Monthly Archives: April 2015

Oh em gee Italian food

Is it bad that one of the things I’m most excited for in going to Italy is the fact that I’m going to stuff my face with wonderful Italian dishes and simply pray I don’t gain 100 pounds in one semester?

I don’t think so either.

I always thought I should have been born into an Italian family with how much I love pasta and pizza and all that jazz. I know that’s nothing special, but the point stands. The great thing about Italy, too, is that there are all sorts of hole-in-the-wall cheap restaurants that offer pretty dang good food too. It’s almost more expensive to shop at grocery stores and make your own food than it is to go out to eat, which is completely reverse to what it’s like here in America. I would be more than happy to just hop from place to place in the city of Bologna and try everything I can; it sounds like an absolute dream. Then again, I also hope I can make a lot of Italian friends who know how to cook so they can teach me all of their tips and tricks. I could come back and dazzle my friends and family with my knowledge of Italian cuisine, and what girl doesn’t like a romantic candlelight Italian meal? Not one that I know of, no sir. Everyone secretly loves pounding down a plate of noodles and uncinching their belt a notch. I mean, culture and history is cool and all that, but carbohydrates? That’s my JAM!

Eve of Nations

I’m sure a lot of GEF students went to Eve of Nations, so I’ll keep my thoughts short and to the point. For those didn’t attend/don’t know what it is, Eve of Nations is a night where the various international student groups on campus get together and put on song or dance numbers that show off a little bit of their culture. At the end of the show, a panel of judges from various different academic backgrounds chooses which group they thought did the best job, and it wins them magical powers from an ancient sorcerous tome (I wish). A dinner is also served that includes foods from across the world, such as Moroccan couscous and German cherry chocolate cake. Personally, I attended Eve of Nations Lite because I missed the first bus out to Lloyd Noble, and I also missed out on who won, but I can tell you who definitely should have: the Indian Student Association. They definitely had the best dance, and maybe I’m just partial to Bollywood music or something, but I really enjoyed watching it. A lot of the groups didn’t seem too polished other than the Indian group, though I suppose I should’ve seen that coming seeing as they’re not dancing clubs. A few of the other really cool ones were the Latin Dance Club and Tribal Village, although Tribal Village’s dance didn’t seem very traditional (although what do I know). One of the dances was kind of confusing: the Native American guest dance. There was a man and a woman, and while the man did dance around a lot, the woman simply walked slowly in a circle around him… I’m not sure whether or not that’s the whole point, but to me it looked kind of silly honestly. Regardless, it was fun to watch, as was the rest of the night; it’s something I would definitely attend again!

Global Perception of Beauty

This last week, I attended the global perception of beauty panel in Hester in order to get some perspective on exactly which county I should go to to find the prettiest ladies (KIDDING, OF COURSE, MOSTLY). Instead, I got an eye-opening look into exactly what it was about the people in the country that made them look at each other and hear Marvin Gaye play in their heads. The world was fairly well represented, with women from India, Saudi Arabia, France, Uganda and Cameroon, along with one male student from China. He was unfortunately pretty soft-spoken and quite nervous, so I didn’t learn much from him, but the women of the group gave me a perspective not only on what was attractive, but how women viewed both men and each other. A couple of particularly interesting things I learned was that most of the women viewed guys with muscles as big dumb meatheads and didn’t like it, which was very different than what you see in America, where all those big dumb meatheads are glorified as sex gods regardless of the drivel that comes out of there mouths (not derisive at all of course). Also, women in East Africa were prized for having GAP TEETH. That certainly came out of left field, but apparently it’s viewed as a sign of fertility and femininity. It was particularly funny because the girl from France had just gotten braces on the week before in order to fix her gap tooth, so everyone said she should just be done with them and move to Cameroon. Other interesting bits were that Indian men loved to look super macho and yet be “metrosexual” and use a bunch of beauty products in order to NOT look metrosexual. It was a strange dichotomy to me, but then again we have the same thing going on here in America. There was also a stark difference between France and the other countries, where women were prized for individuality and independence, while in Africa and Saudi Arabia, the women were picked for qualities that would make them good wives and homemakers. I personally swing towards the French ideal, but it pays to know that sort of thing when visiting countries, even if I’m not sure how yet. All in all, the panel was engrossing and I learned a lot about exactly what people looked for across the globe. I think it gives an important window into what’s important and valued in each culture, which is even more crucial to understanding a little about the places I want to visit.

OU Cousins Frustrations

Once again, I’m sad to report, my OU Cousins experience this semester hasn’t been as good as I had hoped. However, not going to lie, it’s partially my fault for being a dummyhead and taking 21 credit hours to fill up my time along with research, thinking “Oh it’ll be fine, college is all fun and unicorns and blah blah blah”. Well, let me tell you that was up there on the list of worst ideas I’ve ever had, right next to attempting to become a BMX biker sans BMX bike and helmet, and walking 13 miles through Cinque Terre at night after having purveying the, ahem, nightlife of the towns. Needless to say I’ve been far busier than I ever anticipated and my OU Cousins life has suffered. That being said, there hasn’t been a lot of necessarily exciting reasons to pick up my involvement. It seemed like there was a massive gulf in events in the middle of this semester, minus a kind of lackluster game night put together. Even compared to last semester, opportunities were sparse, and I was saddened by that. Unfortunately, due to an unforseen conflict, I couldn’t attend the OU Cousins Big Event, although it did seem like it was going to be fun. On top of all that, it seems like my cousin and I have had THE worst luck with scheduling. With him being in law school and me dealing with my aforementioned enrollment idiocy, we haven’t been able to line up many times where we could actually hang out and just catch up. On the weekends we do both have free, it seems like one of us always has someone visiting or a birthday party to attend. Regardless of how little I’ve seen him, I still hold him in high regard and I will dang-well try to get together with him at least a few more times before the semester is out. I’m also looking to end the rest of OU Cousins with a bang by attending the annual picnic, because THAT sounds like an excellent time. In summation, I’ve been in disappointed with the program this semester, but moreso with myself for not having the foresight to say to myself, “YOU’RE DUMB THAT’S SO MANY HOURS OMG WUT R U DOING”, and I’m hopeful of ending the semester off well and carrying that into next semester.

P.S If anyone could check on my cousin to make sure he’s not dead in his apartment, I’d be appreciative

A new International Club idea

I had an idea recently about another way for OU to become more globally engaged as a whole. We already have a dizzying amount of international events and groups here on campus, and yet there’s still a divide between international kids and American students, a gap that should be addressed soon. While programs like OU Cousins do their best to reduce that gap and bring the two groups together, I personally feel it has unfortunate limitations (but more on that subject later). Other groups on campus focus on different aspects of international involvement, but not necessarily on personal interactions between students.

So, my idea attempts to address this gap and bring students together by simply getting them in the same room through casual events and allowing them to spark interaction themselves, between a few people or the group as a whole. My friend Patrick and I are working on building a club where every week, there would be a different type of event to either A) learn about a different part of the world through the eyes of international students from that part of the world, B) sponsor an event that would involve group interaction and casual bonding like a multi-national potluck or movie night, or C) get students out doing something entirely unrelated to international learning and just have fun together. We both feel that putting students together in these more casual settings would allow them to more freely interact with each other, rather than feeling limited in talking to one person or following a group activity. For an example tri-weekly schedule, we could have one weekly event that focuses on the Baltic region and has students sharing what they know from living there, the next week could be an Italian movie night, and the week following could be everyone going out bowling together just for fun, and then the cycle would repeat itself. That way, us Americans could meet a bunch of different international kids, and maybe I could get side benefits like learning to cook delicious stuff from different countries for potlucks (I swear that’s not the ONLY reason I want the club though). Ideally, both international and American students would weigh in on what they want for events/countries, and could all together decide how they want to make friends in an organic, rather than structured, way. To be honest, I have no idea how I’d even really begin, or whether or not people would join in, but I’m hopeful that if we pull it off we could bring more international students in contact with Americans and make their experience here in the States a lot more fulfilling, because it seems like they tend to hang out in groups because it can be intimidating to talk to Americans. As for different ideas, I figured a great place to ask would be right here on the Global Engagement Fellows web page, so feel free to comment suggestions and advice on this post; my friend and I could really use it. Please let me know what you think, and hopefully you’ll be hearing about us coming up in Fall 2015!

Fears for Back Home

There’s a lot of thing people are scared about when they study abroad. I’ve heard the gamut; what if I don’t make friends? What if I get lost and I can’t find my way back because no one speaks English? What if the water mutates my cells and turns me into a half-octopus beast and I die because I can no longer breath oxygen? The thing is, no matter how disparate the ideas are, they all share one common trait: they’re all related to actually BEING abroad.

Me, I don’t really fear those things much. I know that if I ever get in trouble, I’ll figure it out, and it’ll turn into an adventure rather than a world-shattering event. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have fears of my own, they’re just in a different direction. I fear more about what happens back home while I’m gone, rather than what happens when I’m actually abroad. (I know, I’m weird. No need to remind me.)

For example, what happens to my relationships back home in the interim that I’m gone? Keep in mind that I’m studying abroad in the spring, and in the summers I tend to go home to Minnesota, which is pretty far flung from my Texan and Oklahoman friends here at OU. Times change really fast in college, and I know for SURE that I can’t be in half the contact with my friends in the U.S as I would be if I was home. Do I just get left behind, or will I come back and find they’ve dressed up a broom in old clothes of mine and end up liking it better than me? I also have a girlfriend back home, and while long distance at the distance we are now has been awful, it has to be even worse when we’re 7 hours apart. I don’t know if I’m quite prepared to handle that alone. There’s also other stuff, like will I miss stuff at school/with internships/where I’m going to live next semester when I’m gone? A lot of that stuff can’t be properly handled over Skype or my cell phone. I know most of this is irrational and that I’ll find a way to work around my limitations, they’re still an itch in the back of my head reminding me of all the things I’d be risking and missing out on by going  abroad. Not like that’s going to stop me, but the point stands. I guess I’ll just end up over there, hit the ground running and figure it out as I go, because I don’t think I can plan at all for some of those fears.

 

Decision Time (almost)

Prepping for a study abroad experience takes a lot more brain space than I thought it should.

Right now I’m actually looking to study abroad the spring of my sophomore semester, so while I still have plenty of time, the due dates coming up right after the summer seem to be looming pretty large. There’s a lot of things to consider: money, time, credits, language skills, and WHERE OH WHERE SHOULD I ACTUALLY GO! I’ve got it in my head that I want to go to Italy; I’ve been there before, and I think the Mediterranean lifestyle of play and friends before work agrees with me a little better than the admirable, yet exhausting Puritan work ethic in America. That could just be laziness talking, but I like to think I have real reasons. Fortunately (or unfortunately, I can’t really pick anymore), OU has two different options for a semester-long Italy trip: OU in Arezzo and a lesser-known exchange program with the Universita di Bologna. Both of the options offer completely different benefits and detractions. Right now, I’m leaning towards Bologna, but I’ll share my pros and cons list for them if no one minds. Anybody? Speak now or forever hold your peace? Fine then, I’ll do it anyways. No need to be rude.

BOLOGNA

Pros: classes in Italian (YAY IMMERSION), off the beaten track, probably month-and-a-half long semester, historic university, big city, not so many Americans running around (I get enough of them at normal school thankyouverymuch)

Cons: classes in Italian (OH GOD IMMERSION), very few other American students and particularly not with OU, Italian fluency worries, finding my own apartment with zero safety net, general fear

AREZZO

Pros: guaranteed housing, plenty of people who speak my language, less worries about courses and credits, less intensive

Cons: not as immersive, quieter town, longer semester,  fairly basic option, expensive to stay with Italians, OU professors (nothing against them of course, but I could learn from them back home too)

So there you have it. As I said before, I’m leaning towards Bologna, but as I think more about the trip, the more scared I become. It’s a huge opportunity, but there’s also a huge opportunity to fail miserably. Again, I know it’s still early to be making such decisions, but the time is coming up quick, and right now I’m just not sure what I’m going to be ready for.

A Boring Life Update

Hello Global Engagement friends (and other strangers), it’s been a long time since I was on here. My second semester has been quite busy and a few of the things I like the most have fallen by the wayside. It’s all my fault, really; taking twenty-one hours is a terrible choice when you like being outside, meeting new people and/or not tearing your hair out in great big scary clumps. In all seriousness though, in my last post I dedicated myself to going out and really experiencing the cool things OU has to offer, seeing as it would likely be my last semester on campus. I wanted to finally go out and see all that “global community” stuff everyone on here raves about, instead of being locked into a sport and reeling from the changes college brought. At the same time, though, I thought my classes were way too easy and I could bump it up; needless to say I was wrong. Now I’m stuck doing the same thing as last semester, instead of seeing all the cool stuff we have on campus. On top of that, the club I most wanted to join (OU’s Italian club, Baccano) seemingly fell apart as I’ve heard absolutely nothing back from the president of the club, and not a single notification of anything going on with them, so that’s a bust. I still don’t know any more international students than I did last semester, and I haven’t done much cool stuff with them, so honestly I feel like a bit of a failure as a Global Engagement Fellow. Anyways, with the semester getting a C- grade in regard to becoming engaged with global stuff on campus, I’ve severely knocked back my academic load for next semester and I have a lot of cool plans cooked up for next semester that I’ll be laying out in future blog posts. While this semester hasn’t exactly been as stellar as I hoped, I’m forward-looking and ready to really jump in to international life this fall!