Italia 5

Seeing the an actual activist was extremely interesting because while problems are different in Italy, there is always something people are wanting to change no matter where you are. The activist wanted to have the water in Arezzo returned to the public sector because as of now, and for the next 9 years, it is privatized by a French company. The majority of the population is for the publication of the commodity, but nothing will change for awhile because of the government. I thought it was interesting how the government in Italy functions and how it is so corrupt in so many ways. It is surprising because while The United States claims to have a fair judicial system, it is easy to see the similarities in that both governments favor the rich.
The vineyard was so beautiful and I loved hearing about the differences in the wines. My grandmother always has a preference in wine and I never understood. This helped me see how wine can actually be extremely different based on how it was made and then mixed or not mixed. I feel like I still can’t really tell a difference but I feel like I have a better appreciation for different wines.

Italia 4

We went to Rondine today and talked with the students and toured their facility. This program targets student in countries of conflict and provides a scholarship for them to go to a university in Italy while they are simultaneously committed to participating in Rondine activities. Rondine selects students from opposite positions of a conflict and has them live together. This is crucial in eliminating the prejudices the individual has against the other country. The students are forced to interact with each other which ultimately deletes the “single story” that has been created in each of the different countries. It was fascinating to hear all of their different stories and opinions about the government and how they should eliminate these conflicts in these stories. These stories from the students and Rondine’s method can easily be utilized in our everyday lives to understand how race is viewed and the stereotypes that accompany race can be overcome.

Italia 3

Today we talked to Carnitas, a Catholic activist program, that has a very broad range of ways they help people. There goal is to solve the problems the poor face instead of give it a quick solution. We discussed problems were facing and it was interesting to see how Italy has similar problems as America, such as immigration. We talked mainly about the immigration part of Caritas and their efforts to help people become accustom to Italy after they have made their arrival into Italy. These people are usually from a place of conflict, war, and poverty in other counties. Caritas wants to help everyone get out of these situations and encourages everyone to give. This is interesting because it is very similar to the Singer philosophy of give, give, give, and create a giving culture.
We went to the church of San Francesco today as well and it was amazing to hear of how the his story and the story behind the paintings. The images in the church depicted stories of the Golden Legend. Sounds pretty epic. It was interesting to see the oder of the pictures shown. The pictures told a story, but they were all out of order. The most intriguing parts to me were the how the paintings used the window as the light source and the shadows in the shown were dependent no the window and how the painting relied on the cross out in front to complete its story.


I decided I would rather teach English to international students than continue with the OU Cousins Experience. The student I am teaching is named Mustafa and he is from Saudi Arabia. He is studying in CECL and wants practice conversing in English.


Coming Soon: Eurovision!

While I’m not European, I am for some reason very interested in Eurovision, otherwise known as the European song contest where literally anything can happen.  Past acts have included songs about mustaches, performers in full Dracula costume, over the top comedic performances, and a group of grandmothers from Russia.  Last year the well-deserved winner was Austria, with the song “Rise Like a Pheonix” sung by Conchita Wurst, although Armenia’s performance was also one of my favorites.  

This year I’m rooting for Romania, thanks to their emotional entry, as well as Georgia for their awesome song “Warriors”, depicting warrior women.  One weird fact about Eurovision this year that is different from other years is the fact that Australia will be competing.  Yes, you read that right.  Australia, an entirely separate continent to itself, will be competing in a European song contest.  However, when you actually examine the list of countries that have been competing in Eurovision in the past, you begin to realize that they take the term “Europe” and apply it very loosely.  For instance, Russia, which is largely in Asia, participates, as does Israel, which no one would say is in Europe.  One could also easily argue that neither Georgia nor Azerbaijan are in Europe, and yet they both compete as well.  Because of all of these countries that aren’t technically in Europe, and in particular Australia, participating in a European song contest, I hope that one day soon the United States will also be able to compete.  I would love to see what sort of performances we would come up with, and how it would be received by Europe at large.  


Nepali Earthquake, Haitian Earthquake

As I’m sure many have seen in the news, Nepal was recently hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, killing over 8,000 people.  A tragedy like this is difficult to process for many, but the physical recovery is even more so, especially for a country like Nepal that consistently ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world.  When I first heard of the Nepal earthquake, I instantly started realizing comparisons to the Haitian earthquake in 2010.  That earthquake was ranked as a magnitude 7.0, and killed over 160,000 people.  It also destroyed billions of dollars worth of buildings and infrastructure, dealing a devastating blow to the economy of Haiti.  And like the earthquake in Nepal, rural areas and urban areas were affected in very different ways.  

I have been fortunate enough to be able to visit Haiti twice with my church and to see first hand the progress that is still being made towards recovering from the earthquake.  My group stayed with a Methodist pastor in the region of Mizak, a mountainous and rural region about 3-4 hours outside of Port-au-Prince.  The first year we visited was 2013, and even still, driving through the main city we could see rubble and destruction leftover from the quake.  

Additionally, there were huge tents cities where people who couldn’t afford housing slept.  The roads up to the house where we were staying were either gravel or usually dirt, and made for a very bumpy ride.  A bigger problem in Mizak itself was a lack of access to clean water and any form of affordable healthcare, as the earthquake caused a cholera outbreak that quickly swept across all of Haiti.  We spent our first visit helping to distribute water filters to the community and visiting the maternal health clinic, as well as playing with the children of the area and seeing a nearby school.  


We left Mizak after one week feeling unsure of the progress of the area wee were in, but hopeful about its recovery.  However, there was no need for doubts.  By the next year when we returned, many positive changes were already incredibly noticeable.  For one, the tent cities in the capital had significantly decreased in size.  Additionally, the road from Port-au-Primce to Mizak was almost entirely paved with asphalt, as opposed to the dirt and gravel roads that had been there only one year prior.  Also, when we went to work again with water filters, this time it was not for distribution but instead just to check up on members of the community and making sure their filters were working correctly.  Many families even had more than filter to help them get the water they needed for cooking, cleaning, and drinking.  Lastly, the maternity and health clinic was almost fully operational.  It was in the process of acquiring equipment and was already teaching classes for pregnant women and recent mothers so that they could have up-to-date medical information, as well as access to vitamins and proper nutrition for themselves and their babies.   

While Haiti and Nepal are obviously not completely comparable, I see many similarities between the two countries and their situations with regards to their earthquakes.  For both countries, the rural areas, which were already incredibly poor and lacking in resources and basic human needs, we hit  Rey hard.  Currently in Nepal, rescue and aid services are having trouble reaching rural areas because of the damage to important infrastructure.  Additionally, the earthquake in Nepal wil most likely also lead to a setback with regards to water and health care access.  However, as I have seen in Haiti, there is a lot of hope for these countries.  People of each country are very motivated to improve their standards of living and the standard of living for their entire country.  

In the future, I hope to see plenty of news headlines emphasizing the great work that is sure to be done in Nepal by both foreigners and the people of Nepal, just as I have seen for Haiti.  




This semester I took a phonetics class, and for my final project decided to describe the phonology of the Faroese language.

For an introduction, Faroese is an Indo-European language, specifically a Northern Germanic language, that is spoken natively by approximately 66,000 people. Most of these people live on the Faroe Islands; however, a significant population of native Faroese speakers live in Denmark. Faroese’s closest language relatives are Icelandic and Old Norse.

I placed the consonants and vowels of the language into an IPA chart in accordance with the studies of Kristján Árnason in his book The Phonology of Icelandic and Faroese.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 3.46.43 AMScreen Shot 2015-05-13 at 3.50.37 AM


I also demonstrated each consonant and vowel using a word from Icelandic.  While I am sure that my IPA transcriptions are not 100% correct, I tried my best for each sound to represent it accurately.

Faroese contains three oral stops, /p t k/, all of which are voiceless.

(1) The stops of Faroese: /p t k/


  1. /p/ /ɛapa/          “ape”
  2. /t/ /ɛat/               “that”
  3. /k/ /’ɛakaɹn/     “acorn”

Faroese contains four nasal sounds, /m n ɲ ŋ/. However, it should be noted that the palatal nasal /ŋ/ is nearly always pronounced as a voiceless sound.

(2) The nasals of Faroese: /m n ɲ ŋ/


  1. /m/ /’mitʃɪ/        “important”
  2. /n/ /’natʃɪ/        “neck”
  3. /ɲ/ /’ɔɲtʃɪ/        “nothing”
  4. /ŋ/ /’ɔŋkʊɹ/       “someone”

Faroese contains seven fricative sounds, five of which are voiceless and two of which are voiced. The sounds that will be particularly interesting to English speaker are the retroflex sounds /ʂ ʐ/.

(3) The fricatives of Faroese: /f v s ʃ ʂ ʐ h/


  1. /f/ /fɔn/            “snowdrift”
  2. /v/ /vɔun/        “hope”
  3. /s/ /sɪn/            “time”
  4. /ʃ/ /ʃɛal/           “document”
  5. /ʂ/ /fʊʂ/            “eighty”
  6. /ʐ/ /ʐɛn/           “run”
  7. /h/ /hin/            “the”

Faroese has one lateral fricative /ɬ/. It is demonstrated below.

(4) The lateral fricative of Faroese: /ɬ/


  1. /ɬ/ /jɔɬp/           “help”

Faroese has two approximants, /ɹ/ and /j/.

(5) The approximants of Faroese: /ɹ j/


  1. /ɹ/ /’ɹisɪ/          “giant”
  2. /j/ /jʏst/           “just”

Faroese has one lateral approximant, which is alveolar and voiced. It is /l/.

(6) The lateral approximant of Faroese: /l/


  1. /l/ /lɪst/            “art”

Faroese has 13 monophthongs. What will be particularly interesting to English speakers are the rounded front vowels, as these are not commonly used in English. It is also argued by some that long versions of each of these vowels create separate phonemes, which would mean there would be 26 monophthongs of Faroese.

(7) The monophthongs of Faroese: /i y ɪ ʏ e ø ɛ œ a u ʊ o ɔ/


  1. /i/ /ivɪ/             “doubt”
  2. /y/ /’mytɪsk/  “mythological”
  3. /ɪ/ /’ɪtla/           “to backbite”
  4. /ʏ/ /kɹʏs/          “mug”
  5. /e/ /e/                “I”
  6. /ø/ /øtʃɪ/           “room”
  7. /ɛ/ /’ɛɹmɪ/       “sleeve”
  8. /œ/ /œdl/        “all” (feminine)
  9. /a/ /alt/             “all” (neuter)
  10. /u/ /uɹ/              “a pile of rocks at the bottom on a cliff”
  11. /ʊ/ /ʊm/           “whether, if”
  12. /o/ /o/                “too”
  13. /ɔ/ /ɔst/           “cheese” (accusative)

Faroese in addition to its monophthongs has eight diphthongs. These diphthongs should be very interesting to English speakers, as English has none of the same diphthongs.

(8) The diphthongs of Faroese: /ʊi ɛi ai ɔi ɛa ɔa ʉu ɔu/


  1. /ʊi/ /’ʊisna/       “to ice”
  2. /ɛi/ /tvɛi/           “two”
  3. /ai/ /vaikʊɹ/       “weak”
  4. /ɔi/ /tɔi/             “fabric”
  5. /ɛa/ /ɛaɹ/            “ewe”
  6. /ɔa/ /ɔaɹ/            “year”
  7. /ʉu/ /’ʉutvaɹp/    “radio”
  8. /ɔu/ /ɔun/           “ewe” (plural)


I also transcribed some Faroese sayings into IPA.


High calling brings a high fall                            /hœgt kalt tʃɛvʊɹ hœgt falt/

Small birds lay small eggs                                   /smɔajɪɹ ‘fʊklaɹ ‘vɛɹpa smɔ ɛk/

Burnt child fears the fire                                     /pɹɛnt ‘patn ‘reijɪst ɛlt/

Old ravens are not easy to fool                        /’gamal ‘ravnʊɹ eɹ ɪtʃɪ ‘gɔuʊr ɛat naɹa/


Overall, I feel that Faroese is a very interesting language that needs more attention, particularly due to its similarities to Old Norse.  I would love to be able to study this language and Icelandic more in the future.


Food Taste Test

Today I went with my mom to a wonderful store called the World Market, and immediately proceeded to the most important section, the food section, to find some interesting international foods to try.


I ended up purchasing snacks and one drink mostly from Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands, and then invited my friend Lucia over for the taste test.  She was kind enough to bring some wafers from Slovakia from her house for us to try as well.  


First up was the drink, a raspberry flavored soda from Japan in adorable packaging.  It was one of the drinks with a marble in the lid, so we had to push the marble into the bottle in order to open it.  This was difficult at first, but we finally got it.   


Comments and ratings:

Ellie-  8/10 

I was initially worried about choking on the marble, even though I knew it would be impossible for it to come out of the bottle.  Overall it was a normal raspberry soda, but I gave extra points for the fun of opening and also the cute packaging.

Lucia-  9/10

She thought the soda was delicious, and was glad it wasn’t too sweet.  Would definitely buy again.  

Next up was the Dutch syrup waffles.  

Comments and ratings:

Ellie-  8.5/10

I liked that they weren’t overwhelmingly sweet, and that the waffles were soft instead of crunchy like normal wafers.  I also detected a note of cinnamon in the waffle that definitely added to the overall flavor.  

Lucia-  9/10

She liked that they weren’t too sweet but were still delicious.  Also, they reminded her of her childhood. 

Next we tried the regular Kinder chocolate from Germany. 


Comments and ratings:

Ellie-  10/10. 

These were perfect and amazing.  The chocolate had a great consistency and flavor that matched the filling perfectly.  I could probably eat 100 of these.

Lucia-  10/10

She loves this chocolate.  It’s gooey and tasty, easy to bite, and very enjoyable to consume.  

Up next we tried the Hanuta Haselnuss-Schnitte, also from Germany.


Comments and ratings:

Ellie-  7/10

There was a very strong Nutella flavor coming from the filling, which I assume is the result of the hazelnuts.  The filling itself was very good; however, I thought the wafers were tasteless and brought the overall flavor down.

Lucia-  8.5/10

She thought they were very delicious, although perhaps a little too sweet.

Next we tried the Japanese fruit snacks.  What was interesting about these was that each one was individually wrapped.  They also came in three flavors, lychee, strawberry, and mango.  We each tried one of each flavor.


Comments and ratings:

 Ellie-  9/10

They looked like the dots candy when I initially unwrapped it, but fortunately tasted nothing like dots.  The texture was a lot better and the flavors were very good.  Strawberry was my favorite.

Lucia-  9.5/10

She thought that they were very delicious!  They weren’t too sweet and had a great texture.  Lychee and mango were her two favorite flavors.

Next up was the Nussini bar, another product of Germany.  


Comments and ratings:

Ellie-  7.5/10

There wasn’t as strong a hazelnut flavor as I was expecting; I think the only hazelnut flavor came from the hazelnuts on top.  However the chocolate and wafer combination was still solid.

Lucia-  7/10

She thought the bar was very creamy, and liked the crunch of the hazelnuts on top; however, it just couldn’t live up to some of the earlier chocolates.  

Last we tried the Kakaové Rezy, a product of Slovakia.  


Comments and ratings:

Ellie-  5/10

This was kind of stale, which is probably Lucia’s fault.  It came from her cabinet.  :)  It still had a solid taste, and I wouldn’t mind eating it again.  

Lucia-  5/10

She also thought it was stale, but had the potential to be good.  Basically it was just chocolate wafers, so it was very simple.  

Overall, we enjoyed everything we tried, although we definitely enjoyed some more than others.  But it seems like in general, at least with sweets, the quality of taste is still very high from different countries,  


International Music

As I prep my iPod with music for my long travels ahead, I thought I’d take the time to mention some of my favorite international bands and songs.  Here they are below, grouped by language.  



  • 5. März 
  • Zu den Sternen
  • Heute schon gelebt?
  • Das Licht am Ende dee Welt 

Die Prinzen

  • Deutschland 

Die Fantastischen Vier

  • Ernten was wir säen 


  • Links, rechts 
  • Chef vo Schwiiz 
  • Superschwiizer
  • Im Kreis

What I love about German music is that, since I’m taking German language courses, often I’ll be able to understand words or phrases.  The more German I take the more I understand, which is a really cool experience.  


Fabri Fibra 

  • La Soluzione 
  • In Italia 
  • Arrivano 
  • Su le Mani
  • Applausi per Fibra 

This Italian band is mostly rap, and while I don’t understand the vast majority of it, I enjoy listening to the beat and the sounds.



  • Je Suis un Homme 

I love singing along to this song.  My mom speaks French very well and has introduced me to other French music, although I don’t listen to it regularly.


Lange Frans & Baas B

  • Kamervragen 
  • Het Land Van…


  • Alles is Liefde 

I listen to Dutch music for much the same reason that I listen to German music.  The sounds are similar, and I can actually often understand some of the words and phrases thanks to the similarities between German and Dutch.


Afasi & Filthy

  • Sol På Våran Sida
  • Jobb
  • Fläcken
  • Sverigetrotters
  • Glider

I started listening to this band after it was mentioned in the book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Basically it’s a Swedish hip-hop band that’s a lot of fun to listen to.  


Sigur Rós

  • Inní mér syngur vitleysinger 

The Sugarcubes

  • Dragon
  • Cat

The first song here is one of my favorites on this entire list, although I’m not sure where I first heard it.  As for the Sugarcubes, they are a band my dad introduced me to.  Most of their songs are in English, although the two above are in Icelandic.


Ana Tijoux

  • 1977


  • Pasos de Gigante

It’s surprising that I don’t listen to more Spanish music, given that I took Spanish classes all four years of high school.  But for some reason, I never seemed to find any that I listened to regularly.  However, the two songs above I enjoy immensely.