One thing that I have been extremely interested in this semester is international travel and how that has been affected by the pandemic. This has affected so many people and I have been interested in what other countries are doing to protect themselves and work to open themselves back up for travel. One thing that really interested me is that there are some countries, such as Taiwan that are accepting study abroad students and are open for travel again. I think this is because they are in general a much cleaner country. I know someone who traveled there a few years ago and they said wearing masks when you are ill is the normal thing there, so they were much more prepared for the hit that COVID took. I am interested to see how countries continue to open back up for travel as the vaccine begins to be used and hopefully COVID cases begin to decrease.
Another Instagram live event I got to go to was also through the oupueblo account and it was on dancing. I got to watch people showcase Hispanic dancing and how that is such a big part of their culture. Dance is something that has always fascinated me because it is something that I do not participate in or know much about but is so vital to countries culture. I really enjoyed getting to experience this part of their culture.
This semester I was able to take the course Understanding the Global Community where I was able to broaden my views of the world and look at different perspectives and understandings of the world. This class helped me to look at events happening around the world from multiple perspectives and helped me to learn to analyze those perspectives. I really appreciated getting to look at issues from a global view and not just an Americanized view because that is hard to do. I also really appreciated getting to learn about COVID around the world and dive in a little to how other countries have been handling it and what has worked well and what hasn’t. This class helped me a lot with critically thinking about events around the world.
This semester, getting involved in international events looked much different. One opportunity that I had was to get a tour of Pueblo, Mexico via Instagram live. I got to see many of the sites and experiences that students who study abroad there get to have. I got to see the city and learn a lot about the culture. It was really cool to get to be involved in this and get to see somewhere from my phone. They also talked a lot about the OU school their and the opportunities that they typically have to study abroad there. They showed a lot of spots that students who study abroad typically frequent. The experience was really cool and I was glad that I got to do it.
Each year, the Global Engagement program has a day designated to different people sharing their knowledge and experiences in the program and at OU. This year I went to one that was helpful tips for freshman because it was the only one that fit into my schedule, but, even though I am about to go into my junior year, it was interesting to hear other people’s tips on how to manage time and survive college. I took a lot from this session. The biggest thing that everyone said was to be pro-active in your own education and in what you’re doing and to be on top of your requirements for programs and classes. I really enjoyed hearing advice from our peers and finding new ways to help myself improve and grow.
The College of Education has a study abroad program in Uganda that I was able to hear about this year, and am hoping to go on next summer. The program is 3 weeks in the month of June. It is a 6-hour program and is also very hands-on in learning about the culture and working with locals in the area. This program really interests me for a couple of reasons. One, I have always wanted to go to Africa. I think it is such an amazing place and have always wanted to experience the different cultures there. Second, it is major specific, so it would be interesting to help in schools/ learn about how education works in different countries and take things back from that experience that I could apply to my own classroom.
OU does this really cool program called OU Cousins, where they essentially pair one University student from the USA with one international student and then they plan events and give you time to get to know your cousin. I signed up last semester but could not make it to the meeting so I do not have a cousin, but I was able to attend some of the OU cousin events this semester regardless of that and got to meet some international students. These events ranged from a BBQ to going to an OKC Thunder basketball game, but each one was a way to experience normal American culture with internationals who do not normally get those experiences. I have really enjoyed being a part of OU Cousins and plan to get more involved during my time here at OU.
This semester wrapped up my second year being a part of Spanish club. I have really enjoyed being a part of Spanish club because it has helped me grow in my understanding of the language while also getting to make new friends who have that same love for learning and growing. This semester, we did a lot of different activities that revolved around Spanish culture that helped me to grow and understand and learn more about this new culture. I have really enjoyed my time getting to be a part of this organization and meet the people that I have through it.
This summer I am getting to spend 6 weeks overseas in Central Asia. Throughout this semester I have spent a lot of time looking into the culture that I will be getting to experience. The area is filled with a lot of really modern people and places, but is also home to so many culturally rich places that I look forward to visiting while I am there. The cultural is also really well known for their elaborate shopping areas, street vendors, and coffee, all of which I am excited to experience this summer. I am so excited to get to meet new people and grow and deepen my understanding of the world and different people and cultures.
This semester, my Spanish professor was from Venezuela, and during class we got to talk to her some about the culture and differences between her home and living here in America. Venezuela is located on the northern coast of South America and the people there primarily speak Spanish. We learned about different holidays that they celebrate and also how those holiday’s and traditions differ from other Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico. Venezuela is a country that is rich and full of culture and after getting to learn about it more this year I would love to visit it someday.