Pasta, Nutella and Expensive Cheese

They say when you learn a new language, you discover a new part of yourself. This fall, I started Italian and now I like expensive cheese?

Yep. The College of Arts and Sciences hosts a week of events to celebrate the culture of many of the languages taught at the University of Oklahoma. Italy Week was a blast.

It started out with pasta making, something I was determined to excel at now that I was learning about my Italian self. My roommate, Amy, and I went to the class. I followed the directions, was proud of my creation, and sent a photo of my achievement to my friend in Asti, Italy.

“It isn’t normal,” was his response.

I couldn’t get myself to eat more than one bite…maybe pasta making isn’t my thing.

The “Is it Italian or American Nutella?” event sounded a little more promising – and less difficult. I go through about one jar of Nutella a week, so I was bound to notice the difference between the two.

I couldn’t. They tasted the same to me. But it was free Nutella on the South Oval so I was quite pleased.

Now, here comes the highlight of Italy Week: Cheese and Olive Oil Tasting Class.

I like my cheese cheap and American on hamburgers and grilled cheese, but my ~cultured~ side was coming out so I had to give it a try.

We started with tasting olive oils. By tasting, I mean sniffing, swirling, smacking and contemplating the hundreds of ways to describe

how a teaspoon ofolive oil can taste. I know the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff, but I’m quite puzzled as to how one can describe olive oil as a green banana or wood. But those were options on the score sheet…

And then we had three, thin, triangular slices of cheese in front of us ranging from a few weeks to a few years in age. I will argue that tasting cheese is an art form of its own and it is fascinating to hear the history behind the pecorino sardo, piave vecchio and casatica.

Even though my Italian friend criticized my pasta, we shared the same preference for pecorino. That boosted my confidence.

I still make ravioli in the microwave and enjoy frozen pizza, but I learned to appreciate the origins and the stories behind some of the most admired food in the world.

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24/7 International Experience

Four girls represent three continents in one apartment.

I decided to live with exchange students this year. My first semesters at OU, I was always at the international socials, meeting some of my closest friends and realized that the best way to spend the most time with my favorite people on campus is to live with them.

Nicole, Amy, Carina and me

Amy is from Scotland; she’s earned the nickname “Shrek” in our apartment. Out of the the three girls, I have the most trouble understanding her English. We are quickly filling a book of all of the different words, phrases and expressions she uses (plasters are BandAids, gutted means devastated and uni refers to everything from class to homework to campus). She’s coming home with me for Christmas.

Nicole is my Bolivian roommate. I actually met her last year as an exchange student, but she made her transfer here, and now we live together. We watch Spanish rom coms and speak very fluently in Spanglish when we are together. I am celebrating New Years with her (and Amy) in hometown, Sucre.

Disco Carina is the Danish remix of the Macarena, but it is also what we call my Danish roommate, Carina. She made ratatouille her first week here and will find a way to put anything on an Excel spreadsheet – but let me tell you, Disco Carina is a suitable name. I’m pretty sure SIMS language is just Danish, but we all greet each other with “Hej smukke,” which means “Hi, beautiful.”

Then there’s me. I buy in bulk, embrace capitalism and enjoy French fries with ice cream. I am the only one in the apartment who has never used the kettle (just put a glass in the microwave, duh).

But we embrace – and laugh at – our differences. Knowing by the end of the year we will all be in different countries lingers in the back of our minds, but I wouldn’t trade living with these girls for the world.

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