Reflections on Fall Semester of 2016

It’s the last Friday of my first semester of college and I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I’m actually done. No homework, no exams, and no 5:30 AM rowing for almost a month! It’s been a relatively successful semester; I’m ending the year with all A’s (barring any abysmal final exam grades) and a pretty secure spot on the rowing team for the spring, I’ve met a ton of new people, learned things from both my curriculum and from college life itself, and had a lot of experiences that (for both good and bad reasons) I won’t ever forget.

Almost everyone on campus left today or, like me, will be leaving tomorrow. Anita flew out to New York with 3 of her European friends yesterday and before leaving gave me a pair of really nice chopsticks, a t-shirt that says Taiwan on it, one of the little red Chinese New Year envelopes with 100 Taiwanese dollars (about $3 USD) in it because I told her I loved getting them from my Vietnamese and Chinese friends at home, and a guidebook to Taiwan. I’m definitely going to miss her and I wish she had more time here, but I’m excited for her to see her family again and definitely plan on keeping in touch after she gets back home. And, who knows, I could very well end up in Taiwan someday…

This semester has truly flown by, and I feel like I’ve gotten off to a pretty good start being somewhat of an adult. I have really enjoyed getting involved and being here on campus but I’m very much looking forward to winter break, where I will have two and a half weeks of relaxing, watching Netflix, seeing family, and eating real people food, then 10 days in Florida for a winter training camp with half of the rowing team (yay, two-a-days!). And then it’s back here for the spring to do it all over again. Until then, happy holidays, and don’t forget to enjoy every second you have here. Life is short; eat well, love people, try new things, explore the world, and always wear more layers than you think you’ll need this time of year 🙂

 

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Thanksgiving 2016

So today is December 1st and I’m sitting here on my laptop completely clueless as to where my year went. I’ve been in this strange paradoxical state of every day dragging on for what seems like forever but the semester- really this entire year- passing by at warp speed.

Last week was our Thanksgiving break, and it was wonderful. I got almost a week’s worth of home-cooked meals (plus leftovers!) and more than 5 hours of sleep in a night for the first time since September. I also brought Anita home with me so she could experience her first American Thanksgiving and once again was given a new perspective on things after spending time with her. We drove home on Tuesday afternoon, but I had an appointment with my eye doctor so she tagged along before we actually stopped at my house. Anita was surprised at how long the appointment took, and told me that in Taiwan the eye doctors don’t examine patients even half as closely as doctors here and just want to get people in and out quickly, which I found interesting. I haven’t really thought much about foreign healthcare besides the lack thereof in undeveloped countries and cost comparisons. But talking to her a little bit about eye examination procedures made me want to really delve into the quality and different types of healthcare and medicine available around the world (which, now that I think about it, is actually quite pertinent to my major, especially if I end up working in another country).

One thing that I really like about Anita is that she is so observant; she notices things that I would never even think about, like, for example, the fact that apparently my family eats beans A LOT. For dinner Tuesday my mom made this southwest chicken chili-ish crock pot dish with black beans, corn, and salsa. Then on Wednesday we ate leftover country ham and beans with cornbread for lunch. At Thanksgiving lunch we had green beans, and on Friday we had baked beans with our barbecue from Billy Sims. After Wednesday’s lunch Anita commented, “You guys eat a lot of beans,” and I assured her “Oh no, we were just using up the leftovers but we usually don’t eat them that often.” But by Friday I had to take it back because wow, we do eat a lot of beans. Then, after Wednesday’s bean observation, there was another bizarre thing that Anita noticed. For Thanksgiving we had 17 people over at our house. For some reason, 6 of them were wearing green (when I told her that she and 5 others from the amalgamation of family and friends at our house were wearing the same color, my mom said that it was because ‘great minds think alike’) and Anita asked me if green was the “Thanksgiving color”. No one else even saw the coincidental color coordination, but Anita thought that like red and green equals Christmas, dressing in green was somehow connected to Thanksgiving.

She also took pictures of EVERYTHING. My dogs, the table before it was set, the table after it was set, the table with food, the massive cotton field out in Yukon when my mom and I introduced her to Dairy Queen, my neighbors’ driveway (because it had a lot of cars in it), the Christmas lights on the farm outside of my neighborhood, the Black Friday line when I took her to Kohl’s to get winter clothes on Thursday night, the sky, everything. It made me really stop to think about how unique my life and my home is, and honestly made me more thankful for the little blessings in my life this Thanksgiving than I ever would have been otherwise.

Anita leaves here as soon as the semester is over to go to New York with her friends and then to spend Christmas in Boston with the host family she stayed with over the summer 2 years ago. Even though I have only known her a few months, she has been so much fun to spend time with and has made such an impact on my world view. I’m reluctant to let her go, but she’s already promised to stay in touch and to come back and visit the next time she’s in the U.S. I’m so glad I decided to join OU Cousins and I look forward to getting to know more of the wonderfully unique and diverse people who share this vast universe with me.