My OU Cousin

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This semester, I have had the wonderful pleasure of sharing an OU cousin with my two good friends. After a somewhat hectic pairing night, we met our lovely cousin, Patricia. She lives in France currently, but lived much of her young life in Portugal. She is multilingual and multicultural, and I have loved learning about the international community from her. The night we paired with her, we took Patricia and her Colombian roommate Paula to Couch Express where we bought them their first grilled cheeses ever. There amusement at such a traditional American dish was delightfully entertaining- I could already tell that night that it was going to be a fun semester. Though we have all been incredibly busy over the past sixteen weeks, we have still managed have some amazing times together. First, we went to an OU Cousins event at Cafe Plaid where we sipped delicious chai lattes and played apples to apples with Patricia’s roommate Jeanette from Sweden and her cousin. This game turned out to be a wonderful way to easily talk and laugh together, bridging cultures and bringing us all together. We also hung out on Halloween, arriving at the OU Cousins event too late to carve pumpkins, but ending up having a wonderful time walking around, looking at people’s costumes and chatting. Though these things were all fun, my favorite thing I’ve done with my OU Cousin all semester was lunch at the Blackbird Gastropub. It was me, Patricia, Paula, Jeanette, and their fourth German roommate Isabella. I felt incredibly international sitting in a pub that reminded me vividly of pubs in England sharing food and good stories with my new friends from around the world. In that moment, I truly realized how fortunate I am to attend a university that connects me with such wonderful foreign students. From Patricia, I have learned that on a basic level, there really are no major differences between college students here and abroad; it’s never difficult to find common ground. Though there are cultural differences, such as popular food and music, there are also many similarities between us, and on these similarities, we built a great friendship, one that I hope will continue for many years in the future!

The End of the Semester: Some Thoughts

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In six days, the end of the semester will be upon us. The end of my first semester of college. The end of half my time living in the dorms. The end of a large part of the time it is still acceptable for me to be undecided with what I want to do with my future. Yes, the close of this semester represents many endings, but I would be foolish to be too upset over these. Because the end of this semester brings with it the beginning of the next, my next chapter at OU, my next chapter in life (I apologize that this is getting sappy. I feel like I’m allowed to be at least a little bit sappy though). This semester has gone by in a whirlwind, albeit a very wonderful whirlwind, and I cannot wait to see what is coming for me next.

Overall, I cannot find much fault with this semester; it went as well as I could’ve hoped. I joined a sorority (which surprised even me, but which I have loved more than I ever could have suspected), I worked as an associate for OU’s Undergraduate Student Congress, I went to many random campus events, acquiring free food and free t-shirts along the way, I made great friends (including my OU Cousin), I made Norman my home, and, most importantly (it is why I’m here, after all) I succeeded in my first round of college classes! It was exhausting and stressful at times, but I wouldn’t take back a minute of it. My high school, unlike some others, I have heard, prepared me well for college- I already knew how to study and make myself work coming in, so I wasn’t hit hard when first tests came around like some of my peers were. Toward the middle, I definitely hit slumps, but kept going, and am now faced with the end! Which is bittersweet- a month without homework, but also without learning crazy new and interesting things every day in classes.

I knew I would enjoy my classes related to international studies, because I have always enjoyed that field, but what I was not prepared for was loving my honors intro to zoology class. I had such a wonderful time that I am now considering being pre-med! This change is a great illustration of one of the lessons college has taught me: being open-minded and flexible is a very, very good thing, and it can take you to amazing places. Whether it was in classes or outside them, being open to learning new things has taken me on a wonderful journey. My honors reading group led me to develop new passions for global social issues, like maternal health and women’s education in developing nations. This and other things represent the many in the world begging for young, interested minds to come to their aid, and I hope to be one of those young, interested minds. I have been to poetry readings and speeches and cultural events and I have loved immersing myself in new information. It has been exhilarating, and I hope that next semester is filled with many more adventures.

I will leave you with my goals for the future. Step One: pick a major, and develop at least an idea of a future career. Step Two: become more involved on campus! This semester, I was involved an aggressively medium amount, and I would love to better integrate myself into OU student life. Step Three: continue to have new experiences, hear new stories, and become a better informed citizen of the world!

This semester has been incredibly wonderful. I am thrilled with my choice of school and with the way my first few months here have gone. With one semester under my belt, I am ready to go on and make the rest of my time in college an adventure to remember!

International Organizations at OU

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Though I have not yet become actively involved in any of the international student organizations on campus, I am interested in several, and in this post, I’m going to share a little bit about three in particular that I am looking into:

First- the International Affairs Society. Their basic goals as an organization line up perfectly with my personal goals- fostering international awareness and understanding, as well as uniting the international and domestic students here at OU. It sounds like they do amazing things, and I would love to get involved with them.

Second- the International Business Association. I am seriously considering a major in international business, and this organization brings in speakers with great experience in this field to help educate international business students about the career paths available to me. Part of what is holding me back from choosing this major is uncertainty about what jobs I would be able to attain with it in the future; for this reason, this organization seems perfect for me.

Third- the International Advisory Committee. This organization acts as an umbrella over all of the international student organizations, and I think it would be a great jumpstart for me to test out different organizations, as well as to get involved in leadership, which is one of my main goals for my student involvement at OU. I love the idea of helping my peers become more internationally involved, and I think that this organization would help me do just that.

If all goes well, I would love to join all three of these groups! One of my favorite things about college so far has been all the diverse opportunities I’ve been offered, and I want to take advantage of as many as possible.

About Me

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This post, logically, would have been one of the first for me to put up, but better late than never, right? Starting with the basics, my name is Katherine Voss, and I hail from Flower Mound, Texas, a suburb north of Dallas centered around a somewhat disappointing mound that, more often than not, is covered in nothing but weeds. I love to travel (shocking, I know), try out exotic cuisines with my friends, read wonderful books, have dance parties to pop music I’m only slightly ashamed to enjoy (One Direction, I’m looking at you), color (you’re never too old), watch British television, drink tea, and just spend time with the people I love. My current major is international business, though I’m toying with the idea of going pre-med. Or possibly staying five years and doing both. The fact that OU is brimming with various directions I could go in is both thrilling and terrifying to me, and I’m hoping to, sooner than later, pick one. Still, I’m enjoying sampling my various options; not knowing truly isn’t such a bad thing. Still, things like the Global Engagement Fellowship are helping to hone my vision for my future. I applied because everything about it seemed wonderful- scholarship to study abroad, being “forced” to go abroad at least twice (tragic, I know), and being led to get involved with different international groups on camps. And I was encouraged to start this lovely blog! All of this fed directly into my love of travel and all things international, and I knew that it was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up. So, through my two study abroad trips as well as the activities I partake in thanks to this fellowship, I hope to inch ever closer to finding out what it is that I want to do with my life! Don’t worry- I’ll keep you posted.

International Career Fair: Who Knew?

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A few weeks ago, I attended a career fair put on by the College of International Studies here at OU, and it was a wonderful experience. I have no idea whether or not I will choose to pursue any of the careers I found there, but it felt wonderful to explore my options. One of the scariest things about the international studies major to me is the fact that I don’t know what I would do with it. As a field, international studies has always fascinated me, but worry that it won’t lead me to a viable career has always held me back. Going to this career fair changed my mind; I found many wonderful career paths that an international studies degree can lead to, as well as several internship opportunities relating to international studies, which I hadn’t known existed before. The fair was a huge relief for me- I know that if I continue down my current path, there are many exciting possibilities that await me, and I now have concrete ideas about what they are, which I didn’t before. My goal for college is to acquire as much knowledge as I can about as many things as I can, and this career fair was a great boon for that.

Syria, the Rise of the Islamic State, and US Policy

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This lunch discussion was the very first international event I attended at OU, way back during the first week of school, and as a result, my memory of the specific facts discussed is a little bit shaky. However, I do remember how the talk made me feel, and I am happy to share those feelings with you. I remember entering the talk knowing very little about the actual events occurring in Syria; I knew there was a conflict, but I didn’t know why or how it was happening. I left the talk in a state of mild confusion, because, though I’d been provided with many facts about the conflict, they were many and they were complex, and it was all hard to make sense of. Dr. Landis told the crowd a great deal about the conflict, as well as his proposed solutions, in what I felt was an unbiased manner. However, after the talk, another man who apparently also knew a great deal about Syria and ISIS got into several arguments with Dr. Landis, proposing different solutions and reframing the problem in the way that he deemed correct. The discussions between the two men drove home for me the fact that conflicts such as this one cannot be explained in simple terms, and that people are always going to disagree about their solutions. This disparity of reactions to international conflict is I think what makes them so difficult to solve. It is also what makes going to talks like this one so important; everyone will never agree, but the more people who are staying informed about the conflict, the better. There will never be one correct solution, but acquiring knowledge and making an educated try is better than doing nothing for fear of failure. So, it is hard to say whether I learned more about Syria or about international conflict in general from this talk, but either way, I am glad that I attended it, and I hope to sit in on many more such talks in the future.

 

Picture: ISIS flag from http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-09-04/ever-wonder-what-black-and-white-isis-flag-means