Life Updates & Lab

Happy November everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, the weather is getting colder, Thanksgiving is approaching, and finals are about a month away! To say the least, I’ve been BUSY! School, work, working out, and life in general has been jam packed lately. With Thanksgiving around the corner I’ve been having a lot of tests lately, and a lot of upcoming project deadlines before the late November break is here. Right before Thanksgiving I also have my Fitness Assessment for Air Force ROTC! I’m excited and very much ready to fast forward to spending time with my family and eating all the nostalgic cozy comfort foods that Thanksgiving has to offer. Bring me all the pie!

One of my favorite aspects of the weather getting colder is that running outside is so pleasant, especially during the transition period from hot to cold with temperatures of about 60 degrees. The humidity is low, and on good days when there’s not a lot of wind running is perfect. It’s also officially hoodie season! I recently had my birthday and got to spend a few hours at the beach which was so much fun and very relaxing.

October beach picture!

My current To-Do list for this weekend includes a lab report for my Aerospace Structures and Instrumentation Lab on vibration testing of beams and aircraft structural components of choice (my group chose a front spar of the leading edge portion of a wing from a Boeing 777 airliner to test and observe). This particular lab was one of my favorites thus far, as it investigated the phenomenon of flutter and looked at how forcing vibrations to excite frequencies near resonance can be dangerous in real world scenarios, and thus needs to be understood and prepared for. Our lab group also recently investigated some Nondestructive Evaluation techniques in lab, including thermography which uses thermal heat differentials to display an image with warmer areas displaying brighter and cooler areas displaying darker colors.

Thermal imagery is a useful technique commonly implemented in the aerospace industry to inspect planes and ensure that there is no structural damage. Inspections usually happen about once a year where planes are observed shortly after landing with a thermal detecting camera. The heat detecting technology shows areas that water may have infiltrated cracks in the structure as the water will be a cooler temperature than that of the aircraft’s body.

Thermal image of myself and my lab group!

We only have about three more lab sessions left until the end of the semester and I am looking forward to being done with writing lab reports during finals and over Winter break! Keep on keeping on folks, will report back soon!

Work/Life Balance and Little Joys

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

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

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

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

This week’s nail color of choice!

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

My new basil plant babies!

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

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

Final Stretch

This is my first blog of 2021 and (hopefully) my last semester at ERAU. After another restful winter break, we are green light for spring 2021 semester in beautiful Floridian winter. I was asked to quarantine myself due to my recent international travel, so I’m writing this blog from my room, not being able to attend my first day of class in person. It still hasn’t hit me yet that this will be my last semester as a college student, but I’m already looking forward to May.

I got to spend a lot of time with my family and close family friends during my time back home. It was a frigid winter and I got to enjoy some heavy snowfalls. My country was trying to contain the spread of the virus, so many places were still on lockdown and I was forced to spend most of my time at home or with close family members.

I’ve written about traveling during a pandemic in my earlier blog, but once again, flying back to Florida for the spring semester has never been this easy. I enjoy having less passengers at the airport and on my flights, so I cannot complain about keeping my mask on for 14 hours straight when I can have the whole row to myself.

I had a lot of time to reflect on my past college experience and how far I’ve come not only as a person, but also as a pilot. Four years have gone by relatively quickly and there were many high and low moments to say the least. It is a daunting task to now start thinking about post-grad and planning for my future career, but I am happy to soon close out this chapter of my life.

For my spring semester, I am taking a flight course, two aviation classes for my major and three international courses for my minor. I am taking my last flight course here at Riddle which is for the multi-engine rating on our Diamonds. I will be taking my capstone (graduating senior project) class on airline operations, and the pilot interview technique class. I am taking three electives for international relations which will include US-Asia relations, globalization and Middle-East current affairs.

I’m excited for my last semester (even though the current plan is to have all my classes in person…) and hopefully I can be walking across the stage in May (if this pandemic can be contained). It surely is an interesting period to be a graduating senior when there is a global pandemic, but we have to keep pushing forward. Happy inauguration day!

Finals & Fall/Winter Break

Happy November folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida and Thanksgiving is so close I can almost taste it (the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie of course).

The fall semester has rapidly been coming to a close and with about a week left until Winter Break starts its hard to see past all the assignments and even fathom a break that is, despite what my stressors persuade me, going to be upon us very shortly. I don’t typically doubt myself, but I do surprise myself because sometimes my schedule is so busy it’s hard to picture being able to accomplish so many tasks in one day, much less a week! 

A plot from my Aerospace Structures Homework that I’m currently working on via Femap/Nastran

In the spirit of being thankful (Thanksgiving vibes) I am grateful that I have the amazing opportunities to continually challenge myself in academics, professional relations, physical fitness, and leadership skills. Cue the teleprompter voice, this is all made possible in part by… time management skills I didn’t realize I had, setting daily reminders via Siri on my phone and laptop throughout the day, many To-Do lists, calendar notifications, alarms, and most importantly – my tried and true Go-To… coffee! Kidding, I am very thankful to have a support system of friends and family and I am so excited to go back to Virginia in about a week to see them!

Final exams are just around the corner, right after Thanksgiving, and the semester is truly so close to coming to an end. My motivations are good food, sleep, and quality time watching Christmas movies at home.

Over the winter break, post finals, I plan to work on Scholarship and Study Abroad opportunity applications, practice my Arabic by exploring further into the world of Arabic music, TV, and movies, and of course, rest!

Upon reflecting on the past few months, the hardest part of this Fall Semester, that I foresee will be a challenge in the Spring as well, is not having breaks or time to rest and recover between classes and assignments. Having long weekends and breaks canceled means that professors continuously assign homework, tests, quizzes, and projects until finals. This is especially disheartening considering my current Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings are filled with due dates, in addition to every weekday. I go directly from one subject and assignment to the other and it’s sometimes hard to see the light that the end of the semester brings when you’re in the thick of it.

College extensively exceeds the typical 40 hours a week “full time” work schedule, which is something I couldn’t have prepared for beforehand and is not something I am 100% sure I am prepared for now, despite taking part in it weekly. On the bright side, time never stops, and we get through it. My advice is to keep a positive attitude and keep pushing, one week, day, or task at a time. Progress is progress. Finals are quickly approaching and so is the rest and relaxation that follows! Will report back soon folks. Keep on keeping on!

Hope & Half-Way

Happy October folks! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, we’re about halfway through the semester, almost a month away from finals, and I’m so excited to visit Virginia again come Winter Break.

Mid-terms the past couple weeks were not easy. From my personal experience, college students are some of the most stressed out group of humans I have ever encountered. Maybe it’s because we’re all navigating excessive hours of homework, studying, class, and other university obligations, and there’s somehow only 24 hours in a day? I have found that I am currently coming out of the stressed wave from midterms and the only thing to do now is to keep cruising full speed ahead until the end of the semester. Stay on the grind of prepping for quizzes, doing homework, studying, and using the down time (can it really be considered down time?) between exams to mentally prepare for finals season.

Student Court’s group photo channeling Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ie Harry Potter vibes.

I have been enjoying the little moments recently. This especially includes the few and far between coveted days I get the luxurious chance to sleep in. I also have been feeling very grateful for the little moments I get to catch up with old friends, girl gang brunches never get old especially when they haven’t happened in a few weeks.

This semester has been mentally exhausting, whether it’s from online classes, a global pandemic, general life stressors, or a cumulation of everything, everyone I’ve encountered seems a little off. Navigating “normal” life with so many abnormal aspects doesn’t feel right. Check on your friends! The world could use a little more compassion, understanding, and connection right about now. I am extremely hopeful for the end of the semester and SO excited to use Winter Break to catch up on sleep and mentally recharge.

I have surprisingly made some new friends this semester and even though our interactions are limited to Microsoft Teams calls studying or phone calls, the little bit of connection feels extremely comforting in the cold virtual aura that online classes have presented.

A visual representation of how the Student Court feels about being a little over half way through the Fall 2020 semester.

In other news, SGA Student Court has been going great! As the newest Associate Justice to the team I’m constantly learning and increasing my understanding of how the university functions and its rules, policies, and regulations. We meet virtually once a week to give updates, work on appeal cases, and do other courtly duties. I am so happy to be on such a great team with motivated, hard working, and dedicated individuals who strive to advocate for students. Generally I like to think the universe is for me, and so is everything else, but particularly in this case I can 100% say the Student Court is for you, and I am too.

Will report back soon. Keep on keeping on folks!

Updates & Welcome Back

Happy January everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, still reminiscing on winter break, but back a few days before classes start for my RA position doing Spring Training and preparing the residence halls for students to return.

Part of this prep includes the “new year new me” philosophy and I took part by getting a well needed hair cut.

Although I do love my friends at school, I have also found myself missing being around my family tribe at home. I got to travel a little bit along the east coast over winter break going to southern Virginia to Philly to DC then back Florida.

While I was in Philadelphia I got to visit and meet a bunch of my cousins! We also celebrated my brother’s birthday by attending a Philadelphia Eagles versus the Dallas Cowboys football game at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles ended up winning against Dallas and as you can imagine, the post game fireworks and overall atmosphere of the stadium was one of a kind. It’s fitting that I wanted the Philadelphia Eagles to win just as much as I want the Embry-Riddle Eagles to win.

Yes, there are a lot of us, and yes we took up an entire row of seats. I highly recommend going to NFL games with a large group. It was my first game and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I am now off to finish hall decorations, make door tags, and do room inspections for my RA position. I also need to write some essays for applications for Study Abroad Programs for Summer 2020 to continue learning Arabic. Will include pictures of my hall decorations, classes I’ll be taking this semester once my schedule is finalized, and first week of school updates in my next post.

Keep on keeping on folks, happy New Year, and welcome back! Will report back soon!

Home & Holidays

Happy December everyone! I’m currently blogging from Washington DC. I traveled from Daytona Beach to Orlando then to Richmond, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach to see family and friends, and now I’m spending some time up north visiting with my sister. It’s starting to get so cold here, I feel like Florida has definitely gotten me accustomed to warmer climates. I’m definitely lucky to have been able to borrow my brother and sister’s warm clothes while I visited because my small carry on included jeans and a flannel that were not cut out for this 30 degree weather. Such a drastic climate change from blazing summers in Kansas and mild and humid temperatures in Florida.  

In other news, I have been enjoying my break so much. I’ve done a ton of yoga at a studio only two blocks away from my house (score!), have been running on the beach (in the cold yikes), doing push-ups and ab workouts, have gone on a couple hikes, and of course took my dog, Kita on walks with my dad, in addition to eating a bunch of good food, visiting local coffee shops, and sleeping.

One of my favorite things I got to do over break was paint a shed my dad built. Surprisingly enough painting the entire thing only took a few hours in the afternoon with my family all grabbing brushes.

Painting a shed! I promise the tiny brush was only used to cover nails.

Kita got painted too!

I also got to spend some time hiking with my sister and mom, which was great! Got to break in my new hiking boots I got for Christmas, broke in some new running shoes, and also some new ABU boots for Field Training Preparation (FTP) next semester. To say the least my feet are extremely sore, but better now than later.

On a hike with my mom and sister!

My aunt also took some amazing family photos for us that are currently being uploaded but will be sure to be included in the upcoming posts.

I fly back to Florida in a few days and can definitely say I will miss the leisurely pace of a balanced life and no homework. RAs always arrive back to school early to decorate, inspect, and set up the dorms again before all the residents return for the upcoming semester. Until then though, I’ll be sleeping and eating well in preparation for FTP, as well as working on scholarship applications and internship applications for the summer.

Happy new year and I hope everyone has been enjoying their holidays. Will report back soon once the semester starts up again!

New Semester, New Year, New Digs

Hey everyone! Welcome back to our scheduled broadcast. I hope everyone had a fantastic winter break. Despite only having three weeks off from school, I vowed to make the most of my break….that was until I actually flew back to NJ and realized that it was really too cold to do anything.

Flying into New York, I was greeted by the pleasant sight of snow...which soon melted the next day.

Flying into New York, I was greeted by the pleasant sight of snow…which soon melted the next day.

So what did I do during break? For the first week I helped my parents out at their shop since Christmas and New Years were right around the corner. Not surprisingly they own a nail salon and since I’m lacking in the manicure department, I was basically a receptionist for seven days.

Once the holidays blew over, I started making plans with some of my friends who were home for break. The thing about going to school in the South vs. North is that everyone starts and ends school at different times so it’s always a ballet trying to find times that work for all parties involved. In the end, some plans worked out while other didn’t. No biggie: That’s what summer vacation is for!

I didn't go on a lot of photo trips this break sadly. Hopefully the summer will allow me to make up for it.

I didn’t go on a lot of photo trips this break sadly. Hopefully the summer will allow me to make up for it.

I did get to see Rogue One in theaters though! That was the first time I saw a Star Wars film in theaters and it was honestly an enjoyable experience. I think near the end I had to use the restroom, but I was so captivated by the action and story that I was glued to my seat. The movie had so many memorable moments and just listening to the audience react to the film made me miss going to the movies.

I sadly didn’t get to go to New York City like I wanted to though. I keep forgetting how much effort it actually takes to plan out a trip to the city. In my experience, you need an itinerary of places and things you want to do. Without one, you’ll probably get lost and side-tracked and might forget why you even came to the city in the first place. The weather was also a major factor.

Speaking of weather, it actually snowed! I was so excited to see snow before I flew back to Daytona. While shoveling and driving in snow is a bit of a chore, you have to admit that it is fun to play with. If anything, it adds a whole new layer of atmosphere to your environment.

Time slows down, you can hear the slush on the road as cars drive by, and kids emerge from their homes and enjoy their one out of three snow days. I wish it snowed earlier, like around Christmas like it’s supposed too, because it’s just nice to be around it.

But, like all good things, my break was over. Three weeks with my family was well needed and I was very sad to leave. However, while traveling to Daytona, my sadness turned into excitement when I realized that I have not only another semester to make up for the last one, but that I kinda have a new lease on life.

Watching rockets launch on the beach is one of my favorite pass-times.

Watching rockets launch on the beach is one of my favorite pass-times.

I have had a lot more time to myself, I have some goals that I want to accomplish, and overall, I’m starting to understand my limits and how I operate. Hopefully this knowledge and sudden urge enlightenment isn’t just a phase.

First Trip of the Year

I started off my first day of the year by travelling to London-Heathrow for a family week vacation in United Kingdom’s largest city. I think the winter season is a good time to travel to Europe because there a lot less tourists than during the busy summer season. Streets are less crowded and the wait time to do some activities is reduced. The temperature during winter varies between 0oC (32 F) and 10oC (50 F). We were lucky to get a few sunny days during our stay.

Below is my Top 5 of the things I love to do or see in London.

London Eye

The London Eye is one of my favorite attractions in London. The 135 metres (443 ft.) high Ferris wheel was completed in 2000. It was first sponsored by British Airways for many years, but now Coca-Cola took over the branding.

The London Eye

The London Eye

From the cabin, you can see most of the city from above. You can see the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge, Big Ben and the Shard just to name a few. One wheel rotation takes 30 minutes so you will have plenty of time to take pictures and enjoy the view.

If you would like to experience London with a 360 degrees view, regular adult tickets sell for £23 (US$29). When it is crowded and there are long queues, you can purchase a Fast Track Ticket for £32 (US$40).

Tower of London

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The Food

You will eat well when traveling to the capital city of England and the United Kingdom. London is a multicultural city with people speaking over 300 different languages. You can basically find a variety of food from all around the globe. I love the food in London!

Poached Scottish salmon with fennel, grapefruit and dill pickled cucumber.

Poached Scottish salmon with fennel, grapefruit and dill pickled cucumber (Starter)

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Braised jowl of Tamworth pork with bacon marmalade, cider pickled cabbage and apple (Main course)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Harrods

Harrods is a luxury department store with more than 330 departments. There, you can find  almost everything such as restaurants and a bunch of stores. I visited twice in a week!

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Big Ben

Big Ben, also known as the Elizabeth Tower, is the famous clock in London!

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I hope 2017 brings you to new exciting places!

Nicolas

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!

Nicolas