Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Reflections - Fall 2017

Ahoy Mates!
How are you all feeling today?
Now, that the Spring Semester is over, you've got your grades and the summer is starting; what are you guys up to? I would love to hear your summer plans.
As for me, I've got lots of plans. Though I am not taking this summer off (yes, I am going to be attending the summer semester too) there a lot of goals on my list this summer that I look forward to completing.
But before getting into my summer goals, I've decided to start something new.
It's a new blog series called - Reflections.
Basically, at the end of every semester, I'll be posting a few things I've learned that semester, a few things that I did wrong and how I plan to improve for the next semester.
This series will help me stay on track, productive and learn from my past mistakes.
I recommend you all to start working on your Reflections too. You definitely don’t have to dwell on your past but you can learn from it and become better.
So, grab my Reflections Worksheet and get to work!

The first semester I started College was the Spring Semester and not the Fall semester so I am going to post my Reflections on the Spring Semester 2017 -

Things I learnt this semester :

Arabic is not that hard : No I am not kidding, trust me. When I first found out that my whole college degree would be in Arabic, I naturally freaked out. And when I learnt that I had to do a whole foundation semester to improve my Arabic, I freaked out more. Yes, I could read and write and understand Arabic, but when I first started my classes, I was honestly shocked! They all spoke in fluent Classic Arabic. I was absolutely horrified. I couldn’t understand more than a few words since I spoke the Kuwaiti dialect and not the Classic Arabic. Also the fact that Arabic grammar constituted to 80% of the marks upset me. But thankfully I had studied a bit of Arabic grammar in my childhood so that kind of helped me out. I even moved classes (from level 2 to level 1 ) just on the second day of college.
But later on, I regretted it. Level 1 was too easy. I missed level 2 even though I had only been there for two days. Then I changed back again! And I don’t regret a minute of it. I realised that it only seemed hard in the first week. I just had to work a bit harder and focus more. Even though I joined in the second semester and missed most of what was taught, I could easily catch up. I started going on daily walks with a few of my classmates and our professor where we would only speak Arabic and I started improving so much! The daily talks really helped me. And I realised that all the complexity was just in my head. Arabic wasn’t that hard. Yes, I'm not perfect but I've definitely improved and have now developed a new love for this beautiful language.

Making friends is crucial: In the beginning of the semester, I was this very awkward, shy and fully covered up person. Everyone already knew everyone since they had been together for a whole semester already. I was the new kid. Even though I'm a very social person, I just couldn’t seem to make any friends. what's worse, all of them lived in the dormitory, were from different countries and spoke fluent Arabic. After a few weeks of this, I decided that I would give up trying to make new friends. we had literally nothing in common. I loved Kuwait while they all spoke badly about it. And so I thought I was better off without any friends. Oh, how wrong I was!
My classmates all planned a get together in Souq Mubarakiya with the professor and I was contemplating not going, but thank God I decided to go! I sat with new people, made new friends and got to know them all. In addition to this, the early morning pre-class walks helped a lot too. I made friends with people who weren't on my level and it was an amazing feeling. I had someone with whom I could share similar interests and talk about homework. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have been able to pass out with my sanity intact if it weren't for my classmates!

Studying every day is very important : I did this in the beginning of the semester but started to slack off towards the end. And that really cost me my marks. It's really important to come back home Abd study and revise your notes. I had even stopped submitting my homework's towards the end of the semester due to laziness. But next sem I plan to get rid of this habit.

You don’t have to be speaking all the time. Sometimes, silence is golden and better: this was one of the biggest lessons I learnt this semester. Sometimes people say things that you may not agree with or that you don’t like. That does not mean that you have to go running your mouth off. Sometimes it's better to keep quiet. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And keeping quiet will prevent so many problems.

Grateful for :
Professor : I am especially grateful for my professor this semester. He had been helping me right from the beginning even before the classes started and helped me throughout the semester. He even helped me choose and register for classes in the next semester. He was really friendly, funny and supportive. Though his methods were strict, they really helped me improve.

Classmates : There were these three girls from Turkey whom I am the most grateful for. They became my friends on the first day when I was this scared little freshman who had no idea about anything. They were so supportive and encouraging and took me under their wing.

My Friend: She was this one friend of mine who knew Arabic. She helped me throughout the semester in chatting, in my homework's, and even attended one of my classes with me where she helped me with the class discussion. It was a blessing having someone like her. Seriously guys get yourselves and Arab or an Arabic speaking friend!

Three things I want to improve in the next semester :
  • Study everyday
  • Put more time into the blog
  • Use extra sources and put in extra work

Overall feel of this semester on the  :
Personal Level - 9 : I grew so much personally and learned loads of things this semester
Academic Level- 8 : My grades were stuck in the 82-83% range but considering the fact that it was completely in a different language, I am happy, kind of.
Social Level -10 : I made so many new friends and built a very good bond with without losing contact with my old friends.
Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start reflecting on your semester and life too.
If you are ready to reflect and improve, grab the Reflections Worksheet from the Resource Library by entering the password or by Subscribing to the Ahoy College Newsletter.

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Hit reply to the Reflections Mail you received and let me know,
What are some of the things you would like to reflect upon?
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Sunday, May 28, 2017

How to Make the Best out of Ramadan

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.
Baqarah - 183
The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion
Baqarah – 185

Assalamu alaikum!
 Ramadan Mubarak to every one of you.
Ramadan is a blessed month awaited every year by Muslims all over the World.
This is the month when the Quran was revealed.
So, let’s all use this month to strive to get good deeds, build a relationship with Allah and Quran and get closer to Him.
Today I want to share a few tips with you all to stay productive in Ramadan. This month is too short so let’s all make an effort to utilise every single moment.

1.       Quran: As we all know, Ramadan is the month of Quran, the month when this Holy Book was revealed. So, let’s use this month to form a strong bond with the word of Allah SWT. Read Quran every day. Remember that it’s not important how many times you finish the Quran in this month but rather how much you understood.
A practical advice I would like to give you all is to not jump in right away and start reading two-three pages every day. Because let’s face it, it’s impossible to cover even one page if you haven’t been reading it at all earlier.
So rather focus on reading even an Ayah every day, understanding it, pondering over it and connecting it to your life. Listen to Tafseer or lectures regarding the surah and understand what they are saying.
Make a QURAN PLAN for Ramadan, where you write down what surah you covered and what you learned from them – pillars of Iman, Allah’s Names and Attributes, Commands and Prohibitions etc.
Remember it’ not the quantity that matters, it’s the quality.

2.       Dhikr – Constantly keep the remembrance of Allah on your tongue. Yes, the Shayateen and Jinnat are chained but your biggest challenge is you yourself- your desires. So keep remembering Allah and doping Dhikr. LA ilaha illa Allah, Subhanallahi WA bi hamdihi, Subhanallah IL azeem and many others are words that are light on the tongue but heavy on the scales.

3.       Faraid (obligations) – yes Ramadan is a month for gaining good deed. For doing qiyam, for giving charity. But what’s the point in doing all this when you’re missing out on your Faraid (obligations)?
You sleep and miss your Fajr Prayer but go out for Taraweeh.
Focus on your Obligation first. If throughout the year, you haven’t been able to pry all five prayers, make an effort to change that in Ramadan, Struggle to complete your obligations and then think about the Voluntary actions. The voluntary actions won’t make any difference if your obligations aren’t complete. Think of your obligations as the pillars of a building (Iman) and voluntary acts as the decoration inside. If the pillars are wobbly, will the decorations stay?

4.       Continue your efforts after Ramadan : A good way to know if your fasts will be accepted is by looking at yourself on the Eid day. How are you behaving? Are you going back to how you were before Ramadan? Back to Music, back to Missing prayers and back to swearing?
If this is the case, then it might be a warning sign. A sign of the acceptance of your fasts is that your efforts and deeds continue even after Ramadan.

5.       Taqwa – Increase your Taqwa in this month. Be extra aware of what you’re doing, what you’re saying, what you’re eating! Hold yourself accountable before you’re held accountable. Rectify your deeds and ask for forgiveness

6.       Dua – Make loads and loads of Dua in this month. In one of the Hadith of the Prophet SAW he mentions that Allah SWT accepts the du of a slave every day. Make a List of things you want to ask Allah SWT and sit at the time of Iftar and ask Allah SWT – everything. Nothing is too small or too big for Him. Ask for Jannat ul Firdaus, ask for HIS forgiveness, ask for that new shirt you want to buy for Eid- anything, Just ASK!

7.       Goals- Make a list of goals you want to achieve in this Ramadan. Break down these goals into small actionable steps and work on them every day. Make an everyday checklist with items from this list and work on them. This will prompt you to be more productive and accountable. At the end of the month, you can even reward yourself when you achieve these goals. Some examples could be –

·         Hifz Amma Para
·         Help mum with chores
·         Read two ayahs every day and ponder over them
·         Do a good deed that nobody knows for Allah’s sake

8.       Charity- every small deed in this month counts. Start by giving a small amount every day. It doesn’t have to be money. Even a smile is Charity in Islam! You could give even a 100 fils every day and it would count for a lot depending on your intention.

9.       Intention: the most important part. No matter what you do, make an intention to do it solely for Allah’s sake. Seek only His pleasure, only His closeness.

10.   Relationships – take this month to improve relationships with your friends and family. Visit them. Go to Iftar parties. Invite them. And talk about Allah SWT. Share knowledge that each of you has. Use each other to get closer to Allah SWT. Talk about the prophets, about the Sahabahs, and share your pondering over the Quran with them.

I hope these few tips will help you to make the best out of this blessed month.
With loads of Love,

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My Favorite College Apps

Ahoy mates,  
How are you all feeling today? 
In today's busy, busy world, the only thing we actually have time for is our phone. 
And with the advancement technology has made, every single thing is easily available on the small box that we have stuck to our hands. 
Since it makes our life so easy why not also make our college life easy? 
Trust me when I say that there are loads of apps that could help you in finishing your homework, getting organized, productive and help you survive. 
It's basically just a free virtual assistant. 
So here are some of my favorite, free apps that'll help you get your life together. 

  1. Alarmy - Sleep if you can!-  With a tagline like that, it's easy to understand why Alarmy won the award for being the 'world's most annoying alarm'. 
It has got many different ways of waking you up- and making sure you stay up- such as solving a math question, taking a picture similar to the one you took earlier, shaking the phone a number of times and the default feature where you just swipe to dismiss the alarm. 
I've been using this app for a long time and trust me it's perfect for when you have early morning classes that you don't want to get up for but have to. 

  1. Sworkit! - So, how many years have passed with us making new resolutions to stay fit and exercise every day? But in the end, after a day or two, we switch back to our very yummy burgers and lounging lazily on the couch. If you are one to avoid  the gym (simply because you are lazy to go), this app is perfect for you. It has many equipment-less exercises and timed circuits that you can do right in your dorm room – on the couch – no gym required! So, sorry mate, now you've got no excuse to NOT exercise. 
BONUS: it also syncs to your Google Fit account to keep track of your progress! 

  1. OneNote - If you are crazy about organizing and having everything sorted into its own category, this app is for you. It allows you to make notebooks, have sections in those notebooks and also insert pages into those sections. Isn't that amazing?! Perfect for taking notes, making lists, planning projects; basically everything. You can color-code your notes, pages and sections; highlight important stuff; share notes and collaborate on group projects; and also access it anywhere- phone, computer, iPad, tab wherever!. 
It also allows you to search your notes, convert text from images into text, and save documents inside your notes. 

  1. Talabat – This app is for those times when your stomach starts growling in the middle of the class or you have a sudden craving to eat a specific food. Order from thousands of restaurants easily with just a few clicks. It will also suggest restaurants close to your area and based on your previous orders. Easy, simple and effective. 

  1. Duolingo -  Want to learn a new language? This is the app for you if you're taking a foreign language class or want to learn a new language just because you can . Its easy to use and very interactive. With its preset classes and tests, its very fun and addictive. 

  1. Google Fit - Reach your fitness goals. Set goals based on steps, time, distance, calories burned. Receive personalized recommendations and coaching for activity goals. If you're like me, a person who love to keep track of every activity then this app is perfect for you. It also syncs with Sworkit to record your progress and calories. Effortlessly track any activity. As you walk, run, or cycle throughout the day, your phone or Android Wear watch automatically logs them with Google Fit. 

Image result for google fit apple store

  1. Almaany – This is the best app if you are living in an Arab country or are learning Arabic. We all know the disastrous translations of Google translate. Almaany gives many meanings for the same word, and many forms of the same word. It is basically like an online dictionary, just compact and better. 

  1. Google Drive : One of the best collaboration tools, which is often used in working for group projects and assignments or to facilitate communication in study groups. But it can also be used for organizing your study. Store your folders and important documents online to access it anytime and anywhere. Easy access and easy editing. 

Image result for google drive

  1. Flat Tomato : This is my favorite app to use for the Pomodoro method. Pomodoro method is a productivity trick to help you stay organized and productive where you work for 25 mins and then take a break of 5 minutes and then after every 4 Pomodoro sessions you take a long break. It is easy to use, and is perfectly-aligned with Pomodoro, including timing the intervals, the breaks, and remembering that you've done 4 cycles so you need a longer break. It also tracks user-defined categories so you can review how you've spent your time (in an attractive, graphical chart). It also shows the status of the current interval on the lock screen. 

10. Google Keep : Google Keep is a syncing notepad that connects to Google Drive. It also supports photo notes, voice notes, and checklists. it lets you quickly take and save those notes, photos, voice memos, and checklists to Google Drive, and then access them again on any other web-connected device you use. It's ideal for quick note-taking on the go, anyone who appreciates simple, fast note-taking tools or to-do apps, or for saving notes on the desktop that you know you'll need on your Android phone, like shopping lists, addresses, phone numbers, checklists and to-do lists, or conference call codes. Perfect for college students as we have loads of things going on at once and its hard to remember them all. 

Image result for google keep

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I hope these apps are as useful to you as they were to me! 
Do you have any favorite apps that make your life a bit more easier? 
Have you used any of these apps? What do you think? 
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Preparing for College in Summer

Ahoy Mates!

-This post doesn’t include Dormitory Preparations -

SO you've graduated, received your certificates and also applied to your favourite college.
You got in? Congratulations!
You didn't? It's not the end of the world! Most of the application answers in Kuwait or anywhere else are usually delayed - that doesn't mean you've been rejected so don't lose hope (yet).

But once, you have been accepted into the college of your choice, it's time to begin the actual preparations.

I had initially planned on taking a gap year after graduating High School so I began my preparations really late (after my classes started).
This happened because even though I had planned everything perfectly, things (obviously) didn’t go according to my plans. If anyone of you studied Business studies, you must know that planning is not futuristic so don't rely on plans alone and start doing something.
It's never too early to start preparing for college but it might be too late.
Even though I did end up taking a gap semester instead of a gap year (completely unintentional), I was still late in my preparations (a huge mistake)  which are costing me my sleep right now. No Kidding.

Don't know what to do? Don't worry, Dearie! I've got your back, as usual. :)

Here's a step-by-step detailed guide to preparing for college right before it begins. This is when the actual fun begins!

So shall we dive right in?

  1. Prepare for your classes – Review, Revise and Refresh your memory about the things you studied because the Professors in college aren't going to repeat anything, they expect you to be prepared. Especially if you already know what major you're taking and what classes you'll be having. Look into the class requirements for that specific minor or major. And if you don't know it yet, then Scan the different department pages and take a look at the classes they require. That way, you have a good idea of which classes you may want to take to explore different programs.

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  1. Get to know your college: Usually, colleges have loads of Social Media accounts, websites and clubs going on. Look for them. Join these online groups and communities to get a better feel of your college and stay informed about any upcoming events. Open up the website of the college and start exploring- clubs, requirements, rules, timings and check out the student life page under the 'students' tab.

Subscribers get all the links for the college websites and social media accounts on the Facebook Group

  1. Attend the orientation: The orientation is really important. It could be a chance for you to explore the college, get to know the functioning and make loads of friends. And trust me, you are going to need friends. A lot. No one likes being alone and lost in college. It's better to be lost with someone than lost alone. So get to that orientation, make friends and ask questions. Hold conversations, share stories and learn new things about others.

  1. Read, read and read: If your college provides you with any books, pamphlets, guides and flyers; read them. It will give you something to talk about at the orientation and is also a great way to expand your knowledge. You never know what you might discover in those brochures. They might even contain information about your classes and professors.
Also, make sure to read other books either related to your major or general so you can prepare for the college reading or even catch up on your pleasure reading.
Most of my college-related guides were posted on the website as PDFs - if you have the same, make a separate folder on your computer for college and save it on there. You never know when you might need it.

  1. Get information about your classes: Once you register for your classes, you will get a schedule of all the classes - timings, days, building number, classroom and details about the Professor. Keep these details safe. Highlight the important days, and add them to your agenda or planner.
If your orientation is held after the registration, make sure to find out the building your classes will be held in so you don't get lost on the first day.

  1. Get to know your Professor(s): Once you find out who your professor(s) is(are), try to meet him/her. This will help you establish a good relationship with them. Ask for advice, discuss any problems you might have and take their contact details.
My professor was the one who helped me a lot. I didn’t know I had to take a foundation course before starting my Major Classes but he helped me reregister my classes and gave me amazing advice. Since. I joined in the second term, his help was God sent and helped me overcome lots of problems by giving me past test papers, books and sites to study from.

  1. Create a Budget:  I cannot stress enough how important this step is. Once you start college, it's going to be really hard managing your finances. Now is the perfect time to set up a budget so you can stick to it. It can be something really simple with a specific amount set to things you'll spend most in. It'll help you control your expenses so you don't run out of allowance before the next one comes in.
For example; I set aside 10 KD each month for food, 20 KD each SEMESTER for books, 10 KD for transport and 10 KD for any other miscellaneous expenses - like a spontaneous decision to buy a top or makeup or any other thing.
Your budget could be monthly, weekly or even daily- it's totally up to you but remember to actually stick to it so, therefore, don’t make it too tight and inflexible. Also, remember to set aside some money for emergencies.

  1. Stationery shopping: Finally, we come to my favourite part! STATIONERY SHOPPING!!! How can you go to college without loads of stationery? You can't! May it be the bare essentials or loads of other things that you don’t even need, Stationery is vital.
If you only want to buy the bare essentials you shall take the following:
  • Notebooks
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Whiteout
  • Eraser
  • Ruler/scale
  • Pencil pouch
  • Binders/ folders
  • Bag
I will be posting a stationery haul with all the details soon so keep your eyes and ears peeled!

That's it for today, mates! Hope you have a good day.
If you have any more tips or steps in the preparation for college, make sure to drop them below.
Hope these are helpful for you.

This is the last post in the College Preparation Series.

The first post in the seriesPreparing for college during high school

How do YOU prepare for college? 

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