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!                                                                               

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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!!!

         

                      

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…

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.



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.

Spring in Tallahassee

Hells week ends today after 7 more hours. I don’t think I have put as much effort into classes as I did this week so it better pay off. On a happy note I get to leave for Houston on Saturday and there I will rest my frazzled nerves for the remainder of the break 😀

This happens to be my first “actual” spring season, especially because in Karachi we don’t really have spring and go straight from chilly to BAM! Summer. But the weather is perfect and the flowers are blooming all around me. I think this season (for me at least) highlights the best of the campus. There are so many nooks around campus that I hadn’t noticed before till now. However I also think that the world looks brighter to me because I stay cooped up in the library in front of my laptop all day.

Speaking of the library, Strozier is having a series of Acoustic concerts every Wednesday night from about 9 o’clock to 11 o’clock. Yes concerts in the library! Even though they sound like a disturbance for those who study but they are limited to a Starbucks sitting area so there are whole other 4 floors where you can study! Anyway the concerts are organized by our very own FSU music major students. So it is not only an excellent chance for them to showcase their talents but also gain experience and feedback about their performances. Plus they are free 🙂

Okay so I happen to be officially the laziest person on earth. I started writing this blog last night at 1 and somehow got distracted, fell asleep and remembered it now after 19 whole hours. At least I got done with all my exams 🙂

I leave for Houston tomorrow afternoon but I still haven’t packed. My friends and I decided to go to chick-fil-A right after my exam ended because they had a free fry-day today. Yup their amazing waffle fries were free today for all customers, and customers means even the people who buy just water or a coke their and that’s exactly what we did…

Then we ended up in a wildlife park about 30 minutes from Tallahassee called St. Marks and it was absolutely gorgeous there. I actually saw two snakes and a gator with a multitude of fish, crabs and interesting plants. St. Marks is one of the oldest refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge Systems. Apparently refuge includes coastal marshes, islands, tidal creeks and estuaries of seven north Florida Rivers. The refuge also has a lighthouse, which apparently got remade 3 times. Once because it was burnt down and another time a part of it had collapsed.

                              

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