A Problem Bigger Than I Could Have Imagined

Yesterday, I attended a lecture regarding the Syrian Refugee Crisis, where we were shown a short documentary, and then were able to hear from several experts on the subject. The film showed officials in Greece going out and rescuing refugees that were smuggled across the ocean. The film blew my mind as I was not aware of the treacherous conditions that the refugees have to endure in order to escape.

Dr. Smith was the first expert to speak. He caught my attention when he said that the documentary “powerfully humanizes the refugee situation in a world where we are scared of a threat to our own security.” This statement to me summed up the whole purpose of the documentary, which was great. He also mentioned that Germany has experienced a lot of criticism for opening their borders and accepting refugees. I learned that there are many countries accepting refugees–in Sweden as many as 160,000 refugees live in the country which, in terms of US population translates to 5 million.

Dr. Raymond spoke on the historical perspective of the crisis. He stated that migration has always occurred and that the idea of closing and protecting country borders is a relatively new idea. He also defined what a refugee is based on the 1951 Refugee Convention. Dr. Raymond said that a refugee is someone outside of their own country and cannot return due to a well founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, gender, etc. Because of the definition, there are 21.3 million refugees in the world, but there are 65 million internally displaced people. This was mind blowing to me, as we seem to only be helping the technical refugees, which means the majority of the problem is not being addressed.

Overall, I found this lecture to be very mind blowing and eye opening. It made me want to help with the crisis and made me realize that we need to be doing more.

Law School???

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the International and Area Studies Career Prep and Networking Fair, which was really interesting for me. At first, I was concerned that the fair would not be very beneficial to me, as I am not an IAS major, and my interests are not fully in the International and Area Studies field. However, the networking fair ended up being wonderful, as I got to speak with the University of Oklahoma’s Pre-Law Society. I have recently sparked an interest in the field of law and getting to talk with this group got me even more excited for my future.

I have two major interests in the field of law—international law (particularly criminal) and sports law (aka sports agent). I have not had many international experiences yet, so I am not sure how well I would enjoy international law, however, I hope to gain some enlightenment on this during my study abroad trips. As for sports law, I have wanted to be a sports agent for a while, yet it is nerve-wracking because 1) the sports field is highly competitive and 2) it is a male dominated industry. After talking to the pre-law society at the IAS Fair, I felt more confident about going forward with law school, in either direction. I had heard about the pre-law society, but was unsure exactly what they did. I learned that the society holds meetings bi-weekly where they discuss different law schools, hold speakers, and even do LSAT prep and practice LSAT tests.

This fair opened my eyes and made me realize that although I do not need to know exactly what I want to do with my life just yet, there are organizations on OU’s campus to help me narrow down what I want to do and to make me a more competitive candidate, whether that be in the job market or for graduate school.

What’s Better than a New International Friend?

This semester I have had the great joy and privilege of being a member of the OU Cousins program. At first I was nervous about joining the program, because at the matching party there were way more American students than international students and I was unable to find a cousin initially. However, a week later I received and email that I was matched with an international student and have loved getting to know her over the course of the semester.

My OU Cousin’s name is Veerle Tierens, but she prefers to go by Vie. Vie is from Belgium and is only here for this semester. Through talking with her I have learned about the differences between schooling in Belgium and in America. I have also learned about her lifestyle and the things that she has experienced in Belgium that I have not here in America. I was also able to share with Vie things that are special to America, such as my sorority. Vie was not familiar with what exactly a sorority was, and I was glad to be able to share with her, since it is something very important to me.

Getting to know Vie over the last few months has provided me with some insight on life in another country and how her culture is. It has been a very eye-opening experience and is something that I will never forget. Unfortunately, Vie will be going back to Belgium in the spring, but the memories I made with her will last for a lifetime.

The Making of My Digital Story

These past few weeks in class we have been working on our digital stories and it has been quite interesting. I have never done a project of this sort, so it was different for me. At first it was a little weird to me, because I do not really like recording my voice and having to hear it replayed over and over while creating my story. I did struggle a little bit with the project, with determining which pictures would make my story the most effective. Eventually I figured it out, but I did struggle a little at the beginning.

Each class that Rachel visited was very helpful and engaging. I really enjoyed how she would go step by step with us to make sure that we were fully understanding the software. I have used video editing software so I knew somewhat what I was doing already, but having someone there to refresh and familiarize us with the software was very helpful. I also liked how during my recording she helped me go over my transcript to ensure that it was the best it could be.

Learning how to create a video that runs smoothly and is high quality is a skill that I think is important and can be useful in many ways during life. Although I most likely will not create a digital story again, I will at some point in my life need to create a video and knowing how to use basic editing software is very helpful.

Global Engagement and the “Real World”

The world we live in today is more international across all industries than it has been ever before. The interactions between various countries in industries such as business, medicine, and law has grown immensely. It is for this reason that I believe that no matter what industry I decide to go into, my experiences with the Global Engagement Fellowship will help me in numerous ways. For example, studying abroad, as well as becoming proficient in a language, and being involved with international events/organizations, will provide me with a competitive edge when I go to apply for jobs or internships. The Global Engagement Fellowship will also provide me with insight on various cultures and teachers from around the world, that will impact how well I perform in my career field compared to other colleagues.

I am not 100% sure exactly what I want to do in the future, however I do know that I either want to go into law or medicine. In both of these fields, international experiences are vital to performing at your highest level. To enhance the impact that the Global Engagement Fellowship has on my performance in either of these fields, while abroad I will reach out to either medical professionals or attorneys in the various countries and try to gain experience with them. By gaining experience in a related field in another country, my perspective will be molded and I will have an expanded horizon about their practice as it relates to practice in the United States. As I continue down this journey in determining what career path to take as well as the Global Engagement Fellowship, I will jump at any opportunity that is presented to me that will further enhance and expand my knowledge on topics that could help me in the future.

Going Halfway Across the World…No, that’s not Scary at All.

When I first was accepted to the Global Engagement Fellowship, I knew that it would mean that I would be traveling abroad, away from my family and friends, but I just brushed the thought away since it was still far off. I do not plan to travel abroad until the summer after my Sophomore year, so I still have a while, but now I am seriously looking at where I want to travel to and at times it can be quite frightening.

The thing that has been scaring me the most is becoming sick while being half way across the world from my family. I am very independent and know how to take care of myself and get the necessary medical attention, however it is still a little bit scary. I know that I will have resources such as people to contact within my program if an issue arises, so I know that it will be okay.

In regards to being globally engaged, I am worried about adjusting and not sticking out as a tourist. I do not want to be that person that sticks out like a sore thumb when I am living and studying in another country. To help prevent this from occurring, I will do research beforehand about cultural norms and the do’s and do not’s of the country to where I am traveling. In addition, once I arrive to my country of study, I will make an effort to reach out to someone local and ask for advice of what to do to best become engaged in the culture of that country.

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Brochures on Brochures on Brochures

Although this post is slightly delayed, I wanted to touch on my experience at the study abroad fair that I attended at the beginning of the semester. When I first when to the fair I thought I would just grab some brochures and have a perfect idea of where I wanted to travel to…WRONG. I ended up walking away from the study abroad fair with about 25 brochures to so many different countries.

I knew that OU had amazing study abroad opportunities but it was not until this day that I fully realized how lucky I was. I am very interested in studying abroad in Spain, as I am learning Spanish, and was presented with more opportunities than I could ever imagine. I received information on so many different programs and cities that it was almost too much to take in. I learned about a city called Seville that has a great business program through IAS. This one really struck my interest, and I even spoke about it in my first study abroad advising appointment.

I was also amazed by the various countries I am able to travel to that are not necessarily the most “popular” study abroad destinations. For example, the journey programs to China and Tanzania were so interesting to me, because I never would have thought to study abroad in those places. In conclusion, the study abroad fair left me feeling excited and hopeful for my study abroad trip and I walked away with more brochures than I could ever possibly need.

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The Fears of Studying Abroad

This past week, I experienced my first major illness since coming to college. It started out on Monday and Tuesday with me having a fever, being achy all over, having chills, and not being able to move from my bed. I frantically called my mom wondering what in the world I could do to fix this horrible feeling. I did not start feeling better until Thursday afternoon when I was finally able to go to a doctor. The result of this illness was me being very, very homesick, when my parents only live 2.5 hours away.

After experiencing this, it made me extremely nervous about traveling abroad and becoming sick and homesick. For the summer trip, I do not think the homesick fear will be as bad because it is only several weeks, however when it comes to the semester I am so nervous. I am nervous because time-zones will be different and it will be hard to coordinate when I am able to talk to my parents. It won’t be so easy to just call them whenever I need something or am feeling sick. The other thing that I am worried about is finding a doctor when I need one while I am abroad. It is hard to know who is a credible doctor when you are not familiar with the country which is scary.

Aside from all of my fears, I know that it will be okay because I will be able to make set times when I speak with my parents each week which will ease the homesick feeling and there will be resources to help me find health professionals when I am abroad.

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Where did the Time Go?

I was sitting in my dorm the other day talking to my roommate when I said “wow I can’t believe we’ve already been here three weeks” … and then it occurred to me, I haven’t been here for three weeks, it’s halfway through the first semester. I was in a little bit of shock and disbelief that a quarter of my freshman year had already gone by. Looking back, I am very surprised with how well things have gone. My classes are not too hard and I’ve adjusted well to the college life. It has gone much better than I expected, as I had heard so much about how extremely hard college classes were, but I have not struggled too much; at least not yet.

One thing that did throw me off and has been a little bit more difficult than I had thought it would be is joining an international organization. I joined the Spanish club, but the one that I was really looking forward to joining was OU Cousins, and that turned out to be much harder than I had thought. I am a part of the club, however at the matching party there were many more Americans than International Students, which left me without a Cousin that night. I will be matched through a computer system with an International Student, it just took me by surprise how much more difficult it was. In the future, I will be more proactive and put myself out there more to make the process easier.

As I finish out this semester and year, a goal of mine is to narrow down where I want to study abroad and begin planning that. I also want to narrow down my career path and what I hope to do after college so that I can begin preparing early for the Fulbright Scholarship application. Short term, a goal of mine is to obtain a 4.0 GPA, which will require a lot of studying and commitment, but will be worth it in the long run. I also want to set a goal of making at least one international friend, so that I can learn about their culture and the world abroad.

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