The Difficulty with Accents

I have been in England for over two months now, but the accent still throws me off sometimes. There are some words that are pronounced completely differently from the American pronunciation, almost to the point where it sounds like a different word sometimes. One example is “longitude.” The American pronunciation is “lonj-itude,” but people here pronounce it “long-itude.” It throws me off every time (it’s a fairly common word used in physics). As another example, someone once asked me, “do you say gloss or gloss?” I was completely confused because it sounded like she was saying the exact same word twice. Then she pointed to a cup and asked again, and I realized she was saying “glass.” To her, she was asking if I say “gloss” or “glass,” but I couldn’t distinguish between the two sounds because of her accent.

I have also discovered that I can’t watch British TV shows without subtitles. It’s weird. I know what they’re saying (it is still English after all), but my brain just can’t process the meaning of what they’re saying unless I also have the words in front of me. I definitely don’t have that problem with American shows, so apparently it’s just the accent, plus the random different words they have for things. I have discovered that the cockney accent is the worst. For one, London is apparently notorious for how much slang is used, so half the time I just don’t have a clue what in the world they mean. But the other half of the time, I can’t even make out the words they’re saying. I could swear it was a completely different language. Sometimes when I’m on the bus, I hear others having a conversation in what I assume is a different language, but after a while I realize that it’s actually still English, but with half the consonants missing and a few extra r’s added in. Some of the bus drivers also have really heavy cockney accents. Sometimes when they’re talking to me, I don’t have a clue what they are saying, so I just have to smile and nod and hope it wasn’t something important. It’s really weird. I sometimes feel like I’m not a native speaker of my own first language.

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

Considering how far north I am, I had assumed that I would be seeing snow by now. But as it turns out, the fact that England is surrounded by a giant ocean means that the temperature stays warmer longer, so we’re still stuck with rain. At least, I assume that that’s the reason. While Norman has already had a snow storm (or at least an ice storm from what I heard), it still hasn’t even reached freezing here yet. It came close a couple weeks ago, but now it has warmed back up to the 50s again. And it has rained almost every day for the last week. Today was a welcome break from the downpours, but it looks like it’s going to be raining again tomorrow, and most of next week too. Apparently it doesn’t usually snow until January or February here.  At this rate, I’m going to have a muddy Christmas rather than a white one!

A Journey of a Semester

The fall 2018 semester is coming to a close, and it is time to reflect on all that I’ve done. After these last few months, I can say that public relations publications has been one of the first classes where I feel like I have put to use my toolbox of PR skills that I have been collecting.

We have created business cards, direct mailers, newsletters, and are now working on a video project. I have learned the ins and outs of InDesign and Adobe Photoshop.

When looking back at my old blog posts, I can’t help but laugh at how little faith I had in myself. All of the editing software we have learned to use has been daunting at first. After lots of trial and error, I managed to work my way through the programs to create work I am proud of.

The assignment which I am most proud of as a representation of my best work and creative effort is the newsletter. I created the newsletter while following the Starbucks general brand. However, we utilized both indesign and adobe photoshop to create our newsletters. Using these two programs in sync to create a finished piece felt like culmination of all the learning I have done this semester.

Going forward, I feel as though I have become a better public relations professional. I now have a pretty full toolbox of skills and knowledge that I can use in my future career. I have learned how to work quickly and efficiently, while not being discouraged by mistakes. Furthermore, this class has sparked an interest in me for graphic design that I look forward to pursuing.


Kaffee und Kuchen

On November 16th, I attended the Kaffee und Kuchen event hosted by OU German Club. The event was quite possibly my favorite campus activity of the semester.

Naturally, there was coffee and desserts to enjoy while a current OU professors from Vienna presented on the Kaffeehaus tradition in Vienna. Viennese kaffeehauses are places where one goes to spend a couple hours quietly talking or reading while drinking coffee and eating fresh pastries.  Taking your time and quietly enjoying the experience are the main emphasis. The professor also shared about Viennese humor and slang, which unique to the area.

Afterwards, we broke into teams for trivia regarding all things coffee and cake. Needless to say, I learned a lot of random facts about both and there was plenty of laughter involved.

This event made me appreciate German culture even more.  I find the differences between it and American culture so fascinating. This event made me very excited to travel to Germany and experience it for myself!

German Club

I spent my entire sophomore year studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany; the experience in Heidelberg made me want to become more involved in German opportunities here at OU… but I didn’t know how. I began with taking German Advanced Composition in an attempt to improve my German writing skills. (This has worked, in large part to Dr, Sullivan’s willingness to help students succeed.)

As I continued with the semester, I began to focus on the German club. This organisation is tasked with the advancement and promotion of German culture and language. After I was asked to be the speak about my experiences at Heidelberg during the German opportunities forum, I contacted the leadership of German club, asking to become more involved; I was told that I could run for an officer position!

On Friday November 16th, I went to the German club’s Kaffee und Kuchen event. (Cakes and Coffee) I will cover this event in another post, but it was very fun + interesting. But, the most exciting part of the event came at the end… the elections. When the position of treasurer was called, the president of the German club mentioned me as the chosen candidate. But, as with all fair elections, others were allowed to state their intentions of running against me. Luckily, nobody decided to oppose me, and I was chosen as the new treasurer.

I look forward to this position, as well as the ability to become more involved at OU. (And promote German things around campus.) This Friday is the club’s “Christmas Bakery.” The club is offering lessons on how to bake traditional German holiday cookies. I am excited for what is to come, and I can’t wait to become increasingly involved.

Fulbright Information Session

On November 13, I went to a Fulbright Information Session with Bushra informing us on all that Fulbright has to entail!

To be honest, I was completely surprised at what I learned about Fulbright. I feel a little dumb because I had no idea that this scholarship was something awarded to people who were about to graduate from college or recent college graduates– but it honestly made me more excited.

The reason that I was so excited is because it just means there is another opportunity for me to possibly be able to travel abroad.

For those of you that do not know what Fulbright is, according to…

“The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs.  A candidate will submit a Statement of Grant Purpose defining activities to take place during one academic year in a participating country outside the U.S.

During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences.  The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, the individual will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.”

It is insane that there are such opportunities like this in this country and I truly cannot wait for the opportunity to apply when I am getting closer to graduation!

I mean, I could be teaching students from a surplus of countries how to speak English while also being immersed into their cultures… cool right?


The Evolution of Eating Alone

I have always — Always — considered myself almost painfully independent. I’ve always told myself that I like to do things alone… I like to run errands alone, I like to study alone, I like to go shopping alone. I’ve never been the sort of person to need (or even want) someone else around all of the time.

So, as I began planning my solo trips, I wasn’t the least bit worried about being on my own. On the contrary, I was thrilled by the prospect of it…my own personal version of Wild or Eat, Pray, LoveI began imagining how my own novel would unfold almost immediately after booking my first flight.

I imagined all of the amazing things I would see, all of the new and interesting people that I would meet, and all of the things that I would learn about myself along the way.

The one thing I did not imagine was the sheer panic that would overtake me the first time I said those four little words.

“Table for one, please.”

I swear, the waiter had to have been able to feel the utter terror rolling off of me in waves as I stood there — suddenly hyper aware of my surroundings and completely sure that everyone in the restaurant was staring at me with pitying eyes, thinking to themselves “that poor girl has no friends and has to eat alone.”

So, as I sat down to what was turning out to be the most stress-inducing meal of my life, I had only one thought: “How quickly can I eat my lunch and get out of here?”

I spent the first two weeks of my time abroad with that same mindset…rushing through meals as quickly as I could so as to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of being a lonely bug under a microscope — a solo spectacle for other travelers to gawk at while they enjoyed their meals.

Of course, it is highly probably that no one was paying attention to me at all (what with me not being the center of the universe and all). And, its even more likely that the few people who did occasionally glance my way simply shrugged their shoulders and went on about their days.

Because, the thing is, there’s nothing sad about seeing solo travelers. I have never seen someone traveling alone (or eating alone) and thought that it was sad, or depressing, or a sure-sign of a friendless loser.

But when I became the solo traveler (and eater), my entire mindset shifted, and what had once been awe-inspiring became embarrassment-inducing.

So, in an effort to escape the embarrassment, I either rushed through my meal and made a subsequent bee-line for the door or I sat there with my eyes glued to my phone — constantly refreshing my social media accounts and texting anyone who would reply — trying to give off the impression that I did in fact have friends (even if they weren’t currently sitting next to me), and thus totally missing the opportunity to make new ones.

About a month into my time abroad, after realizing the nasty habit that I had created, I made the conscious (and, honestly, terrifying) decision to spend a minimum of thirty minutes in every restaurant I entered, and to only look at my phone if I really needed to (and, lets be real, to take food pics of every single meal I ordered).

I won’t lie to you and say that it was always easy or that there weren’t numerous occasions when I caved and pulled out my phone to scroll through hundreds of pointless memes on Facebook, but slowly my mindset did start to shift.

Suddenly, I was able to actually enjoy my meal without worrying about what everyone else was thinking.

Suddenly, I was able to have a conversation with my waiter without panicking that the only reason they were even talking to me was because they felt bad that I was eating alone.

Suddenly, I found myself noticing the subtle cultural differences between the restaurants I visited and the people who dined in them.

And, suddenly I had this new found self-confidence that I hadn’t even known I was lacking before.

So, for any future solo travelers, a word of advice:

Be present. Don’t waste your time. It may feel like you have infinite amounts of it, but you don’t. At some point it will all come to an end and you will be left only with memories.

The way I see it, you have two choices — you can either look back and remember that time you were sitting in a Budapest café watching cat videos (shameful but true), or you can look back and remember the time you were eating in an Welsh Pub and an old man came and sat down at your table and told you all about the time he met Bill Clinton (yeah, it really happened).

Choose wisely.