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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Amidst Confusion

Summer finally kicked in and the weather is getting so hot. It is reminding me of the summers in Kuwait. Speaking of which, I don’t even know when I’ll be going back to Kuwait this summer. I might take summer classes here, but the weather makes me think otherwise. Also, I may have to meet up with my family when they go to France, which might be really soon. I am so excited to go and use all the French I’ve learned this year. I really can’t wait to go there. I also want to go back to Kuwait to see all my friends and relatives though, but that will most likely have to wait till after I go to France.

Amidst all this confusion, there is so much work that I have to do for my classes. Some of the work includes final projects and assignments, studying for final exams, and procrastination. Instead of working, the temptation to go and play tennis or racquetball is too strong for me to resist. Racquetball is another sport I took up. I’ve never heard of it till I came here. It is very similar to squash and tires you out real fast, which makes it a great workout.  It is about just as enjoyable as tennis but not too fun when you hit yourself in the head with the racquet.  Back to the point, I have been procrastinating which forces me to work till late at night. Then, I have to wake up for my 8AM class and I have no time to take naps in the afternoon, so I am exhausted. In fact, I missed two of those early classes this week. I wake up, and like everyone else when they’re tired, turn the alarm off and go back to sleep. The funny thing about it is that I do it subconsciously; when I wake up later I don’t even remember turning the alarm off.

Yesterday was an important day in the world of soccer. There was a match between the best two Spanish clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid. The only place you can go to watch the match is a Colombian restaurant called Super Perros. It was the first time for me watching a soccer match in Tallahassee and being able to feel the tension in the air created by the passionate supporters of the two teams. There was even extra tension because it was the Final of the Spanish Cup. It was beautiful. The place got rowdy and people were screaming and you don’t see that in Tallahassee. The place has really good food too. It’s too bad I just heard about this place yesterday.  It’s never too late though, I’ll probably go again for the Champions League games.

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.

“Wish I Was There” Disease

When you’re studying in the US and home is somewhere else, you’re bound to miss so many things that happen in your home country. Sometimes all you can think about is how much you wish you were there when they happened. It can be a dangerous way to lose motivation to work. You must deal with it carefully and try to get your mind off of it, which is harder than you might think. So much has happened in Kuwait since I left and every time something new happens I think to myself “I wish I was there”. I had to somehow deal with this weak mental state in order to focus on school. The best way that I have found to deal with it which seems to work quite well, is this. First of all, you must communicate with your family, more than just on Facebook or MSN. It has to be a video call or at the very least, phone calls. You need to hear from someone briefly about what happened and get all the details that allow you to envision yourself being there. This envisage gives you the comfort of mind and you feel the joy of the event. It’s the closest thing to actually being there. Pictures of the event also help greatly.

                Some of the things that happened that I wish I was there for are: my cousin’s wedding and my sister-in-law’s delivery of her second son.  Then there are other things that normally, you would be happy to have missed. Someone like me however, would much rather be there and experience. In saying this I am referring to the sandstorm that hit Kuwait a few days ago. It was the biggest sand storm to ever hit Kuwait and it was actually very interesting as it looked like nothing I have ever seen before. It started as an enormous cloud of sand hovering above of the ground coming from a distance. It got closer and closer and eventually, you would be inside that cloud. While there, you can barely see the anything! You’re range of vision goes down to about 2 yards in darker areas where there is little light, and about 15 yards in brighter areas. It would have been interesting to be an eye witness of that phenomenon.

                I mentioned one way to try to deal with this “wish I was there” problem. Another way is to keep busy. Classes themselves do a pretty good job at that, but there are always some weeks that just aren’t as busy as usual. So to keep busy, you must start a new habit, hopefully a good one. I for instance, took up a new sport, tennis. It is so much fun, it takes your mind off of those things that happened back home, and its good exercise. You kill not only 2, but 3 birds in one stone.

The Thrill of Competition

I finally know what I will do during spring break, at least for the first half of it. I will be going to different parts of Florida including Miami, Key West (an island south of Miami), and then back north to Panama City. That’s the plan for now, which should cover the first 5 days of spring break. The rest of the break I will leave to fate.

I have never been a fan of basket ball; yesterday I went with a few friends to an FSU basketball game though, and I have to say, well… I kind of lost my voice. The stadium was packed! Although I don’t really like basketball, it was the thrill of competition that allowed me to enjoy the game. When you see everyone in the entire stadium raised to their feet, screaming at the top of their lungs, chanting the Seminole war chant… you just can’t sit there and watch. This competitive spirit forces you to rise along with your fellow Seminoles and cheer the FSU team on! What added a great deal of excitement is the fact that we hadn’t lost a single home match throughout this entire season, and yesterday’s game was our last home game. One thing I didn’t know is that in college basketball they play two periods only, not 4. In the first half we were always ahead by a 2-4 points and UNC were playing catch-up. In the second period though, they started strong and turned things around 180 degrees. They scored a couple of quick points and all of a sudden we were the ones playing catch-up. It was like that for most of the second period. Towards the end though UNC kicked it up a no

Going for a 3-pointer

tch and were 7 points ahead with about 10 minutes left to the game. At this point I was totally taken in by the spirit of the Seminoles. I was rooting with passion for FSU and hopeful for a recovery! In the last minute of the game we finally recovered and were a point ahead. That’s when I sort of lost my voice.  All we needed to do was defend for one single minute and emerge victorious. Sadly, seconds away from the final whistle UNC scored and got ahead. Tragic ending for the Seminoles who fought to the last second to try to score in the last few seconds and came close, but close is not enough. Had we won that game we would have had a perfect home record for the season! In the end, although it would have been nice if we had won, for the sake of FSU spirit; but it is not worth a fraction of my feelings to grieve over basketball, and I lost my voice for nothing. I must say it was an intense game and I had a great time. It is always a great experience to attend FSU games whether basketball or football. The thrill of competition and the FSU spirit will always release the monster in you and force you to cheer with all your heart!

Spring Spirit

Diving Tower

Spring is fast approaching; the weather’s warming up, and it hasn’t rained in a while. You walk around campus and leaves fall all around you. Pretty soon the campus will be blossoming with flowers and I can’t wait to experience my first spring in about 14 years. Back home, there is no such thing; it is either summer, or winter. In the spirit of spring, I took the chance and went to Wakulla Springs along with a group of about 28 people. It was an hour drive to get there and hour drive back. WE tried to leave early in the morning to have more time there but, it was a Saturday. We ended up leaving at around 12:30 and had to stop some place to eat. So we did not really leave Tallahassee until around 2. Finally, we arrive there at around 3 which gave us about an hour before the main event: the boat ride. It is a large park where people gather and enjoy the various activities available at that park like kayaking, canoeing, hiking, snorkeling, swimming, etc. There was a lake, if I remember correctly, the deepest lake in America, well over 100 ft deep at its deepest point. They do a pretty good job taking advantage of that fact. They have a diving tower a few yards high set up at that deepest point which is an awesome attraction. Of course, being the thrill-from-danger seeker that I am, I had to try it out despite the water being too cold. Only 2 people from our group had the guts, including myself, which was pretty sad.

One of the many birds we spotted. This one is drying its wings after it jumped in the water to catch its prey

This park is also considered a wildlife sanctuary.  The boat ride was basically, a tour around the lake for the visitors to see the many critters that lived there. Luckily, we were able to catch a bunch of interesting animals who, had we gone a week or two later, would have migrated according to our guide. Those critters that we saw include alligators, turtles, vultures, a wide variety of beautiful birds and more. Interestingly enough, in this area, the old Tarzan movies were filmed. We passed by the place where in the movie, he jumps out of the lake and climbs a log going out into the lake and does his famous Tarzan scream!

Spring break is coming up soon and weekends included, it will be 9 days long. So where shall it be? Is it worth it to travel 20ish hours to Kuwait and 20ish hours back for 7 days? Or should I go visit some place in Florida that I haven’t been to yet? Or should I visit some of my friends in other parts of America? hmm…

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!

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