Wednesday, May 13, 2009

OU Exchange Student Program: the international experience of breaking the bubble

Until you do not leave your country you do not miss it, but all the exchange students who have been at the University of Oklahoma will miss the United States when they come back home.

That is because this year has been the year with more exchange students at the OU's history. More than 170 students from 66 different countries are having one of the most amazing experiences on their lives.

And that is possible thanks to the OU Exchange Student Program. This is about a program that was born in 1986-1987, although the first international students (four Colombian students) came here in 1954.

Millie Audas is the Program's Director since its establishment. She wanted to give to all the people from different countries the same opportunities in order to come to this University.

After more than 20 years, the program experience can say that Oklahoma -specially OU- is one of the best places in the US for being an exchange student.

People joke about they alway fly over Oklahoma to cross the country, but they never stop here. However, here in Oklahoma is where an exchange student can feel what is the real American life.

When the exchange students arrive here they feel kind of scared because that is a very different culture to them. But the International Program takes care of avoiding that.

It means that around this International Office there are a lot of student associations and host families trying to make the students happy and comfortable.

There are International student associations from all around the world here in OU. From Japanese to African, French and Francophone, or Pan-American student associations give support to all OU students, being exchange or not.

Other great association on OU there are the OU Cousins. I think that this is the best way to improve your English and build up new friendships. Each exchange has one or two OU cousins.

These OU cousins are able to share with you their American culture. That is an enrichable experience because while you are learning about them, you can show them how is your country, your language, your culture.

Host families help you feeling more comfortable here in Oklahoma. Not because you miss your parents, but they are a kind of “big OU cousins”.

These associations -always supported on the International Office- give to the students a new point of view about the different cultures that are coexisting here in OU.

The International Student Program achieves that these people not just grow as good students, but also as good persons. And all the exchange can feel a change on their-selves before they leave.

Although OU informs you -by the ISP- before you come here, you never know about the big culture diversity until you are not at your first class day.

I thought that the best way to know about the exchange student experience was interviewing them. That is why I have gathered some interviews to different exchange students from different countries.

“I think this program is very useful because you can to know another cultures like the American style...This is our chance to know this country because otherwise we could not never be here” says Miguel Pardo, Spanish student.

“I came here as an exchange student for one year, but I couldn't go back home...OU is part of my life and I will never forget it” says Franz Zenteno, Peruvian student.

“It is a very international family, I can not believe how many fantastic people that I have met here” says Susana Hung, Japanese student.

“It is a great opportunity to improve your English and also speak a lot of languages. I have met a lot of new people, and a lot of important people to me” comments Karl Huber, Chilean student.

“I have learned that there a lot of different ways to see the world” says Talisa Devresière, Dutch student. “I am proud of have been an exchange student here in OU” points out Alejandro Argilaga, Spanish student.

When all these students arrive home they know that it will be very hard. Every one it is going to be in their countries, thousands miles from.

But it does not mean that the distance will be the oblivion. These students have lived an unforgettable experience and have made incredible friendships all over the world.

And it had not been possible without the OU International Student Program's efforts.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Students working hard on Campus

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Why not on Sundays?

Hundreds of students who live in Traditions East, Traditions West, and Kraettli Apartments try to take the Bus on Sunday to going to South Oval and they can not. What is going on?

I have already talk about about the Bus Service in OU, but I think that is necessary to deal this problem which a lot of people is having. Bus Service on OU is closed on Sundays. I can understand that the busses frequency shouldn't be the same, but this service should know that more than one thousand students are living in these apartments and they need a mean of transportation. These students often have no car. Bus Service also should know that Sunday is the day when a lot of stdents go to the library or Union to study, and usually the weather is not good to going by walking.

“There are several facilities for students on sunday like the library or different computer labs on campus which they can not enjoy without a bus service” says Alejandro Argilaga, senior Chemistry Engineer. “Well, I think that it is really bad that there isn't bus service on Sundays, because the people that don't have cars also have things to do on Sundays” says Maggy Villarroer, junior Graphic Designer.

I usually agree with this Bus Service, but I think that there are some things that they should improve.


This week started the II International Soccer Tournament for OU students. Until the next May 3rd (Final Game Day) eight teams are going to play twice a week to win the Cup.

Oklahoma University is not very known for its Soccer Team, that is because this sport is not very famous in the US. But in the rest of continents, soccer is a way of life. People love this sport, they love watch it and play it. That's why PANAM (Students Association) organizes this tournament in which the only requirement to play is to be OU student. Students from the 5 continents for the teams PANAM, Drink Team, AFSA (African Student Association), Super Campeones (last semester winners), SSA, Dragon Blood Dough Boys, SVS and ESO (European Student Association). I think that football is a very good way to make friends, and it is better if your friends are from other countries.

“The soccer tournament is a way for international students to participate in a tournament were they can play the most popular sport in their home countries and show their skills” says Fernando Alborta, PANAM player. “I think that the tournament is unorganized because there's have to be real referee's for the game's, because it's really important for the safety of the players” says Karl Huber, ESO player.

If you like soccer you can attend tuesdays or thursdays to watch the games from 4 PM to 6 PM. It is not professional soccer but these teams play as they were at the World Cup.

Picture by: Jaime O.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

OU at 13th century

If you want to travel on time and had fun living like a knight, a pirate or a princess, this weekend was the perfect chance to do it. The Medieval Fair has been at OU.

From Saturday 3rd April to Sunday 5th, the OU Reaves Park has become in a little medieval city. If you were walking by this fantastic place you could find from a medieval castle to a pirate ship, also knight's tournaments, camels, blacksmiths, magicians and all kinds of food. A Medieval Experience was the slogan for this year's fair, trying to attract attention of every student and Oklahoman. Before this fair, the Norman Arts Council Hotel Grant Program organized some events to learn about this period of the history.

We are very excited about offering these educational opportunities and academic activities in conjunction with the Medieval Fair” said Linda Linn, Fair Coordinator. “There is so much interest in this period of history among the public. It’s nice to add new venues for a variety of activities.”

I also think that is very important learning about our history and day after day people give less importance to that. People love this kinds of fair, but I think that OU should have more events like this.

34 cultures in one.

Last Friday 3rd April every student could enjoy the Eve of Nations. It was a culture Evenening where each country in the world with people studying here in OU did a typical performance from their country.

Footprints: a walk around the world. It was the show's slogan of the 39th Eve of Nations celebrated here in the Oklahoma University. More than 30 different countries perfomanced on it. This event is organized not just by one organization. All the student associations are joined to do that. The show was at the Lloyd Nobel Center from 7PM to 9:30 PM and more than 600 people attended.

“Being staff of this event is amazing. It's the second year that I am doing it and I love it. You can meet and work with people from everywhere around the world. I think that Eve of Nations is one of the most important events here in OU” says Franz Zenteno, political science senior and President of the International Advisory Comittee.

People say that year after year this event is improving and mor

e countries are performancing on it. This year won China and its “Dragon's Year”, but who knows which country will win next year?You should be there to check it.

Pictures by Jaime O.

Monday, March 23, 2009

One more semester, why not?

Three weeks ago I was thinking about what topic could I discuss on this blog post. But there was something on my mind that did not allow me concentrate. That was because I could not stop thinking about if staying here one more semester. Then was when I knew what to talk about.

When I arrived to OU, I had heard about the good things on this University, but right now, I have checked that they are true. On the other hand, I have other reasons that incite me to return to my country, Spain.

For this reason I decided to make a survey to the exchanges students whom I meet on OU. They were going to help me to decide if I stay here or if I came back home. I just needed reasons.

Asking just Spanish people like me it was not really the best thing to do. I should asking to exchange students from other countries with the aim of have as more opinions as better.

When I did my survey, the most important thing that people valued was the American Style of Life. “Before I come here, I just thought about the American stereotypes. When you are used to them, you discover that there are a lot of things in US that you didn't know which are amazing” says Marc Bailly, French exchange student. Marc is 21 years old and he is really enjoying his life in the US.


Exchange students love their life here in Norman, maybe because it is very diff

erent than their countries, or maybe because it is really good. Most students say that they like the mix between different and good things.

But if we focus on the University, people say that also they like the way to learn here in OU. “In Italy, and I think the rest of Europe, the way to learn is very different. Here in the US I have to do more papers and quizzes than in my country. Even so, I think that I am learning a lot and that is better for me” says Davide Silvestri, Italian exchange student.

Nowadays, getting experience and speaking a great English is decisive to find a job once you have finished your major. Exchange Program here in OU gives you both, experience and language.

People who really appreciate this program want to extend their stay on OU. They think that one more semester is perfect to improve their English at all and knowing the US better.

The language could be a handicap when an exchange student comes from other country which English is not the official language. That is why these students prefer to make

friendships from a lot of countries to improve their English.

Friendships. That is the most important thing that exchange students appreciate. “When I arrived here I met anybody. But I just needed one week to make a lot of friends, it was awesome” says Nicolas Munita. He is an exchange student from Chile and he is studying Petroleum Engineering.

These friendships allow the students knowing new people, cultures and points of view. That makes the student to have an open mind.

OU has a great number of associations with the objective of enhancing and improving these relationships. All the exchange students that I meet, they are enrolledin one or two of these associations.

Panam Association members

These kind of student associations plan a lot of different activities every week for their members. The activities range from parties at a nightclub or bowling or even paintball or freefood.

Freefood! It's a magical word for all the exchange students. They say that in US is the first time they see something like that. In Europe or South America freefood doesn't exist.

Christians on Campus' Freefood

This kind of food id not usually healthy, but is a good way to save money. Moreover, freefoods are organized by associations where students can meet new and interesting people.

Sport at Oklahoma University. Every exchange student enjoy it. Students say that the University Football League at Fall Semester was amazing. “I will never forget how I felt at the OU Stadium when we scor

ed and everybody shouted. There was when I felt like a real Sooner” says Genki Konagata, Japanese exchange student.

Students who are not from US specially like the pride that people feel for their college. Also is amazing how much sports you can play here in OU.

If you can play a lot of sports is because the weather allows you do it. On one hand, the weather can not be good -snow, tornadoes, cold... But on the other hand, the weather in Norman is usually nice and sunny.

Exchange students will prefer to extend his scholarship at OU because the climate allows organize many outdoor activities. Wikipedia says that Oklahoma is the area with more tornadoes per year in the world, however I think that it is not a bar to have fun.

Exchange students also really like Oklahoman people. That is because this people is nice and very understanding with foreign students.

“At the beginning of my stay here in Norman, was to difficult to me speaking English, but people were patient with me. They always helped me in everything I needed” says Alejandro Argilaga, Spanish exchange student.

The US are not just Norman. That is why exchange students love traveling and knowing the country when

they have the chance. The road trips to anywhere are the favorite trips for these students.

In short, exchange students have a lot of reasons to stay here one more semester. After I have listened their opinions, I think that just five or six months are not enough to enjoy OU. The OU International Students Service told me that over 70% of the exchange students extend their scholarship at OU.

Definitively, I will extend my scholarship here in OU. That many people cant be wrong.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Unforgettable PANAM NITE

Spanish girls with the Show's MC.(Picture by: Jaime O.)

Friday night, March 6th, more than three hundred people enjoyed the PANAM (Pan-American Students Association) Nite. It was celebrated at Ball Room (OMU) from 6 PM to 9 PM.

Have you ever imagine to spend a night sharing your own culture with others from Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, or Spain? It was possible last Friday. People knew this event was going to be awsome and one didn't want to miss it. Each one of the countries named before did its own performance, from dances to a Spanish Quizz interacting with the public. ALEGRIA (HAPPINESS) was the main theme of the night. All the performances were colorful and full of rhythm. After the show, the assistants enjoyed a delicious dinner and later they went to the Club 101.

“It has been great!The Venezuelan performance was amazing. I would like to dance like them.” says Kayla Duff. “Spanish people, we have worked hard to offer a good impression of Spain to our public and they enjoy the show” says Alejandro Argilaga, Spanish performer.

It was the 35th PANAM Cultural Night, and year after year this event is improved with the purpose of showing to the whole OU all the cultures that coexist inside this association.

Put a squirrel in your life

We are used to see everyday a lot of squirrels on Campus, however have we asked our-selves why are they here, or who take care of them?

Sciurus niger, that is the name with which OU biological survey has named at the Eastern Fox Squirrel. Even if we would to know the exact number of squirrels on Campus, we couldn't do it. A lot of these little animals are everyday running by the grass or climbing the trees, doing like if we -the humans- don't exist. However it isn't completely true. Many people on Campus are OU squirrel lovers, and they are responsible for feed and take care of them. Since 2004, some organizations have been founded with the goal to protect the OU squirrels. Although there are also students they don't like these animals.

“I like to walk by the Campus and watch how the squirrels climb the trees or eat acorns in the grass while people go past beside them” says Courtney Herubin, a Psychology freshman. “It's interesting this friendly relationship between humans and squirrels on this University, I like it” says José Ahumada, a Psychology senior.

The love for these brush-tailed campus critters has done that much Facebook Groups about OU squirrels have been created. Nowadays you can add the group “OU squirrels fascinate me”, “Genocide of the Squirrels at OSU and OU”, or “I touched an OU Squirrel, and I liked it”.

Pictures by: Jaime O.