What does it mean to be globally engaged without traveling?

For over a year now a lot of people have been isolated from activities that they would normally be involved in. This includes students who were involved in the global community here at OU. I originally had plans to travel to Yamaguchi, Japan before the lockdowns initially began. Since then it has been very hard to tell how things will develop. Initially Japan was dealing with the situation very well, but over time they have had a few slipups and their rollout of the vaccine has not gone very well so far. One of the most important things for me to do over this time period has been to stay engaged with news coming out of Japan and the rest of the world as a whole. This situation has taught everyone how connected the world really is as a situation in one country could affect the rest of the world.


Vaccine Rollout

The vaccine rollout here in the US had a lot of initial hurdles, but seems to be on a good trajectory now. Japan, in contrast still has a long way to go with their vaccination rollout. This is troubling as I am still planning on studying abroad there this coming Fall. Japan has had a history of problems with vaccinations, so I think that is part of the reason it is taking so long to get going. I think that once a couple of vaccines are approved there then they will be able to speed up the vaccination program a lot, but until more vaccines get approved I am very worried.


Global Engagement Day

On April 14th I got the opportunity to go to the online version of the global engagement day. It was a good chance to see some familiar faces that I hadn’t seen in a while. I even recognized ne of the students presenting about their study abroad experiences from my Japanese class. His experiences were really interesting to me as I haven’t actually heard too much of the experiences of anyone who has went to Japan. I feel like he talked about some really practical stuff that will be helpful if I am able to travel abroad.


As CDC guidelines change once again in the US, COVID-19 rages on across the globe


As of Thursday, May 13, the CDC has officially adjusted their COVID-19 mitigation guidelines for the United States to say that those who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks or social distance, indoors or outdoors, except in healthcare settings and where mandated by state or local policies, signaling to many that the worst may be over. However, while I do feel optimistic about things in the US improving further by the end of the year, I also don’t necessarily think that we should be acting like things are 100% back to normal, especially as hundreds of thousands are still becoming infected daily and dying in other countries. 


For example, India is one of the hardest hit regions at the moment, with cases growing by over 300,000 from May 11-May 12, and deaths increasing by over 4,000. While population size and an overwhelmed healthcare system are factors, especially in more rural, poverty-stricken areas of the country, it is proof that just because things are improving closer to home does not mean that the pandemic is anywhere close to being “over”. Variants are circulating, and even though so far vaccines seem to be providing at least some immunity against them, they are not a complete cure. 


In my opinion, if anything, the shared trauma faced by the world over the past year should be an indication that world leaders should work together to ensure that things such as vaccines and other healthcare aspects are widely available to ALL, not just “all in wealthier ‘western’ nations” to ensure a healthier, more collaborative world. However, unfortunately, this may not happen. Heck, even within the US, especially last year but it hasn’t completely stopped, governmental leaders were putting economic profits over lives, hence our situation being what it was. Otherwise, we could have been like Australia, who imposed much stricter lockdowns but are now even closer to pre-pandemic life conditions than the US is.


As for me, even though the guidelines are changing, I don’t see my habits changing much, at least for the immediate future. I might be more likely to actually go into a store instead of ordering everything online, and once concerts start coming back more I will be going to one eventually, because I do want to get back to my life, but it would be selfish to completely disregard our collective experiences of the past year in order to do so. 




Study Abroad Cut Short


My flatmates and I on March 13, the last night before we had to start dispersing back to our home countries.

And, to conclude my posts about my study abroad experience, I will discuss said experience’s early conclusion thanks to the freaking COVID-19 pandemic that we are still dealing with today. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, but that does not make lost potential experiences sting any less.


As the spread of COVID-19 began to increase in countries such as China and Italy, I was definitely monitoring the situation through social media, but even as late as the beginning of March, I didn’t think that things were going to go the way they did, with everything shutting down and whatnot. Even that last weekend before things changed rapidly, which was around March 7, my flatmates and I had gone into London and visited multiple crowded places such as the Camden Market, and everything still seemed normal considering how much things were about to change.

Camden Market in London on March 7, just one week before COVID-19 was officially considered a pandemic and life would be forever changed.


I would consider March 11 to be the day that marked the beginning of the end, so to speak. It was the day that the WHO officially classified the virus as a pandemic, and it was also the day the NBA saw its first initial shutdown after the OKC Thunder/Utah Jazz game was cancelled right before tipoff due to Jazz player Rudy Gobert testing positive for the virus. I remember sitting in my flat in Hatfield and seeing all the tweets about the Thunder game, and that was definitely a sign in my brain that stuff was about to go down, but even then, I didn’t realize I was going to have to come home so soon. The next day, March 12, the first University of Hertfordshire case had been confirmed, and by Friday the 13th, of course, all of their courses had moved online at least through the end of the Easter holiday in April, though this later extended further, and I had booked a plane ticket home for Sunday the 15th. 


I am extremely grateful to have been able to have the experience that I did. My main, and pretty much only, regret, is that I did not experience more while I was over there because I thought I had more time. For example, in early February, most of my flatmates went on a weekend trip to Oslo, Norway because a couple of them had gone through the wrong gates at the airport and therefore had the wrong visa stamps for the length of time they planned to stay and therefore had to leave the country and come back. That weekend, however, I had elected to stay behind and go see Birds of Prey at the local movie theater on opening weekend instead, because I was planning to save all of my international travelling for the two-week Easter holiday in April… clearly that didn’t happen. I don’t regret my plans from that weekend in general, especially since that ended up being my last time in a theater too, but I definitely would have at least explored other parts of the UK a bit more if I had known at the beginning that I would be flying back home two months early.


That’s another thing that I felt conflicted about at the time, and still do today, to be honest. I am extremely sad that I didn’t get to have the same full travel experience that my older sister did the year before, and definitely plan to remedy that at some point when international travel becomes safer again, but I was also in turn given an opportunity to spend extra time with my parents that I wouldn’t have gotten to have otherwise. How quickly everything changed was definitely a bit traumatic, especially having to say goodbye to all of my flatmates two full months before I had planned, but as I said earlier, I do think that everything happens for a reason, and I also believe that those first couple of months of lockdown would have been even worse if I had gotten stuck over there or if otherwise I hadn’t been able to spend it with loved ones, especially as our ferret Snowberry became somewhat of an emotional support animal.