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!

Last roll of the dice

This is going to be my last blog for FSU. The semester ended last week and everyone is packed and gone for either the entirety of the summer break or for the weeks break between the spring and summer semester. I will be leaving Tallahassee tomorrow to finally head home after almost a whole year. Time flew by so quickly and it is hard to believe that two semesters have gone by. Two full semesters full of fun, experiences, new friendships and new food…oh and studying of course ;P

Food! Now that I think about it from Monday onwards I will be feasting on amazing desi richness. To think that when I was in Pakistan all I ate was burgers and fries and fast food and now that I am here I realized how much I value the traditional delights. I have already envisioned my arrival at the airport. I’ll land in the morning and from there I plan on bee lining my way straight to the nihari place( for those who don’t know  what nihari is I’m including pictures!!!) . Jet lag can be taken care of later on. Maybe I can wash all that rich food down with my mom’s amazing daal……

The good news is that my roommate and I got the amazing house that we had been eyeing forever. Persistence and patience pays off! It is lovely and the few night I spent there, before handing it to my friend who is going to sublease from me over the summer so that I don’t have to pay bills, were great.

   Though I must say that a house comes with immense responsibility and there are a lot of things that one needs to think about before jumping  right into it. The first being security. A house in comparison to a dorm means that you are now responsible for your own security. That means locking the doors and fastening accessible from the outside windows before going to sleep.

Also now that I have to pay bills I have become more eco-friendly. I close all extra lights, trying not to leave the lights on when I am sleeping or any switches of appliances plugged in when they are not in use, keep the windows open and the thermostats off during the day time. I had never realized how big my personal carbon footprint was when my dad used to pay for me. He still is but, now that I have more control over my spending I am more aware. Sorry dad! (I know you’re reading this) I’ll be more energy efficient when I get back 🙂 so now you have more things like a lower electricity bill to look forward to too instead of just me coming back.

Apart from the basics a house comes with other small responsibilities like changing the light bulbs or getting appliances to work and just taking care of utilities and facilities like getting an internet connection…If only the whole world could be wifi 😦

On the other hand my ego got a major boost as I feel more important now, just because I am living independently and cooking for myself and all that…

All over, my first year in Florida State treated me very well. I have been to places and seen things and learnt things. I am deeply grateful for all the wonderful experiences I had here and all the great friends I got to make. Personally, I really like living in America especially in Florida, given the amazing weather. The people are super nice and friendly and extremely welcoming and generally there is a happy vibe all over. As a person I have learnt a lot and look forward to broadening my outlook further in my successive terms to come at this university. Even though I am excited about going back home I will miss being here too!!!

Sayōnara!                                                                               

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.

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…

Procrastination…

I was going over my previous posts for inspiration and I realized that through most of them I complained of excess workload. Well I seem to be having the same thing again, but this time due to my incurable laziness. I spent the whole weekend talking to my friends from back home and just lazing around and listening to music. My immense phase of procrastination ended at 5pm on Sunday, when I realized that I had missed an assignment deadline and even the extension deadline :/ not very smart of me…

Even though procrastination is extremely satisfying, I now have two 3000 word research papers due on Thursday along with a journal entry. To add salt to my wounds my Calc 3 professor announced that he had just put a 40 question homework assignment online due for this Friday.

My motto on the weekend was ‘Why do now, what you can do later-or perhaps-never’ and to make myself feel better I actually googled it…

Turns out procrastination is almost a necessity and even though it has a bad reputation it could be the answer of some of life’s complex problems…trust me I became aware of how life really is when I came to college. Some of the best reasons I read were:

1)      Procrastination helps to reduce stress: “Have a deadline looming in a week or so? Why worry about it now and cause yourself  unnecessary stress? ….You are going to worry about it the night before anyway, so wait until then to tackle the project. Look at that – you reduced seven days  of stress down to one night”

2)      It increases your confidence as it is- for all those nerds like me out there- like living on the edge. Doesn’t it make you feel like such a rebel?

3)      Improves health because sleep is good for you. And then having a stress free sleep prolongs your life.

4)      I didn’t realize until yesterday during a presentation about being green in one of my class that I actually save energy and thus the world….because I turn of the lights and my laptop before falling asleep+ almost all my assignments are due online so I conserve by not doing them

By now I am sure that my father might be debating the wisdom in actually sending me to college and spending all that money….

However I do not advocate procrastination…now…that I have all my homework piled up. It always starts by a little procrastination, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but then it leads to a little more and then a little even more and finally you have a huge period of time you just wasted. In college it hurts with bad grades, in real life it pinches bad especially as one of my friend told me last night that she delayed paying her electricity bills for her apartment and kept putting it off till they finally cut off her supply :/…Imagine a whole night without the electricity.

Procrastination might even hurt the whole dependability factor because it might lead to you letting down a friend and it damages a person’s credibility.

Then, as in my case a whole weekend of, procrastination (however much I try to convince myself that I was justified…) actually leads to a whole week or even more of rushing for things. So there rises an argument of having a day of peace of mind followed by 6 days and nights of rushing Vs taking it gradually and easing it over the whole space time of the week.

An unnamed author/blogger on a website called the experience project wrote a short paragraph about procrastination and said,

“Maybe I procrastinate not because I’m lazy, but because I’m afraid of confronting things that make me uncomfortable or upset.”

I think that she is right.



Money Wise :D

Surprisingly I discovered on Monday that I had no due homework for the entirety of this week. Despite my initial jubilation my things to do in my ‘me’ time ran out and I found that I have nothing to do….and its killing me. I have conquered the peak of boredom and literally scanned through all newspaper articles and gone through all my favorite websites. I guess I had finally gotten used to homework and then suddenly having nothing to do in all the free time that I now have is horrible and weirdly I found myself wishing that I had homework. I still don’t have anything assigned BTW.

So I started making a list of my accomplishments this term and my biggest one right now is how little I spent on books even though I am taking mostly 2000 and 3000 level classes this semester. In total I spent $150 which is very neat. My pride and joy is getting my organic chemistry book for $22 including shipping which my friend by the way bought for $130. What can I say I am just very smart when it comes to spending money on ummm…just books? 😛

The best and cheapest way to buying cheaper books is to buy them early preferably a month before the semester starts. Honestly I have never followed that tip even though it is a wise move. I end up waiting to confirm with my professors on the importance of having the book. For example my organic chemistry book was so cheap because I asked my professor about the difference between the older and newer edition apart from the huge price difference and he confirmed that there was none. My friend went ahead and bought the newer edition which was listed before the classes started and therefore ended up paying $110 more than I did.

Second way is to buy the books online. Even though I write ‘for’ FSU honestly the campus bookstores are so much more expensive. EBay and Amazon offer a really decent price difference especially when the books you buy are used. And there is no problem in buying used books. All the books I bought are used and they all look as good as new. Remember if the book is as promised they always send a refund

Another way to buy books is to buy them from friends who have already taken the course in the previous semester. My engineering lab book is quoted online to $54.75 but I bought it from a girl in my dorm who took the same class last semester for $25. She also gave a copy of her midterm exam paper to me.

I have frankly always dreaded buying books because college books end up costing between $250-$400 which for international students who have to go through the whole exchange rate thing is horrible. In my first semester here, my books ended up costing $300 and selling them back didn’t get me far. It took me forever to be smart about how to spend my money. I know that my dad (who is btw following my blog) is sitting there in Pakistan and shaking his head that I think that I am smart about money but well you have to start somewhere. 😛

my happy days continue….

And my happy streak continues!!! But I lied I haven’t gotten over my sushi addiction as yet and it been two weeks…but I shouldn’t complain its healthy right? Hahaha I just googled the benefits of sushi and I was right 😀 Sushi is low in calories, helps to reduce heart disease, can prevent mental illness (hmmm…interesting), it has fiber, proteins and vitamins and omega 3…yay! Who knew I could be unintentionally so smart! :/

So anyway today the Asian American Students Union (AASU) had an Asian themed lunch for $7 at the international center and my advisor tells me that it was pretty awesome…only if I hadn’t slugged down a whole Grande hot chocolate and a huge bowl of cereals before coming I could have been able to eat it too….I can smell the food from this room even though I am a whole floor above.

There are about 550 student organizations currently recognized here at FSU. I haven’t joined anyone yet and they are fortunately not exclusively for members so I have participated in a variety of events organized by different groups and I find them to be extremely interesting.

I can still smell the food, its distracting me….

So today the sun is shining again and even though I stayed up till 2 last night I woke up this morning at 7:45 and made it to class before class had even started and, wait for it, I actually stayed awake during class so yes I am feeling pretty smug about that. Then because we are having conferences for my English class this week I didn’t have to go to that class which is awesome cause I got more free time. I came back and listened to cat powers and Regina Spektor while I finally cleaned our room. My “get things done” levels are soaring.

Anyway back to getting up for classes. I think many people especially me lack the will to get up for a morning class and to be honest they are really a pain. I learned from my mistakes last semester and developed new strategies the first one being not signing up for 8 o’clock classes, except for one, I don’t like being woken up by an alarm for anything. So once again I’ll share my wise ways 😀

Okay so the first it’s best to sign up for a morning class with a friend. This kind of gives you a reason to get up if you know that there would be someone else with you. For example I have an 8 o’clock class at the engineering campus every Thursday which means that I have to catch the 7:15 bus and therefore be awake by 6:30 so that I can make it to the bus stop. I have a girl on my floor who takes the class with me so we now walk together. It’s for one safer to have someone walk with that early in the morning and second you have someone who you can talk to on the way or in the class.

Second, if your roommate has early classes or a class before yours ask them to wake you up before they leave for class.

Third, get more sleep. If you sleep early the more likely you would be to wake up feeling more active.

Lastly, if you are like me and just can’t sleep early then condition yourself to get lesser sleep i.e. set up an internal clock. We are in college after all missing classes is not fun, trust me, especially because you have to be the one who has to make up for the missed lecture.

Then comes the more fun part. You’re awake. You made it to class. You fall asleep during the lecture :/ not cool….especially after you put in all the effort to make it there.  So my strategies:

  • Take notes by hand. It’s easier, you don’t miss out on what the professor says because you seriously can’t type that fast, at least I can’t and it helps to cement the lecture in your mind.
  • Eat. Food energizes you. And keep yourself hydrated too.
  • Take good professors or take classes in which you would be interested in. If you think the lecture will be boring you will be bored it’s like a psychological thing. Even if the class is required try to be interested in the lecture. Like for example if you go with the mindset that you want  to learn something new that you didn’t know before it would help because you end up listening to the lecture more seriously

Adios for now!!! 😀

P.S. i know the guys eye in the picture is creepy but I think it sits well with the text :p

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