For my STEP Signature Project, I traveled to Rome, Venice and London in the month of May. My trip was through the Ohio State University’s Psychology and Culture and in Europe program.
The last time I traveled out of the country I was thirteen, and under the protective umbrella of my parents. This trip was the first time I’ve ever been able to be fully immersed in another culture and explore it completely. The structure of this trip forced me to take ownership of my own experience which was strangely liberating. That coupled with meeting new people with so unique stories forced me to think about my life outside the bubble of Columbus, Ohio. Before this trip, I didn’t like to think about life after graduation, and when I did I thought of it more as a series of steps that needed to be taken. Going on this trip and experiencing things outside the realm of Ohio helped me realize how many possibilities there really are in the world. It helped me be excited for what’s to come, for what I can use my degree for, and that even though I many not have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing after graduation, there is so much time to figure it out. I learned that the unknown can be an exciting thing.
The first aspect of the trip that stood out and made an impact, was interacting with our various tour guides in each city. In Rome, a truly passionate and good-humored man named Giuseppe led us around the city he grew up in. He was a terrific and knowledgeable guide, but at some point on our trip he made the comment that he used to be a medical doctor. In the states, physicians are so respected – partially because we’re all aware of everything they had to accomplish in order to become a doctor, and partially because once you are established as a doctor, you make a good living. Giuseppe told us about how his life is so much better since his career change. Not simply because he loves Roman history, but he makes so much better money as a tour guide, which is not what you’d expect. It seems like such an insignificant event when it’s in writing, but I remember being really shocked when he told us this. It gave me and my classmates quite a bit of insight into how standards are so different around the world. The healthcare in Italy is drastically different than it is here in the United States, but the prestige and value placed in these two career paths in each country were very different.
I’ve always been a bit of a history buff, and Italian history always fascinated me. Visiting Rome was surreal and I was floored by the palaces, statues and historical monuments that were in nearly every street. Giuseppe constantly used the word “modern” to describe monuments constructed in the 1700s – which is hardly modern by American standards. The best day in Rome was the day when we visited the Colosseum. It was amazing to stand inside of it and witness where so much history happened. It was mind-blowing and humbling to stand there and think of how much human history has passed since then and how different things were back then. It’s exciting to think about everything that can change in the future, in ways that we can’t even imagine.
Lastly, while we were in London we had the chance to visit the Royal Bethlem Hospital. It was amazing to see one of the longest-standing psychiatric facilities. I’ve always wanted to be a part of the mental health field, and it was fascinating to see how far the field has progressed. We were able to peruse old patient cases and look at historical treatment equipment. For instance the binding jackets patients had to wear, and the restraints they were often forced to wear. It was heart-breaking to see how mental patients used to be treated, but uplifting to know we’ve come a long way. It was so inspiring to see, and it excited me to become a mental health care professional one day.
I found this trip to be inspiring and thought-provoking. A look into the past, and a glimpse into the future. It reaffirmed that there are so many opportunities for growth, particularly within the field of mental health. And it also showed me that I can concoct as many ideas as I’d like, but I can’t possibly imagine how things will change in the my life. I could become a mental health nurse practitioner as I want to right now, but I don’t want to become too stubborn in my ideas, because really anything can happen. That’s not to say I don’t want to make goals and work towards them. But I learned it’s important to be fluid and flexible when planning for the future. I’ve only seen a small portion of the world, and I really have no idea of all the different options that there are. I may not know what’s going to happen in the future, but I know I’m excited for the unknown possibilities. I’m so grateful I was able to go on this trip and discover that.