Spring Semester & Scheduling

Happy January everyone! I am currently blogging from Fairbanks, Alaska where I spent my winter break resting and relaxing in the snow! I am about to start traveling back to Daytona Beach and I had such a good break I miss my family already! My only complaint is that it was too short. 

One of my favorite memories from winter break – snow shoeing with my favorite person!

I have exciting news! I am about to begin my last semester of my undergraduate education, I graduate in May! I am so excited after 5 years of working towards my B.S. in Aerospace Engineering to be so close to having my degree and starting a new chapter of my life. As always, this semester will be a busy one but I am excited for all the growth to come. I have big plans for staying busy and going full speed ahead, with rest of course, until graduation. 

Current academic progress one semester away from graduation!

At the start of every semester to help plan and best organize my busy times I create a schedule! I suggest utilizing your class schedule as a base to start building off of. From there I add in my commitments in order of priority, including ROTC obligations, RA duty and meetings, Peer Mentor work for UNIV 101, scheduling in my work hours for my job at the Eagle Flight Research Center, and of course all other obligations besides work. For me, this includes time to do homework, study, do yoga, eat breakfast/lunch/dinner, and a workout schedule for when I will be at the gym in fitness classes, doing cardio outside, working out in my room, or resting. This semester one of my goals is to be more mindful and take more time for myself by scheduling in walks at least once (but hopefully more) every week. Taking walks is nice because it also allows for time to catch up listening to some of my favorite podcasts!

This semester I also have a goal to get more sleep. I typically go to bed very early on days when I don’t have RA obligations such as staff meetings, which are scheduled late in the evenings to ensure all RAs are out of class, which keeps me awake past my usual bedtime. Another RA responsibility that concludes late in the night is RA duty, which requires staff members to perform building rounds, answer phone calls for lock outs, and sit at their residence hall lobby desk. Typically RAs have duty one weekday every two weeks, in addition to about 11 weekend duty days spread across a semester. RA duty days are assigned at the beginning of each semester based off of responsibilities like class schedules, ROTC, and labs or flight blocks.

I have come to realize I function best on a lot of sleep, especially when I’m busy with classes and working out regularly. Thus, when I wake up early for ROTC obligations like PT or LLAB, I try to go to bed as early as possible.

I am exciting to make my life schedule for this upcoming semester and look forward to having everything planned to set myself up for success. Good luck this semester, will report back soon folks!

Campus Views & Current Schedule

Happy November everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach and my life recently has been busy, but when is it not? I’ve been utilizing the 24 hour computer labs and study spaces on campus a lot more lately, as most students tend to do towards the end of the semester when workloads increase and full-swing preparation-mode for end of semester tests and projects has commenced.

My favorite study spaces recently have been the library which can get packed with students – so my favorite calm study spaces are the Quiet Study Room on the third floor, reserving study rooms throughout the Union and in the library via SchedulER in ERNIE, the ROTC building computer lab, the top of the Aircraft Military Science (AMS) building that overlooks the flight line (which is particularly gorgeous at sunset), and the College of Business (COB) first floor computer lab.

Some additional helpful information as we’re nearing the end of the semester are the Hunt Library hours and the color-printer access hours in various computer labs around campus.

Early evening view around sunset walking to go study in the Union!

Aside from the early mornings and late nights the Florida views really do make the university experience so much better, as seen above the sky is beautiful!

View during the walk from my Residence Hall to class one morning!

In other news, I passed my Physical Training (PT) test for Air Force ROTC! Cadets in AFROTC take a recorded PT test once a semester, but typically have a few “practice” PT tests called Fitness Diagnostics (FDs) before the recorded score Fitness Assessment (FA), also referred to as a Physical Fitness Test (PFT). AFROTC physical requirements include meeting specific Body Mass Index (BMI) qualifacation, as well as passing all three components of the PT test including a 1.5 mile run, a minute of sit-ups, and a minute of push-ups. Additional Fitness Requirements for AFROTC can be found here. Current testing performance requirements for minimum and maximum scores on each component of the Air Force’s PT test can be found here, which vary for males and females, as well as between age brackets.

However, starting Jan 1, 2022 the Air Force will implement a new version of the PT Test including different options for measuring cardiovascular strength and muscular fitness. These options include either a 1.5 mile run OR a 20 meter High Aerobic Multi-shuttle Run (HAMR) Shuttle run component, a minute of push-ups OR two minutes of hand-release push-ups, and a minute of sit-ups OR two minutes of Cross Leg Reverse Crunches OR a forearm plank for maximum time. The scoring requirements for the new PT test can be found here, which similarly to the current PT test vary for males and females as well as between age brackets. While I haven’t had the oppurtunity to personally take a practice or official version of the new PT test I am excited for the changes and am looking forward to the different options! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Work/Life Balance and Little Joys

Happy almost Halloween everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, at the end of Fall Break, and half way through the semester! 

I spent my fall break doing entirely too much homework everyday, and sleeping. My break didn’t really seem like a break, but generally, doing your homework is always a better option than not! Until the semester ends there is never a time where I don’t have assignments to do. Thus, it is all the more important to find time for what makes you happy in order to create a sustainable routine and work/life balance. My life tends to be 99% work, but I am looking forward to having more time for rest and fun during Winter Break!

My go-to for finding small happy breaks in my busy days has been centered a lot on finding joy in my routine. Sometimes my workouts are too similar and I get bored with the same monotonous schedule that is school, studying, working, etc. Don’t get me wrong, college is extremely challenging and I am never at a loss for things to do. I am practically swimming in homework, papers, projects, and presentation assignments, on top of meetings, and ROTC obligations, but I’ve reached a point where the busy-ness isn’t exactly new or exciting. There’s always new assignments, but even they fall into a rhythm of similar challenges and stresses. Lately I’ve been thinking how interesting it is that despite everything new, such as different classes, new people in group projects, new friends, the flow of school is the same.

Something I’ve focused more on this semester is making time for things that make me happy on the day to day, even when I’m busy. For me, this looks like painting my nails every few weeks because it makes me feel more put together during the busy days. 

This week’s nail color of choice!

Small joys of everyday life also looks like trying new tea flavors when I’m studying, lately in the evenings I’m liking Peppermint and Chamomile! I’ve also been enjoying FaceTiming my mom once a week, texting my sister, my family, and my friends who I don’t see everyday more, and Peppermint Hot Chocolate mix. This also includes new plants! Recently I was in charge of organizing a team builder during our RA staff meetings, so we planted little cups of basil and cilantro, mine just began sprouting!

My new basil plant babies!

When I’m stressed I also tend to focus on everything that I need to do, rather than everything I’ve done, it’s SO important to recognize yourself for all the hard work you do! I’ve been trying to do face masks a few evenings every week to decompress before I go to sleep, and help my skin stay hydrated, which always helps me wake up feeling more refreshed and happy – even on the early PT mornings.

A BIG event that I am very excited for is graduation and commissioning in spring, but it’s easy sometimes to lose sight of the shining end goals when you’re in the middle of a sea of work. Keep your goals in mind constantly, and let them help motivate you when the routine gets boring. Trying new snacks or drinks helps spice up everyday life, and new music, workout routines, and self care that you wouldn’t regularly do is so much fun too! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon.

September & Fall 2021 Schedule

Happy September everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, FL. As Week 2 of the Fall 2021 semester at ERAU-DB is coming to a close, I can say that classes, activities, clubs, and events are back into full swing operations. Currently, masks are the expectation on campus and all my classes are in person and most of my obligations, sans for a few Zoom meetings and Group Projects. This semester I am taking AE 432 – Flight Dynamics and Control, AE 420- Aircraft Preliminary Design, AE 416 – Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation, along with AE 417 – Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation Lab, HS 325 – Terrorism Origins and Ideologies, as well as my normal Air Force ROTC mornings Physical Training and Leadership Laboratory sessions.

In addition to my course load I am also participating in a tutoring extension of the summer program I took part in with Project Global Officer (Project GO). I attend one hour Zoom tutoring sessions weekly, with a Masters Student studying at the University of Arizona (the host university I studied with over the summer, in collaboration with the AALIM Center in Meknes, Morocco). Project GO is a critical language learning initiative offered through the Department of Defense to ROTC students in all branches of service. Four years ago I couldn’t imagine that I would be able to read, write, and speak in Arabic, but here we are folks, my progress even amazes me!

Since the semester is back to its typical business, I’ve been trying to take time to prioritize my health this year, particularly by focusing on staying safe and healthy in light of the pandemic. I tried a Cycle class at the Fitness Center last week, and am looking forward to checking out more Group Fitness classes in addition to Cycle (I would highly recommend!), such as Yoga, BodyPump, and Boxing Conditioning!

Outside of class and working out, I spent last weekend getting some sunshine at the beach. I watched the sunrise then went surfing and got to catch up on some leisurely reading. This weekend, I have mandatory class sessions on Saturday and Sunday, totaling 4 extra hours for a class that typically is supposed to meet during the week for a total of 6 hours. (An additional 2/3 of our usual amount of class time… split into two Mandatory sessions on both Saturday AND Sunday!) Since my free time is and few in between lately, I am cherishing the time I got to enjoy last weekend.

Sunrise at the beach last weekend!

I spent the long Labor Day weekend also taking a self-care trip to Orlando about an hour away from campus with my friend to visit the local Trader Joes. At Trader Joes I got two very fun new drinks to try: one Maple Oat Milk to put in my coffee (pictured below left) and two – Chai Tea Concentrate to make chai tea lattes (pictured below right)! Chai tea lattes are the perfect afternoon pick-me-up, and I am very excited about both of my new finds!

New Trader Joes Maple Oat Milk and Spiced Chai Black Tea Concentrate!

As I currently blog in the midst of doing laundry and making coffee between my classes, I am especially grateful that we had the opportunity to make the trip over the weekend. The maple oat milk in coffee is so delicious! Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe!

Dorm Essentials & Tips

Happy July everyone! I’m currently blogging from Fairbanks, Alaska where August and the Fall 2021 semester are both right around the corner! Since Orientation, move in, and classes are going to be beginning in less than a month I want to share my favorite Dorm Essentials & Tips for those living on campus. 

Starting this fall, I will have had experience living in a total of three different Residence Halls over a period of my (soon to be) five years at ERAU. I’ve lived on campus my entire college experience and I’m here to share my top tips to make your living space feel like home.

My current home away from home includes lots of weekend hikes, here’s my latest adventure!

Since your dorm room will be where you spend a lot of your time, making sure that is a comfortable space where you can do homework, study, and relax at the end of the day is extremely important. Since this list is general, most residence halls allow all of these items, but double check with your housing contract for items more specific to your specific living community. For reference, you may check out ERAU’s Housing and Residence life Community Standards, linked here, where also featured is a FAQ page, a Residence Hall option guide, a Move-In guide, as well as my personal favorites (guides I reference the most) the Approved Cooking Appliances in the Residence Halls list, and ERAU’s streaming service website for television shows and movies available for free here to all on-campus students. 

My dorm essential list includes, first and foremost, stocking up on snacks! Secondly, my favorite part about coming back to my room at the end of a long day is taking a hot shower and setting up my essential oil diffuser! I also love having plants in my room. All rooms have windows that receive some amount of natural light during the day, so I suggest low maintenance plants like succulents or cacti. Another great option is planting a few wildflower seeds in a small pot to brighten your room, or trying some easy to grow herbs such as basil, mint, or chives!

Nonperishable snacks like granola bars, nuts, and apple sauce are great to have on hand during the school year, but right now I am grateful to be able to pick fresh berries to snack on in between my online summer classes!

Another one of my favorite room essentials is a natural light simulating alarm clock. Since I’m in ROTC (or if you have any early morning or late-night flights if you’re studying Aeronautical Science), I highly recommend getting an alarm clock that can sync with your phone, your Alexa Amazon Echo, and simulates sunrise/sunset to help you regulate your sleep schedule. Before PT in the mornings, I am always listening to music on Spotify while I get ready in my room, so being able to auto-play music directly after my alarm goes off makes my morning routine that much simpler.

I also suggest investing in a good pair of headphones! Despite nighttime quiet hours, and quiet hours during finals, living in the Residence Halls can be loud at times and there are definitely moments when I like peace and quiet. The perfect solution I’ve found to this, other than heading to the Quiet Rooms on the second floor of the library to study, are noise canceling headphones! Since music plays such an important role in helping me relax while taking breaks from studying, I use headphones for peace and quiet while I do homework, as well as for high quality music when I’m working out or relaxing.

Keep on keeping on folks, 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!

Home & Holidays

Happy December everyone! I’m currently blogging from Norfolk, Virginia. I’m home for the holidays and enjoying the rest and relaxation that comes along with it. I’ve spent the past couple days enjoying spending time with family, eating good food, watching the newest season of the Mandalorian on Disney +, going to Hot Yoga, and sleeping!

One of my favorite parts about being home for the holidays is spending time with family, including this Christmas pup!

I finished out the semester strong and I’m mentally preparing to take on spring classes and looking forward to summer plans! I’m currently applying to a few backup study abroad programs focused on language studies for my Arabic maintenance and improvement. Since this summer will be the last before I graduate and commission from Air Force ROTC into Active Duty Air Force, this will be my last chance to study abroad.

COVID-19 rules and regulations are paramount when considering any study abroad options and opportunities, but it can never hurt to keep your options open and apply to what interests you! I like options, so having a main plan and a few backup plans is my typical style. Since global and local conditions are ever-changing it’s hard to predict if I will actually be able to travel this summer, but if I am I will be!

I recently spent some time fishing with my dad for rockfish and it was so much fun! We left at about 3:00 am, drove 2 hours north to the dock, and stayed out on a charter boat until about 3pm with fresh fish! A very fun experience.

Fishing with my dad!

In preparation for Spring semester, I’m resting up and enjoying the break. Time to decompress is extremely important and while I am still doing some behind the scenes work for ROTC and Student Court on the break, I am definitely taking time to catch up on rest too. Keep on keeping on folks, 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!

Fall & Fresh Updates

Happy September everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, the official Autumn season begins September 23 and runs until December 21, I’ve been busy lately, and I’m trying my best to not be stressed.

I’ve found myself becoming a bit overwhelmed with the constant high speed flow of life recently, so as I woke up this past Sunday morning I took a couple minutes to set intentions for the week, write my to do list, and drink water. In the midst of the chaos when I find myself getting anxious about everything I need to accomplish for the day, I have to remind myself to take a step back, breathe, reset, relax, and take it one step at a time.

On a happier note, Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year, so despite Florida not having the most stereotypical autumn experience, I still try to make the best of it. I’m on my 3rd year at Riddle and thus far I have made it to a Floridian pumpkin patch every year (typically in late fall when the weather is in the low 80s).

As I currently drink my cup of coffee with pumpkin spice almond milk creamer and do homework in my room that smells like apples from my oil diffuser, as long as I don’t go outside, it’s basically fall, right? My prize possessions are definitely my calculator, my Keurig, my laptop, and my essential oil diffuser. Which you probably already deciphered because I drink a lot of tea/coffee, do a lot of homework, and I love yoga.

My newest fall essential oils that I am obsessed with! They make my entire room smell amazing. The scents are Maple Leaf, Fall Rain, and Harvest Moon.

As I note I would like to add my supply of “fall” flavored teas is growing. A classmate asked me the other day how many cups of tea I drink a day and I really had never thought about it, but I make tea all the time and typically always have a cup with me (in my reusable to-go cup of course).

Me enjoying the mere idea of fall even though it’s hot outside.

Now that we’ve caught up, as a Professional Officer Course (POC) cadet in AFROTC this year (under-classmen are referred to as General Military Course (GMC) cadets until after they return from Field Training the summer between their sophomore and junior years) I earned the privilege of being able to have a clipboard during training to conveniently carry around my orders, other needed papers for the day, and of course pens, sharpies, and a ruler.

Everyone’s clipboard is different, and in my opinion, essentially represents you as a person. I decided to decorate the top of my clipboard, which is covered by my daily orders in training to stay professional. My clipboard also has a large letter of my flight on the back, and my name which are the visible portions when conducting leadership laboratories (LLABs) and physical training (PT). 

To provide a small amount of background on my clipboard decorations, in the backyard of my house in Virginia we have a surfboard hung on the fence that we’ve been putting stickers on for years now. The stickers are from wherever we travel, and everyone in the family puts new ones on all the time, so the next time you look at it it’s constantly changing and growing. Naturally when I got my clipboard I had been gathering some smaller stickers from my travels and wanted to adopt the same philosophy. 

The top of my AFROTC clipboard that isn’t normally visible, but makes me happy knowing that it’s there!

Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Spring Break 2013

Spring Break is here! This fact means a couple of things. First off, it means that my fellow classmates and I will be able to use this week off to catch up on some much needed sleep and relaxation. Neither of which I have been able to get much of these past few weeks. Spring break also means that the end is near! After we get back from break we have about five weeks before final examinations begin. We are getting close to the end and it is truly hard to believe I am also almost done with my first full year away at college.

The past weeks have been relatively uneventful; midterms came and went without too much stress. My parents were actually in town a couple weeks ago and it was really nice to be able to see them and spend time together. Highlights of the week included watching a spring training with my dad and having dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack.

spring training, baseball

Soaking up the rays while watching some baseball

The Daytona 500 came to town back in February and yes, it was crazy. This town was inundated with race fans and it looked completely different. Over 200,000 people were in attendance at that race and I happened to be one of them. I was able to score a free ticket since I had previously volunteered at the speedway, so me and a few of my buddies went to check it out. I have to say, I have never been a NASCAR fan, and I’m still not, but now I see what it’s all about. It was definitely a pretty cool experience to be there at the most prestigious race in the world.

Daytona 500, daytona international speeadway

On the sidelines at the Daytona 500

More Daytona 500 fun

Air Force ROTC is still going well. I wish I could tell you that you get used to waking up at 5:45 every other morning but it always seems to be a struggle to get out of that nice cozy bed. For our midterm evaluations we had to defend a “base” against the upperclassmen. It was actually pretty fun as each Squadron was assigned a specific task and we were able to apply what we have been learning this semester. Also, we had our Beach Run PT (physical training) a couple weeks back which is always a nice change of scenery. Watching the sunrise isn’t bad either.

Air Force, Daytona Beach

AFROTC Detachment 157 on the beach after PT

Spring break (especially in Florida) should be indicative of warmer weather and nicer days. That hasn’t necessarily been the case here in Daytona Beach up until now. Virtually ever since the spring semester began back in January, the temperatures have been well below average, with the exception of a few days that have made the mercury rise. Believe it or not, this morning was a chilly 39 degrees. However, cooler weather generally means better flying. Which I have not been doing much of recently since I have been preparing for my checkride (funny how that works right?). I have actually spent most of my time doing orals and studying, studying. There is a lot of knowledge, procedures and regulations that you have to be proficient with in order to pass your checkride (especially your Private Pilot checkride). However, I am done with my flight training and ready to go. My plan was to take it before spring break but bad weather, scheduling conflicts and a high workload in my other classes means I will have to wait until after we get back from spring break.

That’s all I’ve got for now, more to come in a week or so.