STEP Study Abroad of Global May Hungary

Ryl Johann Dorado

My STEP Project was actually a two part program.  The first part was to travel to Europe, specifically Hungary, to hone my creative content skills.  The second part is actually ongoing still – in that where Hungary left off I would continue to sharpen the skills I learned to become a digital media artist in hopes of one day sustaining myself in that business.

Going into the project with that in mind planted in my head that I will change from the experience in a predictable way.  As a highly introverted and rather pessimistic person, I expected to do the things I expected to.  However, during my time there it was completely the opposite.  I had expected to simply arrive, take photos, videos, and other things while learning about different cultures since that was my intended goal.  However, that all quickly changed when I got to know the others on the trip really well.  I went from a planned shut-in to a more social person in a short amount of time.  Now while that might not seem like such an important part of my overall goal, it surprisingly is.  The more I talked and socialized with others the more comfortable I was in developing my desired skills.

I’m not certain how many of them actually know that a large part of the original plan for the trip was to help me become a better artist.  Regardless, just being around such happy people who didn’t mind that I do my own thing around them gave me the confidence boost I need to bloom into the business I want.  For so long, my limits were fear and shyness.  Then I met all those people and slowly those limits began to fade.  It was like I walked away from my old life to fall for this new one.  And I loved it.

Perhaps what initially helped me the most in those aspects were the room assignments.  Certainly some rooms were smaller than others but we were all on the same floor at the beginning.  There were no other people there that we knew other than ourselves and the few we recently met.  And no one knew everyone prior to the trip.  This forced us all to interact and navigate our way and life together in a foreign land.  Some, like myself, may have already had an experience abroad but every country is different and so are every city.  We walked, ate, explored, ran, talked together for days.  And I know full well that the first week was our foundation of our friendship.

Even someone like me who planned on a rather solitary trip was swept away by our collective kindness.  It was that kindness and a dash of openness and curiosity with each other that we quickly grew into a rather close-knit group.  We encouraged each other to be less shy and became more inclusive so that no one would be left out.  This became an especially useful thing for us.  We were people in a foreign land and we needed each other so we wouldn’t be lost in the culture.  And it worked.  In a few days, we went from a group of rather nervous foreign students to I guess what I can only liken to a family.  Not just a circle of friends but one that cared for each other and supported each other.

Maybe the most unlikely culprit of the change would have to be the school work.  While the school work seemed to take away our time for exploring, it let us focus on things so we wouldn’t be overloaded with the city.  Ironically enough, the things we learned were facts about that region in Europe.  And with the class came with homework that actually brought us together.  This became a literal case when we were split into groups for our final project.  By then we were less worried about getting to know each other.  While we actually continued to develop as friends, we also gained insights of how we worked under pressure which even though we were in multiple groups we were all experiencing things together.  And from there we managed to let everyone shine their own unique abilities for the roles we placed ourselves in.  It was through those fiery trials that we were forged.

All these steps, while not necessarily anything to do with the second part of my desired work, culminated into the biggest factor that developed said part.  The times I spent together with these people recorded in multiple cameras and journals became little steps that forced me to not only analyse the technical aspects of my multiplatform work, but the human elements of my work.  They, the friends I spent time with in a country I’ve never been to, became the inspirations and motivations for me to be who I am today.  And the more I look back at those few weeks the more it influences me into becoming who I will be, and I like it.

As I mentioned before, I had limited myself to my predicted self-imposed observer-status and to be bound fear and shyness that I was actually terrified of not doing the second part of my project successfully.  This created in my head a loop that if I get involved I would fail the project but at the same time I was already scared and nervous perhaps all the way from the beginning.  It more or less left me a mental wreck when I arrived in Europe.  However, meeting all those people and being part of such a nice community boosted up my confidence a little bit and gave a the motivation I needed to chase my dream.

My overall disposition has changed since that trip.  That motivation drove me closer to being the person I want to be.  It wasn’t easy to open up to people, it usually isn’t for me, but being there and knowing them made the change less hard on me.  The trip gave me a relatively upbeat social life which transformeDSC02089 DSC03593d to getting a good grade in the class, being more courageous in getting what I want.  I’m not completely one hundred percent ready yet, but eventually I will be.  Perhaps the photographer Jasmine Star sums it up the best:  “I may not be where I want to be, but I’m sure as happy that I’m not where I used to be.”