Ryan Quinonez

My World

Arabic Flagship

In the beginning of December, my roommate and our OU Cousin attended the Arabic Flagship Fall Talent Show. I was a very unique experience for all of us since we all don’t know anything about Middle Eastern traditions. Although it was all in Arabic, luckily there was a translator for us to understand. My favorite part about this event had to have been the food. Not every day do you have a traditional Arabic meal, of which included a flavorful rice dish, humus, and some of the best tea I have ever had, which was all delicious. Throughout the night, videos, poems and a range of diverse performances were performed. This night was very enjoyable and it was a great opportunity for my OU cousin to further diversify himself. I can’t wait to partake in this event in the future hopefully with my future cousin!

OU Cousins

This semester I had the opportunity to participate in the organization OU cousins. This organization was built to help other international students adapt easier to the university life in Oklahoma and develop a friendship that they can rely on when they feel lost or left out. For those who don’t know what OU cousins is, you find an international student with similar interests, or different if you really want to learn about a different culture, and you help guide them into the American culture. Throughout the semester or year, you and your cousin will be encouraged to get together to go do American activities to help them explore this culture. In addition, you can also let your cousin show you their culture with a home cooked meal.

I had the opportunity to find Samir at the matching party. Although we didn’t always get to see each other, it was still a blast getting to know him. Samir really delve into this culture and experienced everything. He traveled all over the country and has probably already been to more places here than me! He will definitely be missed, and I hope to be able to make a trip to Bogota some day to visit him.

Olive Oil Tasting

Italian olive oil – a taste that confirms my best and worst suspicions. I am appalled by its complexity but yet even more appalled by how olive oil is still in business. Due to its strange buttery texture with minimal taste and a strange bitterness, olive oil has never been my favorite ingredient. However, in class we tasted a variety of different olive oils that ranged from strong bitter to mild bitter, strong intensity of flavor to mild intensity of flavor, and a strong aroma to mild aroma.

The four olive oils tasted were: Agricole Dioscesane, Buccia Nera, Conad and Tenute di Fraternita. The first oil tasted was Conad. The Conad olive oil had a medium bitter taste but did not taste acidic. The bitterness caused a little burn at the back of the throat. It had a medium intensity with a buttery texture paired with a mild aroma. The next oil tasted was Agricole Dioscesane. Agricole Dioscesane had a mild bitterness, a strong intense flavor of green pepper or black pepper, and medium aroma. The third oil tasted was Buccia Nera. This was Dr. Haltermann’s and I’s favorite olive oil because of the medium bitterness and medium aroma along with a strong, intense, and fruity flavor. The last oil tasted was the Tenute di Fraternita. This oil was very different from the other oils because it was darker and had a strong aroma. Also it was very bitter, acidic and had a strong and intense green pepper flavor.

In conclusion, with olive oil, you really do get what you paid for.

Italy Week

What a flashback! During Italy week, I ate pizza with the Italian professors, watched friends do the Nutella challenge, and attended the class on olive oil and cheese. Italy week was a great opportunity to meet up with other OU in Arezzo students that were in Italy the same time as I was. Although I already took a full semester class over olive oil, we did not cover cheese which we all wanted to. I took the opportunity to do this one and I am so glad I did. We were taught about the food industry across Italy and how it varies based on the region. Every region is different in the way they process and make the cheese. We tasted pecorino and bufala cheese (water buffalo milk cheese) which I had not tried before. The entire Italy week brought a flashback to my time in Italy, now all I need to do is go back!

What I’ve Learned From Studying Abroad

In total, I have been to 10 countries, 44 cities, and have gained an endless amount of friendships. Here are a few things I have learned:

  1. Even if you don’t speak the language, smiling means the same thing no matter where you are. No matter where I traveled, people would still smile at each other regardless if they knew each other or not.
  2. Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it’s not everyday that you get to live in a different country, so take advantage of this amazing venture. Study hard but don’t hold yourself back from exploring all that you can and taking in as much as you possibly can. Make the moments last because it goes by fast, like really really fast.
  3. I learned to take risks. Studying abroad itself can feel a bit risky. Living with people you don’t know, often in a language you don’t speak. But during my time studying abroad, my best memories were times when I took some extra risks.
  4. Live in the moment. There were so many people on my program that would plan every weekend months in advance. Yes it may have saved them a few euros here and there. But honestly, some of my favorite trips were from last minute planning. I remember it was a thursday night on the third week in Italy and some of my friends and I were studying in the library with no plans for the weekend and less than 12 hours were in Brussels.
  5. While maneuvering through several international airports and navigating through the cities of a foreign country, you begin to realize that you are way more resourceful than you thought. I learned how to get around the city, learned the metro system in different countries, and became dependent on myself in a country where I didn’t know many people.

As excited as I am to be home, I will forever cherish my memories of being abroad. I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. Just remember, live in the moment, be spontaneous and experience the world as much as you can while you are there.

The Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh

The University of Oklahoma hosted a lecture detailing the refugee crisis towards the Rohingya. A member of Amnesty International spoke about the horrific events that the Rohingya endured. In Myanmar, the military burnt Rohingya villages and drove the people out of their homes just to build their own military properties. The refugee crisis started in the early 1980s when the government took away the citizenship of all the Rohingya people. All the people must obtain a government ID card to be able to move anywhere in the country. Over 670,000 people have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh as the violence continued to increase.

The remaining Rohingya are still being driven out of the country by the military with the tactics of starving the remaining people and destroying all their access to food.

The Highs and Lows to Studying Abroad

At the beginning of your studying abroad adventure, you’re hit with constant highs. Everything you do is exciting, new and fresh. Then, all of a sudden, you’re hit with the lows. You’re experiencing something thrilling and incredible, but why do you want to be at home, sleeping in your own bed while watching Netflix. These moments are a part of everyone’s abroad experiences.

Homesickness. Friends, family, girlfriends, and of course the pets are all missed. Yes, they may come visit, but as soon as they leave, you realize you won’t see them for another two months. In many countries, and especially Italy, the food is the same everywhere you go. Pizza, pasta, and more pizza, that’s all there is for the most part. A greasy burger is no where to be found. And water? Why do I have to pay for water every time I go eat? It’s these little, frustrating things that can bring any experience down. But the highs. The highs are what get you through it all. Island hopping, flying to a city you’ve never gone before, meeting new people, new cultures, these are the experiences that make it all worth it.

Mexico

Over the past month I had the opportunity to travel throughout Mexico with my dad to various cities and meet people from different communities. The people are Mexico are some of the most kind and generous people I have ever encountered. I think it is important to reiterate this cause in this post-Trump world, people get the wrong impression of Mexico and immigrants. In fact, most Mexicans are willing to go out of their way to help you, even if it’s just finding the closest market. They will literally walk with you straight to the market so you don’t get lost in the confusing streets (especially since most towns don’t have street signs). It’s crazy spending so much time in Europe/Spain and then going to Mexico and Honduras. The quality of living is so much poorer in some regions and it is honestly very eye-opening. What would be a trip to the Mont in Norman is equivalent to a week’s food for most families, which is crazy to think.

Also, yes Mexico is quite dangerous, but that is only if you are doing something reckless and put yourself in danger. One experience my dad and I had was that we were leaving his small hometown at night in a rural part of Sinaloa, as we made our way down a gravel road, a truck stopped us and out came four Sicario’s with machine guns. We did not make a scene and told them we were passing through to head to the airport. Without any interrogations, they let us pass since we did not cause trouble.

The possibility of this happening was so low that everyone from my dad’s family was shocked they even stopped us and they live there. As long as you don’t pose a threat and aren’t flashing off your money, Mexico is a place you will never want to leave.

The Power of Global Brigades

This summer I had the opportunity to provide medical and public health to many communities across Honduras. Global Brigades is the largest student-led global health movement who’s goal is to empower communities as they move their way out of poverty through an integrated approach. The 3 main approaches of Global Brigades is the change lives, better lives and save lives. They achieve this by providing clean water and new sanitation projects for better hygiene, develop businesses within the community, and allow access to health care. As of today, Global brigades has treated 1,143,070 patients and 17,771 people have access to clean water.

This is experience has made me felt so humbled, grateful and inspired. In Global Brigades, we tell people that you’re never going to be prepared for what you’re about to experience until you have experienced it yourself. We say that it’s going to change your life and you’re going to hear/make stories that you will never forget. But still, you’re never prepared. With that being said, there are no amount of words to describe what I felt on this trip. All I can say is thank you to the people of Honduras for welcoming with open arms to your beautiful country. I can’t wait to come back one day.

The Cold War

The infamous Cold War: Russians, Cubans, missiles, corruption. This is what most people think of when they think of the Cold War; however, it was much more than this. Dr. John Fishel reflected on his personal experiences living during the Cold War, both as a soldier and a student. Growing up today is much different that 50 years ago. Technology and health have both drastically improved. During Fishel’s military years, all branches of the military were basically cut off from one another and no communication took place between them. But Fishel was one of the first people to have a joint mission between the various branches. The end result of this alliance increased the efficiency of the military and the government.

The second main take away from this lecture is Fishel’s experiences after the Cold War. Oddly, his main opinion post-Cold War was a specific date in August 1992, a date known to very few. For the first time, while being a professor at an American institute, there was a foreign exchange student from Russia who happened to be a former officer in the Russian army. In Fishel’s eyes, this marked the end of the Cold War.

When I think of the Cold War, I think of the tension and the hatred amongst democracies and communist countries. To Dr. Fishel, he saw it as a light at the very very end of a long tunnel. The initial pure intentions of the U.S. Government ended up with the hostile nations of Russia, China, North Korea and Islamic Nations.

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