Wine Tasting: Big House White

Name: Bootlegger White

Variety: White grape blend

Region: California

Country: USA

Year: 2014

Price: $8.99

Winemaker Description:

My Review:

I really liked this wine and I was definitely surprised by the amount of body it has. I thought it would be pretty light bodied because it’s a white wine, but I think the grapes the winemaker mixed together ended with a more medium bodied wine. It was mostly clear with a green tint and had hints of lemon, grapefruit and honey in the smell. The taste comes across as really sweet at first, but then I could make out some of the complexity of the wine, and the sweetness was cut with fairly high acidity that blended together pretty well. Some of the more specific flavors in the wine were lemon, melon, and honey with vanilla.

I drank this wine by itself and it was pretty tasty, and then I tried it with lasagna and it wasn’t that great. It just goes to show that you really need to think about what food you pair with what wine. I think it would go really well with some sort of chicken back though.

Wine Tasting: Purato

Name: Purato Nero d’Avola

Variety: 100% Nero d’Avola

Region: Sicily

Country: Italy

Year: 2015

Price: $12.99

Winemaker Description:

Sicily’s number one red grape variety, Nero d’Avola is indigenous to the island. Our Purato Nero d’Avola has a wonderful structure, yet has soft tannins and is very approachable. Packed with red berry fruit flavours, it is ideal with red meat and tomato based pasta sauces.

My Review:

Honestly this wine reminded me a lot of a classic Tuscan Chianti, which made more sense when I looked at the bottle and realized that it was an Italian wine. The wine was a deep true red color, and its bouquet had scents of cherry, tobacco, cinnamon and black pepper. The pepper, cherry, and tobacco carried into the taste of the wine, but there was also a bit of vanilla. The wine wasn’t quite balanced, because the tannins were very harsh. I think either aging it longer or decanting it might have helped. But, since I had it with food there was a little something extra to cut the tannic component of the wine.

I drank this wine with a lasagna and it paired very well. I agree with the winemaker that the tomato based foods are very nice with this wine.

10 of My Favorite Cover Songs

Cover songs have been an integral part of the music industry for decades, dating back to times when “race charts” existed, and white artists would cover songs by minority artists, often making more of a profit than the original artist. Today, though, covers are done purely for artistic reason. Here, in no particular order, are ten of my favorites.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) [originally performed by Eurythmics]-Marilyn Manson

Dark Horse (originally performed by Katy Perry)-Our Last Night

Rebel Yell (originally performed by Billy Idol)-Black Veil Brides

Hell is For Children (originally performed by Pat Benatar)-The Relentless

Bad Romance (originally performed by Lady Gaga)-Halestorm

All I Ever Wanted (originally performed by Aranda)-Kelly Clarkson

Radioactive (originally by Imagine Dragons)-Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling

Somewhere Only We Know (originally by Keane)-Glee Cast

The Sound of Silence (originally by Simon & Garfunkel)-Disturbed

Careless Whisper (originally by George Michael)-Seether

 

 

 

OU Cousins Feel the Thunder

OU Cousins recently took its semi-annual trip up to Oklahoma City to watch our favorite NBA team, the OKC Thunder. Although some people may loathe a 30-minute bus ride through the not-so-scenic route, I enjoy that individual OU Cousins know how to make the most of it by having eye-opening conversations with one another. Those bus rides are always excellent avenues in which to make connections with fellow OU Cousins, especially concerning topics of culture and difference.

My go-to questions when it comes to speaking with OU Cousins have never changed, but I learn very new things each time I ask, “So, what’s your favorite/least favorite thing about Oklahoma/The US?” and “What’s the most striking difference between your (home) culture and Oklahoman/American culture?”

The answers never fail to engage my curiosity, and lead to thoughtful and meaningful conversations. If anyone has any tips on more questions that lead to such good discussions with people from culturally diverse backgrounds, I sure would like to know them.

Sport is something that connects people across the world. For example, I truly believe that the Olympics is one of the most unifying and important things that the world does, because we all (with the exemption of a small few) come together to participate. I can’t pinpoint exactly why, but for many reasons, sport and competition are an integral part of human society. Although the sports themselves may be different in some countries, the motivation behind them is the same, and I believe that is what brings people across the world together.

Professional sports, although I am not very interested in them, are very important to the United States. They are enormous industries wherein Americans spend millions of dollars per year, a driving force in the economy and culture.

For the reasons above, I think it is AWESOME that we get to take OU Cousins to Thunder Games!! It’s likely the only time our international students will be able to attend such an event (besides OU football games, but those aren’t “professional”), and they get to do so with a huge group of their fellow OU students!

Those who enjoy basketball are able to watch the game and cheer on the home team, while those who are less interested in watching the game are able to continue chatting and making connections with other OU Cousins, all while being surrounded by a massive amount of American culture. It’s a win-win.

A win-win-win, if you include that OKC solidly defeated the New York Knicks, 105-84.

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The Great Convergence by Richard Baldwin

My honors college reading group is reading The Great Convergence by Richard Baldwin. A few things about this book and about this reading group have stood out to me.

  1. Economic gains and losses are surprisingly concentrated in just a few nations. For example, the first wave of globalization increased wealth for mostly just seven nations.
  2. While a lot of Americans do not think about the fall of the American kingdom, all empires rise and fall. The thought of another replacing America as the world’s sole superpower is intriguing and important.
  3. The physical form of things can have such a huge economic impact. But containerization of goods had an immense effect on the shipping process and enabled greater time and cost efficiency in trade.
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Pangea

Pangea is the music group that the OU Confucius Institute hosted in Catlett Music Center. They are the group that scored the music for the beloved children’s movie Kung Fu Panda. I went for a fun evening for my Chinese American friend to listen to a blend of Asian and American music styles. The amazing thing about globalization from a more cultural perspective rather than an economic or political one, is that pathos has a chance to take over the experience and allow you to enjoy new things from a more sensory and emotional standpoint rather than a cold, intellectual one. While I was at the concert, there were instruments that are more western and instruments that are more traditionally Chinese and each song approached this fusion with a slightly different style. Each small decision that was made artistically, whether it be tempo or dynamics, added up to a harmonious cadence. I am really glad that my friend and I went to this concert, and I am glad that OU is able to host events like these that open up our hearts to ideas of globalization with regard to culture.

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“The Crisis of Modern Turkey” by Soner Cagaptay

On 9/25/2017, hosted a Teach-In following the theme of the Strength and Fragility of Constitutions. The 2pm session was hosted by Soner Cagaptay and entitled “The Crisis of Modern Turkey.” Cagaptay took the audience through a brief history of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan since he rose to prominence in 2002 and became president in 2014. Since then, Turkey has been transformed into a state of political crisis. Turkey is one of the most politically polarized nations on the face of the earth. People either believe Turkey was hell before Erdoğan and is now heaven, or was heaven before Erdoğan and is now hell. Oddly enough, 73% of Turkey’s wealth is in the areas that didn’t vote for Erdoğan. It has been suspect that elections have been unfair, which would be the first rigged elections in Turkey’s recent modern history. Cagaptay theorizes that Erdoğan acts largely because of the circumstances of his childhood: his family was a poor, religious family that felt marginalized. Erdoğan has been attempting to shape people in his own image now as a conservative, Middle Eastern, Islamic society. Erdoğan has been locking up dissidents and almost must continue to do so, because if he stops, he will be both persecuted and prosecuted. While of of this political strife is happening Turkey has simultaneously been enjoying a period of economic prosperity. There has been an increase in foreign investment, improvements in infrastructure, and lower levels of infant mortality. So Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will have a mixed legacy for his political failings and economic successes. If elections continue to be the means by which Erdoğan is able to maintain power, his reign will end eventually as the people who were raised under his rule are less and less likely to vote for him. Then his legacy can be more fully decided.

One especially intriguing thought is this: Democracies don’t die with a bang. The start of a democracy is clear but the end is so gradual you don’t notice it. One day you wake up and it’s not there. It’s died with a whimper because democracy is so fragile.

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Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival is an important holiday in Chinese culture. This year, it was on October 4. The OU Chinese Language Club held their Mid-Autumn Festival Celebration on October 5. It started with a presentation about the meaning of the holiday (a fascinating story, which you can read about here) and a video of a Chinese dance.

Next, we got to hear from a student who studied abroad in Shanghai for all of last year. He mostly provided advice for students who were thinking about studying in China. The advice wasn’t especially pertinent to me, since I’ve lived it too, but it brought back a lot of memories – the joys and hardships of living in China.

Image source

We finished out the night with food! A lot of the Chinese professors made dishes to share, and the highlight of the meal was the moon cakes. Moon cakes are the traditional food of the Mid-Autumn Festival, and they usually contain red bean paste, nuts, or salted duck egg yolk. They are an acquired taste for some, but they are a beautiful and tasty treat that I look forward to every autumn.

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OU Chinese Language Club: Fall 2017

This semester, I’m part of OU’s Chinese Language Club , as I have been since I started at OU. There aren’t a whole lot of Chinese majors at OU, so the club is a great way to find them. Because of low membership, the club doesn’t host very many activities. One notable activity, however, is the club’s Chinese Conversation Hour. It’s a great way for Chinese students wanting to improve their speaking skills to do so in a highly practical way.

As a committee member for the club, I look forward to helping the CLC recruit more members and really make this club a resource for Chinese students. It’s so refreshing to be able to speak with people who share the same passions I do, and I want other students to be have the opportunity to feel the same.

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A Day in the Life of 戈爱玛

戈爱玛 (Ge Aima), that’s me! I thought you all might be interested to see what a typical day in Beijing looked like for me.

At 未名湖 (No Name Lake) in north campus

Peking University (PKU) is in Beijing’s university district (Haidian), in the northwest part of the city.  I was about an hour-long bus ride from the Forbidden City, which is at the heart of Beijing. Despite the distance from many things, it’s actually very accessible with both a bus stop and a subway station right outside the east gate. Being a little farther from the center of town allows PKU’s campus to be larger than most. In addition, because it’s the most highly-ranked university in China, it’s a tourist attraction and gets a lot of money from the government for beautification. The main reason I chose PKU was, in fact, because I heard it had a gorgeous campus.

Also at PKU’s on-campus lake
On clear days, I could see the distant mountains to the west. This day was so smog-free, I could open my window!

I lived in an international student dorm just outside Peking University’s southeast gate. I was on the eleventh floor (out of twelve) and, although I had a double room, I had no roommate. Somehow, in the four months I lived there, I forgot to get a single picture, so you’ll have to take my word for it – the room was massive. Probably four times the size of my freshman dorm room in Oklahoma. The best part about it was the view. One entire wall of the room was a floor-to-ceiling window. My window faced south, towards 中关村(Zhongguancun), known as China’s Silicon Valley. At night, it would light up, and it was like I was living two blocks from Times Square. It was hard to get out of bed in the mornings because it was so peaceful to just lie there and look out at the city.

I would watch the sunset from my room every night.
On top of the world!
Usually I would check my air quality app just to be sure.

Most days, my first class was at 10:10. I would wake up at 9:00 and look out the window to see if I needed a mask or not. Most days, it was pretty obvious I did.

I didn’t go outside this day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would leave for class around 9:45. On the way, I would stop at a street food cart just outside my dorm for breakfast – 煎饼(jianbing)。Before my eyes, Jianbing Man (as we international students affectionately called him) would create a breakfast masterpiece in just 30 seconds from wheat batter, egg, green onions, and some mystery ingredients. It cost USD $1, and it is one of my top 3 foods from China.

Campus at night, taken from the bridge once after it snowed.

To get to campus, I had to cross a pedestrian bridge. Besides the two flights of stairs (which got progressively harder as the smog worked away at my lungs), I really enjoyed this part of my commute. At the top of the bridge, I could see a lot of the city and the campus. It made me feel like such a big-city girl.

My classroom building
My reading professor

The walk to my classroom building only took about 10 minutes total. Most days, I had just two classes – reading, and then either speaking or vocabulary. They lasted two hours each. I really loved my classes, my professors, and most of all my classmates. The 13 of us represented 8 different countries: United States, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Spain, Russia, the Philippines, and Brunei. My closest friend in the class was Carlota, from Spain, in the blue dress next to me in the photo below.

My class with my speaking professor

In between the two classes we had an hour-long break for lunch. PKU’s biggest and best canteen, Nonyuan, was also the closest one to my classroom building, so that’s where I normally went. This is what one of my typical lunches looked like: baked chicken, fried rice, a fried egg, steamed Chinese cabbage, and an Asian pear. Oftentimes I would also get milk tea or red bean sesame cookies for something sweet. All of this cost me less than USD $2! And it was, obviously, delicious.

Twice a week I would go to the fruit store after my classes. This is one of the parts of my daily life I miss most. Walking into the fruit store, my senses were immediately overwhelmed with the sweetest aromas of fifty different kinds of fruit, half of which I had never seen before. The store wasn’t very large, but they packed a lot of goodness in such a small place. I would always get enough pears for the next few days, since I had at least one every day. The pears in China are like an American pear and apple combined – sweet, unbelievably crisp, juicy – you could never go wrong with a pear. In addition to pears, I would usually also get some fruit to snack on, like kumquats or grapes.

After the fruit store, I would get started on my homework. Sometimes I would work on campus with friends, other times I would head back to my room to introvert and get stuff done. I always looked forward to dinner, though – another opportunity to have more of China’s amazing food. On the right is another of my top 3 dishes from China, 涮羊肉. Its English name, instant-boiled mutton, doesn’t do it justice. The cook drops thinly sliced lamb into a massive vat of boiling water for a few minutes, then scoops it into a bowl with some noodles and Chinese cabbage. Ladle some sesame sauce on top and sprinkle some Sichuan pepper if you dare, and you’re good to go! It was so incredibly savory and satisfying. The watermelon was a very nice spring and summer treat, too. This meal was also only USD $2.

After dinner I would usually work some more and often Skype my family or friends, drinking lots of tea all the while. Towards the end of the night I would have dessert: lychee nuts. If you haven’t had them before, they taste like a combination of a plum and a grape. You have to peel that spiky shell to get to the slippery fruit inside, but that’s just part of the experience. I also miss having lychee every night.

That’s what a day looked like for me! When I think about China, the things I miss most are the things in this post: the food, the friends, and the habits that made up my days there. It was a good life.