Mixed Emotions

As the title suggests, my departure from Tallahassee is drawing near. The semester has ended, grades are out, and it is time to go see my family! I haven’t seen them for 5 months and counting which beats my previous record of not seeing them for a little less than 4 months. It was my niece’s birthday 2 days ago, yet another event that I missed. Soon though, I will be catching up with all that I’ve missed once I meet them and I cannot wait!

                Since I’m leaving soon, I’ve been trying to do a lot of things these days while I still have the chance. Of these things is the flamethrower challenge at Stevie B’s Pizza. To be honest, knowing how it would play out, I wouldn’t have done it. :p It was not worth it at all! I’m not a big fan of spicy food in the first place, but that sauce that they put on the pizza was way too spicy! The challenge started and the mood was so tense. They sit you in the “Flame room” which is a small isolated area, wall painted red, a poster of a man blowing fire out of his mouth right there on the wall next to you and a bucket on your side in case you needed it if you know what I mean. The timer started and I had 20 minutes to finish it. After 2 bites, the spiciness got to me and at that very moment I just stopped and said to myself “wow, this is overwhelmingly spicy, I can’t do it”. I kept drinking water while my friend was trying to convince me to keep going, but he was just delaying the inevitable. After 10 minutes of just drinking water and listening to the empty support of my friend, I quit. My advice? Don’t do it!

                Recently I have discovered a soccer field that is official sized and has perfectly clean-cut grass. It was the discovery of a lifetime! I hadn’t played in a field like that in soooo long. Another one of those things I wish I knew about earlier.

                Also, another thing I plan on doing before I leave is finally visiting Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando! As soon as I finish writing this post I will officially be completely free to do whatever I want until I leave to see my family! Whenever that happens, it will be with a heavy heart. It has been such a wonderful year in Tallahassee and I enjoyed every bit of it. I learned an awful lot from living here far away from any family and such. I believe I am even more responsible and mature now. It has been an exhilarating experience in which I have met so many different interesting people from all over the world. I met people from so many different countries with such different cultures. It is truly a diverse campus with endless opportunities to participate in organizational events, activity events, social events, etc. and meeting all sorts of people.

I wish I could write more perhaps about the visit to Orlando if it happens but unfortunately this is my last post before I leave. It has certainly been great to be able to share my experiences and information and I wish it was helpful to its respective audience. I am so grateful to have come to such an amazing university and would encourage anyone and everyone to study here. It does not disappoint! Form the students to the staff and faculty to the professors and instructors to all the events and opportunities to the campus itself I rate my first year of university a whopping 10/10!

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.

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…

Cricket mania

I have never been a really big cricket fan…but a match between Pakistan & India requires even the non-followers to convert into die hard supporters. I don’t promote any rifts, most of my friends are Indians but when I saw myself screaming for Pakistan when the bowled Yuvraj for zero runs and my Indian friends shouted taunts back a weird rivalry rose, I’m sorry but some occasions require this. None of my American friends understood this obsession but cricket for us is like the super bowl or the orange bowl, or probably like the UF and FSU football match…. I don’t know how to describe this.

However such occasions also happen to be the part where you end up missing home the most. Especially when your friends message you with repeated updates of everything you are missing…and you have to instead stream and watch the match on a small screen…yeah not so fun. Despite the inconveniences the desi crowd is living up to its name and religiously gathered at 5am in the morning to watch the match…

As the rain pours on Tallahassee today and as the thunder rolls I am keeping my fingers crossed…

I hate changing the topic, well I hate taking my eyes off the screen to write this entry for today too but anyway the Center for Global Engagement organized an International Bazaar. I mentioned the bazaar in my last post but the significance of the event other than the fact that it was the first event this semester that I attended which was organized by the CGE was that it’s an excellent way for international students to come together and show their culture and talents to everyone. The highlight was that I got to eat a samosa and vegetable rolls with tamarind sauce for only a dollar and after almost a year. A lot of student organizations had set up their booths as had a lot of countries. The best booth according to me was by the Buddhist Students association. They gave free samples of ‘unconscious drawings’ i.e. drawings done when the person is in a state of meditation. The cool thing about is that whatever angle you view them from a different image is perceived.  I think that it was cool+ they had yummy chocolate cupcakes which were free.

                We have Shirin Ebadi a Nobel laureate giving a public talk this Friday. Shirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts for democracy, peace, and women’s rights in the Middle East. There will also be a book signing for her book “Iran Awakening” and the most recent one so I am super excited about it…

Events and updates

I like Google. Especially when it has a new theme for its homepage every time some random or important event in history occurs. However it did not have a page for pi-day/Einstein’s Birthday on Monday. How shocking 😛 especially because the significance of pi in Science and Engineering is enormous.

An interesting fact about the letter pi, throughout history there has been much effort to determine the actual nature of π accurately. According to Wikipedia, “the simplicity of its definition, the concept of π has become entrenched in popular culture to a degree far greater than almost any other mathematical construct… The current record for the decimal expansion of π, if verified, stands at 5 trillion digits!” I think that that’s amazing but maybe it’s just the nerd in me that’s fascinated. WIMSE (the LLC that I am a part of) joined in the celebrations of pi day and we actually had a social event in which we all ate….pies, and did trivia of course 😀

So coming back to FSU news more precisely College of Engineering news. The top news which is the talk of all research hopefuls is that two of our professors, Dr. Anant K. Paravastu in Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and Dr. William S. Oates in Mechanical Engineering, were recently awarded very competitive grants by the National Science Foundation for their research. For those who don’t know what this means, it basically, for a freshman like me means that they have lots of funding for their projects and those that sign up to research with them get a bonus in their pay. And yes freshman can research with Professors, even if they have no previous lab exposure, you get to learn about everything and how it is done+ get to mention that in the experience part of your resume. You would in most cases not get to handle all the groundbreaking experiments but you get a front row seat to how the experiments were done and learn how to make decisions and find solutions to problems that might arise, so it’s all very cool.

On another note, FSU Center of Global Engagement is going to host an International Bazaar on Saturday 26th of March. From what I have heard from people it is an excellent way to share the culture and traditions with other individuals. It celebrates cuisine as organizations/groups set up sample tables, it gives groups a chance to represent or highlight their communities by displaying their culture and there are cultural performances like dances and poetry reading and plays. I look forward to attend this especially because it is on a Saturday and I have heard that the food is always good 😀

Another piece of Information I ran into was regarding the Undergraduate tuition waivers. The waivers however are not based on your high school GPA but on the FSU GPA, therefore you need to spend a semester at FSU and then get evaluated. The waiver is awarded on a semester by semester basis and the minimum GPA requirement is a 3.3. More information is on the CGE website.

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