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!

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!

The american life: from an international students perspective :D

My advisor wanted me to write about how living in America really is for international students. Frankly international students are not a new or rare phenomenon in the US. The engineering, math’s and sciences departments of almost every university are filled with people of varying ethnicity.

I like studying here. I know that before we, especially the Pakistanis, get to the US we are pounded by scare stories of rigorous immigration examinations. I could deny this because my own immigration went remarkably smoothly (All they asked me was “so you are going to Florida State for your education? I said yes and he said “welcome to the US”, with a smile) but I have had a number of friends who did end up being detained for prolonged hours at the airports. However one thing that I can vouch for is that most of the suspicion is limited to the airports and after you are out nobody really cares where you are from. I have yet to meet someone who debases me based on my identity or religion. Most of the people I have met are genuinely interested in my culture and are keen to learn more about it.

 Every documentary talks about cultural shocks and states that the central problem is the major differences in  values and behaviors between the foreign students and the Americans they meet. I think that maybe for me the  whole cultural thing might have been downplayed because coming to America was not my first international trip. However at the same time, I agree that there is a remarkable cultural difference. Even though, well speaking about Pakistan, my generation is extremely different from the previous ones because I think that we are less antagonistic and more open to change and having different perspectives by basing our opinions on what we see and not on what we are spoon-fed, however the way of life, the family integrations and some of the values we grow up with might seem as a stark contrast for some.

The English can be a slight problem, at first my roommates didn’t understand what I said because they weren’t used to my accent. Even now that they can understand most of what I say there are moments of miscommunications. Linguistic differences make international students stand out more in crowds. I read a funny story related to linguistic problems,

“A person in a media agency was trying to tell them that they had to put an underscore between two words in a website’s URL, but could not think of the right word in English. She stared at the “_” hopelessly, trying deadly hard to find the right word in her mind: “Line?” “Strip?” “That U with a line below it symbol in Microsoft Office 2007?” Finally, she came up with a word which she thought may be most similar to the accurate one. She ended up asking them to please use the “DASH BUT A LITTLE LOWER!”

Moral of the story: even though we have to go through the entire standard TOEFL and SAT English, that is only appropriate for classrooms.

I came to US to get a degree. Initially education was my main goal, it still is now but my goals have shifted a bit and I realized that there are other more important things than just what you can learn inside classrooms and through your textbooks. I have made great friends. There is great diversity here, with representatives from nearly all countries, cultures and languages. My experiences have taught me a lot about the world. Honestly, millions of students come to the US for education. And everyone goes through more or less the same experiences.  I love being here especially because I got to experience a whole new level of independence I otherwise would not have experienced if I had stayed in Pakistan.

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

decisions… :/

I am in a really good mood today due to a series of very fortunate occurrences. The sun is shining for one and it’s not very cold, I finally got over my sushi addiction( believe it or not I have been craving and consuming sushi since the past 6 days) and my favorite drama( did I ever mention my Korean drama addiction? Well I think they are the best!!) Is turning out just the way I wanted it to. However the number one reason is that one of my class got cancelled and that gave me a 5 hour break between classes 😀 . So to spread my happy vibe; I have decided not to write about mope-y and depressing stuff today.

I finally went to the gym yesterday. I had been planning on doing that since I had stepped into FSU but I was way too lazy to motivate myself. I have unhealthy habits and one major one being that if I want to lose weight I cut down on food instead of exercising. However my roommate finally forced me yesterday to move off my laptop and go exercise with her and I ended up actually enjoying it. It also made me feel good about myself so I have made a resolution to exercise more often now, at least twice a week.

So anyway, today I’m mostly going to write about the factors that ‘should’ be considered when making a decision about which college to attend.

Even though this is the time when most college applications are due, let’s fast-forward and think about the time when you have to finally make a decision. Picking the wrong college can not only take away a huge chunk of your parents’ money (unless you have 100% scholarship) but also cause a lot of stress and anxiety. No matter what we all wish for college is expensive…it’s very expensive so it’s best to make an informed decision (it’s also best to make the decision yourself instead of waiting for some sign from a higher power or something)

1)      How much will it cost?

This is an important consideration for students who get admission on self finance basis. They have to consider how much they can ask their parents to put in. However if you get financial aid it’s important to look at the offers closely. If you get a lower amount of aid you can also contact the schools and make another offer, sometimes the schools are willing to negotiate on this basis.

2)      Location

Do you want to live near or far from home? Is it a college town/city or a megalopolis? The convenient thing about college towns is that they are well equipped with the needs of college students and that everything is near/ easily available. However the overtime they can get boring as everything that is discoverable in the city has been discovered at this time the larger cities come to aid as there is a lot going on.

3)      Size

Would you be more comfortable in a large student population setting or a smaller population? There are advantages for both. A larger setting means that there is more diversity around and there therefore different groups of people around making it easier to make find your own group of friends. There is also the blessing of anonymity. However that also means larger classrooms depending obviously on the course type. Larger campuses also have a lot of things going on like college fairs and therefore there is greater chance of finding opportunities. A smaller student population means smaller classrooms and therefore greater interaction with your professors and the ease of meeting faculty is greater.

4)      Safe/Comfortable

I don’t really have to explain this one as campus safety and how the administration keeps the campus safe need to be considered

5)      Facilities

There are going to be days when you would have nothing to do, no movies that ‘have’ to be seen, and no blogs that ‘have’ to be written or followed. There is going to be a time that you’ll wish that someone, anyone was online but no one would be there. So facilities provided by the university are very very very important and should be considered.

6)      How flexible are the requirements when it comes to majors?

I should have mentioned this somewhere in the beginning… However I know that most of us firmly believe that we will keep with the intended major we started with but that is not always the case. Most of the times, it’s just not what we expected and therefore it is also necessary to find out how flexible universities are within curriculums regarding majors. Starting with a degree program which is flexible and gives a wide range of opportunities is very important especially in today’s markets where employment decisions are enforced by economic traditions.

With all of this I end today’s post and hope that these pointers help you in making college decisions. Happy Reading!!!!

blog about homesickness :(

I think that I’m finally homesick. I miss Pakistan way more than has ever been normally possible for me and I have decided to let go of my ambitious plans to stay here for summer term and get ahead on everything and everyone and instead to go back home and sort things out. It is weird though, given the ever present ominous cloud of instability, that I would miss home as much as I do now. Though I am unsure about what I am doing I am by no means having long crying or depressive spells, nor have I lost appetite or sleep. And my current class load and homework are the only things causing me stress.

Amidst the load of classes especially calculus 3, keeping up with friends and the weird weather pattern which is btw never constant the happy/busy veil lifted and all I want to do is go home and sleep in my own bed and play with my dog. I don’t remember a time that I have ever been homesick.

The good part is that I am beginning to perk up again and eventually it will, though not completely, go away.  I found it helpful to stay in touch with my friends. It definitely helps when they keep updating me about stuff that goes on in their lives. It helps to know that they miss me too as it boosts my ego infinitely 😀

I make my parents call me at least 3 times every week. I am too lazy to get a calling card so I just email my dad to call me and they do. I like talking to my mom especially as she 1) loves gossiping even more than I do and 2) keeps me updated about everything and never misses even a single detail. She also doesn’t care how long the call goes or how much it costs her to call me and never hangs up until I tell her to.

I think that the second semester is hard even more so as finally everyone kind of gets used to everything that’s going around them. You no longer have to worry about managing stuff or making new friends. Attending events becomes secondary as you get an idea of how they are going to be, so now you have more time to think about the past. It is also a phase where you realize that this is it and now you would be here for the next 3-4 years depending on the course and level of study and that there is possibly no going back to the way life previously was. I think that the acceptance that things are going to be different now is a major part of maturing and coming to terms with your future.

I would like to stress that homesickness is not a weakness and that everyone goes through it. However the real strength of character is coping with it. I strongly recommend talking to someone. I talked my roommate about my feelings and talking helped because it finally brought on the barrage of tears. BTW when I was finally done crying it made me feel better.

College is a completely different deal. It’s not like high school, high school was easy, my major aim there was get grades and get into college. Now my aims have drastically changed, though a major one is still getting good grades, I have multiple goals now. It no more about just succeeding, but getting as much out of this exposure/experience as an international student. Even though I miss home I like the independence that college gave me. I do things the way I want to do them and how I want to do them, I am independent, but at the same time I know that the people I love back home are safe and happy. I think that that is the best part of being here.

I am not letting things drive me crazy and I decided to take one step at a time and mostly to go with the flow.

New term, New Beginings

I’m back!!! And as much as I miss lying back and doing nothing the semester is in full swing here at FSU. I really enjoyed the fall term and so far spring term, even though it has only been a week, seems pretty exciting. I’m taking Organic Chem., Calc 3, English, a colloquium class and a social science class called Theory of Dynamics, Racism and Oppression. I’ve got my hands full of assignments and even after finishing up this blog I am going to head to the library and work on two papers. 😦

My social sciences class about Racism and Oppression is actually very cool and even though I have only had 3 sessions so far I am really interested to know where this would take me. It seeks to try to provide an analysis behind the logic of Race and Racism, which till now has been only generically defined.

The first week back was pretty uneventful. I went from class searching, to meeting new people and making new friends and getting the flu which seems to be doing its rounds all around FSU. BTW Tallahassee is freezing these days, I kind of understand the whole cold wave thing as its snowing in almost every state of USA except Florida but the winds are literally piercing right through my body even though I‘m all layered up.

So 2010 has been a really good year for FSU apart from a good football season,

1)      FSU was at the forefront of the whole Gulf oil spill debate and a lot of professors collaborated to study different aspects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.FSU researchers presented their understanding and gave their reviews at countless international media forums and helped the state understand the issues arising with the spill.

2)      The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at FSU received a grant that will enable it to be further turned into a state of the art place for study of environmental and biological samples. In short a better study facility for chemical analysis!

3)      The Ruby Diamond Hall which had been closed for the last two years finally reopened its doors. For those of you that don’t know, Ruby Diamond auditorium is the majestic hall which shows up in nearly all the FSU postcard pictures along with the famous Westcott fountain where people are apparently dumped into on their birthdays

4)      FSU was also labeled as the “Most Engaged Campus of the Year”. It also ranked Fourth on the Princeton Reviews and USA Today’s list for “Best Value Colleges” among Public Universities

5)      According to Discover magazine, FSU’s research on the “Mahjong” Cancer gene is ranked number 18 in their compilation of 2010’s Top 100 science and technology stories. The study was the first to identify the cell competition process within mammalian tissue that suppresses cancer by causing cancerous cells to, in effect, kill themselves!

So I may be 12 days too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year but I guess I’ll be cheesy and say its better late than never, I really hope this year turns out to be an awesome one! Though I won’t say that my 2010 was an absolutely amazing year because it for one went by way to fast and two I had to say goodbye to too many things but I seriously think that I ended up experiencing many other new things and I am very grateful for that. I mean I got to come here all the way to FSU from Pakistan, I met a lot of nice people and made the nicest friends ever (especially my roomies)  I got to participate in a whole bunch of American festivities and so I am very satisfied with how everything turned out. Here is to hoping that everything turns out well for this year too!!!

Happy Reading!

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