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!

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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!                                                                               

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…

Uncategorized Post :D

So remember how a few posts back I complained about how dark, cold and rainy Tallahassee was? Well today it’s all sunny but painfully hot.

To an extent where my skin, which I thought was more adapted to being in the sun and everything because I am from ‘Karachi’, started turning pink and I had to slather sunscreen on myself, which I normally don’t do.

The FSU Muslim Students Association (MSA) is holding a Libyan solidarity Rally tomorrow at the Florida State Capitol Lawns. The message sent out was “With a total loss of 800 brave civilians, and the number increasing by the hour, the Libyans are struggling to overthrow a 42 year old regime. We as Americans must stand and demand from our government to support the revolutionaries despite and interest the U.S may have because of Libya’s oil reserves. Join us on Friday to fight for freedom, for justice, and to let the voice of the Libyans be heard outside the capitol.”

Honestly I don’t like making political statements anywhere mostly because I am a coward lest my words are misread or something and I find myself in trouble. However the unity among the people to stand together for a single cause is inspiring. The statement made by the Egyptian movement isn’t only about freedom from a dictator but for every single day of freedom. In Egypt it was an accomplishment without violence, Libya however is in a different state of affairs. Nepotism and abuse of power can’t get any one far for long and Gaddafi should realize that it’s time to quit.

Back to college stuff… 😀

Spring Break is finally coming up and I can’t contain my excitement…about time we got a break from all the hard work and dedication we put into our studies. I was hoping to go to Houston however due to my laziness I have not bought the tickets yet and the prices have obviously skyrocketed…so I might turn my head towards Miami once again. However unlike every other college student who needs to party at the beach and therefore heads south for spring break…I need to head north…north of Tallahassee at least 🙂

Even though it’s a very hot day today, the whole student body seems to be out. Today also happens to be the day when I have an almost an hour gap between all of my classes, so heading back to the dorm was not an option. There is a tiny Starbucks shop on Legacy walk which has a nice sitting area outside. One corner that runs parallel to Legacy walk has chairs and tables and power sources, it also has a nice tree over it so you get maximum shade from the sun and a nice wind because it’s a corner. That is the place that I happen to love the most on campus. After every class I sit down there and “pretend” to do my homework or any readings that I may have, but I normally listen to songs and creepily stare at other people. That spot also happens to be a place where sorority girls get together after 12pm and gossip, so sometimes when the gossip is interesting I unashamedly eavesdrop, which is not a bad thing as after all don’t we go to college to increase our understanding of the world?

Happy Reading!

Random observations

Today Americans celebrate forefather’s day which is a federal holiday btw but we are one of the few college students that don’t get a holiday 😦 booo…..

So I won’t beat about the bush…today is one of those days when my mind has totally zoned out due to lack of sleep, despite the two tall caramel macchiato’s that I chugged down and the icy cold shower that I took earlier…..so my mind is completely blank right now and I am going to say that I have a bad case of writer’s block. So today I am going to write about random stuff that I have observed or found interesting over the course of my semester.

First observation: I think that some people just feel delighted over giving random long orders at Starbucks. The, according to me, longest order ever given at Starbucks here on campus which I happened to overhear was Iced, decaf, non fat, no whip, white chocolate mocha Frappuccino. This doesn’t make much sense to me btw     because:

1) I don’t like the idea of coffee which is low on caffeine, it kind of negates the whole concept for me…however I am sure there are many people who would gladly contradict this

2) Frappuccino are already iced i.e. it is coffee blended with ice

Second Random fact: Last night when I was writing my research paper I found out that the famous Tank Man who single handedly stood in front of Chinese tanks in 1989 during the protests in Beijing’s Tienanmen Square is actually M.I.A. Nobody knows his identity or his whereabouts and is therefore also famously called the unknown rebel. According to video footage two figures pulled the man away and disappeared with him into the crowd. A theory is that they could have been from the secret police and that he was just one of those who were secretly executed. Time Magazine however classifies him in Top 100 influential people :O

Third: No matter how much you prepare, you gain weight in college especially if you are on a meal plan and are non-vegetarian. College cafeterias offer a large variety of junk food to load up on all the fats, proteins, carbohydrates and more fats. The poor vegetarian students have to make a decision between salad, tofu and cheese pizza…. However recently I started eating salad and mixing only the chicken piece from chicken burger and fries into my salad. So there are some ways in which people can mix and match food to make it more balanced and appetizing.

Fourth: Boxed dinners are horrible.

Fifth: A normal sleep cycle is actually 90 minutes. This theory is defined under polyphasic Sleep. To maximize frequency of waking activity, college students nowadays are following this pattern. So technically what I understood from this was that you sleep in a way that conditions your body to learn to enter REM sleep immediately when you begin sleeping instead of much later in the sleep cycle. The complete sleep cycle takes about an hour and a half, so you condition yourself in a way that your body gets to complete these cycles and not wake up or be disturbed in the middle of or before the completion of one whole such cycle. I haven’t tried it yet but I plan on doing it tonight. My floor mates however have tried following this pattern and they have reported positive results.

Sixth: Professors hate people eating in class more than texting. I don’t know how to explain that one but I guess if it was me I would hate to see people munching on stuff because it would not only distract me but might possibly also make me hungry?

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