The Post-Cold War: Peacekeeping, the Islamic Threat, North Korea and the Next Peer Competitor – China

Towards the end of the Spring semester I got to go to the final bit of the Cold War lecture series. The discussion featured personal and professional memoirs by Dr. John Fishel. The content of the lecture was a bit confusing. From what I heard, Dr. John Fishel was less informative and very opinionated. I didn’t really understand the context of what he was speaking about or the overall point he was trying to convey. However, I did pick up on some things. For example, during the Cold War, the Bush administration was plagued with miscommunication and misguidance among U.S. officials. For instance, around the time of the 2011 attack on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon, the United States knew Sudan had weapons. However, when the United States came into Sudan, they were nowhere to be found. Was this miscommunication and poor decision making for U.S. officials? Regardless, this example showcases common issues during this period.

Pertaining to the title of this post, by the end of the Cold War, China began to rise as a superpower. Afterwards, Vladimir Putin decided to become particularly active in the middle east while challenging U.S. supremacy. This results in the United States feeling threatened by China and Russia. In addition, rogue states began arising in North Korea and Iran. Dr. John Fishel ended the lecture by asking whether or not the our actions in the Cold War were worthwhile.

All in all, I wish I went to the two other Cold War lectures. I might have understood the context of Dr. Fishel’s statement or the direction of his viewpoints a bit more. However, it seemed like he was critical of how U.S. officials reacted and took action during the Cold War. The miscommunication among U.S. officials may have done more harm then originally intended. Essentially, during the Cold War the United States engaged in a lot of unnecessary conflicts with the intent of competing for the ideals of Democracy. Although U.S. intentions were initially pure, miscommunication and fear caused U.S. officials to make questionable choices in action and policy. The resulting hostility during this period ended with the arrival of threats from North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran.

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Cheap International Flights: Travel more for less

This summer I traveled to Europe and spend time in London, Italy, Poland, and Hungary. I flew on 9 planes and spent less than $1200 on flights. So many people have asked me how, so I decided to write a post about it for those intending to travel abroad.

Three tips: Start early, be willing to spend a lot of time searching, and be patient!

First of all, if you are a student traveling, be sure to look and sign up for student discounts wherever applicable. There are many sites that offer lower rates, like STA travel. You can also get a student traveler card which makes you eligible for more discounts.

Go directly to foreign airlines directly. Many US travel websites do not include flights by smaller airlines, which can sometimes offer better fares. Airlines will differ by country so you will have to do a lot of digging depending on where you want to go. Skyscanner is a great resource for searching cheap flights and they tend to include more airlines.

If you start early enough (about 8 months before), you can set alerts for when the price drops on multiple flights. They usually say the sweet spot to buy international flights is usually between 4 and 6 months out from the departure date and this will give you plenty of time to watch the price patterns. Shorter flights do not require as much time, but you should buy at least a few weeks out to avoid price surges.

If you want the best deals, you will have to get creative. It might be joining together different flights on different airlines. Be willing to be flexible in your destinations and connection locations as well. In order to get to Italy, I took a flight to London on one airline I had a 20 hour layover until my flight to Rome. I spent the day exploring London and visiting museums. I even saw a show at the Globe Theater! The cheapest flight home was through Lyon, France 5 days after my program ended, so I used the extra days to travel. I ended up in Budapest, Hungary and the cheapest way to get from Budapest to Lyon was to fly first to Brussels, Belgium. I had a few close calls and I ran through some airports but that leads me to my next and most important piece of advice.

CARRY ON. Carry on carry on carry on. I would not have been able to travel as much as I did if I didn’t. if you read the fine print of many discount airlines, the can saddle you with hefty fees for bringing a checked bag. Not only are checked bags more expensive, you will add a significant amount of time to your journeys. If you want to switch airlines you will have to wait at baggage claim and then recheck your bag (not to mention customs if you’re switching countries). While packing a month’s worth of supplies into one bag may seem impossible, it will be well worth it to cut time and cut costs. Good luck and safe travels!

Packing Tip: Remember liquids must only be in 3 ounce bottles. Also, try to find hostels with laundry options and pack clothes that you can mix and match. If you want to reduce your food costs, pack some snacks. By the end of the trip you’ll have eaten your food and you will have room for all of your souvenirs!

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Fracturing my Foot in Italy

Traveling is always an experience of a lifetime with a ton of memories and unexpected events and well let me just say fracturing my foot was very unexpected. It was my 5th week in Europe and I still had four weeks to go so the timing was not good at all. I had to go to an Italy hospital in the middle of the night and let me just say that it was really creepy. Then, I had to figure out how I was going to get around because Europe is not known for being very accessible if you can’t walk. I think that was the hardest thing for me to get used to not being able to do the things I was doing prior to my accident. Also, I had a week booked for after my study abroad to see other countries and ride in trains and planes so that was going to be a learning experience. The healthcare system in Italy compared to the US was also different because I got a plaster cast; yes a cast from like the 1950s. By the end of the trip, I became a pro on walking short distances with crutches, climbing stairs, going downstairs, etc. This was the biggest learning experience I could get because being such a control freak and not having control of this situation was huge. As of right now, I have my cast off and I need to wear a boot for the next 3 weeks. I will be updating this blog on doing my insurance claim and how all that works while being abroad.

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Engineers Abroad

Four weeks in Arezzo, Italy with an awesome group of engineers >>> anything else

This summer I got to spend four weeks in Tuscany studying abroad and in all honesty when I first went to OU study abroad fair; I did not think I would be able to say that.

They always say studying abroad and engineering does not really mix but I am glad that OU has found a way to make this a reality. I got to spend four amazing weeks with different engineering majors doing computer science and professional development. This journey was one of the best times of my life because not only did I challenge myself but I met people I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for this opportunity.

Let me just say if you get a chance to go to Arezzo, Italy, DO IT!!

I promise you will not regret it, it is an awesome little city with everything you will ever need.

Let me just say I did eat a lot of pasta and gelato but I was in Italy so that is my excuse!

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Madrid,Istanbul,and Bari

After spending three weeks on the west coast of Spain; my older sister and I decided to travel to a few places in Europe.

Madrid,Spain:  This was not my first time in the city and there is reason I always come back and that is because I love madrid. I love the amtosphere, the people, the language, and the food. Madrid has always been a place a could myself living in after college. If you are in Europe and looking to travel to a big city I suggest madrid.

Istanbul, Turkey: This was my first time in Turkey and well just say I was not too happy. I guess I can say that I am used to West European style but I was just not a big fan of the dirty streets. Also, the tourists spots did not seemed like they were  mainted very well either. In addition, I did not have the best experience with our taxi drivers so I would skip this city if I had to do it over again.

Bari, Italy: This is a city in the Puglia region of Italy. Let me just tell you that this place is AWESOME!! I might be biased though because my family is from this region. That is what I was doing there; I got to spent a few days with my dad side of the family. All they spoke was Italian so I got to put my Italian skills to the test. Lets just say my understading skills are way better than my speaking.

 

Overall: the week in between my aunts house and my study abroad experience was totally awesome!!

 

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Spain

 

 

Hola Spain,

This summer I began my nine-week adventure throughout Europe. Let just say that it was one of the craziest, fun, and stressful summers of my entire life. It all started May 22nd when I flew to A Coruna, Spain; where my aunt lives. Well, she actually lives an hour away from there in a smaller city. I spent the next three weeks as I got to spend some well deserving time with my family that I hadn’t seen in the last five years. In addition, I got to practice my Spanish which it all honestly was pretty rough at first. The weeks I spent there got me to see a really different side of the world that I was not used too. I got to experience Spanish schooling because my cousins were still going to school and I got to see as they decided their schedules for next fall. Also, a dialect was used there more than Spanish so it was interesting feeling what it was like not understanding the language. I can’t wait to go back and see all my family and maybe begin to understand the dialect.

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Les Semaines Supplémentaires en France

June 12, 2018

How much is too much for an antique pocket watch? I’ve now discovered that €230 is too much no matter how pristine and well-maintained it was. It was jewel encrusted, though… Maybe it would have been worth it. However, despite my best efforts, antiques evaded me throughout my hunt and I returned defeated but somehow having purchased PopRocks to my delight.

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June 13, 2018

The source of previously mysterious bug bites may have been discovered. I somehow managed to spot a single flea in my room. Only one, confirmed by the two and a half hour search I subsequently launched to root out any surviving relatives of my tormentor. In other news, truffade is as great as theory posits. A giant pan of bubbling cheese and potatoes is a hard thing to ruin in my eyes and I was not disappointed. However, the other end of our table was extremely loud to the point that other patrons were leaving the restaurant. Then, when someone on our end laughed, they tried to tell us to be quiet because we were making people angry. We were? No, my dear, that’s you. So far I’ve found I have the most fun when I’m not with everyone else especially not all of them. It’s just too much.

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June 16, 2018

I have officially become the first person descended from the Rossignol line to not only return to Europe but also to visit the town we used to live in. Dr. Bass had been planning on taking me to see it since I mentioned my family was from the area during the application process, so off we went along with Dr. Winston and Dr. Bass’ friend, Jacques, who was visiting from Bordeaux. I can’t say that I was expecting them to have a tourism office, but I was glad they did. In a somewhat creepy turn of events, they even had a projection of Queen Margot (Marguerite de Valois) in the basement that talked about the history of the region and her imprisonment there. It was unsettling but interesting to see. We walked throughout the village, visited the church, looked through the cemetery though I knew none of my ancestors would be buried there. We don’t really do organized mass burial sites because enemy groups tended to do that to us, so a private burial in a pre-chosen special place is the tradition. The village is built on and around a large hill and there’s a statue of Mother Mary on the top to which we climbed. However, on the way back down I managed to slip on the loose dirt (I really shouldn’t be climbing in shoes. I need to be barefoot to get traction.) and land in a cheer split on the side of the hill. Nice.

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June 18-19, 2018

Cheese in a cave. We saw it, I ate it, it was great. For context, as a group, we toured one of the dairy farms from which St. Nectaire cheese comes. We saw the cows (including some 10-day old calves being taken off for slaughter which broke my heart more than a little), a 3D short film including pictures and historical accounts of the area, and toured the caves where they prepare the cheese. Great cheese, 10/10. However, such a great excursion had to be followed by a disaster which came in the form of le Chaîne des Puys. I was originally going to opt out of the trip because I knew my lung wouldn’t handle hiking a volcano as was the first plan. However, when the plan was changed to hiking DOWN the volcano instead, I decided to give it a shot. That was mistake number one. The plan was misconstrued and actually entailed several long bouts of hiking very much upward, climbing three volcanos in le chaîne, and me twisting my knee terribly (because I REALLY shouldn’t be climbing anything in shoes when I can’t get traction) and returning with seemingly permanent discoloration due to volcanic rock opening the skin and ash remaining under it. Gross. Never again.

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June 21-22, 2018

There I was, just enjoying the Fête de la Musique and listening to a guy play what I’m pretty sure was Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend on a ukelele in front of the looming cathedral at like 11:00 at night when Pierre announces his surprise weekend return from Germany to visit his mother who then prompted him to drop in on me. So I, of course, had to march across the city to the bus stop to find him and then the rest of the night was a blur of dive bars I hadn’t seen previously and a confusing muddle of musical instruments ringing in my ears. The next morning, I sent him on his way back to his mother and off we Americans went to the lake. Important info: prior to this fateful trip, I had never been sunburned in my life. I didn’t tan, I didn’t burn, I was just perpetually the same color. This trip changed that. Whilst avoiding the massive herd of French boys clogging the swimming area, we took out paddle boats, had a picnic, conversed, all while I was toasting without my knowledge. 48 hours later and my back was a deep red-purple hue that had me almost worried enough to use my international health insurance. However, that would require time spent at the hospital and my French is likely not good enough to go alone in which case I would be wasting a professor’s time as well. It didn’t seem worth it and it was never really painful at all anyway which I found odd, but I took it as a comfort and finished my trip with a discolored back and questions about why everyone always complains about sunburns.

OU JTI Strange Things

This is just a post about some cool and weird highlights on the trip. I’ve been busy since I came home so I haven’t had much time to refine my other posts about Italy yet. Until I can properly work on those post this is gonna be here to talk about the strange things or weird highlights that I experienced while I was abroad.

After I got off the plane we got on a bus to go to OU’d campus in Arezzo. Driving down the highway was so pretty. They had flowers that I could out of every window for a long time. When we got to Arezzo however, I think it really shocked my how there wasn’t really any grass anywhere it was all just cobblestone. They had a park and trees but there just wasn’t grass anywhere that I walked to and I thought that that was weird. Another thing that I noticed is that all of the building were attached or close together. I couldn’t tell one building from another. The buildings were also really pretty. They were tall and winding, another thing that I’m not used to, but they were also so many different colors. There were pink houses right next to yellows and all these other colors that I would never see in Oklahoma.

A lot of the food that I had in Italy was different from Americanized Italian food and it was so much better. Everything just tasted so fresh and delicious and I loved all of it. Before I left I told myself that I would try new things and I meant food too and I think that I accomplished that goal. Sometimes when I couldn’t read the menu or understand some things I  Just choose something random and found some things that I really liked. I also tried food that I don’t eat in the States because I don’t like it and I was surprised that I liked it over there. I really don’t like tomatoes and I never have. My friends and family kept trying to get me to try them and in different forms and I would try and still dislike them. However, for some reason, I liked the tomatoes over there. One of my favorite foods was from a Piadina place where I got a tomato and mozzarella Piadina. I loved this food it was so simple but so good and I loved every bit of it.

There were a lot of other strange experience that I had while in Italy. Everything that I saw and did was really awesome and hopefully, I’ll get to talk and blog about my experiences when I have more time.

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Première Semaine en France

June 1, 2018

To begin, it should be made clear that prior to flying to Iceland, I had never been in an airplane before. I had flown in helicopters, bungee jumped, and even had a prolonged belief as a child that I could levitate. No airplanes, though. So, my first flight was an experience in itself. Overall, I felt it was fine despite the overwhelmingly negative comments the airline had previously received and after several unsuccessful attempts to sleep over the Atlantic, I was examining the puffins strolling around on the other side of the tarmac from Keflavik International Airport. One odd part of my Icelandic layover was the fact that it took me less than five minutes (not counting the time it took to actually get off the first plane) to reach the gate for my next flight and less than half an hour later I was on my way to Paris. Wild. This is doubly important to the hilarity of my trek through CDG Airport once I arrived. During that five minute walk through KIA, a lady quickly took my passport as I was passing through a doorway, stamped it, and handed it back. Apparently, that was my customs check into the EU because no one else even asked to look at my passport aside from the flight attendant seating me to confirm my name. Even once I was leaving CDG in Paris, no one stopped me, asked for my passport, or even glanced in my general direction. (I won’t lie, being white-passing was likely a major factor because a chubby little light-skinned girl isn’t going to attract a lot of suspicions.) So, I walked from my plane to baggage and then directly out of the airport to my hotel where I relished in a hot shower, ate the complimentary madeleines, and slept for roughly 7 hours before going back through the airport to catch my bus at 12:50 a.m. (also not an incredibly awful ordeal though that was when the first French person was rude to me). One last note, my dorm room is so obnoxiously green it gives me a headache.

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June 2-3, 2018

It seems most of my peers didn’t pack as thoroughly as we were warned to since most of them arrived without towels. That gave us an excuse to run off on a downtown Clermont-Ferrand exploration extravaganza during which we visited the appropriately intimidating volcanic-rock cathedral, perused the mall and little specialty shops, and somehow managed to walk uphill the entire way including on the way back to the dorms. This unfortunate topographical layout seems to permeate the entire city and my lung is no fan. We went out for authentic French crêpes which were mostly cheese and potatoes, but those are my two favorite things, so I was satisfied. Also, for dessert I had an amazing crêpe filled with mango and strawberries. 10/10 would recommend.

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June 8-9, 2018

Class, grocery shopping (pretty much the same as in America just with better food, so no worries), and HEAT ANGER FROM THE LACK OF AIR-CON have been the center of my life for the past five or so days, but now we embark on our group trip to Lyon (where I’ve already been, BTW because not only did I have an hours-long wait between buses there, but my second bus was late, so minor exploring was completed previously). Unfortunately and much to my ire, Pierre has an internship in Berlin this summer so alas, he will not be there to greet me. What a selfish boy, honestly hehe. Despite my disappointment at being eluded by my oldest friend, I did manage to see a significant amount of the city from the most extra cathedral I may ever lay eyes on (there was gold leaf EVERYWHERE including in the TAPESTRIES and DOORS) to an informative boat tour along the Rhône during which we accidentally crashed a primary school field-trip. Oops. The kids didn’t seem to mind though. We explored the ruins of a Roman amphitheater, ate an excessive amount of couscous (much to my delight), and toured a museum documenting Roman occupation of the region in antiquity which was right up my alley.

OU JTI

At the end of last semester, I wrote about how I would be doing OU’s Journey to Italy program. Now it’s been a little over a week since I’ve been back and I’ve had some time to reflect and look back at my time abroad. Overall it was an amazing program and a met some really cool people while I was over. I think that everyone in the program had some adventures along the way and even the bad experiences were still really cool. I think that everything just added up to an amazing experience even though the last week made me exhausted. We did a lot of traveling and a lot of walking around. Italy was such a different place from Oklahoma and hopefully one day I’ll be able to go back. Being in the country really made me want to add Italian to my studies so that I can travel there alone. I’m really glad that my first trip to Italy was with OU. It really helped me to understand the art and the culture of the country more than if I had gone as a tourist. Staying there for a month also helped me to get used to the difference between what I’ve been used and what I was going to experience. I really loved Italy from the place and the artwork to the food and the people and I look forward to going back.

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