The Mid-Autumn festival celebration hosted by the University’s Chinese department was one of the best events I went to this year. The Mid-Autumn festival is one of the most significant traditions/holidays. There was food served, and Chinese club executive members spoke about the year. Food was obviously an amazing aspect of the meeting, but I really appreciated the familial aspect of the Chinese language department. Most of the professors are originally from China, and their shared cultural values created a really warm environment. It was also just fun to see what your professors were like outside of class. Not many departments have potlucks with students and professors wherein the professors make the food. Much like the Asian food fair, having food made by people that have made it their whole lives also brings a great aspect into the potluck.
Every year the University’s Confucius institute hosts Confucius Institute day. It serves to inform OU students both about the Institute’s namesake, but about the instate itself, and Chinese culture in general. There are stations set up around the south oval with activities regarding Chinese culture, information for study abroad, and appreciation of Confucius. Food is served and traditional music is played throughout, engendering a party like atmosphere. Local high school students are bussed to the fair by their district, and the festival usually brings Norman natives and a large amount of University students as well. It’s a great part of the academic year celebrations by the Chinese language department. If you go by the event, you cannot help to leave with a smile
One of my favorite events this semester was a lecture hosted by Dr. Liu of the University’s linguistics department. Her Lecture focused on the differences in cognition because of native language of the speaker. She focused mainly on the differences between English and Chinese and how native speakers perceive thins like time and numbers differently. For example the words describing up and down (上，下) also respectively describe next and previous in regards to time. In English, we usually refer to time as a line from left to right as opposed to up and down. As a Chinese language major, the topics discussed in the lecture were things I thought about quite often. The lecture was something I will keep with me as I continue learning the language.
In America, our renditions of many Asian culture-specific foods is largely inaccurate and homogenized. “Chinese food” could refer to one of a million different dishes, none of them being authentic to Chinese cuisine. It is because of this culinary misrepresentation that the Asian Food fair was such a smash hit to me. There was representation from most east Asian countries, with food prepared by people native to the culture. It was great to see foods that were simply uncommon to most American students. Exposing students to foods from around the world is a great means for cultural exchange, and also gives them a more realistic depiction of what these foods are supposed to look like. The fair was held on the south oval, and it was all-you-can-eat for $5 (to-go Boxes were $10). Needless to say, it was an amazing time for my stomach. The food was delicious, but it was also an amazing place for conversation. Talking to someone about the intricacies of their dish can really give insight into their culture.
While traveling in China this summer, I was able to visit Beijing Normal University. It’s one of the best Universities in China, and I hope to be able to study there someday! Anyways, upon arrival, we were met by student ambassadors that spoke with us about the University, campus life, and Beijing in general. The student ambassador I was paired with told me she was coming to OU this fall. I thought it was an awesome coincidence, and I asked for her contact info. This semester I was moving in to my apartment and saw her moving in, and we met up once again. Throughout the semester, I was able to speak with her a lot on in person and through WeChat. This friendship definitely had a huge language aspect. I always wanted to know more about her culture or Chinese language In general.
For Global Engagement Day I decided to attend the Fulbright scholars panel. This Event featured both past and future Fulbright scholars. The Fulbright scholar program is in the future of all Global Engagement Fellows in one way or another. When I apply to be a Fulbright scholar, I think I may want to go with the teaching route. I’m constantly thinking of a possible research direction in case I change my mind and decide not to. I was able to hear from past Fulbright scholars that studied in Germany, Spain, and China! They spoke about their experiences and informed us of how we could apply ourselves and become Fulbright Scholars ourselves. The Fulbright Scholarship is definitely a dream of mine and I hope to be able to become one!
Shanghai was the last stop in China and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s easily the most Westernized city we visited and so it was a nice slice of home before actually heading back to the United States. That being said, the language barrier was still very prevalent and that was a pleasant surprise. After our three week trip, when we finally made it to Shanghai, we had finally realized how to navigate traffic as pedestrians, use public subways, and successfully order food without too many weird looks. Shanghai was a bittersweet end to the trip because we had grown so much and it was coming to a close. seeing the amount of skyscrapers that they have throughout their city, one could assume how this could be their business capital. My favorite thing about Shanghai was that despite the heavy influence of globalization, it is still a city that is very much Chinese, from the cuisine to the people and so much more. When I head back to China for my semester abroad, I think Shanghai will be the destination I select.
Less than 24 hours after my time in Rome, I found myself in Beijing, China for the beginning of the journey to China program. It was an incredible time. because we were able to stay a few blocks away from the 2008 Olympic village in Beijing, we were able to see some of the most updated areas of the city. As far as culture shock goes, Italy was a walk in the park. China was diving into Arctic waters. We arrived In Beijing on the last day of the annual Dragon Boat Festival. We went to the forbidden city and Tiananmen Square on our first day and it was the most people I’ve ever seen in my life. And they were just as shocked to see my as I was all of them. I had at least 400 pictures taken of me or with me that day, and it was a great preview for the rest of our time in China.
What a time this summer was! During my two-week study abroad in Italy we were able to stay a few nights in Italy’s most historic cities. Home of the Renaissance, Florence was surely a highlight for this summer and definitely my life experience as a whole. Florence was my favorite stop in Italy because of the mixture of a small town environment, mixed with immense cultural importance. This was a place that had the feeling of little to no tourist influence (not many english speakers, other signs of globalization etc.), but also houses monuments like the statue of David and the basilica of saint Mary of the flower. Florence also featured the best single dish I’ve ever had in my entire life. On our last night, I had a spaghetti carbonara dish that was absolutely amazing. Italian food definitely lived up to the hype. I guess the sights were okay too
Eve of Nations is a culmination of different international groups, including the Angola Student Association, the Indian Student Association, The OU society of Chinese Students and Scholars, the American Indian Student Association, the Korean Student Association, the Malaysian Student Association, the Omani Student Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, and The United World. The audience of this event comprised mainly of OU students, family and friends of those students, and representatives from the countries that participated. During the event, there was a international fashion show, and several performances that included dancing and singing. This public celebration of world cultures made me proud to be an OU student. This event, while very celebratory, it was also very educational. I was pleased to have such a rewarding night in Norman.