I’d Rather be Flying

After having spent about two months back home since returning due to the situation with COVID-19, my body is starting to itch to return to the skies. I never fully understood those bumper stickers and license plate borders that said “I’d rather be flying right now” even as an avid aviator. Flying may be a hobby for some and a career for others but it’s a skill that only gets more refined the more you are in the air. There is a reason for airline pilots being evaluated and trained in simulators every 6-9 months because just like riding a bicycle, your skills get rusty.

I plan on returning to campus near August when the situation with COVID-19 and civil unrest have somewhat settled down, but the country is currently going through one of her toughest times. It breaks my heart to be on the other side of the globe as I see the world suffer in so many different ways. Sometimes I wish I could take off to the skies and briefly take a break from thinking about all the issues that are on the ground.

I have about 170 flight hours since I started my flight training and a good chunk of those hours were spent in the night or by myself without an instructor on board. When you get to fly to different locations in various conditions, you start to appreciate the beauty of flying even more. I would like to share some special moments of my flying career as an appreciation post in the absence of flying.

Discovery Flight

This was my “Discovery Flight” which was my first time getting to fly in a smaller, General-Aviation aircraft like the Cessna 172 we have at Riddle. After breaking through a thick layer of morning fog and low clouds, we broke out over a coated layer of what seems like a soft, cotton candy floor. The feeling of seeing the sunrise over the cloud layer is something you can’t describe with words.

Long Solo Cross Country

This was my long cross country flight for my commercial course. It was from Daytona Beach to Dothan, AL, Tallahassee, FL and back to Daytona. It was a whopping 6 hour round-trip in a single Cessna by myself. It was rough getting up early in the morning but once I got to the plane, my mind was as sharp as it ever could be since I was responsible for my life for the next 6 hours. It was a special experience getting to fly for so long without my instructor sitting next to me.

Bumpy Ride

This was one of the bumpiest flights in my flying career. There was a low pressure system around Southern Florida and my instructor and I were trying to get to Vero Beach for our last cross country flight together. It was in no way an attempt to dangerously beat the weather and we were well clear of the actual cold front coming up. However, we often ran into huge layers of clouds and thanks to our IFR flight plan, we were able to fly through them all. There were times when the bumps were so strong it would knock the pen off my kneepad.

Instrument Course

Instrument course is probably one of my favorite portions of flight training. You get to fly at night which means you get to enjoy beautiful sunsets like this one and enjoy the stars that will soon paint the sky above you once the sun actually sets. The air traffic becomes less congested and the controllers are more relaxed so it’s a more pleasant flying experience overall.

I have listed some special moments of my flying experience and these are unique to every pilot. The nature of our industry is always evolving and we are forced to work in environments that are constantly changing. I hope the world will soon heal from all the pain it is experiencing at the moment and that more planes and pilots can take off into the brighter future. Blue skies and tailwinds!

Leave your worries behind!!

Speedweek & Summer

Happy February everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, it’s going to be sunny and 85 degrees this week, and this weekend is going to be rainy and in the 50s…cold fronts are no fun!

This week is Speedweek at the Daytona International Speedway, but the racing season really started off with the Rolex 24 hour race, the Busch clash, some more qualifiers, and next weekend the Daytona 500. Every year AFROTC cadets volunteer at the speedway and work different race shifts, this past year a lot of other sports teams on campus volunteered too.

This week I start to hear back from a variety of summer programs I applied to in order to go abroad to a country in the Middle East to continue studying Arabic. I applied to programs in Jordan, Morocco, and Oman.

This week is going to be kind of hectic for me, but as usual I’m generally a busy person. I have PT, Arabic and Solid Mechanics homework due tomorrow, as well as updated Bulletin Boards for my wing in the hallway for my Resident Advisor position, followed by a lab report due on Tuesday, funds request forms, meetings, AFROTC leadership laboratory and more PT, and a Solid Mechanics test on Friday.

It’s times like this where I think back to my equally busy summers and appreciate the way I am constantly in the flow of working hard and making progress towards my future. Being in the middle of everything also gets me thinking about the future and how sometime between the next week and the next few months I’ll finalize my summer plans and figure out where I am studying abroad and which dialect of Arabic I’ll be focusing on. All very exciting things, but sometimes a little stressful not knowing what direction I’ll be going in. I just tell myself to keep trusting the process.

Will report back soon folks, midterms are around the corner, keep on keeping on!

Transitions & Training

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, yes that’s right folks the eagle has landed!

In the past week I’ve been all over the country in my journey and travels to finally get all my things packed and ready to come back to school. I concluded my summer studies of third year Arabic at the University of Arizona with a series of reading, writing, and spoken examinations, then hopped on a plane and “high tailed” it back to my city in Virginia for about a day, before road tripping back to the lovely humid state of Florida. The change from 5% humidity in Arizona to 90% humidity in Florida is drastic but, fear not, do-able.

Turkish coffee my friend from Libya made my roommate and I while we were studying for our final Arabic exams!

Now that I am back in Florida and reunited with my beloved Keurig and seemingly endless supply of coffee and tea, I realized that Daytona Beach really does feel like home. My cozy room, blogging in the morning from bed with a cup of tea and an airport view, amazing sunsets, my favorite run loop, beach vibes. While the school year isn’t in full swing yet I’m back at RA training prepping hall decorations, door tags, and bulletin boards, and have my Orientation Retreat rolling up in only a few days too. There’s almost an entire month of preparation for new students to come in the fall and I am extremely excited.

Coffee from a cafe in Tucson

In other news I’m half way moved into my dorm room (ha). Somehow I forgot to bring hangers and haven’t had a chance to hang up any of my clothes yet… so I’m one Walmart trip or one amazon order away from being unpacked. I also omitted plants from my journey to Florida but I am in the market for some so look out for updates on that! Also my road trip from Norfolk, VA to Daytona Beach, FL with the ‘rents and my pup Kita was one for the books. Sleeping in the back seat with a sweet dog was absolutely fantastic.

My dad driving us down to Riddle, with my favorite sleeping pit bull.

To sum it up I will be continuing my Arabic studies this semester as an independent study at Riddle, which is one of the classes I’m most excited about, aside from AFROTC starting up again, and of course being an RA on the sports student hall and getting to meet my residents, and leading my Orientation group. Overall, I’m just excited for the semester to start. That’s what’s popping in my life right now. Will report back as the looming Fall Semester approaches. Keep on keeping on.

AZ & AFROTC

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Tucson, Arizona, where I lay comfortably in the shade around 6am on a Sunday morning. 

A few fun differences in Tucson from Daytona Beach include the high elevation, the extremely dry heat, the seemingly more intense sun, lots of cacti, and Tucson is surrounded by mountains on three sides, which makes for some pretty amazing views. Whenever I introduce myself to people here and tell them I go to Riddle their first impression is the I attend Prescott because it’s only a few hours away, but truth be told I’m an ocean soul and I attend Daytona Beach, which makes for an even more interesting conversation.

I am currently just finishing up two weeks in AZ which means I’m about half way through my first semester of Arabic 405 which is Advanced Arabic I at the University of Arizona where I have tests every Friday and I have already taken my midterm examination. 

Arabic 405 is an intensive course in which Monday-Friday I have four hours of classroom time every day, followed by an hour break for lunch, office hours (which are essentially an extension of class) with the professor for two hours, followed by an hour of tutoring, a break for dinner, then two hours of language partner time, in addition to homework, projects, and additional studying I do on my own. My schedule is definitely busy, but typically it always is, and learning Arabic while challenging, is extremely fun.

I got some more photos from my time at Field Training during the Max 1 session!
Behold Alpha Flight at the Assault Course Finish line.

While I’m attending UA for summer courses with Project Global Officer there are students from all over the country here with me from the Army and Navy ROTC programs. My class consists of a total of five people, two of which are from Project GO. That being said, there are no extra “ROTC obligations” over the summer. Although naturally it’s encouraged to workout, we don’t have scheduled PT sessions or wear uniforms, and our primary job right now is to learn Arabic. I highly recommend studying over the summer because it makes it so much easier to give maximum effort when you don’t have any other classes to worry about.

Here’s a flashback from Dining Out this past Spring 2019 semester! Currently missing my AFROTC family.

Aside from this my acclimating to AZ has been a moderately rocky one, pun intended. My body was not used to the dry air or intense heat as I grew up on the coast and Riddle is by the beach too. But I’ve been running in the mornings or in the late evenings to escape the heat… even though the difference between 108 and 98 seems negligible, and I typically spend the weekends exploring Tucson’s coffee shops, restaurants, or going hiking or to the pool. Stay tuned for pictures of cacti and coffee to come. Will report back soon, stay cool folks. P.S. it’s monsoon season in Tucson and I’ve still yet to see any rain.

Finals & Nile Crocodiles

Happy July everyone! I’m currently blogging from Washington DC. (We’re not in Kansas anymore!)

In addition to all the usual events, my summer in Kansas concluded with an Arabic Homestay Dinner, conversation tables, presentations, a Saudi Arabian movie, an Oral Proficiency Exam, lunch field trips, dinners with our professor, a final exam consisting of listening, speaking, and writing portions, a final skit performance, and of course lots of coffee.

الحمد لله

I thankfully finished with an A in both semesters, but more importantly I made irreplaceable memories with my professor, tutors, and classmates. Also, thankfully, my last two weeks included more “mesa’a’ah” which is my newly discovered favorite Egyptian food.

Arabic Homestay Dinner at our tutor’s house!

Brief recap of the last two months:

After spending hours every day in person, emailing, texting, or calling each other I can honestly say I am so proud to have had the opportunity to study amongst likeminded individuals and to learn and develop language skills in such a supportive environment with my classmates, our tutor, and our professor.

I can now hold a conversation in Arabic, converse on a variety of topics, am more culturally aware, and confidently have a strong foundation of Arabic skills consisting of standard high language vocabulary and a lot of Egyptian dialect.

Family photo of our class with our classmate’s daughter!

For me learning Arabic was a chance to truly open my eyes to the beautiful diversities in the world, especially in Arabic speaking regions such as the Middle East where non-Arabic speakers commonly have a lot of misconceptions about not only language, but culture.

I have only begun my journey in understanding how culture contributes to perception, connotation, and communication. Educating myself is the start to contributing a more globally aware society, starting by breaking language barriers and expanding to clarifying misconceptions and squashing stereotypes. Learning Arabic has allowed me to start developing an understanding of culture and ways of life very different from what I, as a native English speaker, was typically used to. Despite cultural differences between geographical regions, languages bridge the gap between different people and creates an opportunity for communication and understanding to develop.

My classmate and I with our professor!

I would absolutely recommend Project GO to ROTC students, and I would highly encourage anyone up for a challenge to learn a new language as they have numerous benefits beyond the classroom. Learning languages truly helps to form more globally aware citizens. They broaden perspectives, open up doors for communication, educate people on culture, and can lead to amazing opportunities whether it be connecting people within your community, or meeting new people traveling abroad.

I am very thankful for this experience and excited to continue my quest learning Arabic inside and outside of the classroom in the years to come.

Visual representation of the word “ممكن” by my classmate and I, which doesn’t directly translate into English, but is ممكن a verb for maybe/sort of.

Side note: My professor is from Egypt, which houses the Nile River. In the Nile there are many crocodiles. Nile crocodiles can range from 15-20 feet long. Below is a visual representation of the size of a small (15-foot) crocodile, measured out by myself, my classmate, and our other classmate’s daughter.

One 15-foot Nile crocodile!

Will report back soon!

Summer Update #2

Hi everyone!

This first week of my internship at United was really crazy! I got to work in service recovery – which is tracking passengers who will most likely miss their flight and re-booking them on a new one. They are then greeted at the gate with tickets for their new flights. How awesome is that?! I also got to work in the premier lobby helping passengers check-in and tag their luggage. Another day we worked the inaugural SFO-Zurich flight! It was super fun and everyone was very excited for their complimentary Swiss chocolate! Friday I worked at the gates helping people board their flight. So many people miss their flights, don’t want to check their carry-ons, want to get an upgrade, etc. I feel I get to see the worst in people with this internship since traveling makes people stressed. However, I’m really liking it! Tomorrow I meet my mentors for the first time! We truly are a family. Birthdays are celebrated with good cake and lots of laughs!

Living alone is nice. I cook a lot! My RA dorm on campus doesn’t have a kitchen so I’m loving the ability to cook. I also bring my lunch to work, so I make it the night before. Tonight I made pasta and garlic Parmesan roasted potatoes for tomorrow’s lunch. I really enjoy going to bed at 9 pm and waking up early. I feel so productive being out the door at 6 am. I do miss home a lot though, so I already have my flight booked to Denver on July 31st!

As for summer classes, I am doing a lot better than before! I finally got into the swing of things. Let me tell you, I really appreciate Canvas after having to use a different platform for these classes. I feel summer classes are a lot quicker paced (well they are since they finish quicker than normal courses in the fall/spring) and therefore I feel every day I am doing another assignment. I am now working ahead on the weekends because honestly, the last thing I want to do after a long day is homework and tests. I know I’ve grown as a person because I can admit I think I took a bit too much on with summer classes, living alone in a big city for the first time, and a 10-hour/day internship. I’ll stop complaining now because it does no good at this point. I will just be SUPER grateful at the end of this summer. Never have I ever wanted summer to end, haha!

I hope you all are excited for school to start in just two months! Soon you will be finding out who your roommate is, buying dorm necessities, and getting ready to move! Please make sure to check your ERAU email often. Important things need to be done like accepting awards (scholarships)/making sure they came through to Embry-Riddle, having all placement exams complete, current shots mandatory to start, insurance figured out, and more! Be diligent and don’t be afraid to ask for help by calling the correct department!

Some more tips as summer is in full swing:

Spend time with your family – while your time with your friends is also precious, I promise you will be missing your family a lot at school!

Eat at home – on the same note, eat home cooked meals while you can!

Read the ERAU Housing’s packing list – I made a post with a very thorough packing list for school, but be sure to reference Housing’s list for what is allowed. As an RA, we do inspections to make sure people don’t bring thinks like cook-tops or candles. If they are found, the student must get rid of it within 24 hours. Save yourself the trouble.

Start investing in Florida products and testing them out – Find a good sunscreen, foundation, bug spray, hairspray, etc. I recommend Supergoop sunscreen products, Estee Lauder Double-Wear Foundation, and Avon’s Skin So Soft for bug spray! I may be listing more body/beauty products for Florida, so stay tuned!

Save money – I didn’t work my first semester (most students don’t). Thankfully, I could still go out to the movies or to eat because I worked a summer job before college and saved up! Try to do the same – 10/10 would recommend!

Print pictures – you will want photos in your room to liven it up and remember your loved ones! I got mine from Super Snaps and had a great experience!

Have fun out there! – Maddie

 

Summer!

Hello everyone!

It’s been about two weeks since finals, can you believe that?! I’m happy to report I finished with all A’s and I was never too stressed while studying! I tried mixing it up this finals season and studied in groups (I usually prefer to study alone) and it actually helped me stay laser focused. I guess the moral of the story here is try new things!

On a side note, I’ve been obsessed with using GrubHub. It’s a food delivery service where you order via an app and someone delivers it to you! This was AMAZING during finals when I didn’t want to drive anywhere and interrupt studying. Tropical Smoothie and Buffalo Wild Wings were on routine repeat for me! The trick is to get your friends to order with you and the delivery fee and tip can be split so it’s not as much. You can easily order to the dorms, so those of you planning on not having a car next semester, do not fret! This is for you!

Anyways, back to summer! After finals finished (I had the last final at 9 pm on Wednesday), I went and packed up my dorm. After I did my RA walkthrough of all the resident’s rooms, I went to the airport. This is a crazy story – I had my friend take me to the wrong airport and then almost missed my flight. How does that even happen?! The flight was supposed to be delayed but then got changed to no delay and I ended up having to throw away all my liquids in order to carry on my bag. Then I had to beg to be allowed to not double pay for my bag since I had originally paid for it to be checked. Long story short, I made the flight (barely) and didn’t have to pay for my bag twice.

I then landed in Las Vegas and caught a flight to Oakland. Once I landed in Oakland I went to my hotel and woke up early to catch the Bart to San Francisco Airport. Here I finished my badging process by taking a safety class. This was my third weekend back-to-back in San Francisco. Crazy right? That’s a lot of 6-hour flights coast to coast. After getting my badge I rented a car. How am I old enough to rent a car?! Well, the answer is I paid a premium for the 20-year-old insurance. I dropped off my badge and drove down to Monterey to visit Chris, which was a 3-hour drive with traffic. I don’t consider myself the best driver so I was very scared to drive in crazy California traffic with unfamiliar roads. All was fine though! I picked him up and we got dinner then continued to drive to LA. We then spent Saturday at Disneyland and Sunday in Los Angeles! Now I am currently hanging out in Monterey spending time with Chris. He works during the day so I usually try out coffee shops and find cute stores to kill time! Last weekend we went to the Taylor Swift concert in Santa Clara, Apple Park in Cupertino, and strawberry picking in Watsonville. Tomorrow we are heading to Las Vegas!

Disneyland!

Apple Park with iPads as menus

Apple Park!

Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour – Santa Clara

Strawberry Picking

But… The best news is my internship starts in two weeks! I am so excited to live in a big city and work with my dream airline! Finding an apartment has been stressful since there are a lot of scams and I need a short-term, furnished apartment. I’ll keep you updated! This is my first full-time internship! I like that it is a rotational one where I will be able to work in multiple areas. I think this will make time fly. Also, SFO is BEAUTIFUL! What an amazing airport!

I will be doing my internship for credit as well as some online summer classes. If any of you are curious about the process of registering for either, let me know! I’d be happy to share my experience with setting it up and why I choose to do both!

Enjoy the beginning of summer! – Maddie

School, Football, and Drones, Oh My!

So apparently my last post was never approved, which isn’t good. And that kinda explains the lack of content on my part, so I do apologize! Unfortunately, not a lot has happened since I made my last post. I have some really awesome travel photos planned for my next post though! I won’t say where I’m going, but I’m definitely excited.

So my short and brief time at Rutgers has come to a close. I passed Thermodynamics and it was easily one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do this summer. I even brought donuts to our final because it was going to be a long, four hours.

Apparently Rutgers likes MLH.

One of my high school friends, who graduated Monmouth University for a degree in Media and Broadcasting asked if I wanted to help him shot some drone video for a football camp. I didn’t realize the camp was lead by some very well known football players and coaches.

I had a lot of fun and it kinda reminds me of high school. I miss those days.

And here’s my current draft of my drone video that I’m working on.

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot

No, but seriously… is Daytona ALWAYS been this hot in May? The moment I drove over the Georgia-Florida state line I could feel the change in heat. Aside from fighting the curly hair struggle in humidity, I’m excited to be back!

Local restaurants and coffee shops like Tia Cori’s and Sweet Marlays’ coffee shop have been calling my name. I can’t forget Bethune Grill – home to the best wings in Daytona. It’s a must-have!

Five minutes beyond the mom-and-pop shops is the “Most Famous Beach in the World.” I’ve already pulled my beach blankets from storage and prepared an emergency beach bag equipped with sun screen, shades, a good book, and a Bluetooth speaker. I’ll always be ready for a spontaneous trip to the beach.

Even better, I have a few friends staying in town for Summer courses so we’ll be getting into the habit of $6 movies on Tuesdays. Wonder Woman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Cars 3 are just a few of the movies on my list.

I’m a year from graduation, so this could very well be my last Summer in Daytona – home to enjoy a lot of local pleasures. I’ve already begun checking things off the list, but for every item I cross out I add three more. I’m not sure if this will ever happen, but I’ve just added Skydiving and Swimming with Manatees.

Back to Business

If you’ve read any of my early blog postings, you’ll know that I’ve accepted another internship term with Space Tango. This time, however, I’ll be working remotely from Daytona Beach. Just between us, I did it for the VIP launch viewing down in Cape Canaveral (insert subtle wink here). Work perks aside, this is a huge opportunity to practice a lot more than Public Relations.

I long for game days in the office. Go big blue!

Aside from handling my usual tasks, my time management and communication skills will be challenged. I’ve already begun to experience the difficulties of working remotely, but with new challenge comes new opportunity. My first four months involved a decent learning curve, but I think working remotely gives me an opportunity to get even more hands-on. I can’t do everything I used to do in the office, but I’ve come to recognize tasks our team overlooked. Within the next few months, I hope to strengthen our digital image.

Much like this blog, I’ll be posting entries on the Space Tango website about the team, company history, and upcoming events. I’m mostly looking forward to the launch of CRS-12 that will be carrying an array of experimental payloads for the TangoLab facility.

Pizza increases productivity!

Ultimately, I am bound to experience some adversity, but I have a great team in Lexington that constantly communicates and guides me. I thought that working remotely would be a loss, but this is certainly a chance to be experience true independence in the workforce.