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 ~

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 ~

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 ~