I started August off in California with my family. My brothers and I visited my dad’s parents for a few days outside Los Angeles. It was wonderful to see them and catch up.

The next two weeks were spent working at Pizza Hut, Ross and my internship with a few trips to Phoenix. My first trip was for global guide training. As a global guide, I aide international students, first in general during the international arrivals week, then more personally with a mentee as the school year goes on. At global guide training, we were given a general guidelines on what to expect during the school year and information about the airport welcome. A few days later, I went back up to Phoenix for the airport welcome itself. It was a lot of sitting around, but we answered any questions international students had upon arrival. After that event, I picked up a personal friend I met at Sussex University, J.D., who’s studying abroad at Arizona State. I took him to his motel and we had dinner near campus (Mexican, of course). I returned home to work for another week until I moved into my university apartment.

I’m living off campus this year, it’s about a 15 minute commute to campus by light rail (including walking time). I have my own (furnished) room with a bathroom and walk-in closet and share a kitchen and common area with three other girls. My complex has a pool, gym, game room, movie rental and more! My good friend, Nolan, who I’ve known since first year and three girls from Sussex University studying at Arizona State for the year also live in my complex. Move-in day was stressful, but I’m glad to be settled in.

I spoke about my first week back at Arizona State here, so I won’t repeat myself. But I will say that this semester will be a busy, but exciting.

Now, for what I’m sure a lot of you would like to hear about: my mom. When I first came back from my study abroad program in mid-June, she had broken her shoulder, so she was pretty dependent, but still herself. However, I did notice it took her a bit longer to get sentences out and would often repeat herself. Once her should had supposedly healed, she was still rather dependent as she hadn’t followed through with physical therapy, thus hadn’t gained back muscle strength to use her shoulder again. Then about a month ago, she started getting really foggy. She wouldn’t make any sense when she spoke and struggled to recognize people and remember basic facts. About three weeks ago, she was admitted to the hospital. My dad has kept me posted on her condition, which ranges from sleeping most of the day and not responsive (only head shakes and nods) to responsive, but even when she speaks, she doesn’t make any sense. I visited her about a week ago and although it was a comparatively good day, she still didn’t make any sense when she spoke. This week, she was moved to a different hospital, where her condition remained unchanged (mostly unresponsive) and the doctors have yet to figure out what is going on.

Next month will consist of school, work, clubs and field work, I’m excited!

What I am listening to: California by Blink-182, Afraid of Heights by Billy Talent, Siberia by Lights, Separation by Balance and Composure, DECEMBERUNDERGROUND by AFI, Full of War by Conditions, 808s & Heartbreak by Kanye West, Badlands by Halsey, Planet of Ice by Minus the Bear

What I am watching: Star Trek Beyond, Jane the Virgin (season 2), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty Woman, Child of Rage, Black Swan, Suicide Squad, Role Models, Earthlings, Daredevil (season 2), Imperium, Love Actually, Secret of the Wild Child, My Penis and Everyone Else’s, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Jesus Camp

What I am reading: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max

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A year ago today, I ended my two week east coast trip and prepared for my trans-Atlantic flight to the United Kingdom. I had a great time in New York, Philadelphia and Montreal.

My first stop was New York, where I stayed with my friend, Nick, in Yonkers. We hit many tourist attractions, with my favorites being the Statue of Liberty, Brand New concert in Cooperstown, seeing Les Misérables on Broadway and the Top if the Rock. You can read about my time in full here.

Then, after being delayed a day to due his illness, I met up with Pat in Philadelphia. Because he was sick and I was tired, we took things pretty easy, but I had a wonderful time. I most enjoyed meeting his friends and family and exploring both the city (particularly the Magic Gardens) and outlying parks. You can read about my time in full here.

Finally, I went to Montreal to visit my friend, Nina, again. We’ve been friends for quite some time and met up once in 2013. We had a great time exploring both familiar and new places. You can read about my time in full here.

On this day last year, I took a train from Montreal back to Yonkers. I enjoyed spending time with Nina and Pat, but Nick and I didn’t get on too well. Regardless, it was a good start for my study abroad journey. Those ups and downs prepared me for the obstacles in the year to come.

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I’ve now been back at university for my final year for a week now and although it can get a bit overwhelming trying to process all the work I have coming up, I’m looking forward to this semester.

I’m taking 19 credit hours, which is quite a lot, but I want to make sure I graduate on time. I’m taking conservation of biodiversity, introduction to physics (which also includes a recitation and lab), elementary organic chemistry (which also includes a recitation and lab), environmental ethics, writing for the professions and leadership in the life sciences. This sounds like a lot, but in reality, most of my days are only about four hours (except Tuesdays, we don’t talk about Tuesdays) and are over by early afternoon, giving me the rest of the day to do homework, work or just relax.

Conservation of biodiversity seems a lot like a class I took abroad (but for whatever reason, they wouldn’t transfer that course as an equivalent), but the topic still interests me and the professor has worked all around the world, so I’m looking forward to speaking with him about his career.

Basic physics is required as a general credit. I’m dreading it because the lectures are a bit dry and I’m not very good at math, but as this is an introductory course, I reckon I’ll do just fine.

I wanted to minor in chemistry, so I took one semester of general organic chemistry. After I barely passed that class, I realized that may not be for me. My major requires one semester of elementary organic chemistry but unfortunately, one of two semesters of general organic chemistry could not fulfill that credit, so here I am. On the bright side, the professor insists that it’s easy to succeed in her class.

Environmental ethics will probably be my most interesting class. The readings are engaging and my professor is lively. I like to touch on other areas of social sciences and apply it to environmental science and this course will give me a good glimpse into the philosophy of environmentalism.

My online English class (focused on writing in the workplace rather than academically) seems easy enough. I’ve taken online classes in the past and have gotten really great marks.

Finally, my leadership in the life sciences course meets twice a week. On Wednesday afternoons, I mentor a small group of life science freshman and help them transition into university life by setting goals, letting them know about life science involvement, and more. Later that day, I go to a class reviewing my progress and discuss next week’s goals. Although it’s a lot more little assignments to stay on top of compared to the United Kingdom system, the grading is much more forgiving and I’m sure I’ll get a rhythm down soon.

I got hired as an usher at a Broadway theater on campus halfway through my freshman year and as an usher for student events at the beginning of my sophomore year. I’ve done the onboarding for the second job and I’m pretty confident I’m getting my first job back, as well. However, I won’t start working until September.

Now that I’ve been in my new place for a few weeks now, I’ve gotten to know my roommates a little bit better and we get on really well. I wouldn’t say they’re my new best friends, but we’re all really friendly.

I am involved in several societies: Global Guides, where I help international students, both at general events and one-on-one, and Central Arizona Chapter Society for Conservation Biology, which has its first meeting Monday. I’m excited to do volunteer work and get field experience!

I enjoy the little free time I have by watching films and television shows, reading, working out and cooking.

I still can’t believe I’m in the final year of my Bachelor’s degree, but I’m determined to not let it pass me by!

 

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For the first time in four years, I have to commute to campus. Here are some things I don’t leave my apartment without to keep me productive between classes:

Front pouch (of my backpack):

  • Phone, headphones, keys

Middle pouch:

  • Pads, tissues, hand sanitizer, brush, hair ties, gum (in case of a cosmetic emergency)
  • Wallet, portable charger, glasses, sunglasses, clicker

Large pouch:

  • iPad, iPad keyboard
  • Binder, notebook
  • Meal and reusable water bottle (which I freeze about half full overnight so my ice lasts for at least a little while and refill throughout the day on campus)
  • Pencils, calculator, book (either for coursework or for fun)

If I expect to be working, either at my one of jobs or as a mentor, I will bring an additional small canvas bag with my change of clothes and shoes.

Commuting (for lack of a better word) sucks, but as long as I’m prepared to kill some time between classes, I’m sure I’ll manage.

Photo by Lily Like.

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With the (somewhat) success of my summer goal-setting, I’ve decided to set some goals for the school year, as well. My goals for the first eight weeks of school are:

  • Volunteer more, particularly with animal shelters
  • Stay on top of my reading assignments
  • Work 15 hours a week (on average)
  • Get academic help as soon as it’s needed
  • Don’t watch Netflix before 8PM
  • Go out with friends more often
  • Get into a routine (particularly regarding sleep)
  • Stay on top of this blog with at least one post a week
  • Be productive between classes on campus
  • Read for half an hour a day
  • Listen to new music
  • Watch movies (particularly “classics” I’ve never seen)
  • Hit the gym 3-4 times a week
  • Watch documentaries
  • Try one new recipe a week
  • Get into meditation, mindfulness and yoga (to help relieve anxiety)

Some of these are from the summer that I would like to stick to or try to do better. I will post and update with my successes in mid-October.

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