International Event #1

The first international event I went to was the Fall Festival put on by the OU International Students Association. I attended this event as a member of the RUF/NEK Lil’ Sis Organization and represent the University as a member of OU spirit. At the event there were a number of exotic animals that attendees were allowed to hold and interact with. There was a kangaroo, a chinchilla, a banana python, a lemur and many other exotic animals. It was really fun to see how the international students reacted to the different animals that they’d never seen before. Like those of us there with OU Spirit, the students were amazed by these exotic animals and could not believe they had the opportunity to interact with them. This was a great way to give these students a unique experience during their time at OU. Sooner also came out to the event and the international students thought he was a blast and took so many pictures with him.

It was interesting to see the similarities between the international students and American students reactions to the animals because they were almost identical. It puts into perspective that things, such as animals, are just as exotic to them as they are to us. That just because they are from a foreign country does not mean that they know every single thing that is different between the United States and the rest of the world.

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Journal #7 – Study Abroad/GEF Concerns

When I really think about my concerns about study abroad, I mostly identify things that have nothing to do with actually being in the country. I’m mainly worried about what I would be missing while in another country and how to pay for the trip and what I would be losing by not working. I have to pay for college on my own for the most part and next year I have plans to live in an apartment and I know that as of right now I do not have enough money to pay for all of that, so I’m worried that I would still not have enough after working through second semester and then taking time off because if I took a trip at the beginning of the summer it would be harder to get a job just for the second half of summer.

Right now, all I can do is get a job and hope that the pay would be enough to cover the cost of second semester tuition and save up enough for the next school year and an apartment. I know that other people were/are in this position so I know that this is not an impossible task.

As far as being Globally Engaged, I think I’m starting to figure out I am not as fully interested in international groups, affairs, or studies as I originally thought. I do love learning about different cultures and what makes people different and similar to each other but I do not think I want to pursue too much into international studies or international majors.

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Journal #6 – My Semester So Far

I am already halfway through my first semester of college and it has been so much more than what I was expecting. I thought I would be in a sorority, continuing on with yearbook and sports photography, and living it up in PLC. Only one of those things have come true and I am loving PLC! I also decided that I did not want to continue with yearbook because my experience in high school and I wanted to devote my time doing something I enjoy, which in this case is RUF/NEK Lil’ Sis. Joining Lil’ Sis was the best decision I have made thus far. As far as classes go, I am still not any closer to choosing a major and am still trying to figure that out. My classes have not been super stressful, although US History and Italian are looking to be my hardest classes. I’ve really enjoyed the GEF program because it also gives me an opportunity to explore and get involved with the international side of campus. I have had some trouble getting involved with an international organization but I think the International Film Club is a really great option for me because it is more enjoyable and would not be a super big time commitment because I am generally busy in the evenings. I am really looking forward to see how the rest of the semester pans out.

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Journal #5 – Perspectives

After reading the blog post from Benny Lewis, a native Irishman, and hearing from various international students here on campus, it was interesting to see how American culture is different from their native culture. The blog post was seemingly more harsh than the students we interacted with but that is actually a cultural difference. In Irish culture, people are much more blunt than Americans tend to be, so it comes off as harsh because nothing is sugarcoated. Some of Lewis’s points also appeared to be more of a generalization of America as a whole even though he only lived and spent time in major cities. I feel like his opinion would shift some if he spent time in smaller communities. (I would also like to add that him calling out Americans for stereotyping people from other countries was not a fair point because he was doing the exact same thing).

I honestly did not know what to expect when we had the panel of international students come in to class. I was surprised that most of them lived in the U.S. for some time or had visited multiple times before residing here at OU. One noticeable difference between the panel and Lewis was the cultural differences weren’t aboslutely huge. Now, there were some larger noticeable differences from Chinese culture to American culture but for the most part the differences were in smaller mannerisms, such as eye contract and smiling at strangers.

Having international students straight up tell us what is different from their culture to American culture made it very easy to adapt to another culture when abroad. It also made me think that before going abroad, talk to an international student and ask them what is normal everyday behavior in their culture.

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Journal #4 – “The Outsiders”

When I first read about this activity in the Syllabus, I had no idea what was going to happen. I briefly thought it might have something to do with the movie “The Outsiders” but I could not figure out any connection that movie would have to international awareness. Regardless of my initial interpretation, I really enjoyed the activity! Just a basic run through of the rules, four people were taken outside while those of us inside were told that we could only talk to people based on if their shirtsleeve length matched yours. We also could only answer “yes yes yes” if they were what you considered positive or pleasant. If they were not, you could only answer with “no no no.”

As a person who was inside of the classroom for the entirety of the activity, watching the four people try and interact with us was amusing but I also felt bad. They literally had to speak to every person to find those of us who could talk to them. I just wanted to tell them the conditions just so that they’d stop trying so hard. I also appreciated that the first three people took different approaches when talking to us. The first two people were so nice and super friendly and Mackenzie even tried to vary how she was speaking to us to see what we considered friendly behavior and it showed she was mindful of the expectations of different cultures. The third person (I’m sorry I forgot your name!!) took this idea and went the opposite direction and became overly formal, even going to point with her whole hand because pointing with one finger can be considered offensive in some cultures. However, those of us in the mystery culture did not respond as well with this approach, showing that our “culture” was more accepting to overly friendly, positive people like Americans because while we were supposed to represent a different culture, we still adhered to the cultural norms of the United States. And I think Riley was the most accurate representation of how people react to cultural barriers. He quickly became frustrated and began to raise his voice when we couldn’t (wouldn’t) respond to him. We, in turn, responded negatively to his behavior and chose not to talk to him.

This exercise really opened my eyes to potential cultural barriers because it could be something as trivial as shirtsleeve length or more important things, such as language. The lack of communication has a profound effect on how people from different cultures interact and respond to each other. It also gave some insight into how a person from a country you are visiting respond to tourists and visitors.

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Journal #3 – Study Abroad

Now we come to the part of the class where we learn what we’re all thinking about: STUDY ABROAD!!! The presentation in class was so helpful explaining the different programs and ways to get abroad. I think I am most interested in going to an OU campus, specifically Arezzo. I am currently taking Italian and have heard from family and friends how much they love Italy. I have heard about Arezzo specifically from my brother, Andrew, and through the Presidents Leadership Class (PLC). It also appears to be one of the easier and cost efficient ways to study abroad. This was the original plan when I came to OU but now I am thinking about studying abroad elsewhere in Europe or Russia. Maybe I could find a way to combine trips to be able to do both, like Gabby did. I also like the thought of going with a college so I would be around OU students and professors which would make me feel more comfortable being in an unfamiliar environment. (Transferring credits would also be easier).

I really appreciate that GEF allows us a potentially easier route to study abroad by providing the services and connections to all the different programs to study abroad (the scholarship doesn’t hurt either). This is such a great program that I think is underutilized by students because Jaci and the Study Abroad office has made it their goal to get as many people to go abroad as possible and I think OU will reach 50% of students going abroad in the near future.

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Journal #2 – Involvement

Oh goodness, a better question is what am I not excited for! I am so fortunate to continue my education at the one school I wanted to attend! I am so excited to get involved on campus in different organizations to meet new and different types of people. I am currently involved in the Presidents Leadership Class (PLC), the Sooner Yearbook as a volunteer photographer, and the RUF/NEK Lil’ Sis program, which is part of OU spirit. Being involved in the Global Engagement Fellowship allows me to be involved with the international groups on campus. This  is group that I might not have interacted with much if I was not part of the GEF program and I am extremely thankful for the opportunities that GEF presents! I am mostly nervous that I will take on more than I can handle. Right now I’m sitting with four big things, but unfortunately I want to do more! The best advice that I received was to not over-commit and to remember that I am attending OU to get a degree to be a productive citizen. I think the best way to act on that advice is to not take on any other organizations right now, however I am afraid that because I didn’t do or apply to certain things as a freshman they would be harder to get as a sophomore. I want to be able to build a strong resume and I just do not know if what I am involved in currently will fulfill that.

Regardless of all my fears, I am so excited to see what the rest of the school year holds and figure out what to do in the future!

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Journal #1 – Stories

I feel like the United States is more exposed to stories from other nations that other nations are to stories about the United States. For the most part, the United States does not have many restrictions on media; on what we have access to in and out of the country. Although the United States is able to learn more about other countries and their culture and way of life, that does not mean we see everything or get the whole picture. In many other countries, the narrative is different. There are plenty of countries ruled by oppressive and restrictive people, so they do not have any access to information from other nations. Even developed countries, such as China, have extremely strict restrictions on what they can view on the Internet, in the news, and on social media. Gaining access to media is one of the more difficult problems to solve within a nation. It would take convincing the leaders of these oppressive nations to allow for more outside influence into their closed country and that goes against the entire concept of an oppressed nation. Another thing people could do is visit those countries and spread their ideas orally. Tell these people what the rest of the world is doing. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. There are some nations, such as North Korea, that typically do not allow travelers across their borders because their leaders do not want their people exposed to the rest of the world and anything opposing their ideas and values.

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Journal #5 – Perspectives

After reading the blog post from Benny Lewis, a native Irishman, and hearing from various international students here on campus, it was interesting to see how American culture is different from their native culture. The blog post was seemingly more harsh than the students we interacted with but that is actually a cultural difference. In Irish culture, people are much more blunt than Americans tend to be, so it comes off as harsh because nothing is sugarcoated. Some of Lewis’s points also appeared to be more of a generalization of America as a whole even though he only lived and spent time in major cities. I feel like his opinion would shift some if he spent time in smaller communities. (I would also like to add that him calling out Americans for stereotyping people from other countries was not a fair point because he was doing the exact same thing).

I honestly did not know what to expect when we had the panel of international students come in to class. I was surprised that most of them lived in the U.S. for some time or had visited multiple times before residing here at OU. One noticeable difference between the panel and Lewis was the cultural differences weren’t aboslutely huge. Now, there were some larger noticeable differences from Chinese culture to American culture but for the most part the differences were in smaller mannerisms, such as eye contract and smiling at strangers.

Having international students straight up tell us what is different from their culture to American culture made it very easy to adapt to another culture when abroad. It also made me think that before going abroad, talk to an international student and ask them what is normal everyday behavior in their culture.

-Alex

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Journal #4 – “The Outsiders”

When I first read about this activity in the Syllabus, I had no idea what was going to happen. I briefly thought it might have something to do with the movie “The Outsiders” but I could not figure out any connection that movie would have to international awareness. Regardless of my initial interpretation, I really enjoyed the activity! Just a basic run through of the rules, four people were taken outside while those of us inside were told that we could only talk to people based on if their shirtsleeve length matched yours. We also could only answer “yes yes yes” if they were what you considered positive or pleasant. If they were not, you could only answer with “no no no.”

As a person who was inside of the classroom for the entirety of the activity, watching the four people try and interact with us was amusing but I also felt bad. They literally had to speak to every person to find those of us who could talk to them. I just wanted to tell them the conditions just so that they’d stop trying so hard. I also appreciated that the first three people took different approaches when talking to us. The first two people were so nice and super friendly and Mackenzie even tried to vary how she was speaking to us to see what we considered friendly behavior and it showed she was mindful of the expectations of different cultures. The third person (I’m sorry I forgot your name!!) took this idea and went the opposite direction and became overly formal, even going to point with her whole hand because pointing with one finger can be considered offensive in some cultures. However, those of us in the mystery culture did not respond as well with this approach, showing that our “culture” was more accepting to overly friendly, positive people like Americans because while we were supposed to represent a different culture, we still adhered to the cultural norms of the United States. And I think Riley was the most accurate representation of how people react to cultural barriers. He quickly became frustrated and began to raise his voice when we couldn’t (wouldn’t) respond to him. We, in turn, responded negatively to his behavior and chose not to talk to him.

This exercise really opened my eyes to potential cultural barriers because it could be something as trivial as shirtsleeve length or more important things, such as language. The lack of communication has a profound effect on how people from different cultures interact and respond to each other. It also gave some insight into how a person from a country you are visiting respond to tourists and visitors.

– Alex

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