I was sitting on a milk crate in a two-bit taqueria when it happened. I felt a pang of emotions surge over me. Profound love, happiness, zeal, worldliness, empathy, friendship, and understanding overcame me in a sudden burst.

I had always heard of the limitless opportunities to become involved at the university. OU Cousins was one of the organizations that highly piqued my interest. I was unsure if I would get a compatible cousin and if the program would be an overall success, but I attended the matching mixer with an optimistic stance. I walked in the doors of Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center and I was transported to the United Nations. All about me different languages were being called out. I hear the sharp trill of the Italian “R,” the guttural yet flowing sound of Arabic, and the amalgam of excited English. My face instantly lit up and I went to introducing myself to as many students as possible. After an hour of chatting with students from all over the world, I had a wide range of possible cousins, but nobody who really clicked with me. Finally, it came time to play some mixer games. The international and American students were separated and given a question. The goal was to answer the question with a partner: international and American. A few rounds went by with the same results. Finally, the last question was asked and I tried my luck with a Mexican student named Jorge Jauregui. We instantly hit it off and within 30 seconds of talking, he asked me to be his cousin. We marched over to the confirmation table and officially became unofficial cousins.

Jorge and I began to hang out more and more. First, we would have an occasional lunch at the caf or trip to Campus Corner. However, Jorge was only here for a semester, so we had to make it worthwhile. We attended various events together from an orchestra performance to a Halloween party put on by an international student organization.  After Halloween, I realized Thanksgiving was quickly approaching. Jorge has never experienced the American staple of Thanksgiving, so I quickly invited him to attend my family’s festivities. We drove back to Skiatook, Oklahoma and stayed for the next five days. He met my family, had an enormous Thanksgiving dinner, rode ATVs, toured a Tallgrass Prarie, and partook in the tradition of Black Friday shopping. Overall, Jorge, my family and I all grew from the experience.

On our trip back to Norman he spoke up as we were cruising down the turnpike. “When can you come to Mexico? It is my turn to host you in my house. You can meet me family, eat great food, see my home country, and even practice your Spanish! How about Christmas break?” I instantly thought of the amazing possibilities this trip would contain. I agreed to come, but I had to convince my safety-oriented father. After a discussion where I presented facts about the area, my parents agreed to let me travel to Jorge’s house and stay for five days. Finals rolled around, and Jorge returned back home. We made our final plans, and now I would be meeting three other international students who had an exchange program during the fall semester in Norman. I was going to be traveling around the state of Colima with three Mexican citizens and another international student from South Korea who had been visiting friends in Mexico City. I was ready to see all of them in a few short weeks, but little did I know how impactful those five days would be.

I walked off the plane and headed through customs. I confidently spoke Spanish with the immigration employees and headed outside to meet Jorge and his family. In a crowd, I spotted Jorge waving. He ran up and hugged me and quickly introduced me to his father and sister. We headed to the car and planned our day. We explored the major city of Guadalajara by car and on foot. We strolled through the avenues and plazas, then it was time to visit Jorge’s hometown. We drove about three hours to his hometown of Colima. Over the next few days, Jorge acted as the best tour guide I could ever have. We visited archaeological museums, climbed on the slope of an active volcano, drove to the beach, visited with friends, spent time with his family, ate as much as we could, spoke the language, toured antiquated cathedrals, ascended ancient Maya pyramids, explored lighthouses, toured his university, and ultimately understood a new part of the world both physically and metaphysically. Jorge was my tour guide of Mexico and of my own personal development as we meandered through the states of Colima and Jalisco.

These five days flew by, but their effect carries on to this day. On this trip I learned about myself and my relationship with the global community. Currently, our world is become much more connected. This trip opened my eyes to cultural interaction, intercultural communication, genuine happiness, and true friendships.  I know confidently have a concrete image of myself in relation to the population of the world. Now, I am setting out to convince as many students as possible to partake in some form of international travel. This experience is truly inspiring. Through the university’s efforts, this possibility is becoming evermore prevalent. There is something magical about being lost in another culture that helps you truly find yourself.


Boomer Sooner,

Bryce Fugate
Class of 2015
Petroleum Engineering
International Studies minor

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