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 ~

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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 ~

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 ~

 

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 ~