Study Abroad

Before applying to OU, I didn’t know much about the different study abroad programs that the university offers; however, I did know about the summer study abroad program in South Korea thanks to my older sister. My sister and I started watching Korean dramas about seven or eight years ago. I am not exactly sure what made us become fond of Korean dramas. Maybe it was the similarity between the Persian culture and the Korean culture or perhaps the Korean language. Whatever the reason, I have grown to enjoy the Korean culture and language so much that I have decided to study abroad in South Korea as well. The KNU Global Summer School is a four-week long program that offers students several different cultural activities throughout the week, such as Korean Traditional Music, Pottery, and K-pop Dance. I really look forward to attend these cultural activities while taking classes at KNU; they seem very entertaining and will allow me to experience a part of the Korean culture during my stay. I also plan to either arrive to South Korea prior to the beginning of the program or stay longer after the program is over in order to travel to a few different places like Seoul and Jeju Island. I have also heard my sister brag so much about Korean food even after two years from her study abroad in Korea, so the thought of eating Korean food is definitely a plus in addition to becoming immersed in the Korean culture through the offered cultural activities.

International Group

The Iranian Student Association (ISAOU) is an international group at the University of Oklahoma that connects Iranian and non-Iranian students together to establish friendships among these students. Iranian and non-Iranian members and non-members have the opportunity of attending cultural events such as Nowrooz, Nature Day, and Mehregan. This student life group also allows the students and the Iranian community in Oklahoma to be a part of entertaining events such as concerts and comedy shows by Iranian artists. I was introduced to this group during my senior year in high school. After attending Max Amini’s comedy show in late January of 2014, I became very interested in this international group. Not only was my experience enjoyable, I felt a sense of belonging while being surrounded by so many Iranians in a foreign country. I have attended a few events hosted by this group. As I mentioned before, the comedy show was very entertaining and fun. I also attended a board election meeting in the beginning of this semester, which was a great opportunity to meet the members of this student association. Although the meeting was not as good as it could have been in my opinion, I am still interested in this group and plan to attend many of the events it hosts.

Here is a link to the Iranian Student Association‘s Facebook page in case you are interested. The picture attached is from late January of 2014 when I attended Max Amini’s comedy show.

Reflection #2

What international group(s) are you most interested in becoming involved with? Why?

What are you most looking for in an international group – language practice? Cultural exposure? Foreign friends? American friends who share your interests? Career preparation? Networking opportunities? Service opportunities? Something else?

There are a few international organizations at OU that I am most interested in:  CESL, Korean Student Association, and Latin Dance Club. After the guest student, Delaney, informed the class of her experience with CESL and how the organization works, I immediately wanted to learn more about the organization and become a part of CESL.  As you probably know, English is not my first language to learn. Although when I immigrated to the United States, I was much younger than any of the non-English speaking students at OU, I was also unable to communicate well with any English speaking individual. Throughout the program, I hope to help my CESL partner learn English and create a fun and enjoyable learning experience for him. It is very important for anyone who is learning another language to have someone to talk to in that specific language and learn how to communicate well. My CESL partner is from South Korea, which is also a great opportunity for me to practice my Korean language skills while helping him better his English. The main reason why I am interested in becoming involved with the Korean Student Association is that I plan to study abroad in South Korea in the upcoming summer. For the past three or four years, I have become very interested in watching Korean Dramas. This has expanded my interest in the Korean culture–which is very similar to the Persian culture–and the Korean language. The Korean Student Association is a great organization that will help me become more familiarized with the Korean language and culture, and hopefully prepare me for my study abroad journey in South Korea. Since I am a very cultured individual, I also have interests in other cultures as well as my own. Participation in the Latin Dance Club’s events and dances can bring the entertainment that I need from the Latin culture. It is also a great way to spend some fun time off of school work and meet people who are also interested in the Latin Dance. What I’m most looking for in an international group is exposure to different cultures and languages, befriending foreign students, and becoming more involved with people from all around the world. The University of Oklahoma offers many student associations, which includes several international organizations that can help students like me grow as an individual. My goal is to find a few organizations that I really am interested in by the end of freshman year, and hopefully become a student leader in one or two of the organizations by the end of my college career.

Here is La La La by Shakira. Enjoy!

Reflection #1

Do you feel like you have been limited in the number or range of “stories” you have been exposed to? Do you feel that the rest of the world is limited in its “stories” about the United States? Why? What will you do about it?

People of different countries have been exposed to various stories—both positive and negative—about the United States. The stories are illustrated in people’s minds because of news channels, newspapers, family and friends, and other media. As an immigrant to the United States, I was very shocked to find so many differences between my idea of the Unites States and how it actually is. I used to watch American movies with my sister every Friday nights, and I always thought that American people were so happy all the time. This thought, however, was only due to the great American advertisement.  After the first few months of living in the U.S., I soon realized that the people of this country are not any happier than the people of Iran. It is very easy to become influenced by just a few stories or some advertisement and become lost in fantasy and dreams. The world is very much limited in its “stories” about the United States, because its view is only from the outside. It is only natural for a country like the United States to advertise only the positive and good things about its people and culture. My “stories” and ideas of the United States were very limited as well, because I had not experienced living in America. A great way to help those living outside of the United States better understand the American culture is to give them a little truth about what it would be like to live in the U.S. A combination of short videos showcasing what people do on a daily basis in America would be fun and informative. Maybe through this, some can come to a realization that what they see in movies are mainly just for entertainment purposes.

For your entertainment, here is a taste of Czech music. Ewa Farna has been one of my favorite singers since before I moved to the United States. Enjoy!

Reflection #10

This TED Talk by Rose George, a British journalist and author, is an eye opener. She states in her talk that diarrhea is the second largest killer of children world wide. While I was watching this video,  I realized that this issue has been over looked for far too long. It is the right of every individual to have access to clean toilets as well as clean water and other necessities. Sanitation can solve other problems if it is taken seriously in both developed and developing countries. Although clean water is a necessity, without sanitation the time and money spent over providing clean water will go to waste. As Rose George explains, an individual–in this case a young boy–can carry so many diseases with himself back to his home, his living environment, his food and water after doing something called “open defecation”. Now this not only creates more unclean water, it can pass on other diseases to his family members as well. What is the most surprising is that people who pass this young boy on the street see him and do nothing to help him. It’s as if they don’t know about the consequences of not caring. And maybe they really don’t know, but what will make them aware? Education is what will make a difference. This issue can easily be solved if people are educated about he diseases that human feces carries and the consequences of not having sanitation. It is not so difficult to understand why human feces carries so many diseases, so hopefully education can encourage people to take action and change their ways.

My OU Cousin

OU Cousins is an organization at the University of Oklahoma that connects interested American students to international students currently studying at the university. It is a great way for American students to become involved in the lives of these international students and to help them fully experience the American culture.

In the beginning of this Fall semester of 2014, Sara Fisher and I became OU Cousins with Sumin Kim. Sumin is from Daegu, South Korea and she is such a sweet girl. Unfortunately, we were not able to spend as much time together as we had hoped for due to our schedules; however, the three of us celebrated Sumin’s birthday with her which was quite an enjoyable night–we went to a Mexican restaurant on campus corner and Sumin had quesadilla for the first time. Sumin turned twenty-one, but in Korea she is now twenty-two! It’s really interesting that when a child is born in Korea,  he/she is already a year old. Throughout the semester, I have learned about the Korean culture thanks to Sumin. I hope that we can keep in touch even when she goes back, and maybe we can even see each other when I study abroad in South Korea!

Reflection #9

How’s your digital story coming along? Do you have any questions or concerns? Anything you’re really excited about? (A link to my digital story can be found below).

My digital story is coming along pretty well. Before starting on my video, I was concerned about the editing software I was going to use. Although WeVideo is a great software that I can take anywhere with me, it is not as easy to work with as Final Cut Pro X. I tried using the editing software on my laptop and that helped me out more; however, I switched back to WeVideo because it offers more editing tools and options. Since my video is about my immigration to the United States, it is a little difficult to find many pictures from five or six years ago. The videos that I have decided to use are also low quality and very shaky since they were not recorded at the time for this purpose. The length of my video is a bit longer than the desired length, since two short video excerpts are used in addition to the pictures and my voice-over. I’m very excited to share my video with you, although it is not as well made as I had hoped for it to be. For my digital stories that I will be making in the future over my study abroad journeys, I will definitely plan better and include better visuals in order to better convey my story to the audience. I’m glad that the class made these digital stories, because now I know exactly what I need to do in order to enhance the quality of the future videos I will be making.

My First Digital Story

Reflection #8

Have you gone on an international volunteer trip before?

If so, how did it compare with the criticisms you encountered this week? What is your reaction to that?

If not, are you interested in doing international service in the future? Why or why not? If so, how will you approach it? What will you look for? Did this class’s articles, videos, and discussions influence your thinking?

I have not yet had the opportunity of being involved with an international volunteer trip. I started volunteer work in the beginning of my high school career. Although I spent many hours volunteering at a couple of hospitals in Oklahoma, I also spent several hours volunteering for food drives and other events throughout the past few years. Volunteering has definitely helped me become more giving and empathetic towards others; thus, doing international service in the future does grabs my interest. It is a bit more difficult to find international volunteer opportunities during my study abroad journeys since I am not familiar with the countries and their people. I have to admit that I am more drawn to volunteer programs rather than charities, because I can be sure that my time spent volunteering will have a positive impact on someone’s life. I have been looking online for some volunteer programs in South Korea; however, I have yet to find a program that grabs my attention. Most of such organizations do not have much description about the program goals, thus leading me to think that these organizations may not be reliable—I may be wrong, but it is much easier to decide on the program quality once I get to South Korea. If I cannot find a reliable program by next summer, I will ask my CESL partner, who is from South Korea, to help me find some volunteer opportunities during my stay. Hopefully he will be able to introduce me to some reliable organizations.

Reflection #7

What do you think of Peter Singer’s arguments? Do you feel obligated to help those in need? Why or why not? If so, what are you going to do about it? If not, how would you support your reasoning to someone who sided with Singer? (The video to Peter Singer’s TED Talk can be found below). 

During the video, I was introduced to what Singer thought was the most effective way of helping others: by donating at least a certain percentage of one’s income to different organizations such as Give Well, the Life You Can Save, and Giving What You Can. After our class debate about whether or not Singer’s argument is an effective way of helping people, it was hard for me to agree with him. Although he presented great statistics that showed the positive impact of such organizations such as saving 5.8 million lives by the Gates Foundation, his argument revolved mainly around donating money. As he stated in the video, effective altruism is about combining the head and the heart; however, his emphasis excluded the important role that the heart plays in giving. Not all problems can be solved by money as every person has different problems and needs. He also made his audience feel a sense of guilt for having two kidneys for example. No person is obligated to give away their body parts just because others have done that. It is absolutely wrong to make others feel guilty over this issue and to turn around and say that the only way to make-up for it is to donate money. I think that if an individual can support themselves financially and live a healthy life-style without cutting back on essential needs, it is best to be selfless and give back to those in need. I do not support Singer’s argument completely, but I do plan to give back to those in need in any way I am able, whether it is by donating money or volunteering.



International Student Game Night

The International Student Game Night was hosted by the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma. There were snacks and many entertaining games available to the students. I met several international students and played a game called Taboo. It was actually my first time playing this game. After a few rounds of playing, I realized that this game helps expand one’s vocabulary. Many of the international students that had played this game prior to this event commented on how much it had helped them expand their vocabulary. I really enjoyed spending time with these international students, and this event was a great way to meet new people!