I’ll tell you of Ecuador

I’ll tell you of Ecuador, and all of its splendor

With passion my memories race

In the sunshine, the mountains, my heart, it grew tender

When I unpacked my little suitcase

 

My arrival was quick; ’twas late in the night

And I watched the bright lights so intently

At two in the morning, awaiting daylight,

I drifted to sleep oh so gently

 

Weeks passed as I learned to write and to speak

And to navigate all on my own

I greeted new friends with a kiss on the cheek

And submerged myself in the unknown

 

I visited cities with lights of warm gold

And beaches with waves of cold vigor

My eyes, they saw creatures, so loud and so bold

Would I ever find anything bigger?

 

Like a flash of bright light, four months had gone by

A plane swept me up and away

And an emptiness held me, its embrace a bit shy

So I smiled and told it to stay

 

It’s a feeling that lingers, just under my chin

A warmth and a chill mixed together

And I begin to remember the sun on my skin

The vendors, the mountains, the weather

 

And I can’t help but miss the places I saw

and the wonderful people I met

So I lower my head and begin to withdraw

But remember there’s no need to fret

 

I’ll tell you of Ecuador, and all of its splendor

For I have begun to agree

In the sunshine, the mountains, my heart, it grew tender

When Ecuador opened to me

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.

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 #6

What did you think of the different perspectives you heard in Tuesday’s class? In what ways have you experienced being the “other” or outsider? Or have you? Do you have any fears about studying abroad in terms of your race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or any other factors? How do you plan to address those concerns? 

The student’s different perspectives from Tuesday’s class regarding their study abroad experiences were interesting to hear about. As you already know, I was not born or raised in the United States. As an eleven-year-old girl who was suddenly thrown into a world full of foreigners, I very much experienced being the outsider. Since I could not speak any English, I was automatically categorized as an outsider; needless to say that people judged me based on the country of my birth and my religion. Although my experience after immigrating to the United States was bitter-sweet, I have learned many things about myself throughout the past seven years. I feel very comfortable with my race, ethnicity, gender, and religion even when I receive negative remarks about such things from others. I have come to realize that I am the individual that I am because of those differences and I know how to handle situations that are not quit favorable towards me in regards to such topics. I don’t necessarily have any fears regarding my race, ethnicity, gender, or religion while studying abroad; however, I am concerned about other things that are important to me such as not being able to find Halal meat. Although I am aware that most countries outside of the United States have more food options for Muslims, South Korea is not such a Muslim-friendly country when it comes to food. The best way for me to address this issue is to explore many restaurants and find meals that I like best out of my options. Another way is to ask for chicken instead of pork or red meat, since I don’t have a problem with eating chicken even if it is not labeled Halal. Overall, I am not too concerned about my fears because I know that my experience while studying abroad will not be affected much due to my fears.

Here is a song that I think fits the topic of this reflection quite well. Enjoy!

Reflection #5

After spending some time looking closely at different study abroad possibilities, what do you want to do and why? Has your mind changed since you applied for this program? How and why (or why not)?

Before the study abroad adviser’s visit to our class, I did not know about all of the opportunities that are available to me. Although I had explored different programs on the study abroad website prior to her visit, I was still quite confused about how each of the five program types differed from one another. I learned more about the Journey Programs through the Study Abroad 101 session, which made me extremely excited about taking advantage of one of these programs. The Journey to Italy and Brazil programs seem very interesting; however, I am not sure if the classes offered during these programs will help me fulfill much of my major requirements. Another program that I am interested in is the summer program in Daegu, South Korea. My older sister studied in South Korea two summers ago with this program and she absolutely loved her experience; I became very interested in the program after her return. I hope to study abroad in Daegu because I want to get an immerse experience and a stronger sense of the Korean culture. Although I have a pretty good idea of where I would like to study for my summer study abroad, I am lost in a pool of so many different programs offered during the semester. Middlesex University in London offers classes that would help me keep up with my major requirements in order to graduate in four years, but as I was looking through the program description, I realized that single semester study abroad programs are no longer allowed as part of the Middlesex exchange. In all honesty, I am most worried about not finding a program that will help me succeed. Hopefully after my appointment with the study abroad adviser, I will have a better idea of what programs best fit my needs. I hope that everything works out for me and that I can find a program that will not hurt me in an academic sense.

Here is a song by one of my all time favorite singers. I look forward to a day when I can go to his concert and meet him. Enjoy!

Reflection #3

How did you react to the perspectives on the United States that you encountered this week? What stood out the most to you? Why? How will that influence your thoughts or actions in the future – either here or abroad?

Throughout this week, I read a few articles over non-American individuals’ perspectives on the Unites States. I was very shocked to see a similarity between their perspective on the United States and mine. It became very clear to me that all foreigners, no matter where they come from, feel somewhat the same towards different situations they come across with in the Unites States. A great example would be the “Cheesy in-your-face marketing”. During Iranian T.V. shows, there are only one or two sets of commercials—depending on the amount of viewers—which last about thirty seconds each. Before immigrating to the United States, I was not informed about the long and repetitive sets of commercial that are re-played over and over during American T.V. shows. I have to admit that for the longest time, I thought a show was over when the commercials started playing. The length of the commercials seemed so long and never-ending compared to the thirty-second-long commercials that I was used to, that it never crossed my mind to think: “oh, there goes the commercial again!” Now this probably would have never happened if I knew enough knowledge of the English language to at least understand the contents of the episodes and to distinguish between a pause and a conclusion to the episodes. With that thought aside, some foreigners acted very ignorantly towards Americans, and judged them based on stereotypes or what they had seen on T.V. The story that stood out the most to me was the story where a girl on the bus was assumed to be “easy” because of her nationality and what the guy had seen on American movies. This event can be terrifying—especially for a girl living in a foreign country. Not only does the topic create a very uncomfortable environment, it also creates feelings of terror and insecurity. Although I am not sure how well I would have handled the situation if I was in the girl’s shoes, I probably would not have remembered my study abroad experience in that country as a fun and sweet one. To hopefully prevent my involvement in such situations while studying abroad, I will remember to be very cautious about where and when I go out. Public transportation during the night, for example, will probably not be my number one choice—especially if I am alone and am not familiar with the location.

Here is a song by one of my favorite Iranian artists. Enjoy!