For my STEP experience, I traveled to Ireland with an Ohio State study abroad program about the history and archaeology of medieval Ireland. While in Ireland, our group visited many monasteries and sites with great historical significance to Irish history. After a good fill of adventure, I spent three weeks learning and working at an archaeological site excavating the remains of a 12th century monastery.
The primary difference I have noticed since studying in Ireland is the increase in my confidence. Before studying abroad, I wouldn’t have considered myself to be self conscious, but since I’ve been back I have noticed a profound increase in my self-assurance. Now, I am able to be more of an advocate for myself and worry less about other’s opinions of me. By going to Ireland, I challenged myself, and learned more about myself in the process. As a result, I better know who I am and what I am capable of.
My worldview also majorly changed, because I spent time in both large cities and small towns. Having lived in Columbus my whole life, I was shocked at how big of a city Dublin was. In the small towns, I experienced close-knit communities where most people knew each other. Looking forward, I am not sure I want to stay in Columbus for the rest of my life, but now I have a better idea of what I may want to look for and what else is out there.
There were many things that happened on the trip that lead to my personal transformation. Right off the bat, I was faced with a challenge when my flights were cancelled. It was tough for me because I wasn’t expecting problems before I had even left Port Columbus. In the end, I was able to get on a flight and everything worked out fine. Situations like this one help me to remember that even if things don’t go as planned, everything will be okay in the end.
Another reason I changed was simply being able to experience all of the things I hadn’t before. One of my favorites was hiking to the top of a large hill called Loughcrew. At the top were passage tombs, where important people from Irish History were buried. The view was breathtaking, since from the top you could see a third of the country. That sense of awe and wonder, and connection to the people who were in the same place hundreds of years ago is something that will continue to stay with me.
Finally, I attribute so much of my experience and transformation to the people around me during my trip. Both the Ohio State students and Irish archaeologists made me feel welcome, respected and safe. Being in that environment for a month, really allowed me to let my guard down. For the entire month, I always felt people appreciated what I had to say even though they didn’t necessarily agree. Being around these people motivated me to be a better person, something I am very grateful for.
Even though, there is very little chance I will ever dazzle with my knowledge of Irish monasticism or archaeology, I am sure I will draw on something I gained from this trip everyday. Over the course of my trip, I got better at communicating with people and working in a team. As an engineer, these are things that are extremely important, but often get lost in difficult coursework. These skills are also things I use in everyday life.
Participating in STEP has allowed me to live a life where I am not afraid of taking chances on new things. As a result, I look forward to traveling more and living in new places. Personal growth is something that I value very much, and going to Ireland showed me that traveling is a great way for me to improve myself. In the future, I feel that I will be able thrive in a completely new city and have few regrets about the choices I make during my life.
To see more about my adventure, visit my blog from the trip at abbieinireland.wordpress.com