Online Class Tips & Tricks

Happy June everyone! I’m currently blogging from Norfolk, Virginia and my evening was pretty great. I finished my online classes by (yet again) doing some YouTube workout videos, taking a short walk around the neighborhood with my sister and her dog, going to a spin class, going to the grocery store, coming home to water plants, have dinner, and relax.

Today I figured out a quick life-hack for online classes and wanted to share. To start, I am typically a semi-on the-go person, so sitting down for 4-6 hours of Zoom class everyday (not including other digital meetings) makes me very tired and towards the end of the days I usually get uncomfortable staying still and sitting. Today, I figured out by placing my laptop on a tall table, then on top of a wooden box (books, magazines, anything you have), I am able to elevate my laptop to approximately eye-level so that I can do my classes while standing. If you have a stand up desk arrangement, a tall counter, or a raised bed this arrangement also works. 

From experience living in the dorms on ERAU’s DB campus, you have the option to submit a Maintenance Request form to get your bed height raised or lowered. Throughout the past year I did most of my online classes by placing my laptop on my bed and standing up beside the bed. My go-to school supply is also a clipboard, so that I can do my homework practically anywhere (typically I will lay on the floor, but can also move to a desk, chair, or bed depending on what is most comfortable at the moment).

Being home I tried out a few different online class spaces and am still in the process of experimenting, but I would like to officially announce that a DIY stand up desk (aka box on table) is working for me and standing instead of sitting helped me feel so much better today.

Current standing work station set up!

My other top online class hack is simple: drink water! I try to refill my water during breaks, but will definitely ask politely to my professors during class to take a quick water break. (I am in a class of one, so if you are in a larger class where cameras are not required you typically will already have this liberty.) Also, I like having coffee with me in the mornings, sometimes some quick snacks throughout the day like trail mix, carrots and hummus, or fruit and yogurt, as well as hot tea for my afternoon sessions. I’ve found that snacking throughout the day and drinking plenty of water keeps me focused and happy!

My favorite classmate!

If you don’t have a ton of control of the environment you are taking classes in, if you’re home, in the dorms, or at a friend or family’s house, focus on the little details that are in your control. For example, I like to open the blinds to use natural lighting while I’m in online class if possible, set oil diffusers, have little plants in the room with me, and clean my space at the end of every day so the next morning I have the opportunity to reset my workspace and start fresh. The little details make all the difference, so even if you are in a shared space you can still carve out a piece for you to feel comfortable to learn in. Hope this helps encourage or inspire you to recharge and reset with online classes even if you’re in the same space everyday. Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Shifting to Online

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is adjusting well to online schooling. I know that things right now are not quite ideal, but I hope that everyone is staying safe and being cautious. I’m sure that has been said and heard a thousand times, but I just wanted to reinforce it. I also want to talk about organization and ways to make sure you are keeping track in this blog, because, if you’re like me, online schooling may not be your strong suit.

I personally have had a lot of issues staying on track, staying motivated, and keeping track of my school schedule. Some professors help by doing online virtual lectures, whereas others just add more work and reading. With that, it can feel a little bit over whelming, especially of you have full-time classes and other obligations. Which brings me to the tips I want to share:

Tip #1: Stick to Your Schedule

Try to focus on your classes at the corresponding times you would’ve met up with them in person. This is the main thing that’s been really helping me stay on track and stay motivated. With Monday, Wednesday, and Friday being my long days with 4 classes each an hour long, I have been able to really get my work done and get through the slides and reading that those professors left for me to read and review. Because I have been using this method to do my work, I have been able to stop about the same time I stop school on campus and carry out the rest of my day to do whatever.

Tip #2: Put it in Your Planner

My next tip is to use a planner. Most professors have changed up their learning plan and have adjusted schedules. In order to keep track of the new work and dates I suggest recording them or finding a method that suits you to keep track. Whether that means a planner on your phone, a calendar, or printing the syllabus. This way you don’t confuse yourself or forget about tests or assignments without the professor reminding us when our next test is or when that final paper is due.

Tip #3: Create Your Space

As far as staying motivated and focused go, I would advise sitting at a desk or a table of some sort that’s well-lit and devoted to work. Try not to lay in bed to do your work and school, believe me I have tried. The difference between working at a desk in a chair instead of lounging in bed is huge and works wonders for your brain. This is partly because of a psychological aspect. Typically, when you’re in bed, your mind associates that to sleeping or relaxing, I promise it just makes you a little lazier than your need to be.

Tip #4: Don’t Panic – Manage Your Stress

My final tip to everyone is not to stress or panic. I know we are in crazy times and that the work load of online schooling is more then we all bargained for, but if you take my advice and dedicate times of the day to your classes, the stress will not be as bad. Wake up every morning, eat some breakfast and get to work with your classes as if you were going to classes in person. As soon as you’re finished for the day just relax. Watch a movie, chef it up in the kitchen, exercise, call a friend or read a book. Do whatever you need to during this hard time, try to keep things as normal as possible and focus on the future.

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


Holidays Travel Tips

Here are a few travel tips as we go through this holiday season:

Before The Trip
Pack light: You should only bring the necessary stuff you need for your trip. If you are allowed a free checked-bag on your airline, use it instead of bringing a carry-on. This will accelerate the boarding process and reduce delays at the gate.

Carry-on: You should pack your travel documents, medication, car keys and spare lithium batteries in your carry-on or in a bag as your personal item. If you are bringing liquids, they should be 100g/100ml (3.4 oz.) or less. Make sure your carry-on luggage has the right dimensions and weight depending on your airline. Many air carriers are strict about this and will make you check your bag if it’s too large.

Bringing gifts?: If you are carrying gifts onboard the aircraft, you should keep them unwrapped until you go through security. It’s just easier for the security officers if they have to inspect your gifts.

Flying international?
: If you are flying out of the country, make sure you have all the documents you need to enter the foreign country such as passport and visas. Ensure your passport is valid and is not expired prior to your trip.

24 Hours Before The Flight
Check-in: One day prior to your flight, you can check-in on your airline’s website or on their mobile app.

Flight status: Enable your notifications on your smart phone so you can know the status of your flight. If it is delayed or cancelled, you will know before heading to the airport for nothing. Winter weather delays can be expected even if you are not flying to/from the north as your inbound plane and the crew might be coming from Minneapolis for example.

At The Airport
Arrive early: If you are flying early in the morning or out of a major hub, definitely arrive early before your flight. There are a lot of people at the airport checking-in for their flights, dropping their bags and going through the security check point, which means longer wait times. Early for me means between 2 hours and 3 hours before departure.

Security checkpoint: To expedite security, I would recommend that you put your phone and wallet in your bag or your carry-on. You’ll have less loose items in the bins that you can lose. If you have a laptop, put it in a separate bin. Keep your boarding pass and ID with you as you go through screening. If “TSA Pre” is written on your boarding pass, just put everything in your bag and go through the walk through detector with your shoes and belt.

Boarding the Aircraft
Boarding time: Only go closer to the boarding area when your boarding zone is called so you won’t block any passengers in line that are boarding an earlier zone than you. To increase the odds your flight leaves on-time, only board when it’s your turn. I was boarding a flight earlier this week and a passenger tried to board during  Zone 1 while he was Zone 5…

Onboard: If you have a carry-on, store it with handle out or wheels out to make space for everyone on board. If you have a winter jacket, don’t put it next to your carry-on. Squeeze it on top of your carry-on or put it under the seat in front of you with your personal item.

Comment below if you have other good #traveltips to give to our readers!

Happy and safe travels!


Spring Study Tips

Hey everyone!!

I hope you all had an amazing winter break and are ready to jump into the new spring semester! Since things around here have been moving pretty slowly for me, I thought it would be a great time to share some of my study tips. If you have bad study habits right now, it’s not too late to correct them!

  1. Study a few hours each day: This is a very important tip because college students have a tendency to procrastinate and cram right before a test. Doing this won’t help you! It is much more effective when you study for something over the course of several days, because your brain will absorb the material better. This includes reviewing old notes or making a quick study guide.
  2. Find your perfect atmosphere: When you study, make sure you find a spot that’s best for you. If you like quiet spaces, get a private study room so you won’t be disturbed. Once you find your place, study there consistently so your brain will recognize it as a study atmosphere. Don’t study on your bed, because your brain associates your bed with sleep and this will only make you drowsy while studying.
  3. Avoid interruptions: This is a big one for those who can’t escape their social life! Make sure you only use the technology that is necessary for your study session. Turn off your phone so you won’t be interrupted by text messages, phone calls, and social media. This will cut your study time down by a lot because you won’t be distracted.
  4. Take breaksOut of all the tips on this list, this is the one you should pay the most attention to! It is very important that you take breaks when you’re studying. When you find yourself daydreaming, take five minutes to stand up and stretch.This will make sure that your brain keeps absorbing the information you need!
  5. Stay organized: This is my favorite tip because my planner is my life! If you don’t already have a planner (either physical or technological), get one! Writing down your whole schedule and crossing things off as you do them will make you feel so accomplished. It’s also wise to color code everything (i.e. Math is green, Greek Life is pink, work is yellow) so that it appears more organized.
  6. Study groups: If you don’t already have a study group, make friends with the people in your classes and make one! Meeting with a group of people every week is a great idea because you get to bounce ideas off of each other and learn different study techniques.
  7. Make questions while you study: While you’re going through your homework, write down any questions you may have, that way you can ask your professor about them later. This will help you understand the material while also getting face time with your professor.
  8. Nourish your body: Eat healthy! A healthy body means a healthy mind, so eat things that are good for you, drink a lot of water, and keep your caffeine intake to a minimum. Although people use coffee as their go-to for studying, it will only help you for a short period of time and then make you crash.
  9. Stay positive: This may seem too obvious, but it is always a good idea to keep a positive attitude while you’re studying. If you are having negative thoughts, this will make you more stressed and your brain won’t absorb as much information!
  10. Learn shortcuts & strategies: When you’re studying, try to make visual cues and acronyms so that you can remember the information easier. Also, don’t hesitate to ask your professor for any study suggestions. The professor may give you information about your upcoming test, which will help you out a lot!


If you follow these ten important study tips, I guarantee your grades will go up and your semester will be a breeze!

Happy spring everyone!

A Quick Update and Some Study Tips

I cannot believe that in just a few days it’ll be November; time sure flies when you’re having fun. Yes despite two tests last week and two this week as well as a speech due, it is still possible to have fun!

It’s time for a (very quick) update:

Two weeks ago, I was on Fall Break; it was nice to enjoy some R&R in Daytona. I had another interview and used the time to get caught up on some homework and projects that were coming up; apparently, I really enjoying being a week ahead or so when it comes to school work. 🙂 Better ahead than behind, I guess.

Since the Industry/Career Expo, it seems like everything is a lot calmer at the moment. I aced both of my tests last week and have two more tests to go this week. I remember the thought of having to take tests and write essays in college scared me as I thought they would be extremely difficult. Although, I was quite surprised that it can be the opposite since I followed the tips below that I got from other students before classes started.

  • Try not to get behind, but if you do, be sure that you communicate with your professor and work hard to catch up.
  • Don’t procrastinate!
  • Try to complete homework as soon as its assigned.
  • Don’t start studying for a test the night before.
  • Lastly, don’t stress too much! Make sure that you enjoy some downtime.

Well, time to go study for Economics.

Blue skies,


July 2012

In this entry, I’d like to share what I’ve learned from my internships so that you as readers can seek out valuable challenges to jump into during your college years and how to leverage the most growth out of those experiences. First, I’ll begin with concepts from a book called “The three signs of a Miserable Job” by Patrick Lencioni. Then, I’ll tell you about all the super cool stuff I’ve done outside of work! After all, work-life balance is important.

Three signs of a miserable job, and in my opinion, any miserable situation are: Irrelevance, Immeasurement, and Anonymity.

We’ll start with Irrelevance. Everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not find lasting fulfillment. Even the most cynical employees or students need to know that their work matters to someone, even if it’s just the boss or professor. If you’re in an organization on campus or outside of campus, know your purpose! If you’re like me, you’ll strive for the highest expression of that purpose without fearing failure!

Moving on to Immeasurement. You need to be able to gauge your progress and level of contribution. You cannot be fulfilled in your work if your success depends on the opinions or whims of another person, no matter how benevolent that person may be. Without tangible means of assessing success or failure, motivation eventually deteriorates as people see themselves as unable to control their own fate. Learn how to advocate yourself as a team member now in a college setting so that by the time you have a full time job, you’re not constantly seeking the approval of others. Build your skill sets so much, that you can evaluate your own success and failure! Yes, teamwork and supervision is extremely necessary, but constantly seeking approval of others is not necessary, find a healthy balance.

Lastly, Anonymity can contribute to an unfulfilling situation. People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority. People who see themselves as invisible, generic or anonymous cannot love their jobs, no matter what they are doing. Again, this same concept can be applied to your college employment, classes, project group, clubs, etc.

Here are some of the cool things I’ve experienced outside of work: Yoga, Boeing Aerospace Leadership Chapter Events – meeting Boeing executives, Co-ed Softball, Gay Pride Parade, Art-Festival in Laguna Beach, Angels Baseball Games, Lake Havasu, Aquarium, IMAX movies, Beaches / Sunsets / Running, U.S. Open – Surfing, San Diego – Intervention, Night Life – dancing, Rock Harbor Church / Community Groups, Restaurants/shopping, REACH (Boeing Social Organization – Happy Hrs, etc..), Mars Hill Church / Community Groups, Blue Angels, White Water Rafting, Sounders Soccer Games, Whale Watching – San Juan Islands, ERAU Alumni Events, Pike Place Market, July 4th on top of Microsoft Building – roof-top fundraiser party, Cabin Trip – Leavenworth. And the fun continues….

Thanks for reading!

June 2012

Prepare for your future! It’s crucial to use college as a time to build the necessary skills and experiences needed to perform exceptionally well throughout your future. The cool part is, if you constantly push yourself to remain actively involved academically, socially, and recreationally, you will build these skills without knowing it. In my opinion, these fundamental skills consist of: time management, financial management, goal setting-course correction, effective note taking, memory skills, effective test taking, and social-health awareness. Some students may not understand how these skills can actually transfer into real successes in the professional work environment, and I’d like to share with you how they do. There are obviously numerous other skills that could be discussed; however I chose these 7 because I believe it’s these 7 that draw the need for other skills to emerge and flourish. Although this is just my opinion, I feel these 7 skills are most important because throughout your entire life, they will differ per person and deserve your personalized attention.

  1. Social & Health Awareness: In my opinion, these skills are the most important! The benefits are endless and extremely rewarding. Physical activity gives you a natural boost of energy, increases oxygen to the front part of the brain which makes you more productive, and decreases pent up muscle tension due to stress. Social activity distracts you from the stress of the moment, helps you get out of your rut, forces a positive broader perspective about stress, immediately improves your mood, and allows you to bounce back quicker from distress. Of course, all of these benefits depend on finding the physical activities and social activities that best fit your body and personality. Typically, your professors won’t teach you how to do this, so you have to take the initiative for yourself! Once you find the right social and physical activities, it will diffuse built up tension, alleviate existing conflicts, build rapport, and help you bond with others. Having friends will teach you a positive way to deal with stressful things, a new sense of shared purpose and direction, and to take yourself lightly and have fun!
  2. Time Management: This is important because time it’s a constant resource constrained by our environment! You cannot make more, so you must respect it. Respecting time is partially about being accountable to others but also about being accountable to yourself. At the end of the day, regardless of your profession or age, how you spend your time will eventually determine who you are, how you feel, and what you’re able to accomplish. The ability to concentrate and to use your time well is everything if you want to succeed in business–or almost anywhere else for that matter. Work with an advisor to discuss how you can leverage your time in a healthy and effective way. If you do this all throughout college, you won’t be sorry! These facts will hold true even after graduation and your time management skills will transfer over to your life after college.
  3. Financial Management: This is important because your financial situation is always in flux. Taking responsibility for how much money you have, how much you can potentially access, and how you spend money is extremely important. Everyone has a different financial situation but again, ultimately, college is a time for taking ownership of your life and practicing a new form of responsibility. Money, although a great resource, is increased or decreased by multiple factors and at times that differ for everyone. Talk with advisors to understand the reality of your financial situation and personalize your spending habits to your own financial portfolio, not someone else’s! These facts will hold true even after graduation and your financial management skills will transfer over to your life after college.
  4. Goal Setting & Course Correction: This is important because if you don’t set your own goals, whose goals are you living your life for? Yes, you can obviously base your goals off other people’s accomplishments and beliefs; but if you don’t take the time to consciously set goals, you will shuffle along life and wonder how you got to be where you are. In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia. Sound harsh? Good. Where I see students most often struggling with this skill is thinking that their goal has to be the best, as in, better than everyone else’s and the best choice for them. That thought is almost constructive in that it has to be the best choice for you, but even then, students stress if it was the right choice. The truth is, while goal setting is important, you’re human and you’re ever evolving. If your true strengths and your heart is telling you something, do not fear course correction; that is, do not be afraid carefully modify your goals. These facts will hold true even after graduation and your goal setting & course correction skills will transfer over to your life after college.
  5. Effective Note Taking: Believe it or not, in the professional world, you will need to take detailed notes all day! Team ideas are constantly changing and progressing, you need to know how to capture this. Also, if you have multiple projects at your job, you will need to learn how to effectively note take for each projects chosen development process and special cases. Most students think that note taking is only used to help you remember things. Although this is true, and in college helps you study, in the professional world, studying is replaces with actions such as communication and idea sharing. Therefore to leverage your note taking the most, use them to teach others; thus, study in teams and practice conveying ideas to your peers with differing learning and communication styles. If you take notes and keep them to yourself, it’s only a memory tool and you’re cheating yourself. If you are hesitant about “teaching,” think of working with others as “discussing” and adjust your notes throughout the conversation as needed. This is what will take regular note taking to “effective” note taking.
  6. Memory Skills: Let’s be honest, you’re not always going to have a legal pad or laptop next to you for note taking, idea developing, and documenting your experiences. This is where your memory skills will come in handy! There are numerous ways to build and personalize your memory skills. Talk with an advisor and study in groups to find others with your learning style to harness your natural memory strengths. Once you discover and harness your natural memory skills, build new ones and continue to improve your ability to absorb, comprehend, and remember what you experience. If you do this all throughout college, you won’t be sorry!
  7. Effective Test Taking: Just because you graduate college doesn’t mean you’re done being tested! Spending time to become a good test-taker in college develops skills that transfer into your professional life. For example, being prepared, arriving early to take a moment to relax, listening attentively, watching for details, planning how you’ll use the allotted time, maintaining a positive attitude, relying on your first impressions, planning to finish early to have time for review, and analyzing your performance. These skills will directly transfer over to your ability to effectively host meeting and present data in an effective manner.

September 15, 2008

I love the first day of class. First, there is the excitement of school supply shopping, printing off new schedules that you quickly misplaced after registering and spending the evening before picking out that envious outfit. After that, there is placing the decal on the window of your not always reliable car from high school graduation and planning your mid-morning attack on the negative five parking spots intended to accommodate the growing student population. And then you encounter the plastered smiles and inevitable questioning on the first day. “How are you?” “When did you get that tattoo?” “When did you two start dating?” But, “How was your summer vacation” is always the go-to question from your best friends, sorority sisters, lab partners, and people you didn’t even remember from freshman year. No one really listens. They just wait their turn to outdo your vacation.

Since most people already know my summer of mini-vacations from China to Canada, I won’t reiterate. Besides, I beat anyone on summer vacation fun. But, the question I got most was, “Weren’t you supposed to graduate.”

Sure, I was supposed to, but what fun is that? I was off climbing the Great Wall. I was off climbing the Grand Canyon. I was off climbing back up the GPA ladder. I admit it. I am around for one more semester to salvage my freshman year grades. Between Alpha Xi Delta, cheerleading and all my after-hour festivities, I bombed. I had no trajectory, no realization of the outside world. I found a responsibility freshman year that I did not know how to handle.

But, I found my responsibility midway through my junior year. I found a career goal. I found a life goal. I found a new way to enjoy college. While all this is dandy, don’t get me wrong. Academics should always come first. However, I had a killer time in college, one I am paying for right now. But, let me give you a few tips for having loads of fun, while still keeping that GPA afloat.

So, let me welcome you to College. No parents. No curfew. So many opportunities. At 22 years old, I am not fully qualified for Social Security or have the right to give you a “back in my day” snooze fest, though walking through the Oozeball pit to the church parking lot every day does technically count as walking uphill both ways to school. I just want to lend some advice I have acquired during my four (ok, four and a half) years at Riddle. I am sure you have heard the collegiate spiel from Admissions, Records and Registration, Financial Aid and even Safety (it scared me my first time girls, so don’t worry). But, my freshman year no one stopped to tell me other important tidbits of information. I had lived in Port Orange for two years before I came to Riddle, so I knew the best restaurants, hair salons and locals-only beaches. But, I didn’t really know the campus that well.

So here are my Freshman 15 Do’s and Don’ts of Riddle because everyone has to gain it and it might as well be advice than extra poundage.

  1. Do learn Riddle’s jargon. Whether you are a pilot, engineer, or part of my minute Communications department, a few more acronyms can’t hurt. Though the University is called Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, no one wants to say all that in one sentence. Chances are your audience won’t know what you just said anyway. But, in shorting the name, don’t call it Embry. We get confused with Emory. Instead, refer to the University as Riddle. As for when you are away from Riddle, International Speedway Boulevard is simply ISB. Try to avoid it at all costs. Ponce refers to Ponce Inlet. As a local I don’t want to tell you about the white sand and lowly populated jetty. As a fellow classmate, this is the cleanest you will get of Daytona-area beaches.
  2. Don’t wear uncomfortable shoes the day you need to get something done on campus. Once you have become acquainted with Riddle acronyms, it is time for another Riddle pastime. Following the Christmas tornado, offices were moved all over campus and to odd places. Even the veteran Riddlers need maps to find the ever-changing offices. But, then even when you do find the offices, chances are you have stumbled into the wrong office and the one you want is across campus. When you do find the right office, there are always thousands of signatures, first born children and blood samples needed just to drop a class. This is a phenomenon known to fellow Riddle students as the Riddle Runaround. While the staff does not do this intentionally, just expect it. Be courteous though I know you want to call home and cry or throw your expensive textbooks.
  3. Do buy your books online. Speaking of textbooks, they don’t have to always be expensive. I usually have to buy multiple books for one class and understand how quickly $500 disappears. Instead, look on sites like Campus Books which can save you a lot of money. That extra money could go towards tuition, housing or all those “necessary” Mocha Cappucinos before Math class.
  4. Don’t go to class in your beachwear or sleepwear. I know it is so tough to go to an 11:00 a.m. class when you went to bed at 4:00 a.m., but PJs or bikinis are not classroom wear.
  5. Don’t forget your umbrella. We go to an open air campus and Florida weather is fickle. Heck it was Christmas day and we had a tornado. Typically, it rains at about 2 p.m. everyday until mid-winter. If you can’t tell if it is winter yet, refer to a calendar.
  6. Do get to know your faculty. They are your lifeline to the industry, so make a good impression. Turn in assignments on time. Show up prepared. Don’t sleep in class. It is a really REALLY expensive nap. This is college and if you want to be treated like the adult you think you are, act that way. Professors expect adults. When you are done impressing the professors this semester, use Rate My Professors to help pick out classes for spring.
  7. Do expand your eating, not your waistline. Speaking of Freshman 15, go off campus. I know the lights of Chik-Fil-A call you like bugs, but don’t eat that day in and day out. Same goes for the all-you-can-eat buffet. It may be called that, but doctors don’t recommend it. There are healthy choices for students in the cafeteria, but they are not ready-to-eat and I understand the rush to get to class. So instead, take your time, make a salad or order a wrap. Your waistline will thank you.
  8. Do get involved. The experiences I had as a cheerleader, a sister in Alpha Xi Delta, sweetheart of Sigma Chi and on study abroad have filled my scrapbook and my resume. Whether you enjoy skydiving, Anime, flag-football, German or Greek life, join others who share your same likes. Head out to the Activities Fair. Scroll through the clubs at Clubs and Organizations. You won’t regret it.
  9. Don’t miss free food at the Athletics BBQ. We have amazing sports so go support them. A list of activities can be found on The games usually have great giveaways while playing great rivalries. If for nothing else, pick up a free t-shirt.
  10. Don’t do over 35 mph on A1A and watch the speed trap on Richard Petty. Despite popular belief, Riddle students are not God’s gift to Daytona Beach and the police are more than happy to pull over a green or yellow decal. Remember that tuition is already steep. You don’t want to explain a ticket to your loan company.
  11. Do visit Florida’s many attractions. Ponce Inlet is 15 minutes east. Miami is 4 hours south. Orlando is an hour west. Jacksonville is an hour north. No matter which direction you go, there is something to do. Fill up your car with friends. I will give a few reviews on places to go later in my journal.
  12. Do buy a year-round pass for the beaches. If you don’t have the gas money to get to Orlando or Miami, take the ISB Bridge to our beaches. This pass allows you to park on the beach and visit the local state parks for a full year. It saves you money and from dragging all your beach stuff. I choose to drive the beach because I am lazy. Take full advantage of the World’s Most Famous Beach.
  13. Do sign up for study abroad. As a freshman, you likely won’t get an internship, so instead of going home to your parents for the summer or spending your time developing skin cancer on Daytona’s beaches, head to Italy, Japan or France. I went to China this summer for five weeks and it was the best excuse for me to not graduate. If nothing else, it half price tuition. Get more information on Study Abroad .
  14. Don’t go out during BikeWeek, Biketoberfest, or Race Weeks. Spring Break may only be a week for us, but for Daytona it lasts a little over four weeks during March. During this time, use Beville and not ISB.
  15. Don’t put questionable photos on Facebook. It is not the place to paste photos of you gallivanting during that weekend’s festivities. Remember those security checks we will all get in our field of work? All of those photos will make us wish we had forgotten.

On a final note, DO have fun. Don’t let upper classmen tell you there is nothing to do here. Embry-Riddle has so much to offer. Daytona Beach has so much to offer. Take all the opportunities with all the responsibility.

“Rank Ranking” System

If China was a scratch and sniff sticker, it would smell like rotten fish, sour perspiration and brief whiffs of roses and fresh bread. There is no other way to explain in more complex adjectives the smell of China. Basically, it smelled. It didn’t always smell badly, but it always packed a powerful scent. And unlike taste, sight and sound, smell is not an easy sense to disband.

My roommate, a fellow China study abroad participant, told me I was being too negative about my Chinese experience in my past blogs. I meant to be sarcastic, but I guess that didn’t get emphasized. So, as a disclaimer, by no means am I putting down the country. The people were always welcoming and the scenery was beautiful, but there are some smells in the country that are foreign to Americans. It is just my goal to prepare future visitors for an unbiased smell of the country.

So, this is going to be a pretty blunt entry. I figured I would give the worst cases first and end with the best. To provide a neutral description of the country’s odor, I created a ranking system to rank worst to best smells of China. Shall we call it the “rank ranking” system? 10 represents the most offensive smells, 5 represents a neither appealing nor appalling scent and 1 represents the most pleasing aroma. After all, there is no reason to Febreeze the entire country.

Rank Ranking #10

The only bad thing about climbing a 6900 foot mountain and ingesting two liters of lukewarm water along the way: finding a bathroom. Not just any bathroom. A Western bathroom. Sure, there were plenty of “natural” places along the way, some occupied and overly well-lit. But, after watching numerous other adventurers’ adventure off into the commonly known, I opted to hold it until we reached base camp. After six hours of this bladder control, we finally reached the bottom and I was directed to a freestanding 20 x 10 concrete building, with little holes for windows. The local “squat pot” appeared to have been around since the mountain was a hill. With urgency in my steps, I shoved toilet paper in my bag and up my nose. However, I forgot that smell can also be tasted. {A little side note to future China travelers: Toilet paper is a luxury and should be bought in bulk before embarking. Wet naps work the best, but camping rolls also played a large role towards the end of the trip. See Rank Ranking #6.} Upon entering the room, I was hit with reasons against resting in this room. There is no need to get explicit with the smell description, but it had not been cleaned since the Cultural Revolution and the Xi An heat and humidity had crept in among the door-less stalls. Get my drift?

Having been in China for three weeks at this point, I had perfected the squat pot technique. Basically, set your footing, squat, wish you were a guy and hope you don’t topple over. But, as I looked around and wondered how certain smears had made it to the ceiling, my body ached for me to leave. I had gotten my britches to my knees when I started to topple. I stepped backwards to catch my balance and immediately realized my mistake. The hole may not have been deep, but its 45 degree trough-like slope opening to the outside swallowed my foot. As I tried to grab my senses from either vomiting or crying, I cursed having changed into flip flops after the mountain climb. I hastily ran outside, amidst screams of terror from the men’s side. My current roommate was simply experiencing the male equivalent of what I was hobbling away from. Now downwind of the building, I removed my shoes in one swift kick and in the same motion smeared my remaining Purell on my little piggies. I feared a good douse of Febreeze and some bleach would not resuscitate my flip flops, so I left them. Now barefoot and staggering to the bus, I figured I had held it for six hours. What would another two hours hurt?

Rank Ranking # 9

When I was packing, I kept worrying that I had left something. Shirts. Check. Disposable Flip Flops. Check. My Pharmacy. Check. It wasn’t until I quadruple checked my luggage hours before my flight that I realized I had forgotten to pack jeans. However, upon arrival, I learned that if I was about two decades younger, my forgotten pants wouldn’t matter: Children in China do not wear pants. Well, they do wear a type of pants, just crotch-less and for everyone to notice. But, NO ONE else noticed. I felt terrible thinking I was staring at these half naked little children. I grabbed my professor, hoping that this wasn’t the latest toddler trend.

“Why no pants,” I asked, gesturing to the bouncing two-year-old. I could see I had perplexed my professor. “But, they are wearing pants,” she replied, cocking her head so slightly to give me the “are you okay” non-verbal cue. She then caught my drift as I caught a whiff of something not so pleasant. The same child I had been watching had squatted in the middle of the sidewalk and was relieving himself of his midmorning bottle. My eyes grew large as my professor giggled. The child’s parents turned towards me and I blushed hoping I wasn’t creating another international incident. According to professor, diapers have only recently been introduced to China, starting in the 1980s. As with any new Western inventions, diapers are expensive, so parents continue the old fashion way of potty training. The only difference: no potty. Our Chinese textbook explained that parents whistle like trickling water, which encourages children as young as 4 months to start going potty. It is not a bad idea for saving money, but just be careful of the little puddle outside your doorstep. It didn’t rain last night.

Rank Ranking # 8

I am blessed to be 5’2, a traditionally average height for Chinese people. However, with the introduction of McDonald’s and other Western foods, not only the Chinese waistline grew, but also their height. On my first day on a Beijing subway, my short stature blessed me directly into the unshaven armpit of the woman next to me. She was my language partner, but I learned more than her name and where she was from that day. I learned Chinese, especially the older generation, do not typically wear deodorant, nor do they shave their armpits or legs. I smiled, not wanting to show my utter shock or utter my condolences. I wiggled my nose like Samantha on Bewitched and looked down at the floor. This was a hairy situation where no comment was safe.

Rank Ranking # 7

Smoking is widely popular in China and allowed in hotel rooms and restaurants. Besides being terrible for people’s health, it also creates a terrible residual smell. Our first hotel in Beijing, though recently built, allowed all hotel patrons to smoke in their rooms. Because of air conditioning restrictions, these patrons would leave their hotel room doors open, ventilating the hallway with their cancer stick smoke. Restaurants and bars, like Propaganda, would also smoke out patrons like a beekeeper to his hive. But, surprisingly, public transportation restricted lighting up. They had signs in English and Chinese saying “No Smoking.” Perhaps the cabbies should have allowed smoking in their cabs. It was the one and only time I felt the utter urge for one.

Rank Ranking # 6

Fish. It is a staple of Chinese culinary tradition. And it is not just any fish, but fresh fish. Nearly every restaurant boasts fish tanks, complete with live catches of all varieties. Once we reached Qinhuangdao, the stench of fish had dulled to our noses. However, the floor to ceiling fish tank in our hotel revitalized the smell. This same hotel also ran out of toilet paper for four days, quickly diminishing our provisions saved for other squat pot occasions. The second floor restaurant brought in so many options that they even had Styrofoam boxes filled with frozen or sometimes live crustacean catches. One morning while gathering for class in the lobby and wiping away my sleep, I noticed something red scampering across the floor. Was Ariel’s little friend Sebastian attempting to escape? I nudged Nikki who giggled. Our giggling attracted Sebastian’s captors, who picked him up by his tail and tossed him back, closing the lid to prevent further escape. I kind of felt guilty eating little lobsters the following night, knowing that I may be eating Sebastian. He may not have smelled great, but he sure tasted fabulous.

Rank Ranking # 5

Vendor food was bittersweet for me, but the smell was also bitter and sweet. Because of the lower sanitary conditions and lack of adequate trash removal, food and rubbish usually cook next to each other. As the cooks cooked the meats, it smelled like a backyard BBQ for Fourth of July. However, with the sun beaming on the proteins, it cooked the rotten trash situated next to the grill. Smoke rising from simmering steak cuts added a smoky flavor to the meats, but the taste of the day old fish in the trash can also infused. I guess there was no need for artificial flavoring.

Rank Ranking # 4

One of my favorite sites in Beijing was the Summer Palace. Situated on 2.9 square kilometers of land and water, it was recognized by UNESCO as an “outstanding expression of the creative art of Chinese landscape garden design, incorporating the works of humankind and nature in a harmonious whole.” The main focal point and the best view of the entire Palace is from the Tower of the Buddhist Incense. Rested on the peak overlooking Kunming Lake, the Tower of the Buddhist Incense houses an image of Amita Buddha. Imposing at 41 meters high, the shrine provided a place for the royal family to worship and burn incense. Unlike the smoke in the hotel, incense releases a flavored smoke used in many religious ceremonies and for medicinal purposes. The burning incense trend later reappeared along the hike up Hua-Shan when we ran into little shrines. The smell of cinnamon, jasmine and sandalwood would waft down the hill, announcing the temple before we even reached it. I never have been a big fan of Bath and Body Works, but this country knows how to work manufactured aromas.

Rank Ranking # 3

According to a popular song by Outkast “roses really smell like poo.” Well, if this is true, then Qinhuangdao has some smelly roses. During a stroll through the Dong Bei Da Xue campus, I took time out of my Chinese classes to stop and smell the roses. While cliché and often ignored, it really relaxed me. Brilliant colors of reds, whites and yellows like the Chinese flag dominated the garden landscape. Bees buzzed around and pollinated to keep the roses flourishing. The smell wafted in and out of our classroom building, allowing me a longer rose appreciation moment. I am sure grateful the gardens did not smell like the Xi An outhouse.

Rank Ranking # 2

In Qinhuangdao, the hotel offered an American-style breakfast. Looking forward to being rid of chow mien, fried rice and hot Tang, I actually got up before class and ventured to the café. But, an American style breakfast I did not find. Placed before us were fried eggs, instant coffee and SPAM. Instead of returning to World War II era rationing, we found a local bakery aptly located next to the Happy Café, a true American-style restaurant. Aromas of freshly baked breads and cookies mixed with ice creams of foreign flavors like green tea, pea, green bean and corn, and filled the crowded, uneven sidewalks of Qinhuangdao. In rows of Plexiglas display cases were sourdough, cakes and sweet pastries. From that point, the bakery became a staple of our breakfast. It was something we recognized and even if we did not, we could assume it was good. In addition to a breakfast haven, we used the bakery for our birthday shopping. When one of the guys on our trip turned twenty-two, we bought a birthday cake. It was so hardened by chocolate and excessively sweet, it could only be eaten in petite pieces. But, after blowing out candles and starting to eat, it reminded us of the home we would soon see. Just a little piece of chocolaty home.

Rank Ranking # 1

I was beginning to grow homesick by the end of the trip, so it is no surprise Qinhuangdao was my favorite stop. A beachside village with sweet people and salty air. Being from Florida for the last six years, it felt a bit like home. After being landlocked for three weeks, I just wanted to see the beach. I ran across the tan, gritty sand and tip-toed into the Pacific Ocean. The beach smelt crisply of salt and fish. The air carried whiffs of tanning lotions on the visiting Russians. Their skin was near transparent or tomato red and they were the only people wearing bathing suits on the beach. Though atypical everywhere else, most Chinese will go to the beach fully dressed and wade in the water up to their knees. A fair complexion is prized so tanning is shunned. But I soaked in the sun. And the smell. Nothing is better than the smell of home.

The smells were as diverse as the people who produced the smells. From the squat pot fiasco to the intoxicating smell of the Pacific Ocean, I tremendously looked forward to my “normal” aromas from the East Coast. Now back in the United States, I actually miss the smells. But, it sure was nice to get a new pair of flip flops.