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.

Ten things I learned from my year in FSU :)

It’s hard to believe that there are only two more weeks left in this semester and only three more till I get back home for summer break… Though at times I find myself feeling nostalgic about leaving FSU for three and a half months and leaving my whole ‘being independent-doing what I want’ part of life, going back home is my priority right now.

The President of FSU, Eric J. Baron, is hosting an ice cream social tomorrow, Thursday April 14th on Landis Green. It is apparently an annual event where students, faculty and staff come together to have free ice cream and cookies. In addition to that a live DJ would be there to provide entertainment along with a Jousting Arena, a Bungee Run and the FSU Flying High Circus.

Once again today I find myself hit with a serious dose of writers block, and therefore instead of writing about mind boggling philosophy or the secrets of the universe, as I usually do… I am going to write about the ten things I have learned during this year at FSU.

1)      Sir Cecil Beaton said, “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the common place, and the slaves of the ordinary”.

2)      Procrastination and being bad with time is a disability but it is also extremely gratifying.  It feels amazing when you are just sitting around doing nothing, in a way I feel almost rebellious and there is a slight feeling of adrenaline which hits me when I waste time. It’s like Steve Hobbs says, it’s like freedom in a bottle.

3)      Silent movies are amazingly entertaining. It should be remembered that they were the first forms or the beginning of film and at times they are

very sloppy with a tadbit overacting with bad makeup, but they were a brilliant start. Nosferatu, which I saw this weekend, is one of the creepiest characters in movie history (according to me). Nosferatu is in essence Dracula. The makeup was weird and at times comical but his blank stare and his figure gave me a chill. One of the striking shot was a scene in which he rises from his coffin. When he opened it, it was not bats which came out but rats…

4)      People in America love causes…especially if stuff they buy is for a cause for example everyone on my campus is after TOMS shoes. An organization which would donate a pair of shoes to a child in need in third world countries, every time you would buy one of their shoes. So people want to get them more so because they are for a cause… wouldn’t it make more sense just to donate the money that they would use to buy the shoes instead and let the children in those countries have two or more pairs of shoes?

5)      Girls here have the biggest desire to look like Amélie.

6)      Americans know absolutely nothing about Football…yes! Football the actual kicking the ball with the foot game (I hate calling it soccer)…all they know is that… England, Brazil are good.

7)      Americans love world music. I should point out that most of my judgments are based on my observations of my friends and people that I interact with. My roommate, Laura, has a huge collection of artists from all over the place from Beirut to Sigur Ros to the compilations of Fleck, Hussain and Meyer… which is fantastic!

8)      Organic food and items are very much in here. Americans would do anything for organic Food,. However I just weirdly realized now that we are so dependent on agribusiness foods that if the world was to switch to 100% organic food tomorrow, almost half the world would die from starvation.

9)      Paler than White :                                      

from left to right: Chicago (first two), Atlanta, Austin, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Santa Fe, Toronto, Boston, Seattle, and New York.

10)   Ramen is the best investment. Ever. You can cook it in the microwave or over the stove :O

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.

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.

                              

The Streak of Bad Days is Over

You know how in “Meet the Parents” everything is going wrong for Ben Stiller? Now I know how he felt. The past weeks have been horrible! – For the most part. In my last post I told you how when I got here my luggage didn’t arrive until the next evening, and also how I had to catch up in my classes and how I was sick with a cold and a sore throat. I still haven’t quite recovered from the cold to start it off, but that’s really not much of a problem. The problems start with this: it turned out I was in the wrong math class so they dropped me out of it, and since it was already passed drop/add week, it was a hassle to get into the right class. So after catching up to the math class I enrolled in, they drop me and now I had to catch up to a new math class. Catching up in a math class is like giving your opponents a head start in a sprint race. You have to give more than 100% to recover and get back into place, but at that time you will be even more tired than the rest so it would be harder for you to keep the pace and on top of that, this sprint seems endless. Math aside, the workload for this semester is greater than the last semester just because I have an extra class, but due to missing a few days for each of my classes, I had a particularly gigantic workload to catch up in all classes, from English journals to history response papers, to French material that I had to teach myself. What more, my laptop caught a virus that just destroyed it! It can’t open anything! It’s the first time I see such a virus and hopefully the last.

This last Monday was Martin Luther King Day so we had no school. If he was alive today I would do anything to find him and tell him “I love you!!” So I did as I planned and went to the library on Monday to finish off my assignments… it was closed. Without a laptop, I had one solution: I had to wake up super early the next day to do that before my 8am math class. Like Ben Stiller, I was partially at fault for this overload of work. I didn’t paint the tail of a cat to make it seem like the real one and got caught, but I went out with friends to watch a movie and did other things when I could’ve been working but you can’t really blame me. I mean, it is pretty hard to go to the library and work on weekends knowing everyone else is out having fun. If you can do that, you deserve respect, lots of it! By the way, it was one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s called “How Do You Know”. Watch it!

This past Tuesday was the turning point of this miserable story. I had a huge break between the only two classes that I have on Tuesdays, and in that time I was able to complete all assignments due and catch up in all my classes. I also skyped with my family later that day and that always seems like a great way to relieve stress and take my mind off of all the work for a while. The next day which was yesterday, there was an extremely important soccer match that I had to see. Yes, I had to see it because if I don’t it’s like they’re missing a player. My team won and progressed to the quarter finals of the cup and that told me that things are finally getting better and the streak of bad days is over.

%d bloggers like this: