Reflection #10

“Global engagement” doesn’t just happen outside the United States. What are some ways that you’ve become more globally engaged while attending OU and living in Oklahoma?”

global hands



Before coming to OU, my idea of being globally engaged was traveling to various parts of North America and reading the news, which at best only happened occasionally. Since arriving here for school, I’ve grown in many ways, including my involvement and interest in global engagement.

During my first semester, I participated in OU Cousins, which pairs an international student to an OU student. As I explained in a previous post, two of my friends and I had the same girl. Though I have met people from different backgrounds and nations, I’ve never met a student my age who was studying here from a different country (she was from France). I appreciated the few times we were able to get together because I will soon be studying abroad, and it was interesting hearing her talk about her experience abroad at OU. Throughout the semester I also attended numerous discussions about topics concerning events and people from all over the world. I will admit that some of them sounding pretty boring, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed listening to all of the speakers (though some more than others).

Second semester I became involved in different activities. Instead of participating in OU Cousins again, I opted to tutor international students at a local high school after school. For most of these kids, English is their second (or maybe even third) language. So it was sometimes challenging to tutor the students when they didn’t always know what I was saying.

I liked all of the things that I was involved in and attended, which I honestly did not expect. The different events and organizations that I participated in helped pique my interest in global affairs and the world around me. While I will be gone next semester, when I return I look forward to becoming involved again, whether it be in the same programs or something completely different.

Farsi Fridays

After many attempts throughout the past two semesters, Elena and I finally attended Farsi Fridays today! The majority of the students were Persian with the exception of one or two students. Marjan, the leader of this event and the Persian language instructor at OU, prepared some black tea for the group and offered everyone a piece of cake she had baked. The group environment was friendly and the students read their Farsi passages as they prepare for their upcoming oral exams. They also practiced their Farsi with each other and laughed while attempting to pronounce some difficult words.

I really enjoyed this event and hope to go back in the following semesters. Here is a picture of me at the event!

2015-05-08 21.20.02

Dinner with Sadaf and Sumin

Earlier this semester, I went out to eat with my friend Sadaf Imani and my OU Cousin, Sumin. We decided to go to a Korean restaurant in Moore called Dong A Restaurant. It was an interesting mix of people: Sadaf, who had never tried Korean food before, Sumin, who is a native Korean and has spent her whole life eating authentic Korean food, and me, who has only had Korean food in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a photo that day, so I don’t have one to share with you.

It was funny because when we pulled up to the restaurant, Sumin laughed and told us that this restaurant looked so old and outdated. She said it looked like a picture one might see of a restaurant in North Korea. For Oklahomans, this is one of only a few choices if you are craving Korean food, but for Sumin, the appearance of this place was a little laughable.

Sumin decided to get jajangmyeon, which is noodles with a black bean sauce. I tried them and they were good but very mild, and I usually like my food with a little more spice. The interesting thing about this noodle dish is that in Korea it is considered Chinese food, but in fact it can’t be found in China. Or if it can, it’s certainly not considered authentic Chinese food. It reminds me of how far Chinese takeout is from authentic Chinese food in the U.S.

Sadaf and I shared tteokguk, a rice cake soup. Again, this turned out to be a pretty mild dish despite the reputation of Korean food for being rather spicy. Nevertheless, it was delicious and, I don’t know if you know this about me, but I LOVE soup. This soup was so satisfying! I feel like Korean rice cakes, or tteok, are kind of an acquired taste, because on their own they are bland and very chewy, but I personally really like them. I can’t tell you why though. They’re just delicious.

Like any traditional Korean meal, our dinner was served with several side dishes called banchan. The ever-present kimchi, Korea’s national dish, was of course there, along with pickled radish, a sort of potato salad, seaweed, and some tiny little salted (and dried?) fish. Maybe anchovies? I’m not sure, but they mostly just tasted like salt. None of us were super into those little fishies, so they didn’t really get eaten.

Well, I could talk about food forever but I think I’ll stop myself here. We went around my birthday, so Sadaf gave me a lovely gift of a beautiful scarf and some socks, and Sumin kindly paid for everyone’s meal. Even though we have struggled to find times when we could all meet, I am so glad to have found such great friends through the Global Engagement Fellowship (Sadaf) and OU Cousins (Sumin).

Woah! I published this post without adding a song! Shame, shame. Well this post was about Korean food, but I think I’ve already shared a lot of K-pop songs with you. This time I will share a Korean song sung in a traditional style (called Gugak), called TaePyong Arirang. The singer is Song Sohee, who as far as I can tell is a little bit of a Gugak prodigy, becoming famous for her singing abilities at a very young age. She is now 17, but at the time this video was taken I believe she was 14.


K-Pop Night

On March 24th, I attended K-Pop night with a friend. For anyone who doesn’t know, K-pop refers to Korean pop music, a genre that is gaining popularity worldwide. The lineup included a few singers and many dancers. The show was exciting and engaging, and as a fan of K-pop I was both able to enjoy songs I already knew and hear new songs for the first time.


The show started with some older K-pop songs from the 1990s and early 2000s. This is where I heard most of the songs that I didn’t know before, since I wasn’t aware of K-pop until a few years ago. These songs reminded me somewhat of the sounds of ’90s American boy bands, and the dances were simple compared to more recent dances but still entertaining.



As the music got more recent, I recognized more songs and the dances became more complicated. All of the dancers did an excellent job, and the singers were wonderful as well. With a few other forms of entertainment sprinkled between acts, such as a spicy noodle eating contest and a drawing, it was a thoroughly fun night.



Dancing to Mirotic









One of the best acts of the night was the performance of Mirotic by DBSK (see above photo), a catchy song from one of the biggest K-pop acts of the 2000s that is accompanied by a captivating dance. Below is the original music video that showcases this dance, complete with some outdated fashion and cheesy up-close shots:


Mr. and Miss International

Earlier this semester I attended Mr. and Miss International with my friend and fellow Global Engagement…fellow (you get what I mean, right?), Sadaf Imani. This was a fun show featuring various international students showcasing their home country’s culture as well as their own individual talents. With contestants from many countries including Venezuela, France, and Austria, the event presented an opportunity to learn a little bit about many different places. That being said, there were very few boys compared to the number of female contestants, so I wish there had been a more even distribution of genders, since it led to some confusing eliminations. There even could have been more girls; I think this event could be even more fun if it were planned to be bigger.



The contestants wore traditional clothes from their home countries and gave short presentations about them as well. Their talents ranged from singing and playing instruments, to reciting poetry. Along with the MC’s, the contestants presented an entertaining show that encouraged appreciation of cultures from around the world.


There was no Indian contestant in Mr. and Miss International, but this song has been stuck in my head lately, so the song for this post is going to be “Lovely” from the Bollywood movie “Happy New Year.” The girl dancing is Deepika Padukone, but the singer is Kanika Kapoor.


Getting to Know the UK

“Research the first country you plan to study abroad in. Referring back to the list you made of the most important things to know or understand, what did you find out about your country? How will you use what you learned to make your study abroad experience better?”

For most of the spring semester, I have been enrolled in two courses on British Media Studies that have been designed to educate us on the United Kingdom, and more specifically its media culture. During my study abroad trip this summer, my group will be touring the top media agencies in the UK and France. We will visit newspaper companies, broadcast stations, ad agencies, and big news organizations like CNN and the BBC. Naturally, it is best to be educated on these places and their culture before showing up in front of professionals. The goal of the courses has really been to transform US college students into experts on British media, able to ask intelligent, probing questions when we come face to face with the leaders of these great companies.

During the courses, I have learned a great deal about British newspaper history, the BBC, the transformation of British TV and radio, and the many obstacles the general trends of media in the UK have had to overcome. One of the most interesting things I have learned is that the BBC is funded by licensing fees paid by the British people, not by commercials. Their mission is to educate, to inform, and to entertain – in that order, which makes the BBC’s programming different from almost any other broadcast agency in the world. British newspapers are very different from those in the US as well. This is because you can tell what class a person is from, what their political beliefs are, and rather they like high brow or low brow media, just by looking at the paper they are reading. A big cultural difference in the UK newspapers is that they are mostly sold at news stands rather than delivered to houses.

I have learned many more facts such as this and I am storing them all away for the trip. I think having a strong knowledge of the place you are traveling to is important for any student studying abroad. Specifically for the British Media Tour, it will strengthen my experience to its fullest potential so I can intelligently communicate with and understand the British people at the media agencies I will be visiting.

OU Cousins Bingo

This semester, my OU Cousin and I had the chance to play Bingo together at the event put on for all the cousins to join together and socialize. Although we didn’t win any prizes, we got to share many laughs and bond over how horrible we were at Bingo.

Instead of focusing on the game, Kerry and I focused on catching up. We talked a lot about what was going on in one and other’s lives, and what we missed most about home. We also discussed my upcoming trip to Britain, and her return trip home to Britain. She was able to fill me in on the top places I had to visit on my trip and gave me great tips about how to get the most out of London.

Kerry is excited to get back home to her family and boyfriend whom she misses very much. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know someone as kind, smart and funny as Kerry and I will miss her very much when she leaves OU at the end of this semester and will no longer be my OU Cousin. I hope that we stay in touch and I can’t wait to see all the great things that lie ahead in her future.


Culture Shock

“Thinking back, what “culture shocks” did you experience while transitioning from high school to college life? What were some of the hardest moments? The most rewarding? How do you think those experiences will help prepare you for your study abroad?”

I definitely experienced a version of culture shock upon arriving in Norman, OK for college. I had grown up in Northern California and attended high school at Monte Vista. So, not only did I experience a transition from high school to college, but  also a transition from the West Cost to the Midwest. One of the first cultural differences I noticed were the fashion trends that the OU students wore. At first I was alarmed by the giant t-shirt covering your shorts look. I also saw that there was a strange abundance of burkenstocks and chockos on people’s feet. While I have grown accustomed to, and even taken part in, the big t-shirt look, I am confident I will never cave into wearing the strange styles of shoes native to Norman.

Another culture shock moment I experienced, was learning the way people had kindness ingrained into them at OU, without even realizing their actions were kind. Boys walking in front of me would open a door all the way, stand to the side, and wait for me to pass through before they walked in behind me. In California, I was used to people bursting through doors quickly, barely reaching out a hand behind them to prop the door open for the next person, and it would often slam in my face. It is little things like this that make Oklahomans such special people in my eyes.

As for the culture shock from high school to college, I was mostly astounded by the amount of freedom I received and the change in my central interest. All during my time growing up and throughout high school, I had been on a strict schedule of school, soccer and homework. Upon arriving at college, I no longer played soccer, but instead found myself at the center of a large sorority. The transition from soccer to a sorority was a big one, but one I have welcomed and enjoyed. The amount of freedom I have been granted in college to craft my day into what I want it to be has been an amazing discovery as well. It is safe to say that the culture shocks I have experienced since coming to OU have been positive ones.


Foreign Language

“Talk about the foreign language that you’ve chosen to study. Why did you pick it? What, if anything, do you feel the language reveals about the culture(s) of the people who speak it?”

I chose to study Spanish as my foreign language. The reason I chose Spanish, is that I felt it would be the most useful in my future career, and in general as a United States citizen. There is such a high percentage of people in the US who speak Spanish now, and being a journalist, it is my job to have the ability to communicate effectively with the majority of the people in my country. I grew up in California, which is typically known for having a large number of Mexicans, and I encountered many different groups of people in just my town whose native language was Spanish. From a young age, I would speak with our cleaning lady and her team as they would teach me the Spanish words for certain objects around the house. Getting to communicate with them and understand their language was always a treat for me as I got to see deeper inside the world of people whom I cared about.

I think that Spanish is a beautiful language, and the speed and manner in which it is used shows the creativity and depth of the Spanish culture and the people that created and continue to cultivate it. Spanish literature in particular is fascinating to me to see the ways in which writers combine words to create wondrous poetry that illustrates images I would have never imagined on my own. There is a particular quality about Spanish that allows writers to conjure up mixtures of words that do not seem possible in the English language. I look forward to taking the Reading Spanish Literature class next semester where I will have the chance to analyze the written Spanish language even further.

There is something about the Spanish that opens up the ability and expanse of ways in which people can communicate. When it is spoken, there is something about the quick, passionate, fiery stream of words accompanied by an expanse of hand gestures that seems to communicate something deeper than the straight forward English language does. One more thing I love about Spanish, is how it often includes humor. At the end of a fiery stream of words is often a joke followed by an eruption of laughter that is uniquely Spanish.


La Lengua de mi Corazon

During high school, I took three years of Spanish, took a CLEP test for college credit, and never thought about it again. When I qualified for the Global Engagement Scholarship, I realized I had to take foreign language again and decided to enroll in Spanish. However, because of my CLEP test, I was placed into the Honors section of Spanish 3 and I was absolutely TERRIFIED. I didn’t remember anything in Spanish except for the basic greeting and here I was, in college level Spanish.
However, because of the nature of the language and the character of my professor, I fell in love with Spanish. I began listening to music in Spanish, reading Spanish poetry – Pablo Neruda is the best – watching Spanish TV shows, and even thinking in Spanish. As I began to learn about not only the language but also the culture of different Spanish speaking countries, I realized how much I love language.
Now, I want to study abroad in Ecuador where I can put my Spanish speaking skills to the test.
The moment I knew that I was well on my way to fluency was when I woke up from a dream in Spanish. Although I don’t remember what my dream was saying, I know that it was about a trip in the Andes, narrated in Spanish. I jumped out of bed and hugged my roommate because I was so excited for my subconscious mind.
To this day, Spanish is my absolute favorite class. I love hearing it and engaging with other students using it. I truly hope that one day I will be able to communicate with Spanish speaking people from all over the world. That is what will make my dreams come true.