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My Bucket List – College Edition

29 Apr


It’s official … I’m almost done with sophomore year! It feels like I’ve been in college for centuries, but, once I stop for a moment, I realize that I’m only a sophomore. It’s scary to think that I only have two more years of my undergraduate career left, and I’ll be graduating soon.  Even though I’m already halfway through school, there is still so much I haven’t done that I want to do before I leave UA.  Here is my college bucket list:

1. Go to every kind of sporting event on campus: I’ve been to a few football games, but I want to experience other sports that are offered on campus. I want to cheer on athletes in sports that don’t always get the most attention.


2. Tailgate: I go to football games, but I have never had a ‘tailgating’ experience.

3. Join a leadership club: Before I’m done at the U of A, I want to join a leadership club to learn how to be an effective leader.

4. Take a road trip with my friends: I feel like this is a must have experience for everyone, and I want to take a trip that I will remember fondly in the future.


5. Play catch on the mall: I always see people playing catch on the mall, and I want to get a group of my friends and play.

6. Ride a bike to class: I walk everywhere and it takes sooooo long! If I ride my bike, I’ll get places faster.

7. Try Cactus Grill’s chicken and waffles: They scare me, and I haven’t been brave enough to try them yet.  Have you tried them?


8. Get to know all my professors a bit more: It’s extremely important that I know my professors on a one-on-one basis. I believe my professors will help me as I move forward as a scholar and a professional.

9. Study abroad for a whole semester: I want to live in another country for a whole semester.

10. Learn to long board: It looks kind of dangerous, but it also looks fun!

11. Sit in on a UAPD shift: I’ve always wanted to ride along with a UAPD officer on their rounds.


12. Be an RA for a day: I have lots of friends who are RAs in the residents halls, and they all seem to enjoy it SO MUCH! 

What’s on your bucket list?

Summer, Summer, Oh Summer!

25 Apr


I can’t wait for summer! Any guesses why? Nobody? Okay, okay I’ll tell you! I’m going to Istanbul to study abroad this summer. YAY! I’m super excited, but I’m also extremely nervous.  So my plans for this summer are pretty busy and chaotic at the same time. Before leaving I have to take care of a few things:

One: Finish up finals! At this point, I think everyone is a little stressed because we only have a couple of weeks left before finals. So my plan is to STUDY my brains out!Study, Study, Study! Finish off the year with good grades!


Two: Fulfill my Orientation and Welcome Leader job duties. Last Summer I worked for Orientation, and before I leave I will be finishing up the summer with these wonderful people.


Finally! I will leave Tucson June 18-19 to Turkey. I’m not looking forward to the LONG flight there, but it will be all worth it. One of my biggest fears arriving there is getting from the airport to the university.  Because this is my first time abroad and ALONE I’m nervous I might say the wrong thing to the taxi driver and end up lost somewhere. But I know this is probably the worse case scenario, and I’m freaking myself out. This might be me arriving there …


Once I get on campus I will be fine, and the worst part will be over. Since I will arrive a few days before the program officially starts, I will have 5 FREE days! YAY! Here are the places and things I wish do while I’m there.

1. Visit Aya Sophia Mosque: The Aya Sophia  is a great architectural beauty and an important monument both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum at the Turkish Republic, Aya Sophia has always been valued throughout its many uses.


2. Fish on the Galata Bridge: Galata Bridge spans Istanbul’s Golden Horn, connecting the districts of Eminönü and Karaköy. The bridge is constructed on two levels and there is only a small section in the middle where boats can pass beneath it.  This is a very popular place for locals and tourists like myself.


3.  CATS! CATS!: Istanbul has SO many stray cats all over the place. I love cats! so it will be fun to spot and take pictures of all the cute little kitties! I’ll have to remember to bring some sort of snacks to attract the cats towards me!


4. Istanbul Street Food! I mean, do I have to say much about how excited I am to eat their delicious food?! I will be documenting every meal! To keep you all updated, some of the most famous street foods are kebaps, döner, börek, pide, Lahmacun, mısır, kestane, and many others. Turkey is well known for their amazing food.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA turkey-doner6774509311_3e7fc1ccd0

I can think of so many other parts of my trip that I’m looking forward to this summer, but I think you get the idea. Hopefully, when I come back I can share all the pictures with you! I hope your summer is full of adventure and fun!

What are some of your plans for the summer?

Packing Up Finals

11 Apr

This morning I was sitting at my desk, getting ready to write this blog, and decided to look up when the last day of school was. So… I got on the UA website, clicked on the master academic calendar, I scrolled down and this happened…


I hadn’t realized there is only a month left of school! ONE MONTH! I secretly had a mini panic attack just thinking about finals and studying abroad. I couldn’t  decide which one was scarier? One of my biggest responsibilities right now is to come up with a strategic plan to balance finals and prepare to leave to Istanbul, Turkey. My plan is to take it step by step these upcoming months.


Step 1: When are my finals?
I need to go back into my syllabus for each class, and mark down my final exam dates in my calendar. This has helped me keep track of what times I need to block off to study. I also look at the times of the final exams since most of the final exam times are often different than regular class time.

Step 2: Deadlines
Since I’m studying abroad this summer and working I need to make sure I have no major deadlines. Deadlines are extremely important when participating in big program; especially overseas. My biggest fear is missing an extremely import deadline, and then freaking out.

Step 3: Block off time
After step one and two, I can now schedule time to study for my finals. I give myself two hours of study time for each class. I try really hard to put my phone away, log off of Facebook, and basically get rid of all possible distractions. I start two weeks before finals start that way I don’t have to cram in everything last-minute.

Step 4: SLEEP! EAT! STAY HEALTHY! Basically take care of yourself. This semester I’ve been trying really hard to eat my three meals a day, and go for walks. I’m not saying it’s easy, but we all have to be healthy wildcats.



Step 5: Preparing for the BIG trip! 

I still haven’t heard back from some of my scholarships to study abroad, but I have to start planning ahead. Even though I haven’t purchased my airline ticket and other things I need, I still have to make a list of things that need to be done before I leave. First, I need to make a budget list that includes how much rent I have to pay in advance for those months that I will be out of the country, cable, phone bill, electric bill, and basically all my financial responsibilities here in Tucson. Second, I need to pack two months’ worth of clothes which will not be fun since I will probably bringing a lot more back.  Finally, I need to get mentally prepared and get in control of my emotions. I know my mom will cry, along with my entire family. So I will need to also set aside time to say my “See you later” to my family.

Overall, my stress levels are off the charts! But I’m confident that if I follow my five easy steps, I will end the semester with success, and start my study abroad experience with enthusiasm. I hope you finish up the semester successfully, and I wish you all the best of luck with your final exams! BEAR DOWN!


I didn’t know who to turn to…

3 Apr


Last week I talked about how I balance family and school, and the struggles I had as a first-generation student. My freshmen year was definitely tough, but there were happy moments that I will forever cherish with all my heart. Among those moments is finding my MENAS (Middle Eastern and North African Studies) family.  I was extremely lucky to find a group of peers and professors who cared so much about my education. Since I didn’t have the strongest support system at home, I knew I could always turn to this group of people. My freshmen year, I took a Middle Eastern Humanities class with Professor Leila Hudson. I LOVED that class! It is, by far, one of my favorite gen eds here at the U of A. I remember I first approached Professor Hudson after class, and I simply told her how interesting her lecture was and how much I enjoyed it.

One morning had started pretty rough, and I happened to stumble into her. Dr. Hudson noticed something was wrong, and at that point I needed to vent. I expressed my frustrations to Dr. Hudson, and even told her I was thinking about dropping out of school. From then on, she was always there for me and always reassured me that I had a friend in her. My second semester, I walked into my Turkish class, and who was the first person I saw? Dr. Hudson! From that moment, we became really good friends. We have even talked about working together on a big project she has in mind. This was the start of my family away from home.  Dr. Hudson is not just my professor, she is also one of the biggest resources I’ve had since my freshmen year. It was intimidating taking those first step to talk to her, but a little courage and confidence goes a long way.


Here’s the fabulous Dr. Leila Hudson, Associate Professor of Modern Middle East Culture and Political Economy. Dr. Hudson was the first to join my Wildcat family, and I could count on her for anything. I also met so many other wonderful people! Here are a couple of wonderful people I’m grateful to have in my life!

Family collage

Professors, advisors, and colleagues can be more than someone you pass in the hallway on your way to class. Here are a couple of things to consider doing before you graduate.

  1. Introduce yourself to your professors: Your professors are one of the biggest resources you have on campus. Visit your professors’ office hours. Remember office hours can also be that window to introduce yourself and develop a professional one-on-one relationship. 
  2. Get Connected: Attend events related to your major or interests. Make connections within your field. You never know who you will meet and potentially become good friends with.
  3. Study Abroad/ Internships: Participate in a study abroad or internship program that relates to what you’re interested in or that has something to do with your major. That is the PERFECT opportunity to use all  three resources.  Introduce yourself to your professor and get information about study abroad or internship opportunities.

I know it might sound like a lot, but it will be worth it! It worked for me, and I hope you can enjoy similar experiences.

Family vs. School

29 Mar

861545_4661038719388_1340304047_nAs a first generation student, coming to college was a new and scary experience. I really didn’t know what to expect and how everything worked. My mother always wanted me to attend a traditional four year college since none of my family members even graduated high school. So it was a big deal not only for me, but for my entire family. I graduated high school and was on my way to become a WILDCAT! At first, everything seemed to be going perfectly; my family was super supportive and were extremely happy for me. Let’s just say it didn’t stay perfect for long. I decided to major in American History my freshman year with a minor in Middle Eastern and North African Studies. I have always loved learning about Middle Eastern history so as soon as I took a few classes I LOVED the subject. The third week of my Freshmen year I decided to CHANGE MY MAJOR – YAY!!!

I was excited to continue my new Middle Eastern History Major with a minor in History and Turkish. I was ready to go and excited for the future, but my mother was not as thrilled as I was. Changing my major was huge scandal in my family. Coming from a Hispanic background my family didn’t understand why I would choose such a radical and unusual  major. My extended family asked me questions about my major and seemed to warm up with the idea of my new career path. My mother on the other hand was still not to thrilled with the new career path I chose. Her concerns for me were normal concerns about  job opportunities and how much money I would be making with a degree in Middle Eastern History. I tried to explain to my mother that it wasn’t about the money, it was about doing something I loved. I really had to make sure I did my research about my future career, and made sure it was a decision I wouldn’t regret. It definitely wasn’t  an easy process to go through as a freshman, but I learned so much about my family dynamic my freshman year.

My family and I still go through rough patches, but we have learned so much from one another. I learned that your parents’ opinion about your future career is extremely important. You want to make them proud and have their support 100% of the time. But I have also learned that ultimately it’s your future, and it will be something that will always be a part of you. Take advantage of your resources on campus talk to your academic advisors, professors, mentors, and learn more about what you want to do and how you can do it. Follow your heart, and keep your family close to you!

I have a few tips on how to handle family and school at the same time.

Tip #1: Schedule in family time

Whether your family is here in Tucson or in another state, make family time. This makes your family know that you care about them and want to spend time with them. I know that feeling when all you want to do is go hang out with friends, but little moments like these count.

Tip #2: Talk to your family about school 

I know that when I talk more with my mom about my career goals or even just talking to her about school she seems to understand how much I love what I’m doing. This works wonders with my mother and me. Maybe it will with your family.

Tip#3: Keep in contact with your parents about important issues

 We all have those moments when we get extremely busy, and have no time to blink, breathe, or eat. BUT just one little phone call can brighten up your day or your family’s day. This lets your parents or loved ones know you still care about them even if you have a busy college life. It’s the thought that counts! It’s also important to keep them updated with important information.

Tip #4: Don’t let family feuds ruin your day

If by any chance you get in a little or big feud with family or love ones the best thing is to shake it off. Don’t let it ruin your day! I usually found it helpful to talk it out with my advisor (she and I are super close) or my fellow peers at work. Letting it out makes you less worried about what just happened, and helps you get through the day.

I can go on and on about how to keep family and school balanced, but in reality it takes work. As I said before, keep your family close, but do what you love. There are so many opportunities ahead of us, but also lots of hardship. Remember to always walk with your head up high, and BEAR DOWN WILDCATS!

Warning! Challenges Ahead

21 Mar


This semester has been super chaotic! I’ve been SO distracted with my summer abroad applications, family, and working on other stuff that isn’t as important. I have to admit I haven’t been very focused this semester. My biggest challenge is definitely trying to keep everything organized, but it’s been difficult. It’s hard to admit that I haven’t been trying as hard as I should on my main priorities, but  the first step is realizing that I need to get my stuff together! ASAP! I’ve been trying to keep everything organized by using my planner and I list the most important assignments first. This allows me to see what needs more attention at the moment. This has been working for me, but it’s hard sometimes to be consistent. The best thing we can do as students is try our best. I’ve also been trying REALLY HARD to turn off my phone or put it away in a drawer while I do homework. FACEBOOK is also a problem! If you count how many minutes you spend browsing through your news feed,  it adds up to hours! So far almost half way through the semester, my techniques have been working okay, but  I will finish strong and meet my goals! Keep your head up Wildcats if this is happening to you. Just know you’re not the only one, and there are different techniques to cope with academic challenges. These are mine, what are yours?

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Be Prepared for School During Spring Break

26 Feb

Spring break is coming up soon, and we’re all extremely excited! I know I am! It’s time for a semi-long break! Although I don’t have many plans for this spring break, I can only imagine what you all have planned. Some of you might be going back home to see parents, others might be going to go relax at a beach somewhere, or doing alternative spring break work. No matter what you’re doing, we also need to keep in mind that this is a minor break, and we eventually have to come back to reality. I know this might sound out of the question because it is spring break, but we could all benefit from remembering this.

Tip #1: Plan your departure carefully.  Try not to skip class to leave early. If you are planning on leaving early, make sure you talk to your professors so you don’t miss anything.

Tip #2: Do your homework in advance. If you’re assigned homework during spring break (like me), take some time to do it during the break, not Sunday  night before we come back.

Tip #3: While you’re on spring break, be safe! We want you back in school healthy and safe! Check out our travel tips blog!

Tip #4: Take a moment to look ahead at what assignments you have the week after spring break. You don’t want to be surprised when a big assignment pops up!

Tip #5: The schedule of classes comes out March 4, so take time plan out your schedule of classes on UAccess for next semester. Registration starts soon after we come back!

Tip #6: Rest! Don’t come back exhausted – take a day to just relax and recover from all the fun that you might have had!

Following these simple tips before and during spring break will make your break awesome. We hope your spring break is fun and relaxing! Don’t worry if you’re staying in Tucson. There’s much to do here as well. Be safe Wildcats!

Sophomore Midterm Study Tips

22 Feb


With Spring Break two weeks away, midterms are fast approaching. We all know we have those moments where we frantically study the night before for a big test, but truth be told we shouldn’t be doing it this way. I know that my freshman year I really didn’t know how to study for big tests.

I just decided to wing it and hope for the best. As you can probably guess I really didn’t do well on my tests. Shocker? No, not really right?

It was tough to get through my freshman year and adapt to the college setting, but I have learned from my mistakes. I try really hard to study the best I can before an exam. Do I sometimes slack off and not do what I’m supposed to? Yes! I do, BUT, honestly, it’s never worth it. It’s never worth it because I set myself up to fail, and I know I’m a much better student than that. So that’s why I’m here to share some of the success tips that I’ve learned since I’ve been in college.

1) Go to class: I know sometimes it’s tempting not to go to class, but we just have to pull though it and GO. We’re here for one purpose and one purpose only – “EDUCATION.” So go to class!

2) Write notes on paper! Especially for me, it’s better to kick it old school and use paper and pen. You’re physically writing notes down, causing you to be more active in class. It might help you remember the material better. Added bonus: you won’t get distracted by your laptop.

3) NO Phone = NO distractions! Put your phone away! If you don’t physically have your phone in your hand or pocket, you can’t get distracted!

4) Setting: Study in a place where you won’t be easily distracted!

5) Flashcards: Flashcards are my best friends. They help me memorize important dates, vocab, and I also get to quiz myself.

6) Study Groups: Study groups can be extremely helpful because you get to ask questions you don’t understand that way if your fellow classmate knows the answer they can help you!

7) Give yourself a break: Take a break! Don’t try to jam everything at the same time!

I hope these help a bit! I do this every time midterms are approaching and it seems to work! Here a couple of videos of other study tips from other students around the country. The entire Student Affairs Outreach staff wish you the best of luck on your exams!


Am I There Yet? (Why Now?)

7 Feb

Hey Everyone,

We meet again! I hope you all are having a wonderful week, and enjoying this wonderful weather! I know I been talking about Study abroad and all that fun jazz. Today I wanted to talk to you about why I choose to go on this long journey the spring semester of my second year in college. Where do I begin? There are a couple of reasons I waited until now to apply for study abroad. The number one reason is planning. Since high school I knew I wanted to travel around the world, go meet different people, experience different cultures, and learn about different countries.


When I was accepted to the U of A in the Fall 2011, I knew I wanted to study abroad, but I really didn’t know how to go about finding information about programs. I went directly to my major department and just simply asked if there were any study abroad programs, and sure enough there were plenty. The only problem was that they didn’t necessarily have a program that fit me personally. I wanted to go to Turkey and study Turkish culture, history, and language. My next stop was visiting the Study Abroad website here at U of A.


I contacted the Study Abroad office and set an appointment with the one and only Ken Simonds. You guys meet Ken in my previous blog. He was extremely helpful in finding the right program for me, but he never sugar coated anything and told me this is no easy process. Sure enough it has been a challenging process. Here is a list of things I had to consider before applying. These were crucial key points for me to make my final decision.

  1. Planning: You need to know what you want to do before anything – talk to a Study Abroad advisor. They’re here to help!
  2. Timing: Check with your academic advisor when it would be best to study abroad, and if you’re in good standing to leave. This could apply for Fall, Spring, or Summer.
  3. Do your research: Make sure you know what program you’re applying for, and if it’s a transfer credit program.
  4. Funding: Ask yourself, “How I’m I going to fund this trip? Are there any sort of scholarships for me to apply for?”
  5. Think and Review: Think about your future, and be 100 percent sure this is something you will never regret

These are the steps I took before committing to study abroad. It took me a year and a half to make sure I had my plan set, and after much thought, research, meeting time, and many tears, I realized it was TIME! So now I’m here – Spring semester of my sophomore year applying to study abroad in the Summer of 2013.


Are We There Yet? (Study Abroad)

21 Jan

This semester is an extremely exciting time in my life. For years since I was in high school, I’ve been learning about Middle Eastern history, culture, and traditions, and so much more. So when I was accepted to the wonderful U of A, it was only natural to declare my major in Middle Eastern and North African Studies.

LogoMENAS (1)

Since learning about the culture of the Middle East, I decided it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to pick up a Middle Eastern language (I also didn’t have a choice – it was also mandatory for my major). That idea soon became a big dream for me, and then a major goal for my life. I was determined to study abroad in Istanbul, Turkey. Where is Turkey you ask? Well I’ll show you…


I love Turkey and I love the language, traditions, THE FOOD! It’s just an amazing place overall. I also have lots of Turkish friends, and let me tell you they’re the most humble, beautiful people you will ever meet! I want to go study abroad not only to see the beautiful country, but to also to further my language skills. What better way to further your language skill than to submerge yourself in the mother country? It’s not easy to commit to something huge like studying abroad – it took me a year and a half to actually get the courage to apply. There are also certain steps that need to be completed even before applying, which can seem very intimidating. I have been working with my study abroad advisor constantly! His name is Ken Simonds and he has been such an amazing help. He is ready to help me through the long process to make my dream come true. As I said in my last blog, it’s crucial to be in contact with these important people! I think I meet up with Ken almost six times a month.


Here he is!

Ken also gave me very valuable advice that not only applies to studying abroad, but also apply to everyday life TIME MANAGEMENT! Time management is super important, because, in my case, there are certain deadlines that need to be met – no exceptions. This experience is teaching me that I need to be extremely productive with my time. I find that adding all the deadlines and important dates into my planner is the best way to keep me on track. I also use this method for all of my courses and basically my entire academic life. So, remember that time management is KEY! This semester will be an adventure, but also a learning experience. Since I’m only in my sophomore year,  some people think I’m crazy for doing this so early. But for me, it’s more than just going on a trip. It’s an investment for my future. It’s never a bad thing to think about your future way ahead of time. Trust me!

Here are some pictures of Istanbul, Turkey! Enjoy!