My Last Semester as a GEF Mentor


As this is my final semester at OU, it is my final semester as a mentor to younger Global Engagement Fellows. Serving as a mentor to some incredible fellows has been an honor for the past year and a half. So far, every new fellow that I’ve met has been incredible – they make it easy to be a mentor because they need very little help! But it has been amazing to be able to share my travel stories with people who can actually find them useful (it’s always nice to have a valid excuse to reminisce about my time studying abroad…). It is wonderful to listen to new fellows speak so passionately about study abroad plans and to hear about all of the awesome things they’ll get to do.

I’m always jealous when I hear about new programs and adventures – I’ve been back in the U.S. long enough that my time abroad occasionally feels like an incredibly pleasant dream, something that I remember but that happened to another person. I have grown up a great deal since that time – during the summer after I studied in Spain, I worked 6-7 8 hour days a week at two different jobs. The next summer, I was rewarded with an amazing 9-5 job that I will continue with after graduation. But I’m also planning a 3 week trip to Europe with my boyfriend after graduation to get another taste of life outside the U.S. and to show him around. I am so excited about the things happening in my life, but I will always miss my time living in Spain. Studying abroad is simply an experience like no other, and one that I hope every college student will try to take advantage of. It is so uniquely wonderful; you’ll never have another time like it.

For this reason, it makes me so happy that this Global Engagement Fellowship that started the year I came to OU is flourishing and attracting so many amazing members year after year. I am honored to be in the first graduating class of this fellowship. I hope I’ve done my small part in building a legacy that will live on for years at OU. GEF is an organization promoting international collaboration and cooperation, learning new languages, connecting people from different cultures, and educating yourself as much as possible on the world outside your home country. I have learned so much as a member of this organization, and I hope that I have helped to pass along some of that knowledge to my mentees. Being a global engagement fellow has been utterly wonderful. I am not yet ready for my time to be over, but I am so thrilled that other new fellows are going to get the chance to study abroad and have their own amazing experiences.

Mentoring the Next Generation of GEFs


This semester, I have had the immense pleasure of getting to mentor another new class of Global Engagement Fellows. In meeting new fellows this semester, I was struck by the feeling that I am getting old (okay, I may be just shy of 22, but in the context of the average age of college students, that’s not young). I am a senior this year. At many points over the course of this semester, I’ve found myself thinking “this is my last September in Norman,” “this is my last homecoming as an undergrad,” and, most recently, “this is my last Halloween as an OU student.” To me, these are sobering thoughts – I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at this wonderful university for the past three and a half years, and Norman has come to be my home. I’ve built up a close community of friends, and don’t feel ready at all for that community to split up and scatter across the country. Similarly, I don’t feel ready to leave behind my peaceful afternoons on campus, reading in a lounge in Farzaneh or writing a lab report in the Great Reading Room of the Bizz. Fortunately, I still have several more months of doing all of these things, but in speaking with new fellows, I’m reminded of how much of my time at OU has already passed.

One of my favorite things to talk about with new fellows is their study abroad goals. I love hearing about all of the places that they want to go and the things that they want to do. Once again, I’m frequently saddened that my time studying abroad is over (I’ve said before and I’ll say it again – studying abroad was by far the best decision I’ve made in college), but I love getting to hear about all of the adventures that my mentees will get to go on.

It’s also awesome to get to share some of the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years with the new fellows. After navigating the harrowing waters of trying to find housing for half a year and avoiding paying for the other half, I’ve gained some key insights that I’ve gotten to share. I love knowing that I can hopefully help eliminate some of the only negative parts of studying abroad for new fellows by telling them my cautionary tales.

This program has a habit of attracting very bright and talented individuals, and, truth be told, none of my mentees need much mentoring at all. They are all incredibly capable and driven young women, and I could not be more excited to see where this program takes them. Even so, it still feels good to be a resource for them, and it’s nice to have new explorers that I can live vicariously through.

To sum up, I am absolutely loving getting to be a peer mentor in this program. The Global Engagement Fellowship, and the studying abroad that came with it, has been one of the highlights of my college career, and getting to share my passion for this program with new members is always a treat!

Being a Global Engagement Mentor


This semester, I met my international group requirement by becoming a mentor to several new fellows. I have loved my time in OU Cousins over the past several years, but the interest in the club is so high that I thought it was time for me to step back and let others have a turn to see what an amazing club it is!

I have participated in several other student mentoring programs on campus, and I was eager to be able to pass on my study abroad knowledge to younger students who could benefit from it. I feel that I have learned a great deal during my two years as a Global Engagement fellow and my five months studying abroad, so I was eager to share my newfound knowledge.

At the beginning of the semester, I was given a list of names and email addresses and I went from there. I reached out to each student individually, and those emails inspired some awesome in-person conversations. Unsurprisingly, these students are all very on top of it and in control of their schedules, so they haven’t needed much general school advice, but it has been nice to be able to share my journeys applying for study abroad, timing when I went, the packing, and how I conducted myself while traveling, because these things were all new to them.

It has been lovely to meet with them and hear about their goals for their international journeys. They are all so excited to travel and to expand their horizons, and their enthusiasm inspires me. It is bittersweet to be on this end of the process, sharing my knowledge of my travels rather than getting ready to embark on them, but I couldn’t be happier for these freshmen. Being a Global Engagement fellow, and the opportunities that it has afforded me throughout my time at OU, has provided me with many of the highlights of my college career. I could not be more excited for these new fellows – I know that this amazing program can do the same for them.

Fall OU Cousins


This semester, I had the wonderful opportunity to get to know another OU cousin! I always enjoy participating in OU Cousins because it is an amazing way to broaden my horizons and meet people from all across the world right here in Norman.

The matching party at the beginning of the semester was fairly hectic, as always, but I enjoyed it more than I ever have before. I had many great conversations with potential cousins from across the world! It was amazing to hear stories from all over the globe, and get to share some of my own. I can’t think of another organization on campus that brings so many diverse people together, and I think it is so valuable.

At the end of the night, I matched with a wonderful girl from Germany! Throughout the semester, it was great getting to know her better, comparing each other’s cultures to see what we share and what is radically different, and seeing her thrive as she settled into Norman and explored it and other cities with fellow international students. And, I think we carve a pretty mean bat pumpkin, if I do say so myself.

This semester proved to me yet again that OU Cousins is a fantastic organization, and I feel so blessed to be able to participate. It’s bizarre to think that next semester, I will be the foreigner hoping that native students will welcome me in!

Spring OU Cousins


At the end of last semester, I had the misfortune of seeing my OU Cousin go back home to France! Many of her international friends that I had met went home as well, and I was sad to see them all go. Fortunately, while many cousins left, many more came, and I had the great pleasure of meeting my new cousin, Alicia*! Alicia is from Colombia, a country that I have long admired for its culture and music (Juanes and Shakira are some of my personal favorites). Though we have both had very busy semesters, it has been great getting to know Alicia and helping introduce her to American culture! She is one of the sweetest girls I’ve had the pleasure of meeting at OU, and I have loved spending time with her. She only has one week left here, and I am not ready to see her leave!

That is my least favorite part of OU Cousins- it introduces you to wonderful, international friends that truly help to make your OU experience a global one, while you get to help them get to know the U.S., but they are here for such a short time! I love this program, but I wish we could stay with our cousins for four years instead of half of one.

So, though our time together has been short, I am so glad to have had it. I will miss Alicia, and am still missing Patricia, but it was wonderful getting to know them. OU Cousins has been one of my favorite parts of my OU experience, and I hope to stay active in it the entire time I’m at OU!

*Name has been changed for privacy purposes.

My OU Cousin


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!

International Organizations at OU


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.

International Organizations on Campus and Me


The University of Oklahoma plays host to scores of wonderful international organizations, and in this reflection, I talk about which of these I would like to become a part of.


I am most interested in becoming involved with international groups that give me lots of direct contact with international students, like OU Cousins and CESL. I would love to forge lifelong friendships and connections with students from outside the U.S., because I feel like this is a key step on my path to becoming a global citizen, as well as a great way to increase the diversity I am exposed to here at OU.

From these organizations, I would like to gain language practice, international friendships, and cultural exposure. I have been taking as many Spanish classes as possible for years now, and I would love to have an outlet to practice and improve my speaking fluency in an international student. I know that actively using my Spanish is the only way to achieve fluency, and I hope that until I am able to spend a semester in a Spanish-speaking country, I can use international organizations to practice Spanish as much as possible. In addition to language practice, I relish the chance to gain firsthand insight into what life is like in countries outside the U.S. I will have limited time to travel abroad during my years at OU, and I want to make up for this lack of foreign experience by conversing with international students as much as possible. I feel that they will be my greatest resources for foreign insight while I am in college, and I can’t wait to get to know as many of them as I can. I know that they have so much information to offer me, and I am eager to hear it.

I can already tell that OU is the perfect university to provide me with all the international experiences that I have time for throughout my college career. Using my Becoming Globally Engaged class and the many international organizations on campus, I know I’m going to have a diverse and wonderful college career.