A few weeks ago I went to the Russian bake sale in Kaufman hall. I had tried a few Russian dishes before such as borscht, but for the most part Russian food still scared me. I tried a dish called blini and I was surprised by how good it was. It was basically like a pancake, but tasted a little bit different. Traditionally different things are put on it such as jam, and even sour cream. I didn’t opt for the sour cream, but blini is definitely something that I would try again, and I look forward to trying more Russian food.
Last weekend, I attended the United World’s Cultural Night: Real Change
The event’s focus was turning climate change into real change with many acts focusing on the beautiful world around us and the ever-looming threats of destruction.
I was invited by my friend, Norma, who is from Mexico and very involved in the international student community. I’m so glad I came!
The acts were so exciting! There was a large band, rappers, singers, poetry, and many large dance numbers focusing on different dances around the world. There was a salsa dance, an Indian dance, a mashup dance, a group from Latinarte, and more. Everyone was so enthusiastic and supportive of their fellow performers.
My favorite part, though, was the fashion show. The performers showed off their traditional clothing from their countries, strutting their stuff and dancing away onstage. Each person or group of people had their own music from their country and their flag displayed on the screen. Every person was showcasing and celebrating their own culture, embracing its traditions and sharing them with the crowd. It was absolutely beautiful. I ended up crying the entire second half. I was so moved by the pure and joyous celebration spread throughout the entire auditorium. I really appreciate our diverse cultural groups here at the University of Oklahoma. They bring so much to the table, and I’m very grateful for their presence here on campus.
This spring the Japanese club held an event about Japanese martial arts. The event talked about different Japanese martial arts such as Budo, Karate, and kendo. The event was very interesting and I learned many new things about martial arts that I didn’t know before, They also gave demonstrations of a few of the martial arts that was very fun to watch. I never thought that I would be interested in Japanese martial arts, but watching this presentation made me want to look into in the future.
Although I consider myself a generally flexible person, I do not like uncertainty. In fact, when there is uncertainty in my life, I tend to obsess over it. However, my life was thrown into a cloud of uncertainty when I began my semester abroad.
Even after seven years of studying the Spanish language, I can only completely understand someone speaking to me about 80% of the time. Even when I feel as though I can properly translate the sentence, I doubt myself and even question the cultural differences that may be in play during the exchange. When I speak to others, even when I am sure I am saying the correct thing, I worry that I may mistake a word or conjugate incorrectly. I am never completely confident or certain in my speaking abilities.
The uncertainty that I have faced everyday has made me uncomfortable, but it has also challenged me to become comfortable with the unknown. This is because, frankly, I have no choice. I could ask “Que?” after every time someone speaks to me to ensure that I had heard them correctly the first time, but that would get old very quickly. I could quickly Google Translate everything I want to say before I say it, but that would not help me improve my Spanish. For now, I am “winging it” and choosing to live with uncertainty, to a certain extent.
We started off the weekend on Friday with an early flight in. Once we got there, we took the metro to city center and headed straight to Park Güell. We had a lovely time at the park and we even met some girls from Boston traveling for their spring break. We went with them to a lovely tapas restaurant and had a great meal. After that, we separated and headed to our hostel to check in.
In the evening, we went to Parc del Guinardó which has a fabulous lookout over Barcelona. We didn’t realize, however, that it was such a hike to the top! Either way, the view of the city and the sunset from the top was totally worth it. We took a few bottles of wine to the top (as does everyone), then had to be super careful coming down once the sun had gone down and we had had a few glasses of wine (yikes). Since we had lunch rather late and were not hungry for dinner, I had a yummy hot dog from a small place we passed on the street.
On Saturday, we got up and immediately headed to La Sagrada Familia. I had been there several years ago, but it is much more magnificent than I remember. It’s funny how memories can fade as time goes by. Or maybe I just have a greater appreciation for these things than I did when I was fourteen. I was totally astonished and loved every minute that we were in the basilica.
After La Sagrada Familia, we made our way to Las Ramblas. Of course, we had to stop at La Boqueria for a snack. I remember this as my favorite part of my previous trip to Barcelona, and I think it was nearly my favorite part of this trip as well. The endless lines of vendors and yummy foods to try are just indescribable. I was pretty full from lunch (we had burgers, yum), so I only had a juice (mango and coconut), which was delicious.
In the market, there are a ton of little tapas bars. At one tapas bar, there was a raw, straight-out-of-the-ocean-lookin’ octopus sitting on the counter, less than half a foot from where customers were eating. I thought this was kind of funny. I stood there admiring the situation when a chef walked over to the octopus and cut off one of its tentacles with a giant knife. The customers eating at the counter didn’t even flinch; I’m not even sure they were aware of the situation. It was kind of cool to see for me, though! Wish I had snapped a picture of the octopus on the counter – hopefully you can imagine!
There were a couple factors that made this weekend so great. I realized just how much I love all of the amigas that I have met here. Also, our hostel was absolutely incredible. There were many opportunities to meet other travelers and the employees were all very knowledgable and helpful. Overall, Barcelona yielded a fantastic weekend of little sleep, lots of walking (nearly fifteen miles on Saturday alone), and many memories.
Last weekend I went to Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. While there I visited Park Güell, La Sagrada Familia, Montjüic, and other locations around the city. Barcelona is such a huge city that it’s impossible to see everything in one weekend, but that didn’t stop me from walking more than 30 miles in the 2.5 days that I was there trying to see as much as I could.
We visited Barcelona during an exciting time, as March 8 was the International Day of Women. Last year, Spain staged strikes where more than 5 million people participated, and the movement continues this year with marches scheduled all across the country to demonstrate support for gender equality and an end to gender-based violence. The march in Barcelona was one of the biggest of the country. Even after the marche ended, the city was sprinkled with posters and graffiti reminding citizens that the fight for gender equality will continue even after March 8. I’m so grateful that I was in Barcelona to witness this tremendous feminist gathering, and I’m even more grateful that I have had the opportunity to travel to Spain where this movement began. The friends I have made here inspire me with their feminism and the work they do to make the world a more tolerant, vibrant place to live. The students at the University of Alicante are doing really amazing, incredible work. Just last week I attended a conference focused on feminism and its role in the world of literature and translation. One of my friends presented about her own thesis regarding fairytales reimagined by women. The University of Alicante offers so many interesting seminars, presenters, and conferences that I am constantly reaffirmed that my decision to study abroad was the right one because I am learning so much here that I can’t wait to bring with me back to Oklahoma.
One of my favorite parts about studying abroad is the chance to immerse myself in another university’s culture. When you are at OU for nine months out of the year it is easy to forget that the university is a unique environment shaped by the preferences and habits of the student body. Crossroads, Canes, Lloyd Noble, the Blender, the clocktower, and many other campus mainstays have much more significance to the students than they would to a passing visitor. These shared locations and accompanying experiences are the perfect breeding ground for inside jokes and the foundation of a community. In the past month and a half, I have gradually been absorbing the student culture here at the University of Sheffield. The first and most important aspect has been the food.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I am on a meal plan and have been adjusting to “eating out” rather than cooking my own meals. I usually make breakfast in my kitchenette and get lunch from one of the many cafes and coffee shops scattered around campus. Since some of the coffee shops do not have a full kitchen, the food they can offer is limited to pastries, fruit, and what I like to call “sandwich-in-a-box.” This refers to a prepackaged sandwich by Tiffin Sandwiches which can be found almost anywhere in the city. Here is a picture of the sandwich shelves at the main store in the student union:
There are many sandwich options and I have gradually been working my way through the flavors in search of the best possible choice. Unfortunately, most of the dining options close sometime between 2 and 4 p.m. which means that I often eat dinner at the Edge, a mere five-minute walk from my dorm. The Edge’s crowning glory is the £4 meal, an offering that rotates through a biweekly schedule. Particularly among international students, schedules are decided based on what is available at the Edge that night.
One dining option that is not university owned but is essential to student life is a small trailer called John’s Van. Serving burgers, bagels, and wraps, the traditional meal is a sausage or bacon sandwich served with either coffee or tea for £2.10, £2 if you bring your own mug. Parked outside the mathematics and physics building in the middle of campus, John’s Van is able to capitalize expertly on the tired and hungry students who pass the intersection daily.
All in all, I know I still have a lot to learn about this university and about Sheffield but I sincerely appreciate feeling more at home each and every day.
The Japanese Mingle was a very fun event presented by the OU Japanese Club. I went to it for the first time this year. There were plenty of interesting activities to do, and if even if you aren’t very good at Japanese you can still have fun, I think that they found a good way to make the games challenging without making it unfair for the students in lower levels. Overall I thought the event went very well, and I was very happy that I went.
Immigration continuously becomes a talking point. With a president that abhors immigrants, heated debates arise. The dilemma with the wall causes friction between nations. It disrupts families and society. We have seen reports on children being assaulted in the immigration camps, yet nothing seems to be done to help. Immigration topics intensify, and people grow to live in fear. As we discussed in class, if becoming a citizen was that easy, then everyone would do it, but it’s not! The process is long and tedious; therefore, it’s tough. My friend recently became a citzen, and she expressed her happiness yet exhaustion. We have to remember that The United States is built on immigrants; therefore, everyone deserves opportunities to the “American Dream”