Une soirée de la cuisine française

Il y a plusieurs mois, j’ai écrit un article de blog que j’ai nommé « Le Commencement d’une petite histoire de la cuisine française » (si vous voulez le lire, voici le lien : http://jaboyd.oucreate.com/ uncategorized/le-commencement-dune-petite-histoire-de-la-cuisine-francaise/). J’ai écrit deux articles avant d’être distraite par d’autres sujets, donc je n’ai jamais achevé ma tentative de faire la chronique de la cuisine française. (Désolée si vous l’attendiez avec impatience – peut-être un jour je le finirai !) Mais récemment, j’avais la chance de connaitre quelque chose de mieux que la recherche sur Internet : j’ai aidé à préparer (et consommer !) un vrai repas français. Je peux vous avouer que l’expérience vaut mieux que tout connaissance cérébrale.

Cet événement était organisé par une professeure d’échange française appelée Louise. Elle vient de Clermont-Ferrand, la ville où je vise à étudier dans le printemps de 2020, et elle enseigne le français ici à OU pendant cette année scolaire. Elle a voulu faire un grand repas français pour ses amis, et j’avais l’honneur d’être invitée et de pouvoir aider avec la préparation. Je ne savais pas combien j’allais apprendre pendant cette soirée !

Je suis arrivée à la cuisine où se préparait le repas vers 17h30. Louise et un ami avaient commencé à cuisiner vers 16h, et ils avaient déjà fait une mousse au chocolat et du pâte pour des crêpes salés et sucrés. Ils étaient en train de préparer des champignons à la grecque, une tarte aux fruits, et de la béchamel. Quand j’ai entendu la description des autres plats qu’ils visaient à préparer, j’étais étonnée par l’ambition des projets de Louise, et j’ai commencé à aider avec gaieté. Louise était une superbe chef de cuisine. Elle nous a instruit quoi faire, et nous l’avons obéit, tout en apprenant beaucoup sur la cuisine. Voici une liste des plats qu’on avait fait :

1)      Une mousse au chocolat – Le nom s’explique. Une délicieuse mélange d’œufs et du chocolat. Voici une recette si ça vous intéresse : https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_mousse-au-chocolat-facile_13585.aspx

2)      Des crêpes salés – Ce sont comme les crêpes sucrés, mais au lieu d’ajouter les fruits ou du chocolat, on a ajouté un œuf, de la crème, du bacon, et des champignons. Vraiment trop bon ! Voici une recette (non pas celle que nous avons utilisés, puisque Louise la connait par cœur, mais quand même une bonne recette : https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_idees-de-garnitures-pour-crepes-salees_33107.aspx)

3)      Des crêpes sucrés – On les a mangés avec des myrtilles, des mûres, des fraises, du Nutella, et de la beurre à cacahuètes. (Voir https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_crepes-sucrees_85005.aspx)

4)      Du tapenade – Une spécialité du sud de la France, fait des olives et des anchois et mangé avec du pain. Je l’ai mangé souvent quand j’étais en Provence, donc j’étais heureuse quand j’ai vu Louise la préparer. Voici la recette qu’on a utilisé : https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_tapenade-noire_21786.aspx

5)      Une quiche aux poireaux – Délicieuse ! Voici la recette : https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_quiche-aux-poireaux_24393.aspx

6)      Une tarte aux pommes – On était inventif avec cette tarte en mélangeant de la rhubarbe avec les pommes dans la compote. C’était trop bon ! Voici une recette la tarte aux pommes, et soyez inventif aussi en mélangeant d’autres fruits dans la compote si vous voulez : https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_tarte-aux-pommes_18588.aspx

7)      Des croissants au jambon – Faire ces croissants étaient ma tâche, et ils étaient tellement intéressant à faire. Être juste, on avait acheté les croissants eux-mêmes du supermarché, donc ils n’étaient pas vraiment authentiques. Mais on avait fait une béchamel délicieuse (avec du muscade, ce que je n’aurais jamais pensé à ajouter !), puis on a assemblé les croissants avec du jambon, plein de béchamel, plein de fromage, et du sel et poivre. On les a mis dans le four (pendant un peu trop longtemps, mais ca allait), et ils étaient délicieux. Voici une recette sans la béchamel : https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_croissants-au-jambon-express_20209.aspx. Et voici la recette pour la béchamel : https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_bechamel_23880.aspx

8)      Des champignons à la grecque – Trop bon ! Voici la recette : https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_champignons-a-la-grecque-facile-et-rapide_82781.aspx

(Je crois que c’était tout. On avait fait tellement beaucoup de plats que c’est possible que j’ai oublié un, mais si je m’en souviens, je l’ajouterai à la liste.)

La cuisine a duré jusqu’à tard dans la nuit. Beaucoup d’amis sont venus pour nous aider à tout mangé, et on s’amusait beaucoup. On a bavardé, joué des jeux de société, et profité de toute la nourriture délicieuse. C’était vraiment une soirée qui restera dans ma mémoire, et j’espère un jour (bientôt peut-être !) de refaire certains de ces recettes pour mes amis américains.

(Crédit de photo: https://www.groupon.fr/deals/las-de-la-crepe-1)

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Geneva, Switzerland

For the second part of Spring Break, I hopped on a bus and headed to Geneva, Switzerland. Among my favorite parts was learning the history behind the art in the United Nations, seeing the sights like Bain de Pâquis, and meeting people in the hostel I stayed at.

Tour of Morocco

Saharan DesertThis study abroad trip has been so full of adventures I can’t believe how fortunate I am! I have just returned from a week-long trip to Morocco. I am currently on holidays in Spain, which was the perfect excuse I needed to make my long-awaited dream of visiting Morocco a reality.

I was particularly excited to go to Morocco not just because it’s a beautiful country and I have heard that the food is delicious, but because of the fact that my participation in the Arabic Flagship Program means that I will apply to spend a year in Morocco to study Arabic and complete an internship. I looked at this trip as a sneak-preview of what is to come, and spoiler alert: I can’t wait to go back.

I traveled with an organized tour group, which meant that this trip wasChefchaouen jam-packed with tours and activities. In the end, we visited Fes, Chefchaouen, Merzouga, Ourazazate, Marrakesh, and Casa Blanca, and we spent a night camping in the desert. I got to see the Hassan II Mosque (the largest in Africa), the Majorelle Garden, the Bahia Palace,
Hassan Tower, the Blue Gate of Fes, and so many more incredible sites. Parts of Morocco, especially in the north, were completely different than what I imagined: there were hills covered in wildflowers, blue lakes, snow-capped mountains… completely different than the image of the desert that I had in mind. Of course, the Saharan is about what I pictured, with golden orange sand in every direction.

Of all the places we traveled, Marrakesh was my favorite stop. It was certainly a busy, active city with a lot going on. One look at its busy main square, the Jemaa el-Fnaa, and that becomes patently obvious. The city has many wonderful little parks and cultivated gardens full of roses, which makes it very charming.

Morocco amazed me, and I highly recommend visiting should you ever get the chance. The country is so rich in history, and it was incredible to visit. I look forward to returning one day soon!

2019 General Elections in Spain

Spain Election ResultsOn Sunday, April 28, Spaniards took to the polls for snap general elections that were called for by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in February of this year after his government’s budget proposal was voted down. In this election, all 350 seats of Congress and 208 seats from the Senate were up for election.

In the end, Sánchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) won the elections but failed to get an absolute majority, meaning that a coalition government will need to be formed. It remains unclear as to what exactly that coalition government will look like because neither the left-wing bloc nor the right-wing has enough seats to form a super majority. On the left, there is the PSOE (123 seats), and Unidas Podemos (42 seats), although together they fall 11 seats short of the 176 needed to form a super majority. On the right, there is the Populist Party (66 seats), Ciudadanos (57 seats), and Vox (24 seats), 29 seats short of an absolute majority.

Although the final outcome of the elections remain to be seen, it is undeniable that they have had a huge impact on the country. It was fascinating to be in Spain for this election cycle to witness such an important election. Spain, like other European countries and even the United States itself, is facing a rise in far-right politics. In Spain, this rise is embodied by the political party Vox, whose growing popularity has alarmed many Spaniards and created strong ideological divisions in the country. Vox rose to national attention in December 2018 after winning 12 seats in the Andalusian regional elections, which was significant because a far-right party had not entered Spain’s government since the end of Franco’s regime. Many had believed that Spain was immune to the wave of right-wing populism, but Vox’s success has proven this to be false. Vox’s particular brand of right-wing conservatism seems at odds with the Spain that I have come to know: a tolerant, feminist, liberal country. And while Vox won only 10% of the vote, in the Spanish proportional representation system this is significant.

In many ways, this election cycle reminded me of the 2016 presidential elections in the USA. The elections were never far off the minds of my Spanish friends, and it frequently popped up as a topic of conversation. Many Spanish youth were truly afraid of the outcome of the elections, worried that the success of a divisive, far-right populist party would take their country in a direction they don’t want it to go. In the weeks leading up to the election, I saw almost daily reminders on social media encouraging people to vote or request their absentee ballots. The fear, the rise in youth participation in elections, generational divides along ideological lines, all of it took me right back to 2016.

I am eager to see the outcome of not just this election, but the outcomes of future elections in Spain as well, to see how far-right populism fairs in a country that still remembers its recent fascist past.

Travels and Adventures

This semester I decided to do as much travelling as possible before I have to leave for good. So this post is an accumulation of all my adventures from the last three months.

In the second weekend of February, I went on my first grand adventure. There is a place called Conisbrough Castle about a two hour’s bus ride away from me, so I hopped on the bus on a Saturday to go see it. It turns out that it’s actually used as a sort of park for kids now. I arrived and found several families picnicking in the old castle grounds within the walls, and kids running around playing knights and princesses and dragons. Technically though, Conisbrough was never actually a castle. It was actually a hunting borough, hence the name: Conisbrough means king’s borough. The place is quite small,  and only the keep (inner tower typically built for defensive purposes) and parts of the outer wall remain.

My next adventure was the next weekend. I told a friend at church about my travel to Conisbrough, and she said she was actually planning a trip for the next weekend. So I went with her and her French flatmate to Whitby, which is a town on the eastern coast. There is an old abbey there, at the top of a cliff on the coast. It was absolutely beautiful there.

In March, I joined a friend from physics to go hiking in the Peak District with a couple of her friends. The Peak District is a huge national park with tons of hills and gorgeous views. It’s an extremely popular place for hikers of all abilities, as well as rock climbers is some areas. It was extremely windy and cold, but still lots of fun.

The following weekend, I went on a university-sponsored trip to Llandudno, Wales, and it turned out that my friend’s two friends were on the trip too, so I got to spend the whole time with them instead of on my own. Our bus broke down for an hour half-way there, it ended up pouring raining pretty much the entire time, and all the locals said it was too dangerous to hike up to the famous mine, but we had fun getting miserably wet anyway.

A weekend or two after after that, I met up with my physics friend and her friends to go to this volunteer dog-walking place and an alpaca farm (two different places). You can see my physics friend with the dog in the background of the first picture. It was a beautiful day out, so the dog-walking place was quite busy. Apparently the dog we walked had already been out twice that day, and we passed him off to someone else when we left. The alpaca farm was a small volunteer place. I guess they really only have the alpacas for the fun of having alpacas. They don’t get enough wool to sell, but they have a group of people who spin it into yarn each year and make hats for the regular volunteers.

Three weeks of March were designated for Easter break. I spent the first half-week in Paris with a missionary friend of mine who lives there. We went to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. I saw the Mona Lisa (albeit from across the room), and I discovered that I can actually appreciate van Gogh’s work. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of myself there, but I did get a picture of a giant hazelnut macaroon I ate. It was quite delicious. The second photo is the skyline from the famous Musée d’Orsay clock.

I flew home from Paris to finally see my family again (I didn’t get home over Christmas because I was busy travelling with my sister). It was quite amusing when I first arrived in the airport. The first thing I thought was that everyone sounded weird and had very unsophisticated accents. I guess I’ve been in England too long. Then again, my first layover was in Chicago, so maybe it was just the Chicago accent that was bothering me.

My one requirement for while was home was that I wanted to see a good Kansas thunderstorm (it might rain a lot in England, but apparently thunder just doesn’t exist). Annoyingly, the weather seemed to be taunting me the whole time. I traveled back and forth between Topeka, Wichita, and Norman during the two weeks, and it seemed that each city would get a giant thunder storm as soon as I left it. I actually joked that there was a weather conspiracy against me. I saw the rainbow when travelling from Wichita to Topeka. My grandma said that it started pouring rain and thundering and lightning literally five minutes after I left. All I got was a little rain on the drive up, but the rainbow was nice at least. But finally, two nights before I left, the weather decided to be nice to me. I woke up at about 2 in the morning because my room was literally shaking from the thunder. Now that’s what I call a good storm. The lightning was probably at least 4 miles away, yet is still managed to produce thunder loud enough to make my mom think we were having an earthquake.

I returned to the UK via Scotland (Edinburgh to be specific) so I do just a little more travelling before returning to school. I did all the typical tourist-y things in Edinburgh, but my favorite part was actually travelling out to see some old, underappreciated castles. They were all huge, and filled with tons of history. It was so cool to be wandering around such ancient, surprisingly well-preserved, remains. I spent hours just wandering around, trying to find all the nooks and crannies. Scotland is now definitely on the top of my list of places I want to revisit.

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La célébration des langues

              Les poèmes, les langues étrangères, les hors d’œuvres—une combination attirante, n’est-ce pas ? Je pense que oui. La semaine dernière, je suis allée à un événement du département de langues modernes ici à OU qui s’est vanté d’une telle combination. Cet événement annuel vise à honorer les réussites des étudiants sous-gradués et gradués dans le département. Parfois, une telle sorte d’événement peut sentir longue et inintéressante, mais non pas celui-ci, grâce au M.C. exceptionnel, Dr. Robert Lemon. Dr. Lemon est plein d’esprit et béni d’une imagination active et un don pour écrire les poèmes. Pour introduire chaque professeur, Dr. Lemon a récité un poème comique qu’il a écrit à propos du prof. Les poèmes, couplés avec son accent anglais et son sens d’humour auto-dérisoire, ont fait rigoler l’audience pendant toute la nuit.

              De plus que l’humour de Dr. Lemon, j’ai apprécié cet événement pour plusieurs autres raisons. J’ai été émerveillée en entendant les réussites des autres étudiants, et leur passion pour les langues et les cultures étrangères m’ont inspirée. Puisque j’étudie le français, je ne vois régulièrement que les autres étudiants de français. J’ai donc chéri cette soirée où des étudiants de toutes les langues enseignées ici à OU s’étaient réunis. Il y avait des étudiants de russe, d’allemand, d’espagnol, de chinois, de japonais, d’hébreu, d’arabique, de linguistique, et plus. Quelques étudiants étudient quatre ou même cinq langues par une combination de majeurs et mineurs. De plus, la solidarité entre les profs et les étudiants, malgré toutes les différences de langue maternelle, de pays d’origine, et d’études scolaires, m’a encouragée.

              Ma partie préférée de la nuit, c’était l’annoncement du gagnant du « Cecil W. Woods Memorial Award ». Ce prix est donné chaque année à un/e prof dans le département pour honorer l’excellence dans l’enseignement. Les délibérations sont faites en secret, donc personne sauf le comité ne sait qui va le recevoir. J’ai pu apercevoir que c’était un grand honneur, un qui est désiré par chaque prof dans le département. J’ai réjoui avec ceux qui m’entouraient quand Dr. Dylan Herrick, prof de linguistique, l’a reçu. Son étonnement et sa joie humble étaient évidents sur son visage. Je ne le connais pas, mais j’étais assise à côté d’une amie qui étudie la linguistique, et elle m’affirmait qu’il est un prof remarquable. C’était un moyen idéal pour terminer une soirée charmante.

(Crédit de photo : https://www.planitplus.net/JobProfileImages/448.jpg)

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Cross-cultural Cooking: How One Chef Uses Food to Communicate

I know it’s been forever since my last post, but don’t worry–my GEF requirements mean that the next week or so will be full of all of the updates I didn’t post earlier this semester. This spring has been crazy busy for me; with a full workload in my classes, my job in the Honors College writing center, and all of the time that goes into being president of a club, I feel like I haven’t stopped moving since Christmas. But in the little bit of free time I have had I’ve actually been able to attend quite a few events here on campus.

One of the events I went to in March was a talk given by chef Rick Bayless titled “A Path of Passion”. Bayless is a renowned chef who specializes in Mexican cuisine and has various restaurants in the Chicago area. He grew up in his family’s tiny barbecue restaurant in middle-of-nowhere, Oklahoma where, after tasting barbeque from restaurants in other states and determining that we DEFINITELY have the best barbecue in the country, Bayless was taught a respect for regional cuisine. He was first introduced to the world of authentic Mexican food during a family vacation to Mexico City. After seeing the country come alive through the dishes he tasted, Bayless returned to the U.S. and started his bachelor’s in Spanish at OU. He viewed the language as an entrance into the culture, and from there he further developed his passion for Mexico.

After he graduated, Bayless decided to pursue cooking rather than continue with Spanish. He returned to Mexico and, through the experience of eating with the people of the pueblos, began to shift his ideas on how to enter into a culture. He started to see food and flavors as the ultimate doors to another culture, connecting people through the visceral experience of eating. Once he became famous and began opening his own restaurants, Bayless used this perspective to confront the stereotypes that came with his attempts to start a restaurant of gourmet Mexican food rather than a cheap taco stand. It was difficult to have patrons come in used to Mexican food that didn’t cost more than $10 or so and expecting it to taste like the Americanized food that they were familiar with. But Bayless stuck to his values and continues to make authentic dishes that, as he explained it, taste exactly like what an abuela in one of the pueblos would make in her kitchen, just with a modern twist.

One of the final thoughts that Bayless left the group with was an idea that for me was the most important moral-of-sorts that he brought up during his hour with us. Cooking is a way of communicating, and if one wishes to do either well–cooking or communicating–they must go into the experience open and without preconceptions. Even when it comes down to something as seemingly simple as food, our preconceptions can block us from trying something new or enjoying something that may not fit with our initial expectations. More importantly, the idea of openness and eschewing preconceptions of other people, places, or groups is something that I think is severely lacking in many cross-cultural experiences today. But even though it is a serious and widespread problem, it’s really an easy fix; putting in a little effort to set aside stereotypes and step out of our comfort zone can have really positive results for both us and for the people we are able to connect with because of our decision to be open-minded. As my mom always said when I was younger and didn’t want to eat a new meal she had made, “Just try it, you’ll probably like it!”

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Global Engagement Day 2019

I had the opportunity this year once again to attend a session during Global Engagement Day. This is of the days within the semester that I really look forward since I always have gotten some valuable information from past Global Engagement Days. While there were many session with interesting topics to choose from, I ultimately chose to go with the session that seemed the most helpful for me as a graduating senior. The session I attended focused on two programs offered with an international emphasis. These two programs are the Critical Languages Scholarship (CLS) Program and the Fulbright Student Program.

The Critical Languages Scholarship Program is one that I have considered applying for in the past. Its emphasis is to send students on a summer-long intensive language program. There are several reasons why this is an interesting program for me personally. I have always had a passion for learning languages which was instilled upon me by my mother. In fact, when I studied abroad in Europe I was always excited to be in a country where I had the opportunity to be completely surrounded by a language that I did not entirely understand. Also, I believe that the fastest way to learn a language is to be completely immersed as much as possible. The whole point of the program is that there is total immersion as well as intense language courses throughout the course of a summer.

The second program discussed during the session was the Fulbright Student Program. While I will not be applying for the CLS Program since I am about to graduate, I am currently planning on applying for the Fulbright Student Program. I was therefore even more engaged during this part of the session. Fulbright overs an even wider range of countries to choose from when compared to the CLS Program. Since the CLS Program is restricted to the languages that are deemed by the US government to be critical, it does not have as many countries in the program. The Fulbright program offers two different opportunities: the English Teaching award and the study/research award. I personally will be applying for the study/research award.

I was once again able to gather some valuable information during the session I chose this year for Global Engagement Day. While I had previously heard a lot of the information presented, it was really valuable to hear from current Fulbright and CLS Program recipients regarding how they approached their individuals applications for the respective program. I believe that is it always good to get an insider look into how a successful application is structured.

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Notre Dame Cathedral Fire

One of the most significant international events in the past few weeks was the Notre-Dame de Paris fire. When I first heard of the news I immediately thought of my visit to Paris. The day I visited it was rainy which isn’t necessarily atypical for most of Europe. We visited the Eiffel tower, the Louvre, and then finally the Notre-Dame cathedral. My first impression of this cathedral in particular was how much it stood. After spending several months around various cities throughout Europe I had become accustomed to seeing a large cathedral in almost every major city. Something about the architecture definitely distinguishes this church. I’m honestly not entirely what makes it seems so different and beautiful at the same time.

The Notre-Dame fire this month was significant for several reason. First, the Notre-Dame cathedral is world renowned and is known by most individuals around the globe. Second, the cathedral was fortunate to have survived the major wars of the 20th century. It seems strange that such a small event caused the majority of its demise. Finally, as I described in the previous paragraph, it holds a special place in my memories of visiting places all over Europe. I have a tendency to organize my memories by remembering certain things from a trip. In this case, the Notre-Dame cathedral, along with the Eiffel tower and Louvre, were the most significant places that I remembered from my trip to Paris.

It is somewhat comforting to me that the investigations up to this point (at the time of this writing) indicate that the fire was not started by a deliberate act. It would greatly trouble me if I were to know that someone willingly sought out to destroy one of the icons of Paris. However, in this day and age it seems unfortunately all too common for major tourist sites to be an attractive targets for those willing to do great harm. According to the investigations, it seems possible that a likely explanation (although not yet verified) is that the ongoing renovations were the source of the fire. Since tools are used this inevitably leads to a fire risk especially given the materials used in the construction of the Notre-Dame cathedral. Thus it is a game of risk and balancing the pros and cons in different methods to keep an old monument in a presentable state.

Overall, while this piece of news is one of tragedy it has kindled my memories of spending time with new friends in new places during my semester abroad in Europe. I firmly believe that something good will almost always come out of something bad that happens. My hope is that the people of Paris will see the best in things as they seek to recover from this incident.

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OU BCM International Village

This semester I have been involved in the OU BCM’s international village. I’ll first give a brief introduction to the OU BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries). OU’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries has several different opportunities for student from all backgrounds to get engaged. The biggest event each week is called Paradigm. This is where all of the members of the BCM gather together in an auditorium to sing some worship songs and then listen to a sermon. The sermon is usually led by a member of the BCM staff or a local church leader/member. At the end of the sermon, the BCM staff will give announcements for upcoming events as well as any major updates for the BCM as a whole.

Village is the second type of way to get engaged with the BCM. It is more commonly known as a bible study, but we call it a “village” to emphasize the fact that we are wanting to engage members in smaller groups in different dorms/apartments all across the OU campus and beyond. During a typical village, members will discuss specific passages from the Bible and sometimes even discuss the sermon from the previous Paradigm. The whole point of the villages is to engage members in a smaller group setting which would not be possible if there was only Paradigm each week. Village participants also will share how their semester has been going and others will offer their support and prayers in order to encourage the group as a whole.

Now we come to what the OU BCM refers to as the international village. This is one of the villages that I have attended this semester. The emphasis is quite apparent from the name of the village. The focus of this village in particular is to bring American and foreign students together and get to know each other while bridging a cultural gap. The importance of the village cannot be understated. It is often difficult for international student to feel a home in a completely different setting. I know this very well from my own experiences abroad. While this village is unique in terms of its focus on international students, it is very much similarly structured to any other village that the BCM has organized at OU. In my opinion, there is much to be learned from participating in this group especially given that people will naturally bring their own cultures and ideas during our discussions.

Overall, attending the OU BCM’s international village this semester has been a unique experience. I believe it has further allowed me to see the interactions of different cultures from the other side of the table. While I was abroad I certainly had moments of not feeling at home. Therefore it was all the more helpful for me to sympathize with the international students that I met through this specific group.

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