Of Casinos and Cowboys

Happy fall! Here I am again close to the end of the semester, realizing that I have a lot of posts to type up and very little time to do them. Everything has gone pretty smoothly up to this point, and I have been busy as usual but am really enjoying all of the things I am involved in. One thing that you might remember if you’ve been keeping track of my extracurriculars is my international organization, OU Cousins. Last year I did not get matched with anyone, but this semester I made it my top priority to find a Cousin at the Matching Party in September. And I got so lucky because I not only found a Cousin, but I matched with someone from SPAIN! You know, the country where I spent six weeks this summer and the place that I absolutely fell in love with? Yeah, that’s the one.

My OU Cousin this semester is from Castellón, which is right near Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain. Her name is Mar and she is very outgoing and fun. I also have a second, “unofficial” Cousin: Mar’s best friend Maria who is also from Spain. The three of us have done quite a few things together, and I’m so glad I have gotten to keep some connection to Spain even though I am no longer there. The first place I took them was actually new to all three of us; Mar and Maria are in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving break, so before they went they wanted to go to a casino here to see what it’s like, and I’ve never been to one either so I was definitely curious. We went with my boyfriend and another friend of ours and spent a couple hours playing slots. Mar, Maria, and Cade all won a decent amount to take home, but on my second try playing the machine I chose ate my money and didn’t give me any credits to play. We waited for 15 minutes or so for an attendant that never came, and I decided to just give up for the night after my five dollar “donation” to Riverwind. The girls had fun though, and overall it was a good night of talking and trying to get the lucky press of a button.

I also took them on a trip to see the state capitol (per their request; I think it’s boring but I’ve also been there on way too many school field trips). It is a beautiful building though, and the tour given to us by an… eccentric… but sweet woman was relatively short. Plus we went and got burgers afterwards, and there is no way to go wrong with that. We also went to one of the events OU Cousins puts on every year, S’mores Night.

But my favorite event we attended was last weekend’s WCRA Semifinals Rodeo in Guthrie, Oklahoma. I have always loved rodeos, and when I saw that the WCRA was coming here while Mar and Maria were in town I knew I had to take them. We drove out to Lazy E Ranch on a chilly, blustery Sunday and spent the afternoon in a warm, farm-scented arena watching the contestants try to qualify for the WCRA Finals in Chicago in January. The hats and the boots and the horses and the livestock were all so supremely southern. Mar and Maria liked the speed of everything and the fact that it lived up to what they pictured in their minds when they think of an American cowboy. By the second pool of riders in the first event they were already experts, monitoring times and judging whether each cowboy was impressive or unimpressive. It was so funny to see them analyze all of the events that they had just learned about a few minutes before.

After the rodeo I drove Mar and Maria to the airport for their trip to Vegas. Their plan was to spend a few days there, then go to the Grand Canyon and to New Mexico before coming back for the last few weeks of classes. They are getting to see places in the U.S. that even I haven’t been to, and I am so glad they are making the most of their time here. Once finals are over they go to Florida, and then back to Spain. After experiencing how fast time passes when studying abroad, I’m sure this semester has absolutely flown by for them. I’m hoping we’ll get to hang out at least one more time before they leave, and I am definitely planning on staying in touch after they get home. After all, I may need someone to take me around Castellón when I go back to Spain 🙂