Controversial Lady Doritos, Image Obtained from The Daily Beast
The time around the Superbowl seems to be riddled with PR and advertising news, whether they are scandals or stories of success. This year, one of the stories that stood out from the rest was the accidental announcement of a brand new “Lady Doritos” line, intended to solve the issues that women supposedly have with eating chips: the loud crunch, dust on the fingers, and how to fit the snack in a purse.
I had heard of the scandal before this assignment, and my first thought, as a PR major, was, “Who on Earth let this CEO talk about this product?” In the various PR classes I’ve taken, we have learned that one of the biggest aspects of being a PR agent is advising the leaders of the company you work for, specifically to avoid crisis situations such as these. Either the CEO hadn’t been given a briefing before the interview, ignored the advise of her PR agents, or a PR agent failed to do their job. In today’s political and social climate, it is surprising to me that any large organization would think that a gendered-food product would receive anything but back lash. I do not think that the company had a good idea of their prospective audience, for this reason.
A Washington Post article, written about the issue on Feb. 5 of this year, describes how even if PepsiCo conducted research which indicates that women prefer quieter and cleaner snacks, those preferences are based on sexist societal gender norms which allow men more freedom, even the freedom to eat a messy snack in a messy way, and I have to agree.
If I were working for Pepsi, I would publicly address the issue on popular social media feeds to insure the public that the product isn’t real. In today’s world, issues hardly ever get slipped under the rug; an apology is needed if a company wants to avoid permanent damage.
When asked if any companies have ever correctly done gendered products, I have to revert back to the thinking done in the Washington Post article which describes how differences in product choice, correlated with gender, most likely arise due to socially constructed gender norms, and not due to actual biological preferences. Due to this, aside from clothing, I would argue that no company has ever done gendered products “right.” Products that are marketed toward a specific gender inherently must use gender norms in that marketing.
I took Erica home with me over the weekend after finals week to visit Texas and taste some authentic Mexican food. We went to the most hole-in-the-wall place we could think of –“Taqueria La Original.” The salsa there is spicier than most Americans can handle, the TV in the corner plays dramatic Spanish soap operas, and the street tacos don’t have any shredded cheese on top. So to me, it seemed pretty authentic, but to be honest, I’ve never been to Mexico, so I can’t say what authentic Mexican food is like. Although the large photographs of London that hung the walls made me doubt the “Mexican-ness” of the restaurant, it still is one of my favorite Mexican restaurants. It did make me wonder if my judgement of authenticity is actually accurate, especially considering that many cuisines have become a blend of many different cultures here in the melting pot of the United States. That’s probably why when people ask me to take them to a good American restaurant, I shrug, and take them to a Mexican restaurant instead.
戈爱玛 (Ge Aima), that’s me! I thought you all might be interested to see what a typical day in Beijing looked like for me.
Peking University (PKU) is in Beijing’s university district (Haidian), in the northwest part of the city. I was about an hour-long bus ride from the Forbidden City, which is at the heart of Beijing. Despite the distance from many things, it’s actually very accessible with both a bus stop and a subway station right outside the east gate. Being a little farther from the center of town allows PKU’s campus to be larger than most. In addition, because it’s the most highly-ranked university in China, it’s a tourist attraction and gets a lot of money from the government for beautification. The main reason I chose PKU was, in fact, because I heard it had a gorgeous campus.
I lived in an international student dorm just outside Peking University’s southeast gate. I was on the eleventh floor (out of twelve) and, although I had a double room, I had no roommate. Somehow, in the four months I lived there, I forgot to get a single picture, so you’ll have to take my word for it – the room was massive. Probably four times the size of my freshman dorm room in Oklahoma. The best part about it was the view. One entire wall of the room was a floor-to-ceiling window. My window faced south, towards 中关村(Zhongguancun), known as China’s Silicon Valley. At night, it would light up, and it was like I was living two blocks from Times Square. It was hard to get out of bed in the mornings because it was so peaceful to just lie there and look out at the city.
Most days, my first class was at 10:10. I would wake up at 9:00 and look out the window to see if I needed a mask or not. Most days, it was pretty obvious I did.
I would leave for class around 9:45. On the way, I would stop at a street food cart just outside my dorm for breakfast – 煎饼(jianbing)。Before my eyes, Jianbing Man (as we international students affectionately called him) would create a breakfast masterpiece in just 30 seconds from wheat batter, egg, green onions, and some mystery ingredients. It cost USD $1, and it is one of my top 3 foods from China.
To get to campus, I had to cross a pedestrian bridge. Besides the two flights of stairs (which got progressively harder as the smog worked away at my lungs), I really enjoyed this part of my commute. At the top of the bridge, I could see a lot of the city and the campus. It made me feel like such a big-city girl.
The walk to my classroom building only took about 10 minutes total. Most days, I had just two classes – reading, and then either speaking or vocabulary. They lasted two hours each. I really loved my classes, my professors, and most of all my classmates. The 13 of us represented 8 different countries: United States, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Spain, Russia, the Philippines, and Brunei. My closest friend in the class was Carlota, from Spain, in the blue dress next to me in the photo below.
In between the two classes we had an hour-long break for lunch. PKU’s biggest and best canteen, Nonyuan, was also the closest one to my classroom building, so that’s where I normally went. This is what one of my typical lunches looked like: baked chicken, fried rice, a fried egg, steamed Chinese cabbage, and an Asian pear. Oftentimes I would also get milk tea or red bean sesame cookies for something sweet. All of this cost me less than USD $2! And it was, obviously, delicious.
Twice a week I would go to the fruit store after my classes. This is one of the parts of my daily life I miss most. Walking into the fruit store, my senses were immediately overwhelmed with the sweetest aromas of fifty different kinds of fruit, half of which I had never seen before. The store wasn’t very large, but they packed a lot of goodness in such a small place. I would always get enough pears for the next few days, since I had at least one every day. The pears in China are like an American pear and apple combined – sweet, unbelievably crisp, juicy – you could never go wrong with a pear. In addition to pears, I would usually also get some fruit to snack on, like kumquats or grapes.
After the fruit store, I would get started on my homework. Sometimes I would work on campus with friends, other times I would head back to my room to introvert and get stuff done. I always looked forward to dinner, though – another opportunity to have more of China’s amazing food. On the right is another of my top 3 dishes from China, 涮羊肉. Its English name, instant-boiled mutton, doesn’t do it justice. The cook drops thinly sliced lamb into a massive vat of boiling water for a few minutes, then scoops it into a bowl with some noodles and Chinese cabbage. Ladle some sesame sauce on top and sprinkle some Sichuan pepper if you dare, and you’re good to go! It was so incredibly savory and satisfying. The watermelon was a very nice spring and summer treat, too. This meal was also only USD $2.
After dinner I would usually work some more and often Skype my family or friends, drinking lots of tea all the while. Towards the end of the night I would have dessert: lychee nuts. If you haven’t had them before, they taste like a combination of a plum and a grape. You have to peel that spiky shell to get to the slippery fruit inside, but that’s just part of the experience. I also miss having lychee every night.
That’s what a day looked like for me! When I think about China, the things I miss most are the things in this post: the food, the friends, and the habits that made up my days there. It was a good life.
In April, Nate and I traveled again with CET. This time, we went south to the famous city of Xi’an, resting place of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang and his thousands of terra cotta soldier statues. After a 10-hour bus ride (we drove through the night on this trip), we rolled up to one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions. It was a Chinese national holiday so not only were lots of foreign tourists there, all the Chinese tourists were too. There’s an expression in Chinese, “人山人海”, that literally translates to “people mountain, people sea”. This phrase could be used to describe both the tightly-packed rows of earthen warriors and the seething masses of people who mobbed them.
The terra cotta soldiers were very cool. We first went through an exhibit that presented some history, which then opened up into three massive excavation pits that contained the soldiers. My favorite part was actually getting to see the excavation in progress. In two of the pits, there were ladders, tarps, and tools laid out among the bodies. The soldiers themselves weren’t finished – apparently it takes longer than 40 years to rebuild a 9,000-piece relic that was first built in the third century BCE.
After we were done with the Terra Cotta Army, we went to Xi’an’s most famous street food market for dinner. The food there was mainly in the style of the Uyghur, a Chinese people group in the country’s northwest that has been largely influenced by Middle Eastern culture. The best dish I tried there was a spiced roasted lamb skewer, a street food delicacy I got to enjoy several times while in China. Nate and I also bought massive cotton candy spools for $5 each. It was luxury in excess.
The next day we tested the limits of the human body. Mount Hua is one of China’s most famous mountains, and parts of it make it one of the most dangerous hikes in the world. (Don’t worry, we didn’t do those parts. We didn’t have time.) Hiking the mountain means ascending a neverending series of staircases carved into the mountain itself. There are 5 peaks on the mountain, and we made it to two of them. It took 9 hours. Up.
Somehow, the view and the experience were worth the extreme physical pain we were all in by the time we reached the summit. China’s dramatically jagged mountains rose around us in green and yellow.
Thankfully, we got to take a cable car down so we didn’t have to try to not fall down the mountain as we went down the stairs in our weakened state. Although the rapid descent through the mountains we had just climbed did make me question the merit of ascending the mountain on foot, the experience of flying through China’s mountains in a glass box was truly breathtaking.
By the time we made it back the bus, my legs were shaking so bad I could barely stand for lack of balance. Sleep was such a relief that night.
We got up super early the next day to drive back. I managed to stay awake most of the ride, and I was pleasantly surprised that the scenery on the daytime ride back was more diverse and beautiful than I had realized. I got to see mountains, plateaus, terraced rice fields, farms, and other manifestations of the landscape that must be unique to China. It was like driving through the China section of a world history textbook.
That was my last out-of-town trip while I was staying in Beijing, and was it ever a good one.
March 19, two months after we had arrived in Beijing, was Nate’s birthday. We took the opportunity to explore the city a little bit and do some things on our Beijing Bucket List.
I knew that starting the day with waffles, even in Beijing, was a prerequisite for a good birthday. So we took the bus to the hippest coffee spot in Beijing – Maan Coffee: Waffle and Toast. Even the name, although magnificent, couldn’t do justice to the two-storied, rustic, delectable food paradise that it adorned. Seriously, though – I have never had better waffles than these. In my life. I would fly back to China just to have these once more.
After waffles, we went to an international church we were trying out. We didn’t end up settling there, but it was nice to have a place to worship with other Christians again.
For lunch, we went to the cool part of Beijing – Sanlitun, where the parties go down. For us, the part was authentic Italian pizza – pricey, in China, but worth it since it was the first good Western food we’d had in 2 months.
Next stop, Beijing Zoo! We spent a long time at the Giant Panda exhibit – we connected on a deep emotional level with this fuzzy beast that pretty much just wanted to lie on its back and eat food without moving its head.
As it was quite late in the day, a lot of the exhibits were already closed. The upside of this was that, for a Beijing public attraction, the zoo really wasn’t that crowded.
The zoo also had some really incredible birds.
For dinner we went to a hutong, which is a narrow street that is historically filled with shops and restaurants. They still are, but now they’re more touristy and less quaint and traditional. We found a Peking Duck place and enjoyed Beijing’s most famous dish!
Finally, we went to a European restaurant called M for dessert. Little did I know when I looked it up online that it would be the fanciest restaurant I had ever been in. Because most of the desserts on the menu were upwards of USD $20, Nate and I split this tiny lemon pudding. It was very tasty, but we vowed never to return there until we’re rich.
We got to see so many different pieces of Beijing that day, and eat a lot of good food. On a related note, if anyone wants to fly me to Beijing to get Maan waffles for my birthday next year, you know I’m down.
Wow I can’t believe it’s already nearing the end of May! It seems like just the other day I was planning my trip, scouring the Internet for tips and ideas for my semester at KNU. This post will be a semi-informational guide for students planning on coming to KNU and if anybody actually reads this and has questions, please feel free to comment below and I’d love to help answer your Qs.
Ok so following my typical approach; let’s start with…
It ain’t cheap. I’d definitely save up a good amount of cash if you want to eat decently (aka not rice everyday). Like most University of Oklahoma exchange students at KNU, I received the housing and food scholarship from the university. Unfortunately, the food at the new dorm (there is a difference between the food at the old dorms and new dorms, I’ll explain in another post) is quite frankly, Absolutely terrible. If you can eat spicy foods, it won’t be as bad but the quality of food is just rough.
Now that said, one can eat pretty cheaply and in large quantities for nearly 5000₩ and there are some fruits you can find at a market near the old dorms. But I just want it to be known that most international students (including myself) underestimated the amount of money they would spend on food, because they expected the cafeteria food to be eatable. If you are not receiving the food scholarship, DO NOT BUY THE MEAL PLAN. I know many of my European friends did this and essentially wasted hundreds of euros on food they couldn’t physically stomach. Additionally, the food at supermarkets is more expensive than the market foods and you can’t buy any food to prepare because neither of the dorms have kitchens. So when you’re preparing a budget, know that food will take up most of your budget. In the next post I’ll write about some of the best/cheapest places to eat near campus and Downtown.
In South Korea
So leaving Daegu can be pretty cheap or pretty expensive. It all depends on where you go but going to Seoul can range from 17000₩ to 47000₩, one-way. The price to Seoul varies depending on how early you buy the ticket and whether you take the long train (3.5-4 hours), the fast KTX (1.5 hours), or the bus (3 hours). The bus is usually the cheapest and the ride isn’t uncomfortable at all (they even stop midway for 15 minutes so you can go to the bathroom and whatnot).
Going to Busan (from what I’ve heard) is very cheap and only an hour or so, around 7000₩ one-way, and other to other cities is pretty cheap. I really love going to Seoul but always have limited time to travel due to work on Friday so I spend a buttload of money on the KTX ticket ;/ You can buy train tickets online here:
Leaving the country can be a bit costly, depending on where you go and how far ahead you plan. Going to Japan will be around $140 round trip from Busan/Daegu– again the price depending on how early you plan your trip. Don’t try and buy your ticket for May 5th (if you’re there in the spring) because everybody and their mother will be going there!!!!
Going to Vietnam and Thailand is also quite cheap, but check the season (monsoon/high or low travel season) and remember that for Vietnam most people need visas (super easy to do online, will write about it another post). Going to Jeju (still in Korea) can actually be quite cheap and flights should be booked through http://www.jejuair.net. Google Flights is my favourite site to find the cheapest tickets from Korea.
Traveling within Daegu can mostly be done be bus, subway, or taxi. Taxis are SO cheap here (in comparison to the US) and a taxi from the campus to downtown will cost around 5500₩ and they take cards. All the taxi drivers only speak Korean though so download Google Translator or a map of where you want to go before you get in. If you’re going out to party (not that I ever did that), just keep this in mind because the bus stops running around 12. The bus is pretty easy to figure out but can be confusing at first because not everything is entirely translated into English like in Seoul. Take the 410 or the 706 to go downtown from North Gate (it’s around 7 stops).
You don’t have to but it’s easiest to buy a T-money travel card for the buses, which can also be used in the subways in Daegu and Seoul. It’s annoying to whip out the 1400₩ for each bus ride when you’re in a crowded bus with the typical crazy Korean bus driver. You can buy these cards at a 711 or CU at North Gate. When it comes to the subway in Daegu, because there is no stop near the uni I rarely ever used it. It’s good to get around to different parts of the city if you just want to explore or go see the other universities in the area (Yeongnam).
Here is a picture of the KNU taxi card you get in your welcome packet but I thought some students may want it before they come just in case:
Clothes here can range from very cheap to very expensive. Again, it’s all about what you’re looking for but if you’re not the typical Korean size (aka size Small, small arms, and slender) you may not have much luck. My French, Moroccan, and Polish friends found it very hard to find tops and jeans that fit but my Malaysian and Japanese friend did not find it that hard. For guys, I’m not sure how difficult it is to find stuff in “European” sizes but for all, just know there are UNIQLO and H&M in downtown if you really need to get some clothes. I’m 5’5” and an American small but my long arms and bum really restrict me from buying anything here. In Seoul, there is more variation but the range of sizes (or lack thereof) is still pretty restrictive. In Seoul, Hongdae and Myeongdong station are great places to buy clothes, accessories, and shoes.
Shoes here are dope. Obviously Nike and Reebok will be more expensive than they are in the States, but there are so many sales that this isn’t always true. Here in Daegu, the fashion is a little more on the conservative side but there are still plenty of options. I would recommend buying fall/winter boots at home though, because the booted heels here are not that comfortable and a little on the expensive side (take this with a grain of salt though because I was here in February-June aka probably not the best time to be looking for boots).
So, the dorms are what actually worried me the most before I came and I’d say with good reason. Firstly, the rules of the new dorm Chumsung-gwan were not told to me before I came:
The dorm elevators are separated by gender.
The dorm floors are separated by gender and boys can’t even go on girl’s floors.
If you arrive after 1 am, you get “penalty points” so 2 points each time you use your card key between 1:00 am–4:59 am. Now, they don’t really count the exchange students’ points and I know that for a fact but the administration kind of scares you into coming before 1 am in the beginning.
***The old dorm buildings are separated by gender and I believe they may count the penalty points more***
Now the cost of the dorms wasn’t really a factor for me because I received the dorm scholarship, but I believe it’s not too expensive for a semester at such a good uni with pretty decent facilities. I believe it is around $1000 with the meal plan in the new dorms but I honestly am not entirely sure.
Things You’ll Need to Buy for Your Room:
Comforter: Prices can range from 30,000-70,000₩ and it depends where you buy it. My roommate bought hers from the Small Gate market but I got mine from Emart. Hers was more expensive and better quality, but for 4 months I would spend just the 30000₩.
Bottom Blanket Thingy: ok so here they don’t really use sheets so you won’t be able to really find them. What you will find is this kind of thick quilt-like thing that covers the mattress. I bought a mattress topper that had a cover on it and it was actually a lot better because the mattresses here are like rocks (it was 30,000₩ from Home Plus). If you really want sheets, you should bring a set of twin sheets.
Pillow(s): I bought a bigger pillow for 15000₩ and a small one for 10000₩ from Emart.
Light Blanket: I don’t know why I needed this but I just did. It cost around 10000₩ from Emart.
Trash Cans: You can actually find some leftover from the semester before but they’re usually disgusting. These cost 1000₩ from Daiso.
*~*~*~* QuiCK DAISO PlUg ~*~*~*~*
Ok so if you’re as broke as I am, you want to get everything as cheaply functional as possible, Daiso is the place to go. Daiso is like the hybrid between the Dollar Store and Target, and they have the coolest stuff and mostly everything is under 5000₩. I would recommend getting trashcans, hangers, umbrellas, water bottles, mirrors, hooks, nail polish remover, makeup remover wipes, snacks, mini rugs (if you have holes in your floor like I did), little souvenirs, mini Korean flags, desk organizing stuff, cleaning supplies, plates, utensils, school supplies, toilet paper, bathroom soap, shower curtain–
PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING YOU WANT CAN BE FOUND AT DAISO
*Other than clothes, bedding, electronics, and fresh food
So hit it up! There is a Daiso at Small Gate, North Gate, and Downtown. I’d recommend taking a big empty backpack to the one in Downtown because that Daiso is the biggest and you’ll most likely be taking the bus. I say this because the Small and North Gate Daisos will be ransacked the first few weeks lol.
I ended up spending around 300,000₩ total on my room, but you may spend less or more.
Time seems to fly by while I’m here. I’m already three weeks into classes and my birthday is on Monday. I don’t mind though. The first month here was difficult, but I’m starting to get into a routine. After I wrote you last I was quite sick for a week, but now that I’m well I’m ready to try facing Japan again. I’ve made some wonderful friends here, and every week I seem to make a few more. I still haven’t seen much of this city, but I feel comfortable taking new routes around my part of town.
I truly wish I had lots of wonderful stories to tell from these last couple weeks but, to be honest, I’ve mostly been studying. My Japanese classes are really hard. I can tell I’m getting better though. The quizzes are a little easier to cope with and the homework goes faster than it used to, but that doesn’t mean I can slack off. The balance between succeeding in my classes and successfully enjoying Japan is really hard to find. I don’t know that I’ve done it very well so far, but I’m going to keep trying.
Last weekend I had one particularly fun break from studying. A group of the girls in my dorm had an international potluck. We all brought food from or inspired by our own countries and got to take a trip around the world on our stomachs. I managed to make passable nachos in a country that doesn’t really have cheese. It was difficult, but I didn’t realize how much I’d missed real, Tex-Mex style nachos. The best part is that now that I know how to do it, I can make more that I don’t have to share.
The topic of food is actually an interesting one. At school in America I find it really hard to get enough vegetables. I don’t always get enough here either, but whenever I cook there are lots of vegetables. Veggies are fairly cheap here, at least to me. On the other hand, many of my friends are forever being shocked by how expensive the fruits and veggies are here. It makes me realize once again how difficult it is to be healthy in America. I’m so used to having to pay a premium for a healthy diet while, in many parts of the world, college students are unofficial vegetarians because that’s all they can afford. At least here in Japan it’s fairly even. You don’t pay a premium for health, but it’s not discounted either.
There are many things here that I’m sure you would enjoy. I think I’d enjoy them a bit more if you were here with me. I know you want me to put you out of my mind and embrace this opportunity, but it’s hard. I am having fun though—I promise. And I’m still taking pictures and making memories to share with you when I return. I look forward to reliving all of them with you.
Wow. So much has happened in the past month that my brain is having a hard time comprehending it all. I’ll try organizing my thoughts and memories into a series of posts, each covering a different aspect of my trip. This first one will cover the first two days, which were spent in Munich and Hohenschwangau, Germany.
We left Tulsa and flew to D.C., then from D.C. to Munich: about 11 hours of travel altogether. We arrived in Munich in the morning, so immediately after landing, we ate breakfast at McDonald’s (nutella, a croissant, and a cappucino: delicious), checked into our flat, and hopped into the car for a road trip to Neuschwanstein Castle in Hohenschwangau.
We stopped in a tiny town on the way to grab a schnitzel sandwich and stretch our legs, so I snapped a few pictures of it. The name of the sandwich shop was Weilhain, but embarrassingly, I don’t remember the name of the town!
Neuschwanstein is located at the top of a tall hill, so we took a long hike up to the top. The walk was difficult, as the hill was very steep, but incredibly beautiful. We arrived at the top breathless, partly from the hike, but mostly because the castle was breathtaking. It was like we’d stepped out of the 21st century back several hundred years into a fairytale or a story book. The castle looks like one you’d see in a movie: hundreds of windows and dozens of towers which overlook a waterfall that drops into a lake surrounded on all sides by tall trees.
We spent about an hour at the castle before heading down the hill (I stopped and bought some banana crunch ice cream to eat on the long journey :). I fell asleep on the car ride home, and woke up once we arrived back in Munich. We wandered around the older part of the city for a while, looking for a place to eat dinner, before deciding to eat at Schubeck’s Orlando. I ordered Nüremberg sausages with puréed potatoes and chili sauerkraut in an effort to be adventurous and loved every bite. Afterwards, we returned to the flat to sleep for the night.
The next morning, we popped into a bakery for some streudel and apfelschorle (a drink made of sparkling water and apple juice) before going to the town of Dachau, home of the first concentration camp built during World War II. There, history came to life in a very sobering way. It was hard to comprehend the horrors that happened within the walls of such a normal-looking place. There I understood for maybe the first time that the Holocaust was real: it was not only in history books that such things happened. People, real people, with families and homes and lives, were tortured and killed. I think sometimes we forget that people in the past were no different from us and that history is not just a story.
After touring Dachau, we drove back to Munich to eat lunch at a Biergarten, or pub, called Hofbräahaus. I ordered the beer roast with sauerkraut and potatoes and a nonalcoholic beer, just so I could have the complete German experience. The food, yet again, was delicious, but there was no time to linger because we had a plane to catch.
Every single aspect of my short time in Germany was amazing. The people were friendly, the architecture was gorgeous, the food was incredible, even the McDonald’s was a really neat experience. I hope to return to Germany someday (hopefully for longer than two days) and reacquaint myself with each aspect of its remarkable culture.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my adventure in Germany! The next post, which should be up sometime within the next few days, will be about Mozambique and the time I spent there, so be on the lookout!