Off to England

I am finally going to be studying abroad! I will be off to England for the next academic year, and I am very excited. I think I am really going to like being there. After all, a tea pot is guaranteed to be provided with all the living arrangements! So far I am going to have three flatmates, and there is room for one more still. It is going to be quite an adventure sharing one kitchen and one bathroom with so many people! It won’t be so bad though. Apparently the physics building is quite close to where I will be staying, and buses drive by every 5 or 10 minutes. But even then, I will probably just walk most of the time since it’s close enough. I am so excited to finally leave the country… and go on a plane. Fortunately I will be traveling over the summer on a plane, so my first plane ride will still be a domestic flight rather than an international one. That makes it slightly less terrifying at least.

Eating Hot Pot!

After all these years of living with a Chinese major, I finally got to eat hot pot. My roommate talked about it all the time, since she has eaten it several times with her Chinese friends. But this is the first time I actually got to try it myself. Her fiance came over with the special hot pot boiler thing, and we provided all the food. We had fish balls, pork, lamb, tofu, fish tofu, shrimp, needle mushrooms, fat mushrooms that I don’t remember the name of, QQQQQ noodles (Q means bouncy in Chinese apparently), bok choy, romaine lettuce, another lettuce I don’t remember the name of, and probably some other things I have forgotten about.

Hot pot is lots of fun because it takes lots of time to eat. Basically, you start with a soup base, then add the different food and eat as you go. We started with the meat and made our way to the vegetables. We had so much food that it actually took us two days to finish it all. We started eating on Saturday at 8:00 pm, and we ate until 11:00 pm when we were too stuffed to eat any more. Then on Sunday we started eating again at 2:00 pm and finally finished (almost) everything off at 5:00 pm.

The only problem with eating hot pot is that it is, well, very hot. Temperature hot that is (and spicy hot too if you want it). Since you have the water boiling in front of you the entire time you are eating, it tends to get very hot very fast. That’s why hot pot is usually eaten in the winter. Unfortunately, our air conditioner is broken. We had a fan blowing on us while we ate, but we were still burning up by the time we were done. It was entirely worth it though.

Chinese New Year Celebration, Take Two

This year, I also went to an OU sponsored Chinese New Year celebration. I learned how to make dumplings, so that was fun. It’s way harder than I thought it would be. My roommate was making ones that looked absolutely perfect, but mine looked pretty pathetic. My roommate also performed on the guzheng (pronounced goo-jung), which is a Chinese stringed instrument. She’s pretty great at it. There were several other performances too. It was a good time.

Yet Another Belated Chinese New Year (Surprise, Surprise)

As always, I went to the Chinese New Year celebration at my roommate’s Chinese Baptist church. As always, it was lots of fun with lots of great dancing and singing and food. As always, I am posting about it several months after it happened. Yeah for being busy.

I really don’t have much new to say about it. Except that I learned how to count to nine in Chinese. They did a raffle, and they were reading off the digits on the tickets, so my roommate taught me the numbers. I don’t remember any of them anymore though. Oh well!

The Sounds that Transcend Culture

I just recently realized that there are probably only two sounds that everyone makes for the same reasons, no matter what culture: the sneeze and the cough. It doesn’t matter where you come from. If you have to sneeze, your sneeze is always going to be some variation of “achoo.” If you have to cough, your cough is always going to be some variation of “cough cough.” So if you ever want to break the language barrier between two cultures, just do a whole bunch of sneezing and coughing, and everyone will understand each other just fine!

International Music

I was recently thinking about how different cultures use different musical scales, yet the octave is always the same. An octave is basically when one note has a frequency that is double the frequency of the other note. So if a note has a frequency of 120 Hz, the octave up would have a frequency of 240 Hz. That definition is necessarily the same in every culture. But how you divide up the octave widely differs from culture to culture, and what “sounds good” with regard to combinations of notes also differs. For instance, Western and Middle Eastern music use two different scales (they divide the octave differently), and they also have two very different ideas about what intervals sound good. It is interesting how music can vary so much from culture to culture, but the octave will always mean the same thing. Some cultures might not consider the octave to sound good, but the octave is still always there. No matter what meaning people project onto the sounds, an octave will always exist. It is interesting how science is able to break the barriers of culture like that.

The Ebola Crisis in West Africa

I attended a lecture by Dr. Paul Richards called “Ebola in Sierra Leone: a Humanitarian Crisis in Historical Perspective.” I had actually read his book Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, so I already had pretty good idea of what he was talking about. He basically just discussed how the history of region had impacted the way the crisis was handled. The people from the inner part of the country did not tend to trust the government, so they were more inclined to try to contain the problem on their own and refuse outside help. There were also revolts at hospitals because people thought the disease was just a conspiracy to try to kill more people. He also talked about how people from central Africa already knew how to handle Ebola because they had already dealt with it on a large scale before, so once people started talking to African experts from that region, they were able to better treat the patients, and the death tolls declined significantly.

International Fall Festival (Again)

Like last year, I went to the international fall festival, and it was pretty much the same thing again. It was ridiculously cold and windy out, so I didn’t stay long. Plus there wasn’t much to do anyway. About the only thing really international-y about it is that a bunch of international people show up and the mini petting zoo is fairly exotic. I did get to pet a baby kangaroo, so that was pretty cool. Other than that there wasn’t much to do except drink lukewarm hot chocolate and stand around being cold… Unless I felt like getting my face painted, which I didn’t. I think it’s really geared more towards the children of the international people living in Kraettli than towards the college-age international students.

Le Club Français Existe!

C’est le premier semestre où nous avons eu des réunions régulières. Il y avait des heures de conversation qui était très utile. Je n’étudie plus le français avec les cours de l’universitie, mais j’utilise Duo Lingo. J’aime les heures de conversation parce que je peut encore pratiquer la langue et améliorer mes modes de communication.  J’ai parlé avec des personnes qui étaient de France, et je pouvais vraiment les comprendre, même quand ils parlaient vite. C’était très amusant.

Chinese Baptist Church Service

I went with my roommate to her church on Sunday, and it was quite a different experience. The congregation was not surprisingly mostly Chinese, but there were a few people of European decent as well. The worship at the beginning of the service was mostly in Chinese, but we sang a few verses in English as well. The songs were mostly English songs that had been translated into Chinese, but there were a few original Chinese hymns as well.

The pastor who runs the church is an elderly Caucasian man, but apparently he doesn’t actually do much of the preaching. My roommate said there is a rotation of pastors who come and preach instead. Last Sunday, the preacher was a very small, elderly man who did the sermon in English while a lady set beside him and translated. The translating was a bit annoying because it made the sermon difficult to follow. The preacher would say a sentence or so, then pause while the lady translated, then say another half a sentence and pause, and so on. As a result, the sermon was not really able to flow well. The service was pretty nice other than that though, and I really enjoyed my time there.

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