Wednesday, July 9, 2014

After receiving quite a few emails from people asking me to share an update on my life, I decided to fill you in on what is going on around here. This past year has been so strange. I honestly feel like a completely different person than I was before. I've made friends and I've lost friends. I've learned a lot about people and life in general. I've become a stronger person, and hopefully a nicer one.

 I got my nose pierced. 

 I'm still always reading. 

 I like taking selfies in the car.

 A few friends took me on my first trip to a casino- I won $30 and then quit. :p

 With Boody and Leah at an International Festival in Dayton. These two will always have a special place in my heart.

 With Leah and Heather at our favorite place to hang out- an adorable little shop that sells bubble tea.

Still living in the same house- now new and improved with porch railings. 

Still working at Barnes & Noble. Sometimes I think about looking for a "real" job, and then I think about how happy working here makes me. 

Still babysitting. The mother of the kiddos snapped this picture while we were playing in the sandbox. At this point in my life, I'm pretty sure that I don't want kids of my own, but I ADORE playing with other people's children. I like to borrow them, give the moms some free time, and then return them when *I* need some free time. 

 With Faisal and Scott at our favorite bar- it's small, and pretty crappy, but we can walk there which is excellent. 

 One of my best friends, and favorite coworkers, John, my "hair twin." He is one of the most unique and inspiring people I have ever known. 

 This is Aashwin. I'm not even really sure how we met each other, (maybe at a random soccer game?) but I'm glad we did. He is fantastic.

 With Mom and Abigail. We met up a few weeks ago for a girly shopping day, and hopefully we get to do it again soon.

...and I play Magic the Gathering now.

Everything is pretty much the same, yet so different. Most of these photos are from Instagram and Facebook, which is a much better way to keep up with what I'm doing, if you feel like following my life.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I have made an abundance of international friends over the past year. Being best friends with people from other countries is a never ending learning experience that I love. It enables you to learn different cultures, histories, mannerisms, recipes...the list goes on and on.

 The downfall? They generally have to go home. 

I drove Abdul to the airport last week. He'll be gone for a whole month, and will return just in time to start the fall semester here. 

Last year, I signed up to have an English conversation partner- you meet with an international student once a week, and help them practice English conversational skills. I had the pleasure of being paired with Moeko from Japan. Our tutoring sessions quickly blossomed into a friendship, and before we knew it, I was teaching her to crochet, and she was baking me cookies. I had the pleasure of meeting her sister, Yoko, when she visited America several months ago, and the girls treated me with homemade sushi and the most wonderful hair product straight from Japan. 

Moeko made tremendous progress with her English, and she has finished an entire year of American college. She leaves this weekend for a month long internship on the west coast, and then she is headed back to Japan to finish her education. We got together this evening and headed out for dinner- Iraqi food, and a fancy Italian restaurant for dessert! We concluded the evening with window shopping and reminiscing over our year together, and making plans for our futures. I'm so sad to see Moeko leave, but I am so proud of how hard she has worked in school and of the progress she has made. I'm looking forward to traveling to Japan and staying with her and her family! 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reading back over my last several posts, it almost feels as if I am an entirely different person. I will do my best to fill you in on my current life, but who will probably be entirely different in a few months. ;)

 This is my best friend, Abdul. We met each other at the library last year. He is a wonderful cook, and a great study partner. He helps me with Arabic and he likes to make me run and lift weights. He can make me laugh at almost anything which is...hilarious.

I hosted my first dinner party this weekend! It was so much fun, I want to do it every day.

I picked up another job recently- waitressing at a Middle Eastern restaurant. I love the job, and I also love the extra money. This extra job has been such a blessing as far as buying groceries goes-I really needed the extra money! I get free food while I'm working, so I eat lots of protein while I'm there, and my tip money pretty much all goes towards buying food. I have been eating lots of salads, fresh fruits and vegetables, and PROTEINS! I feel so great and healthy. =) (I have no idea why, but I have to FORCE myself to eat protein. I have no desire to eat it in any form. Before I started working at the restaurant, I was lucky if I ate protein once a week.)

One of my Barnes & Noble Friends recently got married and we were lucky enough to have a photo of the Barnes & Noble girls take. Me, Isabel, Ashley, and Margie.

 I can't remember if I mentioned my living situation or not. I am no longer living alone. In February, I moved in with Isabel, a friend/co-worker. (We are renting a gorgeous, spacious house in the city. I really love the house. I love the kitchen, I love my bedroom, I love that I still have my own bathroom. I love having people over for dinner and game nights, and I love that I have enough space to do that. I do not, however, love having a roommate. I don't necessarily miss living alone, but maybe moving in with a friend isn't the best idea. Especially if the friend is also someone that you work with.

One of my best friends, Anna, got married a few weekends ago. I started making her a quilt last year, intending to give it to her as a wedding gift, but with working so many jobs and doing school I haven't been able to finish it yet. I cannot describe how much fun it was to be Anna's bridesmaid. She was such a calm bride- no stress, no tears, no meltdowns. Being with my best friends, getting ready for Anna's big day was perfect. It felt like we were in a movie. Just in case you wondered- Starbuck's really does give the bride a free drink on her wedding day.

In other news...

My first year of college is officially over. I'm working towards getting a degree in International Studies and I am also going to get my Teaching English as a Second Language certificate. After I graduate, my plan is to leave the country and teach English as a second language for awhile- preferably in Dubai. But who knows, right? That is several years away, and I change my mind a lot.

I'm still learning Arabic and loving it. Working at Shish Kabob has really helped out with my conversational skills. The cooks all love that I'm learning their language, and are really patient and funny teachers. I'm still not fluent, but my vocabulary is steadily increasing. Soon, I'm going to start learning Mandarin Chinese with my friends Abdul and Elisabeth. It's a super useful language to learn, and we will be able to compete/encourage each other while learning together.

I visited my family last month for the first time since January. I had seen them here and there- little visits while they were passing through, my brother's graduation, etc. I'm planning on making another trip to see them in August, and I'm hoping to be able to stay a little longer next time! 1 1/2 days isn't a long enough visit- especially because I desperately want to visit the children I used to nanny. I miss them so much!

I can't think of anything new at the moment. I work, do school, meet up with my friends, and read books.

I'm trying to get back in to the swing of blogging, but it seems like I never know what to write about. If you have any topics you would like me to cover, or any questions you would like me to answer, leave me a comment and let me know!

Recent Reads

One of the perks of being a bookseller at Barnes and Noble is being able to borrow any hardback book and any Nook for free. Last weekend, I came home with a Nook HD+ and spent the weekend reading in bed and drinking Ahmad tea. It was pretty delightful.

Here is my list of recent reads:

Children's Books:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It all started with this:

Back in late October/November, I was studying in the basement of the college library when a spider started to crawl towards me. Naturally, I panicked, and asked the first guy I saw to kill it. The spider squasher happened to be a really nice guy from Libya, named Abdelfatah. He told me all about his wife and two daughters, and then we started speaking about his native language...Arabic.

Whenever I meet someone that speaks a foreign language, I usually say something like, "I would love to be able to speak that!"
Usually this ends with the person teaching me how to say hello, or something useful, and I forgot about the small desire I had to learn that language. Abdelfatah didn't let me forget, though. Immediately after expressing interest in learning his language, he sat me down, and showed me how to write my name. After that, every time I saw him in the library, he would teach me several letters from the Arabic alphabet- how to write them, how to pronounce them, etc. It wasn't long before I had the alphabet memorized.

My teaching has pretty much been taken over by other Arab friends of mine now, and I'm happy to say that at this point, I can both read and write in Arabic. I'm currently working on building up my vocabulary. Learning a second language is really a fascinating thing. It is amazing how simply learning a new way of speaking can open up your mind in a lot of ways. I have the settings on all of my electronics set in Arabic, and I try to introduce myself to Arabs whenever I can, so I can get some language practice in.

If you are interested in learning a second language, here is what I have to say to you:

•Don't let anyone tell you that you are choosing the wrong language. If you pick a language, no matter what you reasoning for learning that language is, just do it. I had a lot of people tell me that I was making a mistake by choosing Arabic, and I'm really glad that I didn't quit and try to learn Spanish instead. Learning ANY language is valuable.

•Try to find native speakers of the language that you are learning. Practicing out loud with native speakers is really the best way to learn a language. I have yet to find an Arab that hasn't been thrilled to help me practice. Most people are delighted that you are taking an interest in learning their language. I already have offers from people from all over the world that are willing to help me learn their language once I am done with Arabic.

•You really don't have to spend a lot of money on something like Rosetta Stone. Buy a vocabulary book or two, and just go at it. There are a lot of free language learning sites that are really great- but nothing will help you more than trying to converse with native speakers.

My favorite free sites for learning languages are:

This is my absolute favorite site. It has really helped me to store words in my long term memory- plus, it is like a super fun game.
You can use Mango for free through most libraries. Just put in your library card number, choose a language, and you're good to go!
If you can't find native speakers to help you practice, italki is a really helpful site. You can find people from all over the world that are willing to help you learn their language for free. I've Skyped with some very helpful Egyptians through this site.
Duolingo is really fun and is really easy to understand. I am not currently using it, as they don't offer an Arabic course, but their other language courses are really great.
Livemocha is also a super helpful site- I love all of the different options within the courses.

Have you ever wanted to learn another language? What is stopping you? I'm a full time college student who works multiple jobs- I know what it's like to be busy! If you are really interested in learning a language, you can always make enough time. I'm super thankful for free resources- without them, learning would be really difficult for me!

Do you speak more than one language? What was helpful for you while learning?
What languages would you like to learn? My list of languages to learn keeps getting longer and longer- I'm considering diving into Hebrew next. =)

ETA:  I'd just like to note that I know that the above picture is not actually how you write 'Autumn' in Arabic. It actually says, 'Kharif' which means fall. Most of my Arab friends call me Kharif as a joke. =)