Tag Archives: Oklahoma

Culture in Unexpected Places

Everyday I drive by this cute little florist shop called A Date with Iris. Their store window is creatively decorated for Halloween with skulls and spider webs and has an atmosphere which draws you in. At least it drew me in a few weeks ago. The owners are lovely and welcoming and the shop is full of gorgeous flowers and unique gifts. It is also now my go-to for Oklahoma postcards for my Postcrossing correspondence.

But not only is A Date with Iris overflowing in local hospitality, but currently they are serving as hostesses with the mostest to an international guest. As part of an entrepreneurial exchange through the University of Oklahoma, A Date with Iris is hosting a florist shop owner from Taka, Bangladesh named Tanya. Upon finding out about their exchange, they graciously invited me to meet her. So yesterday I sat in the back of their florist shop and we talked culture, food, politics, and education.

One of the most fascinating parts of our conversation was to hear Tanya’s views on wealth and her questions on why Americans send their jobs to Bangladesh and China. She expressed her great frustration on how America places stipulations on regulations on other countries while not paying any more for the goods or being knowledgable of the economic and social structures of the countries it is dealing with. One of the most challenging aspects of our conversation was about child labor. Tanya’s explained that many factories in Bangladesh have large signs across them that say, “We do not use child labor.” However, she explained, if a child doesn’t work, it does not mean he is in school or will be taken care of by the government like here in the U.S. Instead the child will be on the street begging and hoping someone will feed him. She asked me the question, “So is it better for the child to work or for the child to starve?”

Sitting a florist shop in the middle of a neighborhood in Oklahoma City, I had a conversation that I doubt I will ever forget. I  learned so much in that 90 minutes and found culture in an unexpected place.

Czech This Out

It was only 45 degrees outside but thousands of people still lined Main Street to watch the Czech Day Parade come through downtown Yukon, Oklahoma. To celebrate the immigrants from Czechoslovakia that settled in Yukon in the early 1900s, the town puts on quite the party each year. The two day festival blended traditional Czech culture with its Oklahoma setting.

Traditional dances were matched with the local high school cheerleaders.

The klobasy were sold as the cowboys rode on by.

The Czech ribbons and crafts could be found right across from the painted bull’s skulls.

But most of all, Czech and Oklahoma pride were blended into a great celebration for this little town.

Opa! Guide to the Greek Festival

September is just a month full of festivals…and I love it. This past weekend we were invited by a friend to the Greek Festival in OKC. As a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, she knew everything about the food, dances, and traditions. Being escorted by a “local” definitely enhanced the entire experience. She taught me how to pronounce everything correctly, told us what we should try and what to avoid, and introduced us to a number of the people running the festival. I even got a picture with the pastor’s wife in her full costume.

We ate our way through the festival. With each ticket came two al a carte items or the Greek dinner so Hubby and I decided to get one of each. First we did the gyro and loukoumades. We both agreed that the gyro was one of the best we’ve ever had. The tomatoes and onions were diced small making it easier to eat and the flavor was delicious.

The loukoumades were equally good. Similar to a donut hole in appearance but not texture, the fried dough balls are very light, similar to a puff pastry. Covered in honey and cinnamon, we probably ate all of our calories for the day in just that one dessert.

But we were not done yet! Next came the dinner which was a choice of lamb, chicken or pasticcio (the Greek version of lasagna). We went for the pasticcio which was served with Greek-style potatoes, green beans, spanakopita, and pita. I loved the pasticcio but the potatoes were incredibly salty. Since Hubby is not fond of spinach, I ate most of the spanakopita and it was pretty good too.

And finally we were thoroughly entertained by our friend’s daughter and her dance troop, the Opa! Dancers. Ranging from age 4 to 9, these kids put on four performances in one night.

Hometown Tourist: Oklahoma Home Decor

After looking at over 30 houses in OKC and roaming through various furniture and decor stores, I have discovered that my new hometown has some very specific style ideas. I’ve gathered all my pictures and just had to share.

Sport Team Themed Rooms

Okies love their sports teams! There was actually one more of a large OU football helmet painted in a kid’s room but I forgot to take the picture. Darn.

Livestock Decor

With the stockyards here in OKC, horses and cattle are a big deal…especially in home decor.

Animal Print Everything

Animal print is definitely the most popular trend in home decor that I have seen here in OKC. It is everywhere!

We actually had an offer on this house. It didn’t work out but if it had, the leopard print carpet would have to go!

Spontaneity and 25 Cent Cookies

Close your eyes. Oh wait, then you can’t read this. Ok, open your eyes but pretend you are in Tokyo or Paris or Buenos Aires. You are walking along off to one of the famous sights when something catches your attention – a street performer, a one-day sale at an interesting shop, discounted tickets to a matinee play that starts in 20 minutes. You put off your plans to see the Eiffel Tower until tomorrow and grasp spontaneity. The Eiffel Tower will be there tomorrow.

The thing is when I’m abroad, I have no problem with being spontaneous. I can easily change plans, fit in a spur-of-the-moment opportunity, or if something isn’t meeting my expectations, change directions and find something else. But when I’m at home, this doesn’t seem to be my norm. I make plans and stick to them. I have a calendar that I follow daily.

Saturday night Hubby and I had a plan. I had found a blues and arts festival in the events section of the newspaper and we had decided to go. It started at 6pm so we left our apartment at 5:30 knowing it was at a park in Langston, OK. We got on Old Highway 33 and started looking for the park but suddenly we were at the end of Old 33. So we turned around and drove it again. All of the sudden we saw two small canopies and a few cars parked on the side of the road. What we expected to be a blues festival consisted of one man playing the clarinet and two tables with jewelry. The funny part was we had to pay to get in. So we threw that idea out the window and spontaneity had to kick in (especially because we had no cell phone service in Langston, OK).

We drove down the road to another small town called Guthrie, OK, parked in the historic downtown and started walking. We found a BBQ restaurant full of people with cowboy hats (it must be good, right?) and then discovered there was a bluegrass concert around the corner. After having some delicious baby back ribs and mac-n-cheese, we walked a block to Byron Berline’s Double Stop Fiddle Shop & Music Hall, home of  bluegrass champions, the Byron Berline Band. We walked in at 7:30 and for two hours were delighted with great music, humorous banter between the band, and the cheapest cookies and coffee we have ever seen.

Morale of the story: Spontaneity is not just for travel. While I was abroad, I learned to be flexible and go with the flow but I don’t practice those skills enough. Perhaps if I did, I would have more evenings filled with great music and 25 cent cookies.

 

The historic downtown of Guthrie, OK

You’ll see plenty of cowboy hats at Boneyard BBQ

Byron’s Double Stop Fiddle Shop sell fiddles as well as teaches lessons

The Music Hall is decorated with t-shirts on the ceiling but it packs out regularly with over 200 bluegrass lovers

We loved the concession stand at intermission! 2 cookies and 2 coffees for $1.50

 

 

Hometown Cards

 

 

When I travel I love to buy postcards and send them to our family. When we were in Mexico, I even got Hubby to send a postcard to his parents.

While I am fairly consistent about sending postcards from abroad, I’ve never really thought about sending postcards from home. In all of my places of residence (Ohio, South Carolina, New York, and California), I’ve never once sent Mom and Dad a postcard from my hometown. So I’ve decided to break that trend now that we are in Oklahoma and bring a global habit home with me.

Unfortunately in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, postcards are not easily found so I had to make my own. With a stack of Oklahoma brochures I picked up at our hotel from when we first arrived, some blank cards, scissors, and clear packing tape, I made some notes worthy of my new city.

The goal was to use what I had…glue stick would be fine too

I cut out pictures from the brochures that represented OKC

Then I placed the pictures where I wanted them and used the packing tape to secure them in place

This one is m favorite – love the wind mills

Fun and free Oklahoma cards to send home!

 

Global from Oklahoma

As of 12:02am this morning, Global from Home has officially moved to Oklahoma. When I started this blog from our home in San Diego in May, my objective was to explore the world within a thirty mile radius of my front door. In San Diego, that is pretty easy. With the international cottages in Balboa Park, Little Italy, a huge refugee population, and tons of ethnic cuisine, San Diego provided a plethora of opportunities to explore international culture.

But with our move to Oklahoma City, I think being global from home may be a bit more difficult. However, I am taking it as a challenge. I hope to prove that anyone can be global from home no matter where you are. I hope to be more creative, more adventurous, and more broad in my posts. So hold me to it!

Talking to Strangers

Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak with me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you? – Walt Whitman

My husband has always said that I can talk to a wall. He loves bringing me with him to parties because he knows I can small talk. However, my skill is also a frequent topic of jest as I do not limit it to parties. I find random people to talk to at grocery stores, airports, the line at the DMV, etc. Part of my problem is that I’m naturally nosy. I often listen in to other people’s’ conversations and jump in if I have something to say. For example, when I was standing in line to board the plane a few weeks ago, the guy in front of me asked another passenger for advice on what to do in San Diego. I couldn’t resist chiming in. (Plus, all the other guy said was to go to Sea World…REALLY?)

Fortunately my nosiness frequently gets me into some pretty interesting conversation. Like on Friday, I overheard the accent of another passenger on the train. She was visiting from Adelaide, Australia and we got into a great conversation about studying abroad. She was actually in the States visiting a friend who had studied abroad at her school. We talked about her impression of the States and how she loved San Diego but was overwhelmed by New York . We talked about how travel changes once you have friends in the location you are going to visit. She was absolutely lovely and I can’t tell you how glad I was that I talk to strangers.

When we are traveling abroad or being global from home, I think talking to strangers is something we have to push ourselves to do. It’s the way we learn. I think back to all the times I refused to ask a stranger a question and I’m immediately filled with regret. It reminds me of when I was in Switzerland and would not ask anyone how to purchase a tram ticket. Instead I spent the whole trip on foot because I was too scared to ask for help. There was also the time I went to the Asian market and quickly dashed through the store rather than stop and ask questions at the different counters and really learn how the market is set up. When I’m too scared to ask, I think I miss out on so much.

With our move coming up this Friday, I think this is a good reminder. In order for me to learn the lay of the land, get involved, and make friends, I need to throw the time-old advice of not talking to strangers out the window. I just hope I meet some good people along the way.

Graphic courtesy of whoischick.com

Varieties of Goodbye

Yesterday I emailed my students to say goodbye. In two weeks it will be my last day in the Study Abroad Office and then Hubby and I will move from the beautiful coastlines of San Diego to the plains of Oklahoma City for him to start an awesome new job.  I am so proud and we’re both excited, but with every move comes the challenges of goodbyes.

I’m moving from this (literally the view from my campus)

To this  (courtesy of Brit Gal Photography)

Personally, I have never been all that great at goodbyes. As a child I would cry every time a friend went home after a play date or sleepover. On the day my grandma was supposed to go back to Illinois after visiting us, I would hide her house slippers because I figured she couldn’t leave without them.  I just don’t particularly like when people have to  leave.  And I’m not much better when I’m the one doing the leaving either.

For those of us who have traveled, I’m sure we have all faced challenging goodbyes. I am most familiar with the travels that last a semester to a year where we have to say goodbye to family, friends, colleagues, Sundays school classes, book clubs, running groups, etc.  They can be emotional goodbyes because often they are a lifetime of relationships, but usually you know that you’ll be back which provides a great deal of comfort.

When we leave our host country to go back home, the goodbyes are often different.  We have to say farewell to host families, tour guides, bus drivers, professors, roommates, classmates, and travel-mates. Though we may have only known these individuals for a few months, the goodbyes are often more difficult.  So much has been shared.  So much has been experienced.  And usually we can only leave with the hope that someday we will have enough time, money, and vacation days to come back.

For me right now, I would say this particular goodbye feels somewhere in the middle. We have only lived in San Diego for a year but in that short time, I have made fast friends and gotten very attached to my students. However, the experiences have not been as intense as they were when I studied abroad. There was never any rush to see and do everything here in San Diego, because it wasn’t always known that we were going to leave so quickly. And though this isn’t home, as I begin to say my goodbyes, it feels more like a “see you later” rather than “I hope someday our paths will cross again.” At least I hope that truly is the case.

There are so many types of goodbyes. The quick farewell to colleagues as you run off to your evening gym class. Kissing your husband goodbye as you drop him off at the airport for a conference.  Saying goodbye to a friend as she heads off for a job in Amsterdam. The permanent farewell of a loved one after she takes her last breath. While each goodbye may seem to vary in distance and finality, each is important. I think the act of saying goodbye, while it may be difficult, shows that they matter to me. So though it is one of my least favorite activities and I’m not very good at it, I have to say goodbye.

To Ali, Andra, Karen, and Rose, I cannot express enough gratitude for how you have each embraced and accepted me. There is a bed for you in Oklahoma if you ever want escape from paradise for a while. I will really miss you but will see you later.

Kissing San Diego goodbye and Oklahoma hello

As for you, my dear readers, I’m not going anywhere. My 30 mile radius is just moving about 1353 miles east.