Stars and Things

Wow, a lot has been going on the last two weeks!  I started going to Lezginka classes for one thing.  Lezginka is a style of dance from the Caucasus region, and though the style varies from place to place, it basically mimics the flight of eagles.  It’s a lot of fun and a really good workout too.  I joined another club as well – the National Society for Collegiate Scholars.  It’s a philanthropy club that I’m really excited to get involved with, and they also do fun things like movie nights, one of which I attended on Friday.

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Under the library

Food is also a great thing to talk about.  The RA in my wing has started organizing a little snack-time get-together on Monday afternoons, and it’s super fun to hang out and talk with people over cookies.  Every dorm also has a Faculty Fellow, who is a member of the faculty who works on organizing some events and getting to know the students.  Yesterday, she ran a CV workshop and brought vegetable lasagna that was absolutely spectacular.  Today, she also got tickets to take 15 students to see the play Doubt:  A  Parable by John  Patrick Shanley.

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Normally I would be in class at this time of day

And finally, astronomy!  Although I didn’t get any pictures of the super-blue-blood moon last week, we did get up early to see it, which was incredible!  The astronomy club also took a trip to Kitt Peak Observatory last weekend where we toured the WIYN and the 12-meter telescopes before having a star party where we look at the stars with our own telescopes and the naked eye.  Driving back to campus around 10pm, we were all a little hungry, so a group decision was made to go to IHOP, which is where we were until midnight since they were surprisingly crowded.

Beyond that, I’ve been working hard on school stuff, except for that one day where my Global Studies professor was in Japan and had to cancel class.  That day I went to Starbucks.  But all the hard work is paying off – on Wednesday, I received official approval to study abroad in France next fall!  I can’t wait to finalize everything with that, but I’m also still loving the classes I’m in now.

Until next time ~

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January in Review

I’ve been in class for only three weeks now, but it feels like a lot more than that.  The month has flown by, and I can’t quite believe it’s almost over.  In these opening weeks of the semester, I have mostly just adjusted to classes since clubs are only now starting again.  Although I plan to join a Lezginka dancing group (a very professional example of the style) and will be going on more trips with the astronomy club, for now I’m just going to go into detail a bit about some of my classes.

Arabic & French: These languages are quite different, but since they’re both languages, I”m grouping them together here.  In both classes, I have the first major assignment due this week (an essay for French [finished] and a video for Arabic [not finished]).  Anyone who knows me knows that I love languages, so even when these classes get challenging, I still enjoy them – in part because of the challenge!  It also helps to learn fun new words like the adjective “raplapla” in French, meaning roughly worn out.

Global Studies: Probably my favorite class so far, this is one of those classes that tells me I chose the right major.  There are two foundation classes in this major, one of which I took last semester that focused on global cultures and languages, and its compliment which discusses states and institutions.  We’ve spent the first several classes discussing “Globalization” and both its advantages and disadvantages.  As we come to the end of this unit, we will be studying the effects of and reactions to globalization in specific regions of the world (Europe, Africa, Mid East, East Asia, and Central America).  My professor is one of my favorites for how engaged and excited he is to discuss the topics with us.

Linguistics: As I said already, I love languages, and knowing how they work is fascinating to me.  This class is surprisingly easy (we have not yet had any homework), but I find it interesting to learn about the phonetic alphabet and, when attempting to transcribe words, realize that my transcriptions are different from the person next to me because my accent means I  pronounce the  word differently.

Astrobiology: Gen eds are supposed to be fun, right?  Apparently this is one of the more difficult science gen eds (you actually do math; it isn’t just a lecture), but when I saw there was a class about how we search for alien life, I had to sign up.  So far the class has been really interesting and not as difficult as I was led to believe since the math component is no harder than general science in 9th grade.

Guitar: So since I’m minoring in art history, I don’t actually need a fine arts gen ed credit, but a one-unit guitar class sounded fun.  After only two actual classes, I am pleasantly surprised that I can actual play something that resembles music.  Although I attempted to teach myself guitar in 11th grade, it’s completely different to actually have a teacher, a textbook, and requirements to meet.  This is basically my relaxing class because, despite my issues with stretching from fret to fret, playing any sort of music after memorizing a map of Europe is fairly calming.

Honors Colloquium: My last class to mention here is another one credit class, required for all freshmen in the Honors College.  Out of 50 options, I chose “How Stories Work,” and already  I’m having a lot of fun learning about narrative and rhetoric and how they engage us in stories.  My professor here as well is a lot of fun, and I’m really excited to continue with the class.

So, in short, I’m enjoying all my classes and excited about where they’re going.  It’s a heavy schedule, but I also like having the discipline of it and being able to learn so much.  My weekends especially are great; on Sundays, it’s fun to go to church in the morning, eat lunch, and then spend a few hours at the library Starbucks to prepare for the coming week.  To conclude here’s a few pictures from my first few weeks.

Until next time ~

Back to the Grind

Well, I’m back in Tucson and ready for semester #2 of college.  I had a lot of fun over Christmas break and really enjoyed getting to see everyone back home again.  (It was also really great to see Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella before I came home.) Christmas was great, and it was awesome to spend so much time with my family.  By far my favorite part of the break was going to eat at the Secret Sandwich Society in the snow.  Also the snow was pretty nice.  I love the 80 degrees here, but a break was all right.

It was a little stressful flying back, but I had dinner with one of my friends and got to settle back into my dorm.  Of course, I’ve already been back to The Fix for some gourmet mac n cheese to start the semester off right.  I haven’t gotten to do a lot here in Tucson  yet but my classes seem like they’ll be a  lot of fun and very  interesting.  I’m especially excited for my Honors Colloquium on How Stories Work.  So here are a few shots from around Tucson in the wonderful weather.

Until next time ~

 

Going Home!

It’s hard to believe that a week from now I’ll be back in West Virginia!  The last couple weeks have actually been pretty relaxing, even with finals approaching.  Thanksgiving break was definitely relaxing, although it was a little strange to have dinner with only six people, since the meal was just for people staying in the dorms over the break.

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Celebrating Thanksgiving

Although in Tucson, the weather is still firmly in the 70s and 80s, it’s clearly getting close to Christmas, so my roommate and I went to see some of the decorations that are up on University Blvd.  Despite the decorations, I still wore a sundress to church yesterday.  I can’t convince myself it’s cold when I still work up a sweat walking across campus.

Since I have been studying for finals and finishing projects, I haven’t done a lot of exciting things over the past two weeks.  Also, since I’ll be going home, this will be my last blog of the year.  So here are a few pictures and a wish for everyone to have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Until Next Time ~

Veteran’s Day and the VLBA

By far one of the most remarkable events of the past two weeks was experiencing some actual November weather.  Although I’ve had a lot of Christmas drinks from Starbucks over the past few weeks while working on end-of-semester projects, it’s stayed about 80 degrees here in Tucson.  On Kitt Peak, however, things are different.  I spent Veteran’s Day weekend enjoying my day off, doing homework, and setting up the Christmas tree, but this weekend was really exciting!

Saturday at 2 pm, we left the university to go up to Kitt Peak Observatory.  Wearing leggings, jeans, and a long-sleeve shirt, I was pretty hot while waiting for the group to assemble, but once we reached Kitt Peak, I added my sweatshirt.  The trip is one the astronomy club does every year to walk on the dish of the VLBA telescope and look at the stars after dark.  The VLBA (Very Large Baseline Array) is a series of ten radio telescopes across the US that uses interferometry to process large amounts of data.  If you include all ten telescopes, it is technically the largest telescope in the world.  The climb up to the dish was a bit harrowing, but it was completely worth it to stand there!

After the dish, we drove up to the astronomers’ lodge for dinner where I ate a Chick-fil-a sandwich that I am proud to say I kept insulated for five hours after I bought it.  After sunset, we drove back down the mountain a bit to the twelve-meter telescope and parked outside to look at the stars.  The drive down to the telescope was remarkable in its own right because the sun had just set, and with the view from the mountains, we could see the remaining colors over the western horizon while the Summer Triangle was already shining overhead (and slightly to the east).  In the distance, we could see to Tucson which looked so much smaller from this distance.

We stayed to watch the stars for a few more hours, while one of the astronomy professors pointed out constellations.  We had a few optical telescopes belonging to the club with which we looked at a fuzzy Andromeda Galaxy, a few nebulae, and some binary stars including Alberio which has two different colored stars – one blue and one yellow.  The Milky Way was clearly visible above us, and there were even some shooting stars thanks to the Leonid Meteor Shower.  Orion was rising as we drove back into Tucson, signaling winter to me, although I had to shed a few layers once we were back in the city.  It was an incredible experience, and I’m really glad I got to see it!

Until next time ~

November in Tucson

It’s strange to think that I’ll be coming home for Christmas in a little over a month.  This semester has gone by so quickly, and these past few weeks were no exception.  After a busy week of midterms and presentations, we went to 4th Ave last week to do a bit of Christmas shopping.  It seemed a little warm at 80 degrees, but it was a lot of fun.  Not to mention, there was the costume contest in Astronomy Club and the Night in Azkaban where one of the dorms had been turned into Hogwarts from Harry Potter.  They had some really cool decorations, and although we weren’t there for long, it was a lot of fun.

This week started with little pouches of candy sitting outside every door in the hall.  I’ve had all the candy I could want this week from professors, events, and really just being on campus.  On the 31st, I went to Spanish class as Captain Picard then met up with some friends for a Halloween treat of ice cream.  Then yesterday, I went to Biosphere 2 as a part of my Honors Catalyst class.  Since we were only there for a few hours, we could not see everything, but my group went through the rainforest and beach biomes both of which were awesome!  The whole idea behind the Biosphere is cool, and in visiting Tucson, I think it is a must-see.

This week I’ll mostly be keeping up with classes and finishing what projects I can before Thanksgiving.  It will be strange not to be home for that, but I’m excited to see everyone at Christmas, which will be here very soon!

Until next time ~

An Amazing October (so far)

The last two weeks have been packed with a lot of fun stuff from poetry night to the Haunted Dungeon.  On poetry night, everyone in the dorm was invited to come down to the lobby where people shared poems they like and ate a lot of nice snacks.  I had a lot of fun and even read a couple (“Song” by Christina Rosseti and “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman).  We also had game night in our hall, and we played a few rounds of Spoons then about an hour of Catchphrase.  I’d never played either game, so I had a lot of fun learning.

This week, I registered for my classes next semester  and started my 7-week class on the Honors Common Reading book Just Mercy.  I also attended an alcohol awareness event in the dorm where we not only learned about alcohol, we also got free rootbeer floats and played MarioKart while wearing drunk goggles.  Then, of course, this Saturday was the Haunted Dungeon that has been in the works since August.  My roommate and I started helping with set-up at 9 am, had an hour lunch break at 1 pm, and finished our set up around 3:30.  We took a break nap after that until 6 pm when we got dinner and came back to do a final walk-through before the event started at 8.  It was a lot of fun being behind the scenes and able to scare people.  The whole thing looked incredible and went off almost without a hitch!  It was around midnight when we got back to the dorm since we had to take everything down, but it was worth it after a fun night, and I stayed in today to finish doing this weekend’s homework.

I also read some great books this past week, notably Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and Watchlist, a short story collection edited by Bryan Hurt.  I also made my way to the library today to pick up some Ray Bradbury and F. Scott Fitzgerald, which will get me through my Arabic and Spanish tests this week.  And finally, a shout out to my aunt Nancy and FUMC for the awesome care packages this week!  I’m definitely set on snacks for awhile!

Until next time ~