Posted in College

Finishing Freshman Year

The school year is winding down, and it’s finally starting to feel that way.  The last week was basically THE WEEK for end-of-the-year projects and events, but fortunately there are still a few ways to relax.  My highlights were definitely karaoke and French pastries – unfortunately not at the same time.  And though this weekend has been spent finishing projects and studying for finals, last weekend was an absolute blast at Chiricahua National Monument.  As I’ve been volunteering with Parks in Focus, one of the events I went to was the first of the year’s camping trips, and it was really a perfect weekend.  The kids were actually really well-behaved for a group of ten-year-olds released into a National Wilderness Area.  Sure, there was some complaining on the hikes, but I think by the end of it, the important thing wasn’t that anyone’s legs hurt but that the area is really scenic.  I, for one, would not mind going back and exploring a few more of the trails.  And it didn’t hurt that there was a meteor shower Sunday morning, so a few of us chaperones got up around three to see the stars, and I am always up for stargazing.

Since the year is basically over, I’m going to be taking a small hiatus for most of May (planning to post again on May 27).  That means this is my last post for the academic year of 2017/18, and since it’s my freshman year, here are my Top Five tips/lessons learned.

  1. Go to stuff

It’s not always the most fun, especially for an introvert like me, but it tends to be worth it – particularly if there are professors at the event because they like it when students show up.  And I know this because showing up to events with my dorm’s faculty fellow actually got me a bit of paid work over spring break and a letter of recommendation.  As a college student, these are two very good things.

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Performing at the Arabic Talent Show

2. Talk in class

This is one where sometimes I’m good at it and sometimes I’m not.  I’m good at it when I know the answer and less so when I don’t.  But, as my French professor (in a class called French Conversation) said, teachers like students who talk.  It lets them get to know you, and particularly in language classes, it helps you improve (and I should know considering that 21/40 of my credit hours this year have been language classes).

Tripod on head
I don’t know what to say about this.

3. Develop a routine for studying

I do a lot of studying, and I find that it’s much easier to do that when I’m doing it at a set time rather than trying to force myself to do it at random times or especially right before a deadline.  My favorite thing to do is to take Sunday afternoons and just sit at the library Starbucks for a few hours preparing for the week, writing scholarship essays, and occasionally blogging.  In fact, can you guess where I’m writing this from?

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Go adventuring too!

4. Eat good food

Before college I’d always heard about the “Freshman 15,” but for me it worked negatively.  A lot of that is probably the amount of walking I do, but another part of it was that I found it a little difficult to figure out where to get my food and when to eat it.   So, for any incoming freshmen, I would recommend stocking up on tasty but healthy snacks and keeping a few in your backpack and at the very least trying to have a set time to eat dinner.  Whether you lose or gain weight, the important thing is to be healthy about it so you aren’t over- or under-eating.

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I absolutely love going to The Fix on Monday evenings

5. Remember that no one actually cares what you wear

I’ve always had this thing where I think people are looking at me or questioning my apparel, but the thing is, no one really does.  In my experience, people don’t tend to wear pajamas to class, but you will see people who live in vintage dresses and button down shirts and people who live in gym clothes.  Every Saturday since February, I’ve seen people just walking around in bathing suits as they go to and from the pool.  So, even if I’m not comfortable wearing my swimsuit to the student union, it’s nice to switch from baggy cargo shorts to a sundress and have no one bat an eye.

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Karaoke Night (“Holding Out for a Hero” Shrek 2 version)

And that’s about it!  My first year of college has been pretty great, and I’m really looking forward to everything that’s coming in the future – the next time I post will be from Italy!  I’m certainly excited for that, so

Until next time ~

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Posted in College

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 ~

Posted in Around the US, College, Travel

The Secret to Getting Ahead

Hello to all my readers!  For the everyone who read this last year, you’ll notice that the penultimate post about Canada turned out to be the ultimate one, but I did (obviously) come home safely and even survived my last year of high school.  Senior year was a lot. After all the IB coursework and college applications, I’ll admit I’m glad to know where I’m going to college and to know that I don’t have to do another Extended Essay for a few more years (thanks to the Honors College, I’ll be doing a Senior Capstone Thesis).

Despite the jokes and complaining of the Senior IB students this year, it really was a good experience.  For my part at least, I can’t seem to get enough of a heavy course load, so I signed up to take eleven hours of college credit this summer, hence the partial Mark Twain quote in the title: “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

~ Since I know my family and friends back home read this to keep up with my adventures, I’ll try to update with some modicum of regularity despite the coursework.  ~

According to my mom, this particular post should detail the time between graduation and finishing the first week of Arabic.  I think the following image summarizes that:

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In short, I’ve done a fair amount of flying lately.  A few days after graduation, I came to Tucson (suburbs shown above) for orientation where I met other U of A students and enrolled in my first semester classes.  Following that, I came home for a few days to go on one last trip with the church youth group and take a picture that scared a few people who saw it.

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New River Gorge; Endless Wall Trail

I will point out that there was a rock under my feet, so I wasn’t in as much danger as I could have been.  After a few days of packing most of my clothes and not nearly enough books, I took a fraction of that luggage to return to Arizona for month 1 of college.

Why Arizona?  The short answer is the Arabic Flagship program (“Why Arabic?”) and the scholarship money.  The longer answer is that I love the myriad of cultures that speak this beautiful language, and of the five schools in the country that have this program, Arizona has some very nice scholarships available.  Not only that, they offer this Jumpstart Program in the summer.

Jumpstart is mostly self-explanatory, but I’ll explain in detail anyway.  The Arabic department at Arizona is one of the best in the country, and its directors do everything they can to make Arabic available to students who want to learn the language, from students already attending the U of A to ProjectGo cadets from across the country.  Jumpstart is geared toward high school students who want to learn Arabic and potentially continue learning it as college students.  For those who start the program early in high school, it is possible to come back for multiple summers and gain several college credits along with fluency in the language.

As I am already planning to take Arabic in the school year, taking the 101 class this summer will get me ready to start 102 in the fall and also familiarize myself with the campus.  (I’ve already found some delicious restaurants.)  This first week, we have gone through the textbook Alif Baa, which is essentially phonetics of the language and basic writing conventions.  Starting Monday, we will begin the main textbook Al-Kitaab that is used in most Arabic classes.  The course is intensive, so I’ve learned a lot.  For reference, what we do in one day of class in the summer is comparable to a week of class during the school year, so regular attendance is a pretty good idea.

This won’t be quite like my blogs from past summers where I detail all the fun things I do because the majority of my day, I am either in class, tutoring, or attending office hours.  That’s not to say it isn’t fun.  I really love the class, and I’m enjoying it immensely, but I don’t think pictures of my homework would be of much interest to anyone.  I will, however, attempt to update with what’s going on as I start college and when I do exciting things, I’ll try to upload a few pictures.

Until next time ~

 

Posted in Spain, Travel

Montserrat

That’s right; Saturday’s trip was Montserrat.  Most people probably know the abbey for Our Lady of Montserrat, a statue of the Black Madonna found there in the 9th century.  We did go in the monastery, and it was cool to see the statue, but my favorite part of the trip was the 10k of hiking through the mountains.  We went up to Sant Jeroni, which may or may not be the highest point in Catalunya…I don’t know how high the Pyrenees are.  Anyway, elevation is 4055 feet, so it was pretty high up.  Going up there were a lot of stairs, which I didn’t like, but it was really worth it for the view!

After that, Sunday was a day of rest until late evening when we drove around Barcelona a bit and saw the fuentes at Plaça España.  Once arriving back at the flat, we celebrated a birthday with desert flan being brought out at 11:59 pm and the meal finishing around 1 am.  It was still a lot of fun.  Yesterday, again, I attended class at the university for the morning and came home for the afternoon where (sob) I started packing. Last night, Montse and I took a quick trip to Sitges, a cool little beach town that we turned into a photo-op.  Believe me, I’m posting very few of the pictures taken there.  Today, I plan to go back to Barcelona for the last time (on this trip anyway).

I’ll be sad when I have to leave here because I’ve enjoyed it so much.  I hope one day to come back to Spain, especially Catalunya.  I’ll still have a post on Saturday to sum up the trip, but after that the blog will return to just posting on Tuesdays.  Until then.

Montserrat  from the road
Montserrat from the road
Looking down from the mountain
Looking down from the mountain
On the trail
On the trail
The mountain from the monastery
The mountain from the monastery
The mountain again
The mountain again
At the monastery with wind
At the monastery with wind
A less windy picture at the monastery
A less windy picture at the monastery
The Monastery from the mountain
The Monastery from the mountain
A view of the mountains from the other mountains...we walked over there
A view of the mountains from the other mountains…we walked over there
Me before I walked 10k
Me before I walked 10k
A view of the landscape
A view of the landscape
R2D2 rock
R2D2 rock
On the trail
On the trail
On top looking down
On top looking down
At the overlook, Sant Jeroni
At the overlook, Sant Jeroni
Sant Jeroni, we went up there
Sant Jeroni, we went up there
Mountains
Mountains
Mountains
Mountains
More mountains
More mountains
Us with the mountains
Us with the mountains
Steep stairs...how did I not fall down these?
Steep stairs…how did I not fall down these?
Nice view of mountains and even a little of the monastery
Nice view of mountains and even a little of the monastery
A little shrine on the way down the mountain
A little shrine on the way down the mountain
Us at the top of Sant Jeroni :)
Us at the top of Sant Jeroni 🙂
Siesta time
Siesta time
Plaça España
Plaça España
Plaça España castle
Plaça España castle
Plaça España with fuentes
Plaça España with fuentes
Plaça España castle in day time...well, early  evening
Plaça España castle in day time…well, early evening
Waves at Sitges
Waves at Sitges
Sitges Cathedral
Sitges Cathedral
The Sea and Me
The Sea and Me
Me at Sitges
Me at Sitges