Learning about the Assignments

So I just looked over the different kind of assignments that I’ll be doing this semester and it looks pretty cool!

I’m really excited for the reading each week. I love reading different myths and legends, its mostly why I decided to take this class. I’m also really excited for the storytelling assignments. I took a creative writing class a few semesters ago and it was a ton of fun. I’ll probably do the portfolio for my semester long project because I enjoy this aspect so much! I’m not sure how I feel about the commenting every week. I know it’ll be helpful to get consistent feedback on my work, but I think it might also be something that’s easy for me to forget to do. We’ll see how it goes.

As far as the extra credit assignments go, exploring wikipedia actually sounds like a lot of fun! I’d probably also enjoy doing extra reading once or twice his semester. And Lord knows I need to back up my blog more often. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever done it before.

It’s nice to get a look at the rest of my semester. I’m excited to get started!


Image: Generic dictionary entry for “Assignment.” Source: The Blue Diamond Gallery

Gratitude

Quito, Ecuador

 

Since the start of my senior year of college, I have become more and more grateful for my semester in Ecuador. It’s still surreal that I lived there for four months, fumbled through another language with my host family, learned to navigate public transportation, and drank papaya juice every morning. I owe so much to the Global Engagement Fellowship Program for giving me this opportunity.

Aussie Food Review

So since food is like 80% of what I think about anyway, I figured I’d try writing a post on food here in Australia, so here goes.

Random Australian Food Item No. 1: Vegemite
There’s a very interesting obsession with vegemite here that I would liken to an American southerner’s obsession with calf fries: whether you’ve actually had them or not, you know exactly how weird they are, but you feel a strange connection to them anyway, maybe because of a shared regional origin or something. Australian attitudes toward vegemite are similar. So first off, what is the stuff? Vegemite. Sounds like it’s made of vegetables, and maybe mites. Or maybe it’s what Popeye the Sailor would eat, mighty vegetables? Spinach? Nope. It’s yeast. And frankly, it’s plain weird. Even Australians will tell you to use extreme caution when eating this stuff, and I mean every single one of the dozen or so Aussies who has asked me if I’ve tried vegemite has said this. It’s made to be eaten as a spread on a piece of bread or toast, but no one ever does it right the first time. They pile it on like peanut butter and Nutella, and then they throw up. You’re supposed to put the thinnest layer you possibly can on a piece of bread, then scrape half of that off. And that still might be too much. And to help hide even more of the salty, meaty, beer-like taste (it is made of yeast after all) you’re supposed to put a thick layer of butter on that bread first (this also makes it easier to remove more vegemite when you inevitably use too much). Honestly, as little as you’re supposed to use at a time I don’t understand how people actually go through an entire jar in a lifetime. But it’s supposed to be a big source of vitamins, all the jars say “vitamin B” on the front, so I can see the interest in training little kids to like it.
     Rating: Try it once, because it’s so very Australian you really can’t say you came and didn’t try it. But if you care at all about your taste buds definitely use caution.

 

(pic stolen from the internet)

 

Random Australian Food Item No. 2: Tim Tams
I always heard about Tim Tams on the internet and never understood why some people were so obsessed with them – the attitude here is similar to that directed at Twinkies in the US. Now I’m starting to. They’re literally everywhere, in all kinds of flavors. I think I can sort of compare them to Oreos, in the variety of flavors that exist and in the fact that they’re both made of chocolate cookie-cracker-things with some kind of creamy, sugary filling. In the case of TimTams, they’re both filled with and dipped in (usually) chocolate. And they’re amazing. They’re at every social event that has snacks, and they’re always the first thing to go. Also like Oreos, the packages never have enough of them. Ever. The residence hall I’m in often supplies a single package of them at social events, and while we have a pretty small hall and an even smaller turnout at social events, those Tim Tams never make it around the room a second time. If you don’t get one on the first pass they’re gone.
     Rating: Yes. Try them. Love them. Don’t keep them in the house if you don’t plan to eat an entire package in two days or less. (so yeah, Australian Oreos)

The deliciousness captured
Typical store display, they’ll dedicate half an aisle to these things

Random Australian Food Item No. 3: Kangaroo Meat
You had to know that one was coming. Not reviewing kangaroo meat would be like going to Oklahoma and never having beef. I tried kangaroo meat at a food truck in the Queen Victoria Night Market in Melbourne. The truck offered crocodile burgers on squid ink buns, emu sausages with grilled veg on top, and kangaroo burgers on beet root buns. Upon questioning the saleswoman, I learned that yes, it was real squid ink, and no, it added no flavor to the bun, it just dyed it black and made it look both cool and slightly disturbing (ever looked at an ink-black burger bun? It’s unsettling). It was the same for the beet root, so I ordered my kangaroo burger, figuring I’d come back to try the croc and squid another time (hopefully next week). The ‘Roo meat, as the cook called it, was similar to beef in texture, although I imagine most ground red meat is similar in texture. The flavor was nothing particularly strange either, it just tasted like meat, maybe similar to beef, but again that could have had to do with it being ground. However, it was very well cooked. That burger was downright delicious, and unlike most well cooked beef, it really wanted to crumble apart in chunks. I was warned not to try to cook it myself first or I would never want to try it again, and I can see why now. The ‘Roo patty I tried was amazing, better than most beef burgers I’ve had, but I could tell by the texture that it would be easy to mess up if you didn’t know what you were doing. The way it crumbled, it was almost verging on gritty, and I suspect a poor or even mediocre kangaroo patty would be pretty dry and gristly. Luckily, I got a really, really well cooked burger, so hopefully my luck holds for future kangaroo meat trials.
Rating: Definitely try it, but be smart about where you go. Queen Vic Night Market seems to be a good place.

‘Roo Burger and Emu Sausage in all their delicious glory

Bonus Australian Food Item: Emu Sausage
Bonus because I didn’t really eat the whole thing. My friend ordered it at the same place I got my ‘roo burger, so I only had a bite and don’t feel justified in giving a full review. My one bite tasted pretty typical of sausage to me, I honestly couldn’t tell much of a difference, except that the skin they used to hold the sausage together was so thin and so similar in texture to the meat of the sausage that I almost couldn’t tell it was there. But again, superbly cooked sausage. Maybe I’m just reviewing this food truck more than I am the kinds of meat, but so be it.
     Emu Sausage Rating: Worth trying, I would buy myself one to get a proper try, given another chance.
     Queen Vic Market Strange Meats Food Truck Rating: A+, definitely go there for all your weird meat cravings.

Learning with Growth Mindset

I thought it was really cool that this class was assigned to learn about growth mindset! I’ve known about this concept for a couple years now because it’s a big of my job. I am a Peer Learning Assistant (student tutor) with the university, and a big part of our training every semester is on growth mindset and how to incorporate it into our tutoring sessions. The whole idea behind Growth Mindset is that intelligence is not fixed; you might have to work at something much harder than another person would, but you can still do it. It’s also really important that you view mistakes in the right frame of mind. They aren’t failures, they’re learning opportunities. If you get something wrong you just learned how not to do it, and you hopefully won’t make that mistake again.

Growth Mindset has really changed how I approach school and learning in general, and not just with myself. For example, when I tell people that I’m doing a dual degree in chemical engineering and international studies, I often get comments like “Wow, you must be really smart. I couldn’t do that.” I used to just accept the compliment and move on, but since learning about growth mindset I always try to tell them that they could do it too if they were willing to put in the time and effort (but I say it in a nice and encouraging way!).

Even with all my experience, I still need practice in implementing growth mindset into other parts of my life. My biggest problem is working out. I try to work out regularly and eat well to stay healthy. But sometimes, specifically when I’m doing cardio (I hate running!) I’ll find myself slowing down and thinking I just can’t do it! But at least I know what I need to work on!


Image: Inspiration photo by Emily Dowdle. Source: Flickr

Introducing Me: Future Medical Researcher

So this is kind of funny because I already have an “About” page on my blog, but I’m making this introduction just for this class!

So hi! My name is Margaret and I want to be a medical researcher when I grow up (at 21 I might have to be an adult, but I surely don’t have to be a grown up all the time). I’m a senior this year, but I’ll be a senior again next year because I’m working on a dual degree in Chemical Engineering and International Studies. The main difference between a dual degree and a double major is that with a double major you get one diploma and one bachelors degree that is split between two focuses. Dual degree students receive two diplomas and bachelor’s degrees; one for each degree they have completed. So yeah, you could say its pretty cool!

My major goal in life is to move to Europe, maybe Germany or Italy, and be a medical researcher in either a private lab or a hospital facility. I ‘ll probably end up going to medical school but until then I’m honestly trying not to think about it. Because I want to do research I’ll be going for an MD/PhD which takes twice as long. Basically, I’ll be in school for the rest of forever. After I eventually finish, I want to move to Europe like I mentioned above. I’ve studied abroad twice so far in college and I’ve seen enough of Europe to know I’d be happy living there forever! Italy is my favorite place I’ve ever been, but Germany is more likely to have the type of companies I want to work for. Honestly I’d live almost anywhere, but my “Dream Job” would be to work for the World Heath Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Other fun facts about me:

  • I have one sister who is five years older than me. She’s my favorite person in the whole entire world.
  • I have two nieces and one nephew and they’re all pretty great when they behave.
  • I have two cats and a dog. I love all of my animals but I am more of a cat person than a dog person. That’s not to say that I don’t like dogs – I do – but I just like cats better. I appreciate that they are very independent. It makes me feel very special when they deign to spend time with me.
  • I collect souvenir shot glasses. You know, the ones you can buy at the airport or gift shops? Yeah those. I have over a hundred from all over the world. A lot of my friends know I collect them and will bring me one when they travel (I have awesome friends). They’re not all shot glasses exactly, but all of them come from somewhere awesome. The picture at the top is an old photo of them, minus about 2 dozen that wouldn’t fit or hadn’t been bought yet.

Image: Personal photo of shot glass collection. Taken May 2016.

Final Thoughts: Italia

Overall, I have/am greatly enjoyed my study abroad experience, and luckily I was able to stay in Italy for another week once the program ended with my family. Since, this was my first abroad experience I believe it was helpful to do a structured study abroad program, this way I could learn the ropes and get acclimated to living in another country with both a hands-on, and hands-off approach. The study part of study abroad can be a bummer sometimes, because when you are in a new, and beautiful country the last thing you want to do is sit in a classroom, five days a week for four hours and do real school work. I am appreciative though, because I took challenging classes and I would much rather take them in Italy for five weeks, then spend a whole semester in Norman taking those classes. It is hard sometimes, especially when you have class at eight-thirty in the morning, sometimes a girl just wants to sleep in. I feel like academically I have been challenged, but I have been engaged and have enjoyed learning. Outside of the classroom I feel like I have matured and have gained more knowledge about myself and others, as well as what makes a good and a bad tourist. I am eternally grateful that I was presented with the opportunity to study abroad with the Michael F. Price College of Business and I truly value this experience, I strive to retain what I have learned and apply what I can to my life back home. Grazie mille Italia!

Euro > USD: Italia

The exchange rate from the euro to the dollar has fluctuated since its inception, the exchange rates for several years, per Statista, are as follows- 2002: .95, 2007: 1.37, and 2016: 1.11.  I think the exchange rate does change how people perceive a country or its products, for instance if a country has a higher exchange rate it implies that they have a stronger, more profitable economy. The higher euro to dollar exchange rate did not change my perception in Italy, because I know that both the Italian government and economy are not the best in the EU, so needless to say I know they are not the one’s contributing to the higher exchange rate. If the exchange rate was lower, I think I might spend some more money in Italy, because my money would be worth more here instead of less, so while I do still shop and spend money I am more mindful about what I am spending, because I know the price I see on the price tag is not the actual price I am paying. I hate to say this, but in my opinion the price of alcohol is one of the biggest differences I have noticed between Italy and America, here in Italy you can buy a bottle of wine, or a six pack of Corona beer for under two euros, whereas in America even cheap wine costs about $8-10 dollars, and a pack of Corona is around $10-12 dollars. Also, eating out is relatively cheaper overall, obviously if you are in a tourist area you will encounter high prices, but you can find a lot of affordable meals in Italy, whereas in America, besides college towns you usually cannot eat for less than $7 and if you want a drink you are almost at $10. The other day when we were waiting for our train I got a sandwich and a fruit juice for 4.70 euro and my friend got a cappuccino and a croissant for 2 euro, that is quite unheard of in the states. I think food is a bit overpriced in America, but or average salary is higher than that of an Italian, so maybe it is all relative, that I would have to do more research one before giving a concrete statement.

 

General Observations: Italia

We have seen McDonald’s at or near every train station we have visited so far in Italy, and I feel like it is both similar and different from America. They have a lot of similar products like you can get a Dr. Pepper at the McDonald’s and a Big Mac, even though they are more expensive here. However, the menu has adapted to fit the Italian culture you can get cappuccinos’ macaroons, donuts, and other bakery items which I have never seen at an American McDonald’s, I can’t tell you how the food compares taste wise because I stopped eating McDonalds’ a long time ago and I have no intentions of starting again now.

One thing I found very interesting, and like quite a bit is the social/nightlife aspect of Italian culture. When I talk about nightlife I do not mean the bar and club scene, I am referring to the casual and routine way Italians gather with their friends and families to fellowship at night. In America, nightlife is primarily saved for adults, and one weekends for teenagers when their parents give them permission. Here it is something natural, every night I am amazed at the number of young children I see out after 10 p.m. strolling around with their parents. This leads me into my next point which is their meals, in particular dinner, unlike America where we eat chat and leave, Italians usually engage in several courses and reacquaint themselves with everyone at the table during dinner. I personally do not want to sit down for dinner longer than an hour to an hour and a half, but I can appreciate the time to just be present in the moment with those around you. It calming to just sit around with friends over a good plate of food and check-in, and invest in the people around you. Another thing I have noticed is that Italians are very friendly, especially if you are polite and attempt to speak some Italian. During our long weekend, we had the misfortunate of getting locked out of our Airbnb (I won’t’ go into specifics I could write a book about this), but a sweet yet diligent Italian Nonna was persistent on helping us and within thirty minutes we were back in our apartment. She was under no obligation to help us, and when the problem was not readily resolved she did not shrug her shoulders and toss us off, instead she made it her personal mission to help us out until the issue was resolved. For what it was worth it was a pretty good learning experience for us, even though we were anxious in the moment, and this is not to say Americans are friendly because I think we are but I think it is important to point out the hospitality of Italians.

One thing about Italians that did not frustrate me, but I believe it would if I lived here for an extended period, is their overtly casual way of doing things. Granted in America we have a hyper-worked society where sitting down for five minutes means you are losing the winning edge in this game of live, or so we are taught and Italians are well, completely opposite. I went to go get a crepe one day at five o’clock, because the restaurant said it opened at four thirty, but when I got there they were still setting up and needed an additional fifteen minutes before they were, so essentially they were not actually open for business until forty-five minutes after they initially said they would be. There is a blatant lack of urgency, which is a nice change from the hustle and bustle of the U.S., but let’s just say I would never want to need a taxi in Italy because who knows how long it will take for them to reach you. I believe Americans could slow down and work a little less, and Italians could speed up, and work a little more.

Stream of Consciousness: Italia

Considering that Italy has been my first true international experience I have undergone a whirlwind of emotions while on this trip, and fortunately almost all of them have been positive. Some of my favorite moments have been the simple times, like when my friends and I went up to the park on the hill and I gazed out at the breathtaking view of the Arezzo countryside. It was so calming and I had a moment of “wow, you are really in Italy”, we all sat around drinking a glass of wine and just living in the moment. It was such a relaxed environment; we were surrounded by the sunset and everything in that moment was perfect. Additionally, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Pomaio winery, I felt very mature, and it was a unique experience to experience firsthand the business process of a winery. For example, I had no idea it takes around seven years for wine owners to start receiving any real revenue, I cannot imagine how financially backed, or secure you must be to go into the wine industry without defaulting. Also, we just got back from our long weekend yesterday and that was an incredible experience. We stayed at a semi-traditional Airbnb in Marola, a suburb of La Spezia. Thanks to the poor timing of the train strikes we ended up going down to Porto Venere for the day (it would have been too expensive to taxi to Cinque Terre) and went off to the little beach of Palmaria. In a way, the train strikes were a hidden blessing, for if they had never occurred we would not have visited the quaint and beautiful Porto Venere, or enjoyed the solitude of the rocky beaches of Palmaria. The water was crystal clear, I would love to go back and trek around the island, for Porto Venere has an old-world charm, with stunning views of the sea.

Cinque Terre was a literal dream and exceeded my already high expectations, we visited three of the five lands: Riomaggiore, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare. I found a really pretty scenic route around the town of Riomaggiore so we saw everything we could, and even took some unnecessarily steep stairs to visit castle ruins. We headed down to the Marina like trip advisor advised and they were not kidding when they said you could get a postcard picture of the town. Next, we headed to Monterosso to enjoy the beaches, the water was warm and since we were not in the peak of the high season the beach was filled with people, but it was not too crowded where we could not have fun, and it also started to clear out around four thirty. Finally, we headed to Vernazza, we were tired by the time we got there so we kind of just looked around ate some delicious gelato, and then we preceded to head home.