Amidst Confusion

Summer finally kicked in and the weather is getting so hot. It is reminding me of the summers in Kuwait. Speaking of which, I don’t even know when I’ll be going back to Kuwait this summer. I might take summer classes here, but the weather makes me think otherwise. Also, I may have to meet up with my family when they go to France, which might be really soon. I am so excited to go and use all the French I’ve learned this year. I really can’t wait to go there. I also want to go back to Kuwait to see all my friends and relatives though, but that will most likely have to wait till after I go to France.

Amidst all this confusion, there is so much work that I have to do for my classes. Some of the work includes final projects and assignments, studying for final exams, and procrastination. Instead of working, the temptation to go and play tennis or racquetball is too strong for me to resist. Racquetball is another sport I took up. I’ve never heard of it till I came here. It is very similar to squash and tires you out real fast, which makes it a great workout.  It is about just as enjoyable as tennis but not too fun when you hit yourself in the head with the racquet.  Back to the point, I have been procrastinating which forces me to work till late at night. Then, I have to wake up for my 8AM class and I have no time to take naps in the afternoon, so I am exhausted. In fact, I missed two of those early classes this week. I wake up, and like everyone else when they’re tired, turn the alarm off and go back to sleep. The funny thing about it is that I do it subconsciously; when I wake up later I don’t even remember turning the alarm off.

Yesterday was an important day in the world of soccer. There was a match between the best two Spanish clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid. The only place you can go to watch the match is a Colombian restaurant called Super Perros. It was the first time for me watching a soccer match in Tallahassee and being able to feel the tension in the air created by the passionate supporters of the two teams. There was even extra tension because it was the Final of the Spanish Cup. It was beautiful. The place got rowdy and people were screaming and you don’t see that in Tallahassee. The place has really good food too. It’s too bad I just heard about this place yesterday.  It’s never too late though, I’ll probably go again for the Champions League games.

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Two Things

Cultural differences are inevitable. America is a huge country that is pretty self-dependent and many American students do not know much about the outside world other than what they learn in history class. That means many of them do not know anything at all about the Middle East. Being from Kuwait, I get all sorts of questions that can get pretty interesting.  A few days ago, I was having lunch with a group of 3 friends and two of them were telling me how they convinced the other friend that I am with Al- Qaeda. I laughed SO hard. You can’t take those things seriously and get upset about them or feel offended. You have to always remember that many students are clueless about the Middle East and have very, very vague and incorrect ideas about it. I haven’t heard anyone talk to me about camels yet which I am glad about because I wouldn’t be able to say much about that other than the fact that I have never seen a camel in Kuwait except on the logo of our national bank.  Instead of getting all worked up about things like that, just explain to them what it’s really like and inform them about life back home wherever home is for you. They are almost always surprised and interested in hearing about such matters. Cultural difference may or may not be a bit of a problem depending on how you react to it. In my case, I enjoy discussing things with students and letting them know what my culture is like, so it really isn’t much of a challenge.

                What could be a challenge for you whether you are an American at FSU or an international student, is that being alone without your parents to take care of financial matters, there is a lot you need to make sure you do not forget to take care of. It is a long list and some of those things on the list are only for international students, others are for everyone. Among those things are your monthly payments. If you live off campus, you need to remember to pay your rent and utilities. You also would have a phone bill you need to pay for every month. You also need to make sure your health insurance information is updated at the Thagard Health Center at the beginning of every semester which is a great Health Center. A few weeks ago when I was sick and had Pink eye, I went there around noon and got an appointment right away to see a doctor and they took care of me and gave me a prescription. It all took about an hour. Registration for classes also must be taken care of as soon as possible in order to guarantee that you get enrolled in all the classes you need to take, when you want to take them. On top of all that, you have all the class work that can be overwhelming at times. My suggestion is to make a list of those things and organize them in a chart so you can keep track of what you need to do every month. As long as you organize everything and remember to take care of those things at the right times, you’ll be fine. If you are slightly unorganized like me, you could face some problems with late fees whether for your phone bill, rent, utilities, or you might be forced to take a class at a time that you don’t really like because you were late in registering for classes. Because I registered for classes a little late, I am forced to wake up early every morning to get to my 8 AM math class.

What I want you to get from this are two things:

1)      Do not get offended by silly questions you might have thrown your way. Instead, deal with it in a calm, humorous, and pleasant manner. It will make things easier for you.

2)      Make sure you organize yourself to remember to pay all your bills, register for classes, and all the little things that you need to do on a monthly/per semester basis.

Ten things I learned from my year in FSU :)

It’s hard to believe that there are only two more weeks left in this semester and only three more till I get back home for summer break… Though at times I find myself feeling nostalgic about leaving FSU for three and a half months and leaving my whole ‘being independent-doing what I want’ part of life, going back home is my priority right now.

The President of FSU, Eric J. Baron, is hosting an ice cream social tomorrow, Thursday April 14th on Landis Green. It is apparently an annual event where students, faculty and staff come together to have free ice cream and cookies. In addition to that a live DJ would be there to provide entertainment along with a Jousting Arena, a Bungee Run and the FSU Flying High Circus.

Once again today I find myself hit with a serious dose of writers block, and therefore instead of writing about mind boggling philosophy or the secrets of the universe, as I usually do… I am going to write about the ten things I have learned during this year at FSU.

1)      Sir Cecil Beaton said, “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the common place, and the slaves of the ordinary”.

2)      Procrastination and being bad with time is a disability but it is also extremely gratifying.  It feels amazing when you are just sitting around doing nothing, in a way I feel almost rebellious and there is a slight feeling of adrenaline which hits me when I waste time. It’s like Steve Hobbs says, it’s like freedom in a bottle.

3)      Silent movies are amazingly entertaining. It should be remembered that they were the first forms or the beginning of film and at times they are

very sloppy with a tadbit overacting with bad makeup, but they were a brilliant start. Nosferatu, which I saw this weekend, is one of the creepiest characters in movie history (according to me). Nosferatu is in essence Dracula. The makeup was weird and at times comical but his blank stare and his figure gave me a chill. One of the striking shot was a scene in which he rises from his coffin. When he opened it, it was not bats which came out but rats…

4)      People in America love causes…especially if stuff they buy is for a cause for example everyone on my campus is after TOMS shoes. An organization which would donate a pair of shoes to a child in need in third world countries, every time you would buy one of their shoes. So people want to get them more so because they are for a cause… wouldn’t it make more sense just to donate the money that they would use to buy the shoes instead and let the children in those countries have two or more pairs of shoes?

5)      Girls here have the biggest desire to look like Amélie.

6)      Americans know absolutely nothing about Football…yes! Football the actual kicking the ball with the foot game (I hate calling it soccer)…all they know is that… England, Brazil are good.

7)      Americans love world music. I should point out that most of my judgments are based on my observations of my friends and people that I interact with. My roommate, Laura, has a huge collection of artists from all over the place from Beirut to Sigur Ros to the compilations of Fleck, Hussain and Meyer… which is fantastic!

8)      Organic food and items are very much in here. Americans would do anything for organic Food,. However I just weirdly realized now that we are so dependent on agribusiness foods that if the world was to switch to 100% organic food tomorrow, almost half the world would die from starvation.

9)      Paler than White :                                      

from left to right: Chicago (first two), Atlanta, Austin, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Santa Fe, Toronto, Boston, Seattle, and New York.

10)   Ramen is the best investment. Ever. You can cook it in the microwave or over the stove :O

Pictures..

When I was coming to Florida State I technically did not have any legit pictures of campus, therefore I had no idea what it would be like. Google does not come up with adequate pictures and neither does the actual website do justice, picturewise. I am therefore dedicating this post completely to pictures of Florida State University. All pictures are courtsey of my amazing photographer friend Stacie Vandhana Balkaran!!!

         

                      

Three and a half Weeks Left!

Really? I cannot believe it. Time FLEW by. It’s like last week I was in orientation. But when I look back at all the things that I have done this year it makes me say ”ok yes, it has been a year”. I have done so much I should really thank FSU for that. It provided me with so many opportunities, all of which are really enjoyable. I tried to benefit fully from all that FSU has to offer, from extra classes, to the sports facilities and gym, to conferences like the FILC, and finally, for giving me the opportunity to have a job and gain work experience. All those things make the FSU campus such an outstanding place to be. You could really enjoy your university life without needing to leave campus much. You could just stay on campus all day everyday and everything you need and more is available to you. It makes life easy for its students. By always having so much to do, it feels like you days are so short and time goes by too fast. Before you know it, you’re writing your final assignments and registering for classes for the next semester.

This is probably the most hectic time of year for students. With two and a half weeks left until final exams, all final projects are due soon and final tests are coming up.  This is my first year of university, but generally, in high-school, towards the end of the year I feel like I just want the year to be over and laziness kicks in. That hasn’t changed now that I am in university. In fact, if anything, the feeling just got stronger. Although you enjoy your life at university here at FSU, it can be exhausting to always be doing things all the time. So towards the end, you feel like you can really use a summer vacation; and just that is what’s coming up pretty soon! 🙂

Thinking back to all that I’ve done, I started thinking about things that I absolutely enjoyed, and things that I would have liked to do but didn’t do them for whatever reason. In addition to the opportunities I talked about above, probably the best experience was the FILC. It was also great to be able to enjoy all the free services of the Leech Center – the gym, sports clubs, swimming pool and spa, etc.  Even having done all those things, there is much that I wish I had taken advantage of but didn’t. Such things include the SLC, the circus, the reservation, etc. The student life center plays recent movies such as Black Swan earlier this week, True Grit soon, and many more. I also did not go to the FSU circus which has a reputation of being better than you expect it to be. The reservation is a huge park, the best place for you to get to enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities and is reserved for FSU students only. It is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable places to be on nice weather weekends. With just a few weeks left, I still might be able to enjoy these things if I can manage my time well.

Getting involved on campus

“When there is injustice to one people and there is no way of receiving justice and when several generations live under the poverty line and there is no hope for the improvement of their lives, they may forget their sanity because of hopelessness. And thus they may resort to violence.”

– Shirin Ebaddi

I mentioned in my previous post that Shirin Ebaddi was giving a lecture here at FSU followed by a question answer session and a book signing. She spoke about women’s rights in Iran in particular and human rights elsewhere in the world. She also talked about the current pan-Arab revolutions that are taking place.  Speaking of Iran she said, “…Revolution came about and said a woman could no longer be a judge, I changed my job, and became a lawyer. It was the same feeling that encouraged me to become active in defending human rights.” Currently she has been exiled from Iran, even though her husband still resides there. Her speech was very passionate and I think she is truly an inspiration for a lot of us.

The event was promoted by Peacejam an initiative undertaken by the Florida State University Center for Leadership and Civic education.

The Center for Leadership and Civic education states that its mission is to educate students and to promote effective leadership by further promoting Holistic Learning, Social Justice, Family and Unity and by Respect of and Commitment to Achieving Shared Visions. In practice they aim to work on a variety of levels starting from the individual through courses and independent study, to forming and working through partnerships in the form of providing internships and training workshops, through groups and for the community by student organizations, mentor projects and change initiatives.

Okay, so Shirin Ebaddi came to FSU sponsored by Peacejam which is one of the initiatives undertaken. Peacejam is a platform which brings Nobel laureates like Shirin Ebaddi and young people together and gives them a chance to talk about the issues that our planet faces today, which included, namely, basic needs such as water to basic human rights like social justice and human security. I think that it is an awesome initiative and that more schools and colleges around the world should take part in it and form local clubs or chapters to promote awareness.

There are a lot of Student Organization here on campus which are invested completely in justice initiatives. There are program initiatives like Habitat for Humanity which strive to eliminate substandard housing, Invisible Children at FSU which aims to improve the quality of Life for war-affected children by providing access to education and better learning environments and the Human Rights Awareness Center (which I am planning to join) which aims for raising awareness of human rights issues within the University environment.

All over there are many ways to get involved on campus for issues that might be important to you. Ever Wednesday on Market Wednesdays at the union student organizations in particular set up booths in which they tell other students their aims and discuss and present their initiatives with others, I have already mentioned how great I think Market Wednesday is for buying stuff, but there is another side to Market Wednesday; a platform for exchange of ideas. A few months back FSU won an award for being one of the most engaged campuses and I think it lives up to it 🙂

Happy reading…

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