approaching, and finals are about a month away! To say the least, I’ve been BUSY! School, work, working out, and life in general has been jam packed lately. With Thanksgiving around the corner I’ve been having a lot of tests lately, and a lot of upcoming project deadlines before the late November break is here. Right before Thanksgiving I also have my Fitness Assessment for Air Force ROTC! I’m excited and very much ready to fast forward to spending time with my family and eating all the nostalgic cozy comfort foods that Thanksgiving has to offer. Bring me all the pie!

One of my favorite aspects of the weather getting colder is that running outside is so pleasant, especially during the transition period from hot to cold with temperatures of about 60 degrees. The humidity is low, and on good days when there’s not a lot of wind running is perfect. It’s also officially hoodie season! I recently had my birthday and got to spend a few hours at the beach which was so much fun and very relaxing.

October beach picture!

My current To-Do list for this weekend includes a lab report for my Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation Lab on vibration testing of beams and aircraft structural components of choice (my group chose a front spar of the leading edge portion of a wing from a Boeing 777 airliner to test and observe). This particular lab was one of my favorites thus far, as it investigated the phenomenon of flutter and looked at how forcing vibrations to excite frequencies near resonance can be dangerous in real world scenarios, and thus needs to be understood and prepared for. Our lab group also recently investigated some Nondestructive Evaluation techniques in lab, including thermography which uses thermal heat differentials to display an image with warmer areas displaying brighter and cooler areas displaying darker colors.

Thermal imagery is a useful technique commonly implemented in the aerospace industry to inspect planes and ensure that there is no structural damage. Inspections usually happen about once a year where planes are observed shortly after landing with a thermal detecting camera. The heat detecting technology shows areas that water may have infiltrated cracks in the structure as the water will be a cooler temperature than that of the aircraft’s body.

Thermal image of myself and my lab group!

We only have about three more lab sessions left until the end of the semester and I am looking forward to being done with writing lab reports during finals and over Winter break! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Daily Life & Extraneous Happenings

Happy February everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and now that I’m back in the groove I would like to share with you a day in the life of an Aerospace Engineering student in Air Force ROTC who works as a Resident Advisor (RA), along with multiple other campus involvements! 

To begin, in AFROTC this semester we have one In-Person physical training (PT) a week, and one “virtual” at home workout PT, in addition to one In-Person Leadership Laboratory (LLAB). If I have either PT or LLAB, I typically wake up around 0500 via an alarm on my phone, sometimes multiple alarms especially if I was up late doing homework. I usually start my day extremely thirsty so when I first wake up I make water, coffee, tea, and a vitamin C drink from a powder I have (I know this might sound like a lot, but I love beverages). Then I do 10-15 minutes of yoga, eat some oatmeal and take my vitamins, and head to ROTC around 0620. After ROTC I typically return to my room between 0800 and 0900 and shower and make second breakfast, which is sometimes more oatmeal, coffee, and fruit if a have it (sometimes oatmeal is subbed with a muffin from the Cadet Lounge).

Then I prep for my day! On my busiest days I have in-person Airplane Stability and Control, Preparation for Active Duty Air Force class, online Aerospace Structures II, in-person SGA Student Court office hours, Space Mechanics, and my bi-weekly 1:1 with my RA supervisor (the Residence Life Coordinator of the residence hall I live in). This week my other obligations include my Returning RA Interview session, a 1:1 with my APAS (Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies) to go over my academic course plan up to graduation, Student Court Hearing Sessions, RA staff meetings, RA duty, workouts, office hours with my professors to ask questions about homework assignments, and my first Community Hangout of the semester – I’m teaming up with my RA hall partner to do a virtual Paint night!

In my free time when I’m not working out I’m probably playing virtual chess with my friends, strategizing Blokus games, or sleeping!

My first 2-Person Blokus game!

My usual schedule typically includes homework, quiz prep, and studying for upcoming tests. Also, I recently joined ERAU’s Surf Club which I’m very excited about. I went surfing for the first time since I’ve been back in Florida over the weekend at Ponce Inlet and it was so much fun! Going to the beach recently was the first time I’ve worn a wetsuit because the water was cold and I had a blast.

The beach when I went surfing with Surf Club!

As I get back to doing homework, I look forward to blogging again soon, keep on keeping on folks, stay safe!

Sleep & Busy Schedules

Happy November folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Thanksgiving is about two and a half weeks away and I feel like I’m on the last uphill sprint before finals. I am so excited to go back to Virginia and eat good food and catch up on sleep! 

Florida has been getting colder lately, and when I recently took my Fitness Assessment for AFROTC it was probably one of the chilliest mornings yet. In-person PTs have been canceled for ROTC on ERAU’s DB campus for the rest of the semester but we still do “virtual workouts”. Essentially we are given workouts to complete individually to maintain our fitness on personal accountability, rather than gather in person with socially distant procedures for group PT sessions.

This past week has been extremely busy! I have had lots of tests, quizzes, and presentations, and I am very tired. My plans for Thanksgiving and Winter break include lots of sleep!

 My daily plan for Friday is to wake up at approximately 0500, do my morning yoga routine, go as a spotter (essentially a repetition counter or time keeper) for the AFROTC Fitness Assessment, return to my room, take an Aerospace Engineering Materials Exam, take an Experimental Aerodynamics quiz, go workout and get smoothies for lunch (Friday is $5.00 smoothie day at Smoothie King in Daytona Beach and after a midday run on a Friday, a smoothie is the best way to start the weekend off on the right foot!), finish the day by working on Aerospace Structures I homework, and my AFROTC Flight is holding a socially distanced Flight Goal of an Improv Night in the evening that I plan on attending. Very busy!

My Student Court Associate Justice headshot in my SGA Court polo!
My (personal favorite) Student Court Associate Justice headshot in my court robe that makes me feel like I’m a Wizard in Harry Potter!

I have a fully packed schedule every day and there is never a moment where I don’t have something that I could be doing. For example, there seems to be an exponential amount of need for me to be working on a homework assignment for various classes, studying or preparing for an upcoming test/quiz, trying to get a head start (or most of the time realistically trying to keep up) on deadlines for my Experimental Aerodynamics labs, sending or replying to emails, working on scholarship applications, and sleeping! 

In my free time you will usually find me working out, doing yoga, studying, or sleeping… so maybe it isn’t really free time? I am looking forward to actual free time over winter break, I can’t remember the last time I actively planned on doing nothing, and successfully followed through with it. Only a few more weeks left! Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on folks!

HBD & Homesickness?

Happy January folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach and it’s cold! You might be telling yourself, well it’s winter, but last week was 80 degrees and now the nights are in the 40s! You may say, okay, well wear a jacket and it’s warmer in the sun, and I agree those are great solutions, except when you’re at PT before the sun is up and it’s also extremely windy! Florida cold fronts are no fun, all in favor of bringing back beach weather say, “I!”.

As I sit here typing this blog, in between finishing an Electrical Engineering lab report, sending a slew of emails, finishing some essays, and in preparation to do homework for my Arabic and Solid Dynamics classes I have to add, I’m tired!

I worked a 12 hour shift yesterday at the Rolex 24 hour race at the Daytona International Speedway, so Sunday was my only “weekend”, if you constitute more than 12 hours of homework as a break? To say the least, I am looking forward to the end of this week and hopefully getting 12 hours of sleep!

In other news, my sister turned 28 last week! So, HBD-Happy Birthday!!! To a wonderful human, mentor, role model, overall good person who I aim to be like.

Something a friend who lives in Arizona asked me recently is, “How do you help your residents cope with homesickness?” I wanted to address this on my blog because you are not alone! There are so many college students who feel homesick, and I am here to offer you some great tips.

Tip 1: The Counseling Center, you can absolutely go to counseling to talk about your day or how you’re feeling, and they are professionals! 

Tip 2: Text/call/FaceTime/social media message your family when you miss them, or set up specific times or days in the week where you can sit down and talk to them! If it’s important to your mental health, add it to your schedule, that way you ensure it is your priority.

Tip 3: Make friends! College is full of people looking to find their “people.” My friends and I call it our vibe tribe, which isn’t necessarily what you have to call it, but have someone you can talk to, hangout with, study with, or just do nothing with. Homesickness dissipates when you are having fun and aren’t feeling lonely.

Some of my tribe & I!

Tip 4: Join a club, organization, ROTC, or a sports team! Be a part of something bigger than yourself. ERAU had an Activity Fair last week and there are SO many clubs and groups you can be a part of, it filled up the entire Lawn with tables! And if you can’t find the right club for you, you can always make your own! All you need is some friends and one faculty advisor and you’re in business.

There are so many things you can do to find a sense of community and a true “home away from home”. Find your people, find your place, and do your thing! Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on folks.

Back in the Swing of Things & Spring

Happy January everyone! I am back blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, it’s the first week of school and I can tell already that this semester is going to be a busy one. 

I started off my classes with AFROTC training on Wednesday morning, followed by my first day of class, meetings with my cadre, stopping by Ernie Central to get some paperwork approved for study abroad applications, my first RA hall tradition of the semester, and RA duty! I know that may seem like a lot for one day, but honestly that’s a typical day for me, always on the go and super busy. Along with classes I also had my first AFROTC Instructional training of the semester, and took a Fitness Diagnostic, which is an unofficial version of the Air Force’s PT test.

I appreciate being back at school because I get to come back to my room every evening and look at all my door decorations.

This year I decorated my hall with a movie theater theme. About once a month RA’s update their hall bulletin boards, this months theme was consent!

My hall bulletin board!

My Spring 2020 class schedule is now finalized and I got seats in all the classes I needed to be on track with my academic plan. I’m taking AFROTC Leadership Laboratory, AFROTC Air Force Management & Leadership, Electrical Engineering Fundamentals, Electrical Engineering Fundamentals Lab, Arabic, Solid Mechanics, and Jet Propulsion.

Will report back soon folks, hope everyone has a smooth transition getting back into the swing of things. Will report back soon!

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!

Commencing Break & Coffee

Greetings and salutations! I am currently blogging from a cuban coffee shop in Washington D.C. on a heated outdoor screened in porch with my sister across from me, we just had lunch at an amazing ramen restaurant and I must say folks, it’s spring break day 2 and life is good.

My spring break started at about 4pm on Friday afternoon once my Differential Equations class concluded, and proceeded to only get better. After class I went out with one of my friends to get pedicures and grab dinner at a super cute pizza place in Daytona One, which is a new shopping center across from the Daytona International Speedway, then I spent the evening packing and cleaning my room… ie preparing for takeoff.

Sandbag beach PT with a few of my favorite girl gang members the morning before spring break officially commenced.

I started Saturday morning by finishing up some laundry and last minute cleaning, followed by a road trip to the Orlando International Airport with one of my best friends. Before she dropped me off we stopped to have breakfast in Orlando at a brunch restaurant, where we got iced lavender lattes with shots of expresso, an acai bowl with fresh fruit and granola on top, avocado toast with poached eggs, and an immunity shot of fresh pressed juice before I left for the airport. 

I then proceeded to board my plane to head to Dulles International Airport, which is only about an hour and 47 minute flight, where I ran into one of my good childhood friends who was in DC for an internship and was currently heading back to Florida for her spring break to work on a conservation project in Stuart, Florida to protect the ecosystem and help the wildlife there.

Following this pleasantly unexpected reunion, I hopped into a car with my sister, and we blasted the tunes back to her house. Also a key point to mention, is that I went from 80 degree weather in Florida to 40 degree weather up north, and I’m not thrilled. Regardless of the climate change, if you are reading this and thinking, what an AMAZING start to a spring break, you are right, I 100% agree with you. 

When we got from IAD back to my sister’s house, she made an amazing vegetable and tofu ramen strip fry for dinner, we put on face masks, and we made homemade rice krispie treats to take on our next plane ride together (YAY).

Plus I got to refill not one, not two, but three essential oil diffusers, which are by the way life changing and I highly recommend. I have one essential oil diffuser in my dorm room and, to put it un-ironically, it is absolutely essential to have and is a total game changer from diffusing lavender when I sleep to rosemary when I study. I also got to light a bunch of candles around my sister’s house, which is a lavish task because living on campus, candles are unfortunately not allowed due to the fire hazard, so when I’m not at school I genuinely appreciate them. After that, we made strawberry nutella “smoothie”/cashew milk milkshakes for dessert. This concludes day one of my spring break.

Day 2: I woke up to my sister making breakfast, I leisurely got up and made the bed, then got to go around her house watering ALL the plants, which is one of my favorite things. Once I finished this up we drank coffee and ate breakfast, did yoga, checked into our flight for the following morning, and took a mid morning nap before running afternoon errands.

Current situation while blogging.

This brings us up to date in the present day moment, where I sit sipping cuban coffee while my sister works and my mom is currently en route from Virginia Beach, to DC to meet us. Our plane takes off late tomorrow morning to a tropical destination and the adventure has yet to begin. Will report back soon folks, take it easy over the break!

CPR & Subtle Changes

Happy November everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, but next week will be the Thanksgiving holiday, and henceforth I will temporarily venture up north into the cold for a few days (yikes)! Of course before the break there is still a lot to get done, inclusive of tons of homework, finals in AFROTC, and a rogue Statics test, but nonetheless fear not, the end is near.

I’m so excited to see my sister again at Thanksgiving!

Something I want to focus on as the weather gets colder and the semester starts wrapping up, is that although routines are pretty much set at this point, as winter and the holiday season nears, typically people associate New Years as being a time for change, which is natural. This is just a friendly reminder that you don’t have to wait until a certain day to initiate change, life is short, and the choices you make today will inevitably effect your tomorrow, so make them positive!

As I typically spend my Friday nights going to boxing classes and working on physics lab reports, recently I spent an atypical Friday night getting CPR certified with some other AFROTC cadets, which led me to reflect on how the small changes I’ve been making in my life lately are having an impact.

Some recent subtle, yet influential, changes I’ve made in my life lately:

-Trying my best to get as much sleep as possible (yes, even if that means my Friday nights consist of working out and homework)

Waking up to this wonderful view every morning is such an underrated but amazing aspect about being here.

-Working out more with friends, although I enjoy working out alone, my schedule is usually very busy and I don’t have much time to “hang out” with people. The solution to this problem, is you guessed it-coffee. Just kidding! Killing two birds with one stone, working out with friends gives you the physical benefits of working out, PLUS all the psychological and mental benefits that hanging out with friends provides such as stress relief, good conversation, extra motivation, and happiness. 

(Side note: study groups and homework sessions with friends inclusive of coffee can also be very beneficial when they are focused and productive.)

Morale PT with my flight!

-Making a solid effort to practice yoga more (preferably in the mornings before a long day, or in the evenings after a stressful day or a lot of homework and studying)

-I went to the chiropractor for the first time in my life! If you’re a student at ERAU going to see the chiropractor at Palmer Chiropractic Clinic in Daytona Beach is completely free, and something I highly recommend if you’re stressed or want to make some time to reset with an adjustment. I had originally gone because a friend recommended it to help alleviate being sore from working out, but they help with tense muscles from stress too!

-Switching to Dark Mode on my laptop (just wow friends). For Apple product users if you use Mac or MacBook this setting is life changing, especially when studying late at night. I strongly suggest using the Night Shift option which changes the screen brightness to less intense colors so if you’re working on a computer for long hours it isn’t so strenuous on the eyes. I use the Do Not Disturb option too, which silences notifications, that you can preset for certain times daily where your phone will be completely silent. I have mine set to automatically activate from 2200 to 0300 so I know at least every night I will have a minimum of  5 hours quiet time, whether I be up studying or (preferably, but not always realistically) asleep.

Will report back soon y’all. Have a safe Thanksgiving break!

‘Tis the Season & Twenty

Happy November everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, as per usual. October absolutely flew by, and the semester is almost over, only about a month and a half to go. Final stretch!

I have a feeling November will fly by too, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and the atmosphere is changing. Theres so much energy flowing around campus right now. Everyone is tired but very busy. We’re all rushing around in our own little worlds consumed with the list of things we need to get done before the end of the semester. At this point our routine is (for the most part) pretty well established, and we flow from this routine into the winding down portion, right before intense late-night study sessions and cramming for finals. Midterms are about over with, but there are still a lot of projects and presentations happening. The weather is dropping a couple degrees, it’s finally starting to feel like fall, or maybe just Florida’s version of winter? Did I hear winter PT gear anyone?!

Along with the cold weather, ‘tis the season for beach PTs, pumpkins, cornucopias, and you guessed it- it’s always coffee season!

Beach PT with the Bravo Bandits!

Some of my favorite parts about the end of the semester are Late Night Breakfast hosted ERSA, which is the Embry Riddle Student Association, Pass in Review (PIR) for AFROTC, and of course shout out to the teaching assistants (TAs) and all the professors hosting supplemental instruction (SI) sessions. Also, at this point, every college student knows your professor’s office hours and the tutoring center will become your best friend.

Since studying and homework take up so much time at this point in the year, my favorite study music and backtracks to doing homework to are FKJ, Masego, the Chillhop Music station on YouTube because they have (literally) hours of relaxing songs, and any beats with Alan Watts inducing knowledge and creativity into my thought process while I crank through Calculus.

It’s important to note that although the semester is getting intense, you should still try to take time for yourself at least once a week. This past week I took five minutes to watch the new animated movie trailer for The Grinch. I must say I am starting to get into the winter mood, and also I very much want to see this movie, although it probably won’t happen until winter break, but it is a great incentive to push out until the end of the semester.

Side note: I turned 20! My birthday was filled with coffee, classes, studying for tests, homework, and my physics lab (so it was pretty much an average day). Fortunately, I did manage to squeeze a few minutes to go to a pumpkin patch and carve pumpkins. It’s the little things folks.

Despite the flannel, it was about 80 degrees when we visited the pumpkin patch.

Birthday/Halloween pumpkins. Guess which one’s mine!

Will report back soon yall. Until then keep on keeping on, and in the words of Ellen DeGeneres, “be kind to one another”.

Fall Break & Breeze

Happy October everyone! October is my favorite month, and therefore it is appropriate to wish you all a Happy October. I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida.

I spent my fall break on campus working duty day shifts for my RA position, doing physics, statics, and calculus homework, and running! Although the last part may not sound like the best part for some people, the running was actually my favorite part of every day. Also fear not, as per usual I drank lots of coffee and tea.

My fall break didn’t feel like much of a break, but I am extremely thankful that I got to sleep in, or in other words have the luxury of waking up when the sun has already woken up. I must say I do enjoy being awake as the sun rises, but when I don’t get back to my room until it’s dark outside as per a typical school day, by the time I do homework, study, and get ready for bed I’m absolutely exhausted.

Even on my days off I usually wake up with the sun.

Aside from all of my responsibilities, my plants are thriving and deserve to be highlighted this week. I highly encourage succulents or cacti for dorm plants because even if you don’t have enough time to water them (me), they still do great with a little sunlight and a lot of positive energy (also me).

Some of my dorm plants!

As it is still hot in Florida, even though it’s late October, we’ve had great weather that’s been perfect for early morning beach PTs with AFROTC, which is always nice. It’s becoming the time of year when the weather is almost perfect for working out. I gauge the prime temperature for running to be when the air is cool enough that you aren’t sweating before you start working out, but not too cold that it stings your lungs. If it is cold enough that you are able to see your breathe when you exhale, I would prefer the temperature to increase slightly. Thankfully, in Florida, the weather ranges between extremely hot, mildly hot, temperate, and cool, but the cool doesn’t happen until about mid-winter, so lately the fall breeze had been extremely lavish!

Post beach PT with some of my favorite wingmen!

Currently we’re about half way through the fall semester and everyone around campus is extremely busy. Course loads are heavy, there’s lots of homework to be done, tests, quizzes, projects, presentations, and not a lot of time. In my personal experience I’m still on the journey to figuring out how to balance everything. I’ve heard so many times from professors that they encourage students to prioritize school work and really focus on their time management, and while this is true, I must counter this from the perspective of a college student- realistically there are not enough hours in a day. All we can do is try our best and hope for the best. Just keep swimming folks, will report back soon!