Midterms!!!

Well, it’s midterm season.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been in college for almost two months now (or that I’ll be coming home for Christmas in another two).   Fortunately for me, only one of my classes has an actual midterm exam, and that’s done.  On the other hand, I have three presentations due in the next week and a half, but those are mostly ready.

Since I last posted here, my dorm hosted a movie night where we watched Hocus Pocus to get in the Halloween mood.  This has also led to Halloween-esque drawings on the blackboard I put on our door.  I also attended an event for (one of) my department(s) where there happened to be really cute dogs to pet.  And last Saturday, I went to lunch at the West African restaurant Alafia.  My French teacher invited both his classes, and we ended up taking over most of the restaurant.  The food was absolutely incredible, and it was really fun to speak French outside the classroom.

In this past week, my roommate and I went to a Pumpkin Spice Party where we learned about sustainability in the environment and also go to eat pumpkin flavored things while drinking iced pumpkin spice lattés.  The evening was topped off when we both won reusable Starbucks cups.  Friday was once again a busy day since, after Arabic tutoring at 8 am, I went to a coffee and bagels get-together with my dorm’s faculty fellow.  I also had a long but fun meeting with my peer mentor in the afternoon before getting dinner and going over to Centennial Hall at 8 pm to see the Carole King Musical.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but it was actually really cool!  I was pleasantly surprised to know a lot of the songs in the musical.  The rest of this weekend has been laid back with a lot of homework to work on, but overall it’s been a lot of fun.  I can’t wait to schedule for next semester, which I’ll do in a little over a week!

Until next time ~

 

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A Brief Note

This post will just be a quick update with mostly pictures, since I haven’t done a lot in the last two weeks excepting last weekend, which was packed.  Friday night, I saw the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid, then on Saturday, my roommate and I went on a picnic with the astronomy club and later saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I also spent a good portion of the last two weeks working on group projects, so that took up most of my free time.  Here are a few pictures though.

This weekend, the primary event was my trip to the art museum (University of Arizona Museum of Art), which admittedly was pretty cool!  Rather than posting pictures of the art though, here are a few of my scenic pictures of Tucson.

Until next time ~

For the Time Being

There’s a Sylvia Plath quote I used in my graduation speech that says, “Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now.  Live it.  Feel it.  Cling to it.”  I finished reading a really good book this morning called A Tale for the Time Being that talks a lot about the way time passes and how we live through each moment.  I could write a whole blog post just on this book and things it made me think of, but for the time being (:P) I’ll just use it to talk about settling into life at UA.  With the first week behind me, things are settling into patterns.  I know when I have classes, and I know when a good time is to get coffee or tea.  I also know that I have more free time than I expected.

My roommate is an astronomy and physics major, so I have the down-low on all the astronomy events.  I may not be studying it officially, but I love the night sky.  Last Thursday, we went to an event at the Steward Observatory on campus to look through a really powerful optical telescope and see a couple stars (Vega and a binary system I don’t recall the name of), Saturn, and the moon.  This was unlike anything I’ve ever done before, and it was really cool.  What’s even better is that courtesy of the Astronomy Club we joined, we’ll receive telescope training in a few weeks and participate in stargazing events.

Last weekend was pleasantly long, and my mom flew in to visit.  There were a few delays, but once she got here, we drove up to Kitt’s Peak Observatory.  This primarily has optical telescopes with only two radio telescopes, but it is mostly known for the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, which is the largest solar instrument in the world.  It was so cool to see all the telescopes there and even go inside to look at a few (not through them though).  On Sunday, we also drove up Mt. Lemmon.  It’s a good place to go hiking, but I didn’t want to be the one driving the first time I went up.  There are a lot of good views, and pictures can’t really capture how spectacular it is.  For anyone planning to visit though, the drive is completely worth it just for the fudge at the top of the mountain.

Since Monday was Labor Day, and we weren’t in class, we went on a trip with the school’s hiking club to Tanque Verde Falls.  It’s a 1.8 mile hike each way, and since both of us have gone hiking before we didn’t think it would be too difficult…

They didn’t tell us at at least 0.8 of that each way trip was basically rock climbing.  We also didn’t really count on the hot sun without shade, so we were a bit dehydrated by the end.  And by “a bit” I mean they made me drink a liter of electrolyte water.  It didn’t taste to bad though, and when we got back to the dorm we just kind of slept and ordered calzones for dinner.

The rest of the week was mostly just going to classes and a few events.  For example, today we’ll be meeting the Honors College Dean (there’s free food), and last night we did our English homework while eating ice cream.  The benefit of Honors English is that as long as the teachers meet a few vague objectives, they can teach how they want.  Our class’s theme is “Invasions,” and our first essay can be on either Alien or Independence Day.  So, here are a few final pictures, and I’ll get back to writing for class.

Until next time ~

Remember Moments

In the last two weeks, I’ve either had three places to be or absolutely nowhere.  This means that in between stresses, I’ve done a bit of reading.  The novel I’m nearly done with at the moment of writing includes the quote, “We do not remember days, we remember moments” (All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven).  So in a very busy two weeks of starting college, here are a few moments that I think were highlights.

First, I should talk about Bear Down Camp since I referenced that previously.  It ended up being a lot of fun – definitely more fun than I expected.  True, learning about campus resources wasn’t the most exciting thing, but getting to know my Cat Chat group and seeing how many stars exist in Prescott, Arizona were pretty great.  Also, while there, I finished John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies and, while I don’t have time to write a whole book review, it is definitely one I would recommend.

Then of course, Thursday was the awesome day when my roommate moved in.  Most of the day was spent unpacking and arranging the room, but that was also the night of the Historic Lane pajama party where we watched Ghostbusters.  I should also mention here that “Historic Lane” refers to James E. Rogers Way where three of the oldest dorms (Gila, Maricopa, and Yuma) are located.  Since the dorms are so close, there are several events that involve all of these dorms and are a good way to have fun and get to know people.

 

Last Saturday was probably one of the busiest days of the entire summer, but it was also really fun!  After waking up at 6 am, I went with my roommate and her parents to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which is less of a traditional museum and more of a zoo where you really shouldn’t pet the animals.  The museum is almost entirely outside, and you walk through various enclosures with the chance to see everything from javelinas to Monarch butterflies.  It’s a truly remarkable place where you can not only learn a lot, you can also see animals that you can’t find just anywhere.  Naturally, there is also a room that showcases various poisonous reptiles, but, for the faint of heart, those can be avoided.  Saturday evening was the block party on the UA Mall.  I mostly went to this for the free pizza, but I enjoyed a couple of rides while I was there too.

College started officially on Monday along with the eclipse.  I don’t have class until 10, so I went out earlier to see what we could hear of this celestial phenomenon, and although I missed the maximum visibility in Tucson at 10:30, being able to see that was one-in-a-lifetime, and generally really cool.  After the first week, I can say that I like all my classes, and I’m especially excited for English in which we’ll study literature through film, which just sounds awesome.  (We’ll be watching Alien this week.)

Once again, Thursday was a big day with awesome moments.  The first of these came at 5pm when I learned how to make a chocolate chip muffin in a coffee mug (10/10), and then, after evening Spanish class, I went with my roommate to the Historic Hustle – a university-sponsored dance party in Maricopa dorm.  We may have gone for the free food, but we stayed for the photo booth and goofy dancing with friends.  Finally, on Friday, we attended the Picnic at the Park (Park Student Union) where we sampled free food from a variety of restaurants then at 10 pm, we set out to Target for late-night shopping.  This is an annual event for freshmen in which the store stays open until 1 just for students to go shopping, and, of course, the alumni band was serenading our search for vegetable stock.

On the whole, it’s been a busy but exciting two weeks, and I’m feeling good about the year ahead.  And before I go to the pictures off, here’s a final book recommendation – Born a Crime by Trever Noah.  Until next time ~

End of the Summer

Well, this is a week later than planned, but I’m actually moved into my fall dorm now!  Originally, I’d intended to post last Sunday before packing up, but since I didn’t do a lot of exciting things while in UAdvantage, I thought I’d combine the post with my move-in week to make it more interesting.

A few words about the UAdvantage program though – it was great.  I really enjoyed my classes, especially Anthropology, and I’m very thankful for the resources UAdvantage will give me during the fall semester – for example the adorable little cacti we planted.  In addition to a field trip to the museum, I also had the chance to explore Downtown Tucson with my Anthropology class.  We looked at a few historic sites in the city and noted how it has changed in recent years.  Even more fun than that, the UAdvantage group also took us on a Food Tour that I would recommend to anyone visiting Tucson.  Or, if you aren’t up for a full tour, just go to The Fix for Mac n Cheese and The Hub for ice cream.  I also spent a few hours at the Scented Leaf Café which serves a myriad of wonderful teas (also a great spot to chill out and read a book).

This past week was hectic with both classes finishing and everyone packing up to leave, but it’s been fun.  Wednesday was actual move-out day, and although I was supposed to be on the golf cart to my dorm at 9 am, it was a bit closer to 10:30.  There were a few problems causing this – check out papers not being available, the golf cart leaving without me, etcetera.  But, I digress.  Once I reached Yuma Hall, it only took half an hour to carry my things upstairs (no elevator) and a further three hours to unpack everything.  However, I do mean everything, so the time was worth it since I no longer have to search for anything.  I also met my awesome RA Wednesday, but after the unpacking, I was pretty much dead on my feet.

Thursday was my last big thing with UAdvantage – Meet Tucson.  There were a few options for this, but I chose to go to Roadhouse Cinema, which is very fancy and more than I could afford on my own.  Courtesy of not having to pay for it though, I was able to enjoy the reclining chairs and waiters while watching Dunkirk.  Although I would recommend Roadhouse, I would also recommend planning to spend a lot of money there.  The whole experience was a lot of fun though, and the movie wasn’t bad either!

Friday and Saturday were a bit more laid back.  Although I did make three trips to the financial aid office on Friday, I mostly spent the day figuring out what I need in my room and going shopping at Safeway to buy some groceries.  Another notable occurrence on Friday was that other people moved onto my floor so I’m no longer alone.  As for Saturday, I had no plans at all and just finished the last of my library books (How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn, also featured in 3 of the pictures below) while exploring a few different places to read.  Last night was also the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, which I tried to see, but because of the clouds, I watched a distant thunderstorm instead.  The lightning was incredible though, so no complaints.

Today was the start of Bear Down Camp.  Mostly, this is school spirit activities and explanations of things on campus, but it seems like it will be fun.  I’ll be getting on a bus at 7 tomorrow morning to go to Prescott, Arizona for the rest of the camp, and I’ll post my next update either next Sunday or one week into the school year.  Until then ~

 

Pasó Por Aquí

Two weeks later, and I’ve not only seen a lot of Arizona, I’ve also finished another first week of class.  But first, the trip.  Before entering Arizona, we stopped in New Mexico to see El Malpais and El Morro – some of my favorites from the whole trip.  El Morro translates to “The Headland,” which is an apt name for this mesa that dominates the landscape around it.  Since pre-historic times people have seen this cliff face as something awesome and have carved into it.  Walking along the trail, you can see not only petroglyphs, but evidence of Spanish explorers, American soldiers, and New Deal workers who carved the staircase that leads to the top.  The Spanish phrase “pasó por aquí” (passed by here) that is written so many times on this rock is, to me, a mark of how people have always wanted to note their passage through the world, like I am on this blog.

In Arizona, we passed by many other places that have been held in equal esteem for the last few centuries.  From the beautiful Painted Desert that is the entrance to the Petrified Forest to the Grand Canyon and Casa Grande, it’s remarkable to see how generations of people have shaped this land and called it home.  Driving through a state known for its desert, you wouldn’t expect mountains, trees, and fields, but they’re all here under a beautiful Arizona sky.  The names of these places make them seem like they’re from another world (i.e. Montezuma’s Castle, which is neither a castle nor anywhere close to Montezuma’s empire).  However, I really liked this trip for the chance to see how people have lived and thrived in this apparently inhospitable land for so long.  That phrase “pasó por aquí” certainly has a deeper meaning when you can go to Casa Grande.  People made in this huge settlement nearly six centuries ago, and their descendants still live in Arizona today!

And last Monday, I continued my own passage in this place as I moved into my dorm for the three weeks of UAdvantage.  I haven’t unpacked much since I’ll be moving again soon, so this place really just feels temporary.  In fact, by the time I post again, I’ll be packing everything up to move again!

The classes themselves have been a lot of fun this first week, particularly the “field trip” across campus to the Arizona State Museum.  As the first part of the Anthropology class has focused on Native Americans in Arizona, the museum’s primary exhibit was relevant.  As a description can’t really capture how cool this exhibit is to walk through, I would first recommend coming out to visit, but for those who can’t, let me just say that this was a really well-done exhibit.  Not only does it have interactive portions and awesome artifacts, it was also designed with the help and permission of the tribes whom it discusses.  By far my favorite part, however, was the life-size diorama that depicted a scene from a story told to you via recording.

As for my first weekend here, I would deem the Lord of the Rings marathon a rousing success.  I think the remainder of my time in UAdvantage will go just as well as this first week, and I can’t wait for the fall semester to start afterwards.  I’ve kept up with Arabic online, so I’ll be ready for that class when it starts too.  It’s exciting to be starting college so soon, as these summer sessions really haven’t been too different from past summers abroad.  Thinking about staying here is exciting, and I welcome the thought that I too will be able to say I passed by here.

The World is a Book

I meant to post this on Sunday, but I got a bit caught up in the scenic driving.  After going home for a few days, I’m now driving back to AZ with my family.  More on this later though because I still need to talk about the last two weeks of Arabic!

For the most part, these were two really fun weeks.  I had two days off of class (Eid-al-Fitr and 4th of July), and it was also getting towards the end of class, which meant I was getting ready to come home.  The only real problem I had was that summertime is also maintenance time at the University.  In the dorm I was staying at, for example, all the washers and dryers were removed ostensibly to be replaced by newer models.  This wouldn’t have been as much of a problem if I hadn’t been completely out of clothes and just about to go do a load of laundry.

After several stressful hours of thinking I would be walking a half mile each way to the laundromat accompanied by my suitcase, I found a ride over there.  It was a little disconcerting since the building was empty except for one employee, but it was definitely an experience.  Naturally, the pick-up I arranged did not quite go as planned and, while waiting for the car, I experienced my first mini-dust storm, which was an…interesting experience.

Over the weekend, I took another trip to 4th Avenue to buy a birthday present for a friend back home (shout-out to Summer!), and I again got to see all the cool little stores there.  I also may have caved and bought myself a book to read (Michelle Moran’s Rebel Queen about the last queen of India ~ highly recommend for historical fiction fans).

This was probably my favorite weekend while I was doing Arabic.  It was really hot, but I still spent a lot of time outside just reading.  I’m loving First United Methodist Church of Tucson. With school out of session, it isn’t very full, but the community is incredibly welcoming and full of wonderful people.  They cook extremely well too, and I am getting far too used to the treats every Sunday afternoon.

As for the last week of class, it was really just review for Thursday’s final.  We played several games and just had fun with the language.  We also had Tuesday off for the 4th, and I was able to hang out with a couple of friends from the class – Aimee and Emanuwela.  I had so much fun on the 4th with them, and it was bittersweet to be leaving to go home.

Thursday itself was The Most Stressful Day Ever.  IB scores were released at 8:15 am (or 15:15 GMT), and the final exam was at 9:00 am.  Needless to day, I didn’t do much sleeping the night before, but I not only received my IB diploma, I also got an A on the Arabic final.  The stress still wasn’t over though.  Despite a relaxing (and free!) lunch at Sinbad’s Restaurant, courtesy of the MENAS department, I still had to finish packing and catch a plane.  There were ultimately no problems with this though, and I had a very nice driver on the shuttle from Tucson to Phoenix.

I was exhausted when I reached Charleston, but I maintain that it was completely worth it to celebrate Summer’s birthday.  After seeing Wonder Woman (also highly recommended, though less for historical fiction fans), we went ice skating and then hung out at her house.  Somehow, after not sleeping on the plane and only getting a few hours of shut-eye earlier in the day, I stayed awake until almost 1 am.

After three nights with so little sleep, it may be expected that I was dead on my feet Saturday, but being back home gave me some energy as I was able to visit with my family before getting up early Sunday morning to drive back out West.

We made it to Missouri on Sunday, which was a 14 hour drive plus a 1 hour stop for lunch and an Abe Lincoln Memorial.  My third recommendation of the post is the Quality Inn in…whatever town we stayed in.  That was the best sleep I’ve had in a week.  Yesterday, we drove across the New Mexico border and have now started to see some of the trademark Southwestern landscape on Rt. 66.

I’m honestly really excited to be returning to Tucson and actually settling in to live there. My other summer classes (Anthropology and Student Leadership) have started online, and I like these as well.  Maybe not as much as Arabic, but they’re still good.  The next time you hear from me, I’ll have a better-informed opinion of the classes and the new dorms, but for now I’m taking St. Augustine’s advice and doing some traveling.  “The world,” after all, “is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”