This summer I spent a life-changing six weeks in Seville, Spain. Yes, I know it’s late to post this, but better late than never! There’s so much to tell, so let’s start from the beginning! On May 27, I left America and headed for Spain. After a long and unproductive nine hour flight, my classmates and I arrived in Madrid, Spain. Leaving around 2 pm and arriving at 9 am meant a lot of loss sleep! Soon after we were on a 2 hour train ride to the unbelievable city of Sevilla. For the first couple of days we toured the city and met our host mothers. Julia was, by far, one of the sweetest, most sincere women I have ever met. She was just like a grandma to me.
The first week was when I noticed most of the culture shock to hit. It was frustrating being in a new country and not speaking the language. Luckily I was taking a Spanish class to further my Spanish and started to pick it up much faster! After that week, however, things flew by. I adapted to the change of pace and the language barrier, and everything started to feel like home.
The first traveling weekend we had, the whole class (including our awesome teacher Jennifer) and I went to Granada and Córdoba. Granada was one of my favorite cities in Spain. It is set in the Sierra Nevada’s (not the ones in the west coast) and is a Moorish city. We visited the Alhambra and the Cathedral of Granada. The Alhambra is an Arabic palace which is stunning.
The Cathedral was my favorite cathedral in all of Andalusia.
The Second week we all attended a bull fight. It was a unique experience to be a part of such a famous Spanish tradition. Over the course of the final 3 weeks in the course, I visited many cities across Andalusia. Also, I got the opportunity to spend 3 days in Lagos, Portugal which was a beautiful town on the Atlantic Ocean. Oh and here are some more pictures of my adventures.
You read about the current immigration crisis in Europe all the time. The refugee crisis poses a serious threat both to the welfare of the refugee and the different societies in Europe. In 2015, more than 1.5 million people have moved across Europe from the Syrian region. Many of these people face the inability to obtain aid, asylum, and integration. Providing these refugees would cause political instability. These refugees have been fleeing Syria since 2011 and there has yet to be a viable solution to help and achieve solidarity.
First and most importantly would be finding a way to secure the Syria/Turkey border. This is leading a gateway straight to Europe. If you secure the border, the refugees that are fleeing the war will have a right for complete asylum. Next would be to find a place for the 160,000 refugees in Italy and Greece. But that means there needs to be a faster asylum process to relocate them. Finally, Europe needs to find a way to contain the unsafe and unstable Eastern Europe. There is no reason for these immigrants to make an unsafe and hazardous journey to Central and Western Europe just to escape the unbearable conditions in their own country.
Eric Sundby gave an insightful presentation over “the rise of the third reich”. The Third Reich, also known as Nazi Germany, is what Germany was called from 1933-1945 under the control of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. This presentation was about how Germany rose to power after the economy was in decline after World War I.
After World War I, every country blamed Germany for the war and they soon started to go into serious debt. In 1932, 30% of the population of Germany was unemployed. Hitler then developed a plan to be a part of Soviet Russia. Since the people were in despair and most of Germany was under poverty, they liked the idea. This led to Hitler being appointed Chancellor. After the President of Germany died, Hitler then combined both the chancellor and president and became the ruler of Germany. Once he began to rule, he convinced the Reichstag, which is Germany’s Congress, that when Germany is threatened, they would transfer all the powers to him. Hitler had seized absolute power. This ultimately ended up causing World War II and the Holocaust.
This presentation was very interesting. Being a World War II fanatic, it was insightful learning new history and recent evidence into the Third Reich and how Hitler gained absolute power.
This years GEF day was a success. It allowed for questions that I was curious about to get answered from different perspectives. Attending the “stand out abroad” seminar was very interesting. It included a female who went to Tanzania and ended up getting proposed to multiple times. In contrary, another girl who was part hispanic went to Italy and said she felt even less of a minority than in the United States. To hear about all the experiences of being abroad was very insightful and eye opening.
What impressed me the most, was learning about other student’s encounters while abroad. Even if two students were in the same country, they still had different experiences. For the most part, most of the people had normal abroad encounters but it was intriguing when things — didn’t go as planned. It was nice to hear about their adventures and apply their tips for a better study abroad experience.
OU cousins is more than just an organization, it’s a family. Over the year, being a part of OU Cousins has allowed me to first hand experience different cultures while not being abroad. Learning about other cultures is very fascinating. Although this semester I didn’t have a cousin, it was almost more rewarding going to all the OU Cousin events and making new friends beyond my cousin and having those new connections, especially for the international students. Attending the BBQ was a great experience. I loved seeing the international students attempting to line dance, even if they didn’t know how to. That’s one goal I want to set when I study abroad. I want to go outside my comfort zone even if I make a fool out of myself. That’s one of the great things about OU Cousins, it creates a more diverse university, which is a vital aspect in today’s society.
This past winter break I had the opportunity to go to Mexico and visit family in Mezquite, Sinaloa. A little about Mezquite: a small town in Northern Sinaloa, near the cities of Guasave and Los Mochis, where my dad grew up. For those of you who knew about the capture of El Chapo, he was caught in Los Mochis about two weeks after I left. This is kind of mind boggling because there’s a possibility I was very close to him at one point in time.
Since I was there over Christmas, it really felt like a true Christmas. What I mean by this is that Christmas is about giving not receiving. Over the past 19 years of my life I never experienced the giving part. While my dad and I were there, we built my grandparents a new garden, repainted the walls and cleaned up around the house. Christmas Eve was one of my favorite memories. With all my family there, we went to the church at midnight and sang and danced throughout the night. It felt like a traditional hispanic Christmas.
After spending 10 days there, it was very eye opening. I first-hand experienced the living conditions and all the differences between the US and Mexico. It’s crazy to see how happy and lively they are with what few opportunities they have. Although I wasn’t able to fully communicate with them, I could still feel the joy and how pleased they were to see me, since I see them so rarely.
Recently I have been accepted into the ‘3rd Semester in Spain’ and ‘Engaging Europe’ programs this summer. Of course I plan on doing both, which is quite overwhelming to me. There is a 3 day gap in between both programs which I have no idea what I am going to do, the options are endless. I end my Spain program in Seville, Spain and the next program starts in Nuremberg, Germany. Since I love the outdoors, and mountains in particular, I think I want to go to the Alps, and maybe even snowboard in Zermatt which is known for summer skiing and also as one of the best ski resorts in the world. Another option would be to take a train south to Algeciras, Spain and ferry to Morocco, although this one is a bit too much and there isn’t enough time, it would still be very cool. But like I said, the options are endless. Even more recently, like yesterday, my dad has decided to go back to his home town in Mesquite, Sinaloa, Mexico for the holidays and my mom didn’t want him to go alone, so she asked me. I instantly responded with a yes with no hesitation. This would be my first international experience that I can actually remember (I went to Mexico twice when I was 6 and 8 and I only remember a few moments). I may not be doing a lot of touristy activities because I will spend most of my time in a small city and on a small farm in Northern Sinaloa. However, this would be perfect time to gain experience traveling internationally, and also to dive even further into the Mexican culture. Oh and I can’t forget about getting my first stamp in my passport!
Dr. Edward Berenson Professor of History and Director of the Institute of French Studies – New York University “The Transfer and Transformation of Culture: France and the United States”
Last month I attended Dr. Edward Berenson’s lecture over the transformation of culture between France and the United States. This lecture was particularly compelling because it was right after the incident in Paris. I learned one of the reason why ISIS chose Paris, as it is because Paris is known as the city light, love and music. Although it wasn’t exactly around my area of knowledge, learning about the transformation of music, in particular, the transformation of jazz in Europe and how it characterized music in Europe forever was very interesting. Fact: I don’t know much about music in Europe, or jazz in general, but learning about how such small differences in counts represent totally different styles of music was different and intriguing. After WWII, African Americans who were in the war decided to stay in Europe, mainly France because of the sense of welcoming there. There was a friendly and compelling vibe in France around that time as African Americans were welcomed. At first, the music in France was ragtime, but as African Americans experimented with it, it turned into Jazz. Over time, just by the beats and rhythms of the song it changed from “negro jazz” to “classical jazz” to “hot jazz” and finally to “straight jazz”. However, to me, these sound similar, but to musicians they are very different. Although I didn’t exactly understand the differences, it was still an interesting international event that I can apply when I travel to Europe this summer.
Don Kulick discusses the evolution of sexuality in Brazil displayed through a scandal of a soccer player and a transgender prostitute.
Last month I attended Don Kulick’s lecture over the scandal of Ronaldo, a famous Brazilian soccer player, who was caught hiring three transgender prostitutes, known as “travesties”.
Ronaldo was looked up by many. He was known in Brazil and much of the world as “the phenomenon”, and also for being one of the greatest soccer players of all time.
One night, Ronaldo hired 3 prostitutes whom were travesties, or males who identified themselves as females. Once the travesties discovered he was ‘the Ronaldo’, they demanded $30,000 instead of $600. Ronaldo refused and that is when Andréia Albertini made a scene and the police were called. Ronaldo lied to the police to cover up true the story, but because of the bravery of Andréia Albertini, the true story unfolded. The big controversy over this scandal isn’t because he hired prostitutes to have sex with, which in brazil is legal, it is that he hired travesties, or another man, which raised questions on his sexuality.
In Brazil it is very common for these travesties to not have a sex change, in contrast with the United States. When Ronaldo was being questioned, he said that he did not know that they were travesties, but in Brazil, travesties were very noticeable by their voice, looks, and the way they dress. However, this should not define Ronaldo. But despite everything and everyone against him, he returned to soccer and finished career and will forever be known as one of the greatest soccer players.
This semester I had the opportunity to participate in the organization OU cousins. This organization was built to help other international students adapt easier to the university life in Oklahoma and develop a friendship that they can rely on when they feel lost or left out. For those who don’t know what OU cousins is, you find an international student with similar interests, or different if you really want to learn about a different culture, and you help guide them into the American culture. Throughout the semester or year, you and your cousin will be encouraged to get together to go do American activities to help them explore this culture. In addition, you can also let your cousin show you their culture with a home cooked meal.
Without further ado, meet Samir, Samir is Columbian, Samir is now my favorite cousin.
I had the opportunity to find Samir at the matching party. Although we didn’t always get to see each other, it was still a blast getting to know him. Samir really delve into this culture and experienced everything. He traveled all over the country and has probably already been to more places here than me! He will definitely be missed, and I hope to be able to make a trip to Bogota some day to visit him.