Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A City Worth Falling For

By Sayf Mohamed, Tunisia (SUSI scholar 2014)

I was very lucky to have participated in the Study of the US institute for media and journalism. Although time is passing away quickly, it has impressed me deeply as a opportunity of wonderful experiences with friendly and cooperative International and American colleagues making me feel at home. 

My visit and experience in the United States was a great asset to my education and scientific research as well as giving me a better understanding of the American culture and environment. Though I really miss my family and friends back home in Tunisia, I am really getting used to staying here in small Athens with my new best friends. The greatest thing about this program is that I got to learn about the US culture and Media along with the cultures and politics of 17 other countries thanks to my fellow SUSIs, and I am not talking about historical and general overviews that we can get on Wikipedia, this is first-hand experience. 

I am also staggered by the quality of the distinguished faculty members, I have been offered the possibility of continuing my PhD here at OU and I am seriously considering it, for I am sure Athens is study friendly place and the help and guidance that I can get would be beneficial.

I had the opportunity to lecture about my beloved Tunisia and its media system, to attend academic conferences, and to visit some of the most important Media corporations. Among which was CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Coming from a country where news feed is always on top of the hour; TV channels such as CNN are playing a major role in shaping the political environment in the Arab world. We had the honor of meeting Eli Flournoy, CNN senior director and discussing the different reporting techniques and practices.

Last week, we went to San Francisco where we stayed at the Embassy Hotel. The idea that I had about this city is that it is industrial, businesslike, cold and uni-colored, a blue collar environment. However, the culture of San Francisco is major and diverse in terms of arts, music, cuisine, festivals, museums, and architecture. San Francisco's diversity of cultures along with its eccentricities is so great that it can greatly influence anyone who visits this city. It is set along the water, with rolling hills and a unique mix of architecture. It contains some of the most notable landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. We only had two days, I had a few tours, as a way to familiarize myself with the city, and I discovered dazzling museums, cool neighborhoods, and, quite possibly, the best ice cream on earth. 

The first day we went to Pier 39 with sea lions, waterfront dining, street performers, live music, shopping. I had the best crabs in a nice restaurant by the pier, and then we had to climb up heading to Lombard Avenue which is best known for the one-way section in which the roadway has eight sharp turns that have earned the street the distinction of being "the crookedest street in the world." One of the best examples of multicultural San Francisco is The Chinatown, centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street is the oldest Chinatown in North America and the largest Chinese community outside Asia and is the oldest of the four notable Chinatowns in the city, it is an enclave that continues to retain its own customs, languages, places of worship, social clubs, and identity.

I became easily immersed in a microcosmic Asian world, filled with herbal shops, temples, pagoda roofs and dragon parades. The Mission District of San Francisco is one of the most distinct neighborhoods in the city. Its uniqueness comes from a complex history which has resulted in a rich, diverse culture. And guess what! I had a delicious dinner at an Afghani restaurant.

Although the Mission District has been known for its Hispanic and Latino population, it is quite culturally diverse, as it has been a “stop-over” for many immigrants. The Mission District is startling when you first get there: A mix of Latino culture, Hipster bars, artisan restaurants, and funky shops, a very alive place that is well worth exploring. I can say that I fell for Frisco, as opposed to some northern states; I didn’t feel as a tourist anymore.

As we are approaching the end of this program I can say that it is by far one of the most interesting experiences and I genuinely hope that our interaction and collaboration whether with fellow SUSIs or OU faculty would last and prosper, we’ve already talked about future opportunities where we can visit each other or collaborate on joint research or studies.

No comments: