Study Abroad – Global May London
I studied abroad while in London, England for my STEP Signature Project. My group and I stayed in town houses in Kilburn Park and went to school Monday – Thursday from 10 am – noon, while site seeing, touring, and adventuring for the rest of the day.
I thought it was really cool and incredibly interesting to see how other completely different cultures live on just the other side of an ocean. While over in London, I also took advantage of free weekends by going to Paris, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam. Seeing not only contrasts in these places from the US, but also seeing how they differed from each other, was also something I found fascinating. The way these societies function with seemingly entirely public transportation whether it be the London Tube or taxis or Amsterdam’s trams or Paris’ over grounds, I had never seen anything like it to that point in my life. The way so many other countries were seemingly used to speaking English as well as their native tongue was also very eye opening to me. In summation, I found it was much more similar to the US than different, but nonetheless provided me with a completely different culture to take in.
One thing that I noticed right off the bat was when I got there, how quickly I made it from Heathrow Airport to my townhouse in Kilburn, a completely different place in central London. Usually I would have had someone pick me up or at the very least take a taxi, but with the directions I received from my study abroad director, I was able to swiftly and easily ride the train to a stop that connected to the subway system and take that right to my townhouse. This was my first experience of the public transportation system there and a very accurate portrayal of what was to come for the entirety of the trip.
Another couple of experiences that stood out to me were my weekend getaways to Paris and Amsterdam. Before the trips, I was somewhat uneasy and nervous that I did not know more of the French language than “Bonjour” and did not even know that much of Dutch, the Netherlands’ native language. Upon arrival in the first stop, Paris, I was amazed to find out that all of the hotels, restaurants, public attractions, and even common people knew a decent handful of English! It was no trouble at all ordering food, checking in and out to our hotels, even asking for directions from natives. Amsterdam was more of the same, even better in a lot of areas with English. It was very cool to see these other countries go out of their way to learn how to speak English, along with I’m sure other languages as well, but also in a sense pulled me down to earth that I myself only knew one.
I found that the food was something that made me think that living in the countries would be relatively similar to living in the States. Outside of each country’s signature food, such as Scottish haggis or Paris escargot and crepes, they eat the same food we do. They have the same chains we do, the same brands we do, and make the same general meals we do. They add less sugar, sodium, etc. while losing some flavor in my opinion, but overall it is the same food we eat every day in the US, which was something I found to be very interesting.
This experience not only greatly enhanced my learning experience while at The Ohio State University, it also enhanced my life, my relationships, and my character as a person. My independence and self-will were unquestionably tested throughout this experience taking on a new city in a new continent, but I learned how capable I am to accomplish something I want to do, whatever the task may be. I came back to America a more confident person with better social skills in life, more connections and friends at school, and more eager to further my education and succeed in life to experience more of the benefits that come with higher learning. Studying abroad was a great success and something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.