My First Few Weeks in Daegu

As my days abroad continue to rush by, I haven’t had a great deal of time to sit and process everything around me that has changed so drastically in such a short amount of time. So far, my study abroad trip in South Korea has been a whirlwind of new experiences and new friends to share them with. However, I find myself noticing so many little things within daily life here in Daegu that are so similar to back home. despite the wide array of difference, there is so much that seems fairly universal.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been exploring Daegu and trying to find the best coffee houses and restaurants I can! My KNU buddy has been extremely helpful in navigating the campus and their online systems. Most of my exploring has actually been with other exchange students. there are people from all over the world living right next to each other in this new environment. My roommate is Russian and I’ve become good friends with people from France, Portugal, Ireland, Mexico, Italy, and Japan to name a few. Most of my classes are of course mainly Korean students (besides Korean 1 XD) so I’ve made some Korean friends with the help of group projects! Most everyone is very friendly, although I definitely feel the shift of perspective from majority to minority.

Korean is slowly but surely coming more easily to me. the alphabet can be a bit confusing due to how similar the syllables can sound, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. Making Korean friends has definitely helped with this! Also, I’ve been trying to eat as authentically as I can while I’m here, which can be a bit difficult when fried chicken and beer is on of the most popular group-hang destinations! But I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything I’ve eaten thus far.  (except the dorm cafeteria)

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Pre-Departure Korean Immersion

Regretfully, in fall 2016 the Korean Conversation Club met on Wednesday nights, which is when I had Spanish class.  So, to continue learning about South Korea before I move there to study abroad in spring 2017, we met at different Korean restaurants to eat together and talk about Korean customs.

First we went to Midwest City to Korea House https://www.facebook.com/Korean-House-117502098268996/ Our host and guide was Cassade Davis, who studied abroad in at Kyungpook National University in Daegu for a summer program, then returned in spring 2016 for a full semester.  She speaks Korean well, which surprised the restaurant owners. She taught me a few basic phrses while we were there. Cassade explained the basic chop stick table manners, and several other cotstoms and norms for meals and in general. We had kimbap, dukbokki, kimchi, bulgogi, and the accompanying banchan. All of which was delicious.

I’ve since gone exploring for all of the authentic Korean restaurants and markets that I can find, along with people I’ve met who have either studied abroad in Korea before, plan to, or are actually Korean.

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International Community Fall Festival

ON November 19th, I got to stop by the International Community Fall Festival. Since I’ve been living in Kraettli Apartments all sememster, is was nice to be able to see all of my neighbors having a great time and  enjoying the festivities and bonding. The apartments are definitely a diverse population. I’ve done laundry next to people from so many countries and backgrounds in such a small amount of time. Getting to see how all these families interact has been one of the highlights of living there.

The handful of events that we’ve held throughout the semester have definitely added to the sense of community in Kraettli. From garage sales to BBQs, each one has helped to open me up to meeting new people and learning about their lives and experiences. (not that I didn’t already love doing that) I think I’m a little less anxious about studying abroad next smester thanks to living in Kraettli.

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Taste of OU Study Centers

On November 17, OU held an event in the library for International Education Week. The main gist of the event was to Learn about study abroad opportunities at the OU Study Centers in Brazil, Italy and Mexico. IN order to entice more students to attend they also provided a multitude of snacks and treats from the various study abroad locations. Theses included Brazilian chocolates, pizza and Mexican Coca-Cola.

I’m personally considering both Brazil and Mexico for my second study abroad location, so it was nice to get some more information along with the chocolates. I wish I was able to attend more events like this, but sadly my work schedule usually prohibits me from most of these activities.

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Young Women’s Honors

The first ever YWH  will be broad casting tomorrow night. Young Women’s Honors is a global platform that will discover, honor and celebrate women who demonstrate confidence, intelligence and leadership, that will inspire others to follow. Each year, they will celebrate ten women on national stage. Through their online community, they plan amplify their audience, and share the celebration with millions across the world. Over the next twenty-five years, countless people will have access to and be able to recognize these accomplishments through the global platform, instilling inspiration in the midst of these chaotic times.

I look forward to seeing who the honored women will be, in order to better critique their standards for excellence. I sincerely hope that it’s not solely  focused on actresses and draw for a diverse field of women to honor. Michelle Obama is one of the hosts of the evening, among other well know figures. I for one, know the value of good representation in the media, and have often struggled to find it, so I hope that this event acts as a springboard for more positive role models for women, and highlights those whom we may not be aware of.

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Russian Hacking

Over the past several months, the media has been completely saturated with “news” of the election, Trump, and countless scandals. the mass of which seemed to desensitize the public to the current President-elect’s highly questionable policies, or lack there of. His campaign relied on this media hype and mudslinging in order to achieve his ends. which he has been fairly successful in.

However, recently it has been shown that Trump has ethical, and business conflicts that seem to violate the Constitution; is skipping his national security briefings while dangerously departing form longstanding bipartisan foreign policy; has criticized union workers and protesters (among many others) on his Twitter feed; and plans to staff much of his cabinet and high-level leadership with billionaires dedicated to eradicating the programs that they’ve been assigned to lead.

Meanwhile, the CIA, FBI, NSA, White House, DNC, Clinton, and Russian powers have claimed that Russia hacked and interfered with the US election. There is now one question everyone is asking. Will this change the outcome of the election? One of the programs that would definitely be thrown into jeopardy is the EPA and other pro-environmental programs. Since Trump and many of the people he plans on putting into power claim that Climate change is a hoax mage up by the Chinese, my future as an environmental sustainability major might be a little more strained. The thought of a Trump presidency not only makes me afraid for my future, for a number of reasons, but for the future of our planet and for those who will have to clean up the mess.

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We failed Aleppo, and Aleppo is falling.

Aleppo is falling. It has been falling for some time, because the international community has been failing them since 2011, but this week Aleppo is hitting the ground. The few remaining Syrians in Aleppo are posting their final goodbyes, final calls to action, final angry words on media platforms, because they know their time is coming soon. Their internet or their power will go out, or they will by violent forces.

People are killing themselves to avoid the consequences of being confronted by the Syrian army. They are more afraid of being tortured and raped than they are of “burning in hellfire.”

The United Nations calling it “a complete meltdown of humanity,” yet doing nothing to show humanity. I understand the complications of this war, I do. The several different factions fighting against each other, the foreign countries involved. The proxy wars being fought.

Do imperialist nations truly believe that the lives of their own citizens are worth more than the lives of others? That’s what proxy conflict means to me. “We don’t want to directly engage our enemy, because that’s too risky… but let’s attack their interests here.” It’s a petty game, and they don’t care who dies. Special interests don’t die, but people do.

I can’t really organize my thoughts, except to say that I am ashamed. I am ashamed of my country, and I am ashamed of my global community. For turning a blind eye to merciless killing. Just like it did in Bosnia. Just like it did in Rwanda.

We think we are so developed. We feel so high and mighty.

We are not mighty at all. Cowardice consumes us.

That is all I have for today.

One day, may we know peace.

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give me strength

Hello friend,

I’m still not sure how to cope with the results of the presidential election. It’s been five weeks now since the unthinkable happened, since the xenophobic, racist, sexist, anti-intellectual was elected to office. I remember writing a post about him some time ago—I need to go look back on it, and revel in the naïveté that was believing in an America that couldn’t possibly elect such a hateful man.

The morning of November 8th, I was exuberant. I got up early to go vote in the election for the first female president of the United States of America, and it was an exhilarating feeling. It was something I was going to tell future generations about. I was there. I was with her. I swear I was high on that feeling all day. Until about 9 pm. When the votes started creeping in. And the states were being called. I held on hope as long as I could, for a good four hours or so. I had been trying to study for a test the next day, but I couldn’t concentrate. I was devastated. I was sitting in my home with my significant other, and all of a sudden I couldn’t take it anymore.

Once the tears started falling, they didn’t stop. They were heavy, and they hurt. I cried myself to sleep.

Sometimes, when something bad happens, I like to go to sleep. Because when I wake up, for a few blissful seconds or minutes I’ll forget about the bad. It’s a way of coping, I suppose. I’ve done it when loved ones have died. For a few seconds… that hurt hasn’t happened yet, because I don’t remember it. Somehow, it makes it easier to accept when I remember the truth.

When I awoke the next day, there was not a millisecond of peace. I woke up knowing. I woke up afraid. For myself, for my loved ones, and for people who I have never met. But I understand their struggle and I stand with them. As someone in the LGBTQ+ community, a Trump presidency terrifies me. Now that a few weeks have passed, I must admit, it hurts less to think about. But I still worry. I worry about my right to love who I want. I worry about my right to my future children, be they biologically mine or not. I worry about the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. I worry about women. I worry about people of color. I worry about non-Christians. I worry. And my heart, is oh so heavy.

The weight that has affixed itself to my chest since the night of November 8th is always there. Some days, it’s easier to carry than others.

My family doesn’t understand. Partially because, my family is privileged. White. Comfortably middle class. Straight. Christian. They don’t understand. And when I try to explain, they don’t want to hear it, and they don’t believe it.

I have tried to explain it to them. When they voted for that man, they voted for their political beliefs. They got to vote for actual political ideologies that they care about—gun rights, immigration reform, conservative fiscal policy, etcetera. When I voted, and when thousands of other people like me voted—it was like we voted for our basic survival. We voted to keep our civil rights, to marry and love who we want. We voted against discrimination, of race and of gender. We voted for love. Support. Diversity.

On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you could say that we voted at a lower level. We voted for moral and basic needs of the human condition. Things like personal safety. Acceptance.

And so, unfortunately, I still don’t know. I know I have to keep fighting. I know in my heart that that man is not fit to lead this country. I can’t believe that in a little over a month he will no longer be the president-elect, but the President himself. Quite frankly, I’m still terrified.

But I’m not going to back down.

Try as he might to undermine what I stand for, as a human being and as a global engagement fellow. I will not stand down.

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Festival of Light

Hey, pals!

As I have stated in a previous post, I have had quite a semester. I was enrolled in 16 time-consuming credit hours, and I was also working 30 hours a week at Walmart, which is a pretty exhausting job. I also took two classes and worked full time at Walmart over the summer, so I’ve had a very full plate since May of this year. Why was I working so much, you ask? Well, because I’m going to Austria and I want to be able to travel while I’m there! I didn’t want to have to worry about money at all, so I decided to put myself through a hell of a tough time—but I know it will all be worth it come January 30th. I realized I have strayed from my original point here, but I feel like this is important to know. Hey, it’s my blog, I make the rules!

Anyhow, I have been a busy bee this semester, for the above reasons. As such, I have been able to attend very few OU Cousins events, mostly due to my work schedule. I have attended almost every meeting, but it seems like we always had events while I was scheduled to work or had exams to study for. Thankfully, I FINALLY GOT TO GO TO AN EVENT LAST WEEK!

This OU Cousins event was a short trip (it’s about a 40 minute drive) to Chickasha, where we went to see the annual holiday Festival of Light. I had only ever been once before, and it was beautiful, but this time was even better. It was FAR COLDER—I was freezing—but that meant that there were less visitors, so it was like we had the whole place to ourselves.

I think it’s really funny and cool how we humans are about the weather and temperature. The climate where we grow up is our normal, accepted weather, and anything too far above or below that can cause us a huge amount of discomfort. While some students (International and American) were enjoying the first freezing cold day of Oklahoma winter, others were shivering and shaking. I was one of the shakers—I simply hadn’t dressed properly—but I know that I, and everyone else had a great time regardless.

The Festival of Light is so beautiful. If you’ve never been, and you’re from around here, I highly encourage you to go. Even if you have been before, I encourage you to go again! And bring a friend!

The loveliest part of the park is the bridge over the pond. The canopy is covered in shining white holiday lights, and it is absolutely delightful. We even witnessed a proposal! It could be considered very romantic—I’m sure there are several proposals at that exact spot every year.

Anyway, I was quite over the moon that I finally got to attend an OU Cousins event this semester, and even though I missed some cool events, I think I still got to go to the best one. I’m so glad that my last OU Cousins event until next fall was such a great one.

Endless German Opportunities

Another German event (I know, I know—I need to get out more) that I attended this semester was the German Opportunities Fair on November 16th. They altered this event quite a bit this year and I really enjoyed the improvements—in the past, it involved short individual presentations from various speakers about several of the opportunities for German learning and beyond at OU. This year, it was a much more casual and laidback event where organizations and speakers had booths set up and you could initiate individual conversations.

I think I spent most of my time at about 5 different booths, which sounds like a lot but I was there for the full hour and a half. My first stop was Dr. Schlupp, who told me a little about German research opportunities, and some graduate options in Germany. Even though I feel like I’m not far along enough to be thinking about things like that, it’s always nice to chat with Dr. Schlupp. He’s my best friend’s dad, so I get to see him pretty often, and it’s always rather enjoyable. Sometimes I wish that my family was a bit more like the Schlupp family… For some reason I just get along better at Schlupp family dinners than my own family’s dinners. Maybe it’s just German hospitality?

The next booth I visited because one of my old German instructors was at the helm. She’s earning her Master’s degree in German from OU, and her booth explained the process of obtaining such a degree from our fine institution. I’ll be honest, the more German I learn, the more I want to know, and so that path seems like a bigger option to me every day. However, I’ve still got a long road ahead of me on my current degree, so I’m trying to stay focused and not get too off track!

My next stop was the Leipzig booth. Every summer, select OU German faculty take a small group of German students (about 12 or 15) to Leipzig, Germany for a whirlwind study abroad and language immersion. I’ve heard from many people that the language courses they take while in Leipzig are really intense; people can earn up to six credit hours in just a few short weeks! It’s a trip that is very attractive to students who would like to minor, but may not have the time to go abroad for a whole semester or year. Even though I don’t think I’ll ever go on the OU Faculty-sponsored trip to Leipzig, I really would like to visit. I’m sure I’ll get the opportunity sometime this next semester while I’m in Austria!

After I learned more about Leipzig and picked up a snazzy study abroad pin, I headed toward the internship booth, because heaven knows I need some experience! I learned that there are actually quite a few internships available in Washington D.C. for young speakers of German and Business majors, which is something I would really enjoy doing. This booth was probably the most informative of the night, simply because it involved a lot of information that was completely new to me. I networked with the students who were running the booth, who have both had internships with the state department, and I got an e-mail address of someone who could greatly aid my quest for an internship. All in all, I’d say it was quite successful!

Last, but not least, I visited the Fulbright table. I saved this table for last because I figured I already knew quite a lot about the subject, and while I was right, I still gleaned a lot of information from the booth’s representative and the other students who were checking it out. When I was a Psychology major, I thought that I wanted to apply to do something more research related, but now I’m leaning more toward applying for an English Teaching Assistant position. Honestly, the idea of teaching English used to make me a little anxious, because I was afraid that my German wouldn’t be good enough. Thankfully, even though I’m nowhere near fluent yet, I’m confident in my abilities, and I’m excited for any opportunity to grow.

And thus, that was the final table I visited at the German Opportunities fair. I feel like I gained so much information in such a short time, and I really enjoyed getting to talk to people one-on-one and ask questions I otherwise might not have in front of a large crowd. One of my favorite parts about OU is the German faculty we have here. I truly think they are among the best in the country, and I love the way it always feels like I’m with family while I’m spending time with them.

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