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

Winter Storm Stella – Travel Tips

As some you know, Winter Storm Stella has made its way to the northeast of the United States and Canada. It is the worst snow storm of the season and some areas got up to three feet of snow! The worst of the blizzard came yesterday but it is still snowing here where I am in Montreal, Canada. According to FlightAware, close to 6,500 flights were cancelled by U.S. airlines yesterday. Today (Wednesday), flight operations are getting back to normal slowly but there are still 1,000 cancellations and more than 3,000 flights delayed.

Checkout the video above and learn how airports remove snow on taxiways, runways and other movement areas!

Thousands of airport and airline employees are working very hard and doing their best in order to get passengers safely and as quickly as possible to their final destination. If you are flying in the next few days, look at your flight status before heading to the airport. Your flight(s) might have been delayed or cancelled.

If you flight is delayed or cancelled, stay calm and be patient. Do not be angry at the airport customer service employees. Airlines and are not responsible for weather related delays. The employees are just trying to help passengers to get to their destination. I doubt that they will be willing to help you more if you shout at them!

Airlines are receiving more calls than usual during this period so the wait time will be very long. Your best bet might be to try to contact the airline via social media, such as Twitter. They might be able to assist you. Once your flight has been cancelled, some airlines have a system that automatically rebooks you to the next available flight.

If you don’t have to go anywhere, just stay home and stay away from streets as some of them are still covered with ice and snow.

Until next time!

Nicolas

Spring Break Round 2

Hello, hello! After a nice two week hiatus, we’re back with our regularly scheduled broadcast. Spring Break was not too, too bad, which is nice.

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The conference was held at the Sheraton Hotel. Unfortunately, the WiFi was not free so I didn’t get to work as productively as I would’ve liked.

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The weather was also really wet and cold for some reason.

The first half of my break consisted of me representing The Avion Newspaper at this years College Media Association (CMA) conference in New York City. Considering that this was my first conference for anything, I think it went pretty well. The weather was a bit chilly so I never got to do any of the cool photo stuff I was planning to do, which was a bummer. While at the conference, I got to meet some really interesting people, I learned how other colleges, across the United States, layout their newspapers, and I have some valuable information to bring back to use for our newspaper.

I kept getting the right answers during Photography Jeopardy though.

I kept getting the right answers during Photography Jeopardy though.

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I miss doing theater.

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Once the conference was over, I luckily had the option of going straight to my house in New Jersey where I spent the remainder of my break. It was nice being home even though it was only for about four days. I got to see my high school’s production of Footloose which was amazing, and I had lunch with a friend: Pretty much average Spring Break. Maybe next year I’ll do something more awesome, but only time will tell.

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Lugging my luggage from NJ to John F. Kennedy International Airport was fun considering it was a 3 hour journey.

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With only just 6 more weeks left of Spring 2016, I’m really nervous about what’s next. Maybe I just need to take a leap of faith and go with the flow. I’ll let you know how that goes in two weeks.

A Much Needed Break!

Hey everyone!

Let me start off by saying how sorry I am for not posting any cool entries lately! My life has been insane. Classes have definitely been keeping me on my toes! Which leads me to the topic of this entry…

Spring Break!

All of the students at Riddle just came back from their Spring Break vacation, and I was so excited to have a week where I didn’t have to worry about studying for tests or fitting things into my schedule. Since Daytona Beach is now the Spring Break hot spot for college students, I decided to get out of Florida and go to the best place to avoid crowds – the middle of nowhere.

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Spring Break house!

A group of 30 of my closest friends decided to rent a house up in Blue Ridge, Georgia for the whole week of Spring Break. The house was absolutely gorgeous – and also conveniently located on the edge of the mountain. Since we were basically in the middle of nowhere, the trip offered a chance to get connected to nature. One day during the week, a group of us decided to hike up Blood Mountain, which was a total of eight miles. Now, I’m not a hiker by any means, so going uphill was treacherous, but once we got to the summit of the mountain, the view made the fire in my calves worth it!

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Another day of the week, a couple of us decided to make the hour drive to the Atlanta Zoo. It was a lot of fun seeing what animals the zoo had to offer. My favorite part of the trip was going to the petting zoo (which was for children) and brushing the goats!

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Blood Mountain, Blue Ridge, GA

My best part about my trip to Georgia was being able to celebrate my 20th birthday! This was my first year not being home for my special day, so it was hard not having my traditional birthday dinner with my family. But I was surrounded by 30 of the greatest people I have ever met, so they definitely made my 20th one to remember!

Now that I am back from my much needed break, I am ready to continue the semester with a fresh outlook! Time to get focused!