Spring Break & Schedule Changes

Happy March everyone! I am currently blogging from Northern Virginia, in quarantine for the n-th day, and WOW at the current global situation with COVID-19 currently afflicting the world…but honestly we should’ve left this one in 2019.

BUT FIRST, let’s flash back to the beginning of March when college students were about to go on Spring Break, COVID-19 seemed like a distant tragedy, and life only seemed stressful at average levels.

Greetings from Key West! Our postcard decal.

I spent Spring break with one of my best friends in Key West, Florida and even though it was still Florida, being on *basically* an island for a week was absolutely well needed. In the current situation, confined from the great public domain with a strict and paranoid 6ft rule of distancing from strangers, I am feeling greatly nostalgic of a week ago when I was happily soaking up sunshine and basking in the glory of constantly being sun kissed and barefoot with salt water hair and always a little bit sandy, despite all the showers I took.

A short lived windy bike ride to the Southern Most Point in the USA.
Being one with nature (currently reminiscing from inside my house).
A potato head selfie from the plane.

Key West had an extremely casual, laid back, go with the flow atmosphere which is completely opposite of my usually very busy and structured life. During the last few days of Spring Break we got an official university communication email saying that Spring Break would be extended two days into the following week and online classes would be happening until early April. At first this sounded like a fantastic and fun idea, until reality set in when we returned. When we got back to Daytona Beach, stores were starting to run out of food, the media seemed to be spreading paranoia, and everyone was panicking. A few days later residence halls were vacating and I prepared to come back to Virginia as there was talk about canceling flights and limiting domestic travel across state lines.

Fast forward a week and I’m in a quarantined lifestyle with online classes until the end of the semester, metros shut down inside Washington DC, Uber and Lyft currently closed, and Amazon not delivering groceries anymore, yikes!

To be continued folks, will report back soon, COVID-19 updates are around the corner!

Safety, Sanity, Sanitary

Spring Break 2020

When most of us got out of class as we headed into our spring break, we didn’t expect what kind of change we were going to be dealing with during the break. The outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spread rather rapidly, and our school extended our spring break. The admin concluded that our classes will be conducted online with all of our campus events cancelled. This caused a lot of travel and academic plans to be changed by our faculties and staff as well as the student body. As a flight student who is planning on staying to finish my rating, I noticed how empty and deserted our campus feels now that the majority of our students have made their way back home.

I realized that some students who are staying to finish their flight training or who couldn’t plan to travel back home might be stuck around here for some time. It can be difficult when all your friends are away and you are stuck at home or around campus because many places are closing down for safety reasons. I wanted to write a blurb about how to maintain your safety, sanity and sanitary as we prepare for the worst.

Safety

Daytona Beach just hosted their annual Bike Week 2020 which really marks the beginning of spring break season. Thousands of college students and visitors make their way to Daytona Beach to enjoy the beaches and the warm weather. That is more reason for the Riddle student body to be cautious as they hang out around certain parts of the town. As we all know, the beachside with Seabreeze and A1A gets bombarded with tourists coming in and we all experience increased traffic on ISB and Beville. We have to be careful of motor accidents and other incidents that could take place with increased population from out of state.

Sanity

It is hard to keep yourself busy and on track when you are sitting on your couch back home. It can be especially more difficult if you are still in Daytona Beach. I have been trying my best at keeping myself busy and active with the resources I have.

I have been traveling around locally as my days are mostly free of classes now. I took advantage of some of Florida’s best natural perks by kayaking and going on walks by the beach and the state park. If you have your own car or one of your friends does, you can also explore by leaving Daytona Beach and going to places like Orlando or St. Augustine. You really have to actively try to stay fit and mentally awake as the temptation of procrastination grows larger everyday.

Sanitary

Lastly, let us practice common sense and take care of ourselves by washing our hands and avoiding interactions with a large group of people. The time we are going through is absolutely crazy and it may seem like the end of the world but with simple practices, we can prevent and solve the issue at hand. Especially the flight students who are here to fly, we have been using Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer before, during and after our flights. It should become a habit as we try our best to disinfect our aircraft.

It is a tragedy and an unfortunate turn of event but we have to make the most out of the situation that was given to us and move forward. To those who are still in town, keep your head up and always stay safe, sane and clean. Blue skies, tail winds and coronavirus-free!

Keep the spirits high!

I Can Sea Clearly Now

Spring break is finally here, the weather is finally warmer, and it is now the perfect opportunity to relax while getting slightly ahead on a some of the schoolwork for weeks to come. This break has given me the opportunity to get back to a place in Daytona I love so much. The Beach.

The sand beneath my toes. The warmth of the sun on my skin. The feel and smell of the salt in my hair. And the feel of the breeze (unfortunately the water is still too cold to swim in). The beach is my escape and place for relaxation, a home away from home, and this spring break has been amazing weather to be able to enjoy the beach. I believe the beach is a major perk of going to Embry-Riddle’s Daytona campus that isn’t used properly by everyone who goes here. Even though schoolwork is top priority, it is good to prioritize a little bit of fun every once in a while, and the beach is a perfect place to get some sun and be one with the outdoors. It is a great place to focus on yourself and spend time with friends outside. This spring break I have even enjoyed a little sunshine and schoolwork outside which has also improved my mood and making me even more ready to crush the rest of the semester.

Meanwhile, I have also been getting schoolwork done at a productive pace to keep my mind fresh on new topics and prepared for the next round of tests. It is good to know I will go back to classes with a little edge being on some major projects and coding assignments. I am looking forward to starting classes again with a more relaxed feel and ready to conquer the rest of the semester attitude.

Break & ChocoBananas

Happy March everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and spring break has finally come to an end. Over the break I flew out of MCO to IAD then to… El Salvador! It was truly a thrilling experience and I can honestly say I’d rather be on a beach in the sun than back into the swing of classes.

Over the break my sister, my mom, and I went to La Libertad, El Salvador and spent the week soaking up the sunshine and eating really great food. Cue the fresh smoothies and pupusas.

We surfed, we hiked waterfalls, mountains, volcanos, went to the beach, the pool, and I (of course) did a lot of yoga and napping. We stayed at a private villa called La Casa Bonita that had coconut, mango, and banana trees on the property, so naturally we woke up every morning to enjoy fresh fruit or fresh juice with breakfast. I also ate a lot of frozen bananas and mangoes covered in chocolate, also called ChocoBananas or ChocoMangos.

My sister and I on the second level of our villa overlooking the pool!

The beach in the town we stayed in was absolutely stunning, and there wasn’t even sand! The noise the tide made when it rushed out and all the water fled from the gray stones sounded almost like a stereotypical babbling brook mixed with the familiar swish of the tides. It was hands-down one of the most peaceful places I’ve been, and a definitely well deserved break from the hustle and bustle of classes and my normal routine. The noise alone was breathtaking, and that doesn’t even take into account the amazing view.

My mom and I next to the pool before we went out to dinner!

It’s always hard coming back from a totally different atmosphere and being expected to flip a switch and forget about all outside things because we’re back in “school” mode. A lot of students get sad or really miss home after long weekends or breaks. Sometimes letting yourself be consumed with all your responsibilities truly ostracizes you in your own little world and it can at times even feel a little lonely!

One thing that I definitely fall victim to at Riddle is being consumed with everything it has to offer. Most of the time I feel like Riddle is its own little island, and even leaving campus for a few minutes to go to the store or the beach is a rain check that realigns my perspective and reminds me that although being a student is a huge part of my life, it is not my entire life. I’m on year two, and still working on balancing everything and figuring out how to not be so consumed with all I’m involved in here. It’s so important to take breaks, and breathe. Relaxing and recuperating after a long week of work and school is extremely important.

My sister and I at the top of the Santa Ana Volcano, featuring a ChocoBanana on a stick.

In lieu of nostalgia from spring break, while I try to navigate the balance between work mode and rest, I leave you from a spot at my desk on a Sunday afternoon about to work on some Aerospace Flight Vehicles homework, and I hope you all take five minutes to yourselves to breathe, whether its in the middle of the day, or you schedule your evenings as time to put away your phones and laptops and decompress, you deserve it. Work hard, and rest harder. Until next time folks!

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!

Spring to Life!

Hello everyone!

I hope you all are having a fantastic spring break! My spring break has been eventful so far! For the first weekend of spring break, my family and I went camping to Salt Springs in Ocala for the weekend. Salt Springs is one of Ocala’s jewels. The spring was named due to the fact that there are potassium, sodium and magnesium deposits making the water saline. We had four tents set up, so we all pretty much had our own tents, except for, of course, my parents who shared a tent!

Partial view of our campsite

Full view of our campsite

Photo of our tents ft mum & bro

Another campsite photo

Relaxing photo ft Brent

There are plenty of activities to do in the area. When we camped there for 2 nights, we all went for a little hike and even biked around the recreation area. There is a beautiful lake named Lake Kerr, where campers can enjoy plenty of water activities. It was way too cold to go for a swim, but we did bike around the area. We had our bonfire going on pretty much our entire stay due to how cold it was!

Lake Kerr

Lake Kerr

Me gooning around on my bike

My dad acting cool with his bike skills

Brent & I next to a tree that is more than 200 years old

Lake Kerr

Me posing in general

Our massive bonfire

After camping, Brent and I headed back to Daytona due to my Women’s Ambassador Program (WAP) travel. I traveled with the Admissions Department to Cincinnati and Detroit on March 12th-14th representing WAP. We hosted Accepted Student Receptions in both states, where we got to talk to all our future eagles that will be joining us in Fall! I talked to a lot of students there and below are some of the photos with the girls I talked to! In Cincinnati, I met Sophie and Sydney. I met Lauren in Detroit, who will be joining us in Fall too! All of them are such amazing and bright women, and I am super excited for them to be joining our Riddle family!

Sophie and I in Cincinnati

Sydney and I in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Accepted Students Reception

Detroit Accepted Students Reception

Lauren and I in Detroit

After my WAP travel, my boyfriend picked me up from KDAB and we headed straight to my house in Bradenton. We all went for a dinner to Chilis, which was super fun!

My family <3

My brother Savio

Spring Break is not over yet! We have a fishing trip planned for this Saturday and then we head back to Daytona! I will be traveling next week with WAP again to Texas so stay tuned for my travel updates!

Until next time,

Maryam

Spring Break in the Mountains

Hey all!

Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

For the second part of Spring Break, my family and I went to ski for a few days in Mont-Tremblant, which is just a bit over 80 miles north-west of Montreal. I believe it was time to something else in the snow after shovelling snow for a few days due to Winter Storm Stella. I had already been to this skiing resort when I was younger.

I think it is my favorite mountain on the East side of North America. It is not comparable to the height of the Canadian Rockies or Colorado in the West, but it is a great mountain. The village is awesome and you have the feeling of being in Vail or Whistler.

Beautiful sunset over the Mont-Tremblant village just after our arrival at the hotel.

Beautiful sunset over the Mont-Tremblant village just after our arrival to the hotel.

The village has all sorts of restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, boutiques and ski equipment stores. While we were there, it was also Spring Break for many high schools and universities in Ontario. I felt like I was in the United States since I was only listening to people talking in English.

The village during day time.

The village during daytime.

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The village at the bottom of the slopes becomes lively in the afternoon.

The Fairmont Tremblant is right by the slopes and is "ski-in ski-out."

The Fairmont Tremblant is right by the slopes and is “ski-in ski-out.”

Even though Mont-Tremblant is mostly a winter seasonal destination, I heard many tourists come visit in the summer. There are many activities to do in the warmer months of the year such as golf, mountain biking, wall climbing and hiking. The is also a lake where you can  fish, go canoeing and kayaking. I have not been in the summer but I hope to do so next summer!

If you want to visit Mont-Tremblant, you can either fly to Montreal (YUL) and drive to the resort, or you can fly directly to YTM seasonally via Montreal, Toronto-Pearson (YYZ) or Toronto City (YTZ).

Until next time!

Nicolas

Spring Break Road Trip

For my last Spring Break, I decided to go somewhere I’d never been before. My sister, boyfriend, and I drove to Charleston, South Carolina for a few days. On the way up to Charleston, we stopped in Savannah, Georgia and Hilton Head Island, Georgia. It was an amazing trip despite the cold weather that swept across the East Coast.

On our first segment of the trip, we stopped at St. Simons Island, Georgia, which is home to some of the best BBQ in the United States. We normally fly up to St. Simons whenever we go, so it was cool to drive around the island and see all that it had to offer. There were gorgeous houses and buildings scattered all around.

We arrived in Savannah in the evening-just in time to grab some dinner. We were there a few days before St. Patrick’s Day, so there were decorations everywhere and people were dressed in green (Savannah has one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the nation). We ended up getting dinner down by the river and were surprised by the huge cargo ships going in and out of the port. The next day, we walked around the historic squares in Savannah, which are supposedly haunted. We even got to sit in the spot where Tom Hanks spoke those famous words, “Life is like a box of chocolates”.

Sitting where Forrest Gump was filmed in Chippewa Square

Sitting where Forrest Gump was filmed in Chippewa Square

Jones Street, Savannah, GA

Jones Street, Savannah, GA

After exploring Savannah, we hit the road and arrived in Hilton Head Island a couple of hours later. It was raining and gloomy, but I can definitely imagine how beautiful the island would be in the summer. We went out to the famous Salty Dog Cafe, and walked around some souvenir stores. There were tons of resorts and golf courses that would make anyone dream of coming to Hilton Head.

We spent a few hours in Hilton Head, and then drove the last stretch to Charleston, South Carolina. I had wanted to go to Charleston for a long time, and I was so excited to be able to finally go! It was so much more than I imagined. I fell in love with the historic homes and the southern charm.

The Pink Door, Charleston, SC

The Pink Door, Charleston, SC

Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten was in Charleston… seriously! My inner foodie was so happy, but my wallet definitely was not. Of course, in addition to eating well, we spent a lot of time exploring.

We walked around the Battery, walked down Rainbow Row, and went to tour the USS Yorktowne. On our last day in town, we went to Boone Hall Plantation, which is the plantation that was used in the popular movie, The Notebook. The architecture and the grounds were incredible, and I really appreciated all the work they are doing to keep it looking beautiful.

Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row

The entry into Boone Hall Plantation

The entry into Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall Plantation Home

Boone Hall Plantation Home

Charleston is definitely a city that I want to go back to again and again. I’m glad I was able to spend my last Spring Break exploring one of the gems of the South.

Until next time,

Lindsey

Ignite Research Abroad- Cuba

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ll had a fantastic spring break! My spring break was very exciting. I got selected to attend the Ignite Research Abroad Program to Cuba along with approximately 10 other students! It was a great experience, and I got to learn a little about the Cuban culture. There were approx 14 students in total. My research topic was about the process of reopening flight operations between Delta Airlines and Havana Airport after the suspension. I got to interview Demetra Bethavas, Delta’s Station Manager in Cuba and Mayda Molina, Director of Instituto de Aeronautica Civil de Cuba (she’s basically the head of Cuban “FAA”)!!! Talk about connections though! My report will be completed by end of April so I will be sure to post the link if it gets published.

Middle: Mayda Molina, Director of IACC

Middle: Mayda Molina, Director of IACC

Cuba seemed like a different world- basically the whole world was moving forward but Cuba was stuck in time. There were antique cars, and my boyfriend and I got lucky to get a taxi back to the hotel in one of those classic cars!

This is a picture of me in one of those classic cars in Cuba!

This is a picture of me in one of the classic cars in Cuba!

My boyfriend, Brent, and I took a "classic" cab back to our hotel.

My boyfriend, Brent, and I took a “classic” cab back to our hotel.

We visited modern Havana on our first day and toured around the Vedado neighbourhoods. On the second day,  we attended a conference with a professor of University of Havana, Maria Elena Martin. She has a Doctor in Architecture. We also toured the Havana Plaza and visited Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis.

Posing in front of the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis

Posing in front of the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis

"El Caballero de Paris" statue: Tourists touch this statue in the position displayed for good luck!

“El Caballero de Paris” statue: Tourists touch this statue in the position displayed for good luck!

The next day, we visited Finca Vigia, where North America’s literary giant Ernest Hemingway spent twenty-one of his most important and productive years penning building blocks of English literature, followed by a visit to Cojimar, a small fishing village, which was one of Hemingway’s favourite places in Cuba.

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Brent and I in front of Ernest Hemingway’s boat.

We visited Pinar del Rio tobacco region and toured around the Vinales Valley on the fourth day. It was beautiful, and everyone bought some of their famous cigars. I was lucky to get a sample cigar for free while the person was demonstrating how cigars were made!

Tobacco leaves in the factory that are hung for drying after which they are used to make cigars.

Tobacco leaves in the factory that are hung for drying after which they are used to make cigars.

Brent and I in front of a tobacco farm in Pinar del Rio.

Brent and I in front of a tobacco farm in Pinar del Rio.

On the fifth day, we visited Las Terrazas, the natural splendor of Cuba and the coffee plantations. We visited the Museum of Fine Arts and Convento de Nuestra Senora de Belen, a humanitarian health project in Old Havana. It is a home to fifty elderly people and provides physiotherapy and ophthalmological services to many more elderly in the community. Other acitivities include exercise classes, board games, cognitive rehabilitation, films and crafts workshops. The walls were filled with beautiful intricate designs.

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Convento de Nuestra Senora de Belen

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The next day were visited Matanzas, also known as Cuban Athens, which was a grand port in colonial times for the export of sugar and also explored Cuba’s tallest bridge, Bacunayagua. Then, we continued to Varadero and had a relaxing time on the beach. We headed back to the US the next day.

Bacunayagua: Cuba's tallest bridge

Bacunayagua: Cuba’s tallest bridge

I had a fantastic time in Cuba learning about their culture. I must say that I got a little homesick, but that increased my adaptability to a different lifestyle. It was a great experience and would definitely recommend people to visit.

Until next time,

Maryam

Spring Break with my Friend Stella

Hi all!

As I mentioned in my last post, the northeast of Canada and the United States received a lot of snow at the beginning of last week. Winter Storm Stella cancelled and delayed thousands of flights while airlines and airports were working on reestablishing operations. I spent the first part of the week home, in Montreal.

The winter storm arrived on Tuesday but snow continued to fall until Wednesday. I basically shoveled snow for three days in a row. On Tuesday afternoon, my mom and I tried to take the car to go buy salt at the store. We wanted to melt the snow in the driveway which is in a hill. It never happened since we didn’t even pass the first stop sign on our street. The car got stuck in the street that was covered with snow. After a few minutes, we just decided to go back home as the streets downtown would be slippery and narrow due to the snow. The snow on our street eventually got removed a few days later.

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The snow plow truck pushed the snow on the sides of the streets making walls of heavy snow. The snow blocked the sidewalks and the entrance to my house.

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We weren’t able to even pass the stop sign with the car because the ice and snow between the car’s tires and the asphalt was making the car slip to the right of the street in the snow walls.

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Snow piles make the streets in the city very narrow.

I remember when I was a kid that I always loved snow storms. I’m sure you have an idea why? Because schools sometimes closed due to the snow fall! But that rarely happened as school only cancelled once or twice per year. In Canada compared to some parts in the United States, it has to snow a lot to make classes cancelled for the day. A few inches of snow won’t make you stay home for sure!

And you, what did you do for spring break? Did you go skiing or did you enjoy the beach and the sun in the south? In my next post, I’ll talk about what I did for the rest of the week. Hint: it involves a mountain!

Nicolas