dia de los muertos

One of my favorite events that OU host’s in the OU Day of the Dead Street Festival in the parking lot of Lloyd Noble. This event is so fun and packed with a variety of things to see and do: from food trucks to live artwork shows to musical performances. I love inviting friends to this because it’s such a fun, joy-filled environment where students and families all come to visit the different booths, hop on the fun rides, and enjoy the delicious food.

My favorite part is looking at the different artwork tables where people display their hand-crafted talent. From painting canvases to delicately molded and stained coffee mugs, it is all so beautiful and the creativity is inspiring. It is particularly fun to ask the people about their art and hear from them why they love what they do. Some of them started painting diving into their craft at a young age, while others didn’t discover their gift till later in life. Some of the artwork was created out of places of pain and confusion, while others were birthed during times of joy and contentment. I think the most beautiful part is that each creation is so different, yet so magnificent. What one person creates and envisions is so unique to that individual and that is why, I believe, we should always draw from scratch rather than mimic someone else.

This is truly one of the most fun free events hosted by OU and I look forward to attending each year. It is a great way to spend the day around a lively, family-filled environments and take a break from the crazy study life. I think many people overlook this event or maybe don’t know what to expect so they don’t attend, and that is why I always try to invite random friends to come experience the fun.

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fresh foreign food

Today I went to the ASEAN – Association of Southeast Asian Nations – food fair held in Reaves Park. This event is free and allows for students to come enjoy authentic Southeast Asian cuisines, listen to great music, play games, and meet new people. It was so fun to see the variety of people who went to enjoy the festivities and experience the food and fun of a different culture, or their own culture. I love how OU has so many clubs on campus that host a variety of events to showcase their interests, talents and lifestyles. When I was in Australia, I tried really hard to make plans to travel throughout Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, things did not work out and today got me all the more excited to plan a future trip there (with hopefully my best friend Ella from Australia) as a post-graduation celebration.

I find it very easy to get caught up in my Norman bubble with the friends I’ve had since I was a freshman. Going to events like these remind of how much fun it is to spend time with people from different backgrounds, family lives, beliefs, and interests. I think it is only natural to gravitate towards people who are similar to us, have similar interests, religious affiliations, habits, and goals. As people, we tend to bond over things we have in common and invite people to come to events that we know they would enjoy. However, I think pushing ourselves outside of what is comfortable is the best way to grow, learn about ourselves and others, and maybe discover things that we enjoy that we initially did not know or think we would like.

Personally, I wish I went to more events on campus and put myself in different situations to meet new people. Life gets so busy and I find college to be a constant battle of deciding how to best spend and invest my time. But, that is the season of life I am in right now and I’ve accepted that this semester will be devoted more towards studying that external activities and time with friends. AND THAT’S OKAY! It’s just a season and it won’t be forever. It makes freedom during future semesters so much sweeter.

 

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small reminders & simple joys

As part of Brazil week, there was a movie and popcorn night at the OU Bizzell Memorial Library to watch the fun, animated film Rio. The movie begins with the main character, Blu, a baby macaw, getting captured by dealers in Rio de Janeiro and being smuggled to the U.S. The truck that was transporting Blu accidently drops his box on the side of the road, where a girl, Linda, finds him and raises him with nothing but love. The film jumps forward to fifteen years later, where Blu, a domesticated and intelligent bird, is living comfortably with Linda, a now bookshop owner. Out of nowhere, a Brazilian ornithologist, Tulio, visits Linda and explains to that Blue is the last male of his species and that he has a female, Jewel, in Rio de Janeiro. He invites Linda to bring Blu to Brazil so that Blu and Jewel can save their species. One night in Brazil, Linda and Tulio place both birds in a cage at the institute where Tulio works. They leave for dinner, and while gone, smugglers break in and steal Blu and Jewel in the hopes of selling them at a high price. Through a series of events, Blu and Jewel escape their captors and befriend a group of birds and eventually help them find their way back to Linda and Tulio. Through all the crazy adventures that occur during their quest, Blu overcomes his fear of flying and both birds experience the joy of forming new friendships and tackling challenges together.

 

               

 

This movies was so heart-warming and, after having spent a long day studying, it was so nice to watch a silly and sweet movie to remind myself of the simple joys in life. In college it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and stressed by classes, time management, future plans, and investing in friendships. During the week, I tutor two twin middle school boys that I’ve been tutoring since they were in 5th grade. They keep me light-hearted and remind me that there is life beyond college and that stress is a choice and should always be temporary. I am thankful that you can truly learn life lessons from anything, even cute, animated films.

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goodbye, for now :)

The final post of my sweet time abroad in the beautiful country of Australia. Wow. Never thought I’d be here. It’s always strange to me how days can feel long but weeks feel awfully short. Honestly, that is truly what study abroad has felt like: long days but insanely fast weeks. My time in Australia will definitely go down as one of the best seasons of my life. It truly surpassed anything I could have imagined and I will always cherish my Aussie friends and adventures.

A week before our finals, a large group of us a took a day trip to Wattamolla beach to hike, explore the area, and see the area’s greatest attraction: Wedding Cake Rock.

At first, we explored the main beach and took in the beauty of the surrounding area. The water is truly a stunning crystal blue and contrasted beautifully with the green trees and bright blue skies. After hanging around here for a bit, we continued along a long, windy path towards Wedding Cake Rock.

After hours, and I mean HOURS, of hiking along the path, we finally reached the destination: picture 3 is Wedding Cake Rock. Honestly, we were all not expecting it to look like that and there was a gate blocking anyone from getting close to it (with a $1300 fine for anyone caught jumping it) so we all laughed and joked around about how far we’d hiking to look at a white rock. Pretty hilarious! But, it was so much fun!! The whole day was filled with beauty, nature, exercise and good conversations with new and current friends. I feel like every day I see and appreciate something new in Australia. It was a blast to be around a  both Australians and Americans all enjoying each other and having fun on this lil excursion.

After completing finals, which thankfully were not too bad and I feel fairly confident about all of them, I went on a road trip to Byron Bay with 5 of my closest friends: Allene, Ella, Jake, Jack, and Nathan. We took two cars, Nathan’s and Jack’s, and made stops along the way at Newcastle and Seal Rocks before reaching Byron Bay, where we stayed for 3 nights.

For our first day in Byron Bay, it was a cloudy day so we thought it could be best spent hiking rather than at the beach. We hiked Mount Warning, which was a super steep 8.8 km hike. When we reached the top, everyone was dripping in sweat and feeling the burn in our legs. Sadly, because it was overcast, it looked like we were in a cloud and we didn’t get to see the supposedly spectacular view from the top. Either way, we still had so much fun and it felt good to exercise after spending long hours in the car.

For day 2, we spent the day at Broken Head beach watching the boys surf, soaking up the sunshine, and enjoying the liveliness of families, friends, and couples around us. It as such a lovely environment! That night, we watched the sunset, listened to live music, and then went back to the airbnb to have brie and crackers while dinner cooked. It was a perfect day.


For our final day in Byron, the boys and girls split up and did our own thing for bit until meeting back up for dinner. The boys went a found an amazing waterfall and explored around. Ella, Allene and I went to a stunning beach and hiked around and swam there for several hours. After spending a long time there, we walked to the town for coffee and to check out a few fun shops. It was a super relaxing day and, although we sure do love the boys, it was some much needed girl time. When we all met back up, we watch another insane sunset on the beach. Truly stunning!

The next day, we made are way back towards Wollongong, stopping in Crescent Head and Port Macquarie on the way. This road trip was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever been on and hands down the best final “HOORAH” for my time abroad.

I miss this place immensely. Leaving Australia and the friends I made there was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to go through. I cried leaving my friends and family when I left for Australia even though I knew I would see them in a few months. Leaving these people, not knowing when I’d see them next, is what made it so emotionally rattling and hard to come to terms with. I’m still battling with it. I’ve been home a few weeks now and, at times, waves of sadness hit me and flashbacks and memories of Australia rise and I feel a deep longing to return. I go to the pool and can still vividly picture walking onto Fairy Meadow beach, running into the waves, and drying off in the warm sunshine.

When I made the decision to go abroad, I was super excited and praying that I would make wonderful friendships. However, I did not think I would find some of the best friends/people I’ve ever met who love me exactly the way that I am, even though I’m so different from them. None of my friends believed in what I believe or had the same passions and views on life, yet we formed deep, meaningful connections and I truly felt so at peace and comfortable with them. Although navigating post study abroad emotions has been a challenge, I would never do a thing differently. I have grown so much through this experience. I know it won’t be the last time I go through a significant change in my life, whether moving to a new city or starting adult life after graduation from OU, and this has only prepared me for the future change and challenges ahead. Change is hard at first. On my first night in Australia I balled my eyes out thinking I had just made a huge mistake. Then, 5 months later I’m in the car, crying harder than I’ve ever cried in my life ( I was an absolute wreck lol), because I’m headed to the airport for my flight back to Oklahoma. What a twist. Me in February would never have seen this coming or could have ever predicted this outcome. So, the next time I experience a drastic change, I’ll know that it will get better, whether it’s in a week, 5 months, or a year, it will get better.

Life is so good when we embrace situations and experiences with an open heart and positive attitude. I also think there’s a beauty in not setting expectations. In doing this, you get to be absolutely blown away by the outcome. I know I’ll be back to Australia and it will be the most beautiful reunion with my beloved friends there.

Goodbye, for now! 🙂

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