This past week I visited the Office of International Affairs at The Ohio State University. I learned about the different opportunities there were to study abroad and learn outside of United States. The advisor I spoke with was very knowledgeable about the different programs and helped me find which one could work best for me. I was very unsure of what I was looking for when I first went but after answering a few questions about my interests, where I wanted to travel, and for how long, the advisor presented me with a few different programs that I might be interested in.
The main point that first prompted my visit to the Office of International Affairs was when a speaker came and talked to my college seminar class about the opportunity to study abroad. Study abroad has always been something that I have thought about in the back of my mind but never something that I really took seriously and considered doing. It was an option that always interested me but in the past I always brushed it off as unrealistic because I believed I wouldn’t have the time. It was one of those “it would be nice” but probably won’t happen thoughts. The presenter spoke about how education abroad has a range of different programs that go to different countries and last for different amounts of time. Some people study abroad for a year and some go for only a few days. The thing that all students who had traveled abroad was the out of classroom experience to learn not only about another subject, but about another culture. The advisor even explained that many of the programs to study abroad count as credit, the same as a class would and factor into your GPA. Learning that there were some programs that could count as credit towards my major and wouldn’t take up too much time was what made me want to pursue more information about possible education abroad programs that might be right for me.
The program that sparked my interest is called Scientific Roots in Europe. There is a spring semester long on campus course that pairs with the education abroad program which counts as biology credit which ties in perfectly with my biochemistry major. The first half of the semester is spent learning about the context in which biological scientific discovery has taken place in Europe, specifically England and France. Over the week of spring break, the class travels to England and France and visits multiple historic sites where scientific discoveries have been made. The British Museum, Down House, and the Muséum national d’Histoire Naturelle are just a few of the historical sites which will be visited during the trip. After returning, the class resumes and a final project that ties the content learned in the classroom with the content learned in Europe is completed.
I would love to be able to study abroad sometime within my next few years at OSU because the mix of travel, learning about biology, and immersing myself in European culture is something I hope I get the opportunity to do.
My first real college experience at the Ohio State University was with the Ohio State Welcome Leader (OWL) program. The program started two days before official move-in day which meant I got to move in two days early. These two days, while not seeming like a lot of time in the long run, helped me tremendously in becoming more acclimated to campus. I had more time to walk my classes, learn where buildings are, how my mean plan works, and transition from living at home all of my life to living in a residence hall. Familiarity is a rare feeling after making a huge life change, but the people I met through the OWL program made me feel like I had something familiar going into my first days of classes.
I first found out about the OWL program during orientation when my peer leader recommended it to me. She suggested the program because it allows students to move in early and gives extra time to get adjusted to life on campus before classes start. Through the Ohio Welcome Leader program, I met a tremendous amount of people. I became familiar with other OWLs that lived in my same residence hall and floor. I also had a sophomore mentor who helped with the transition into college and gave advice from personal experience as well. Most importantly, I gained friends through my OWL small group who are some of my closest friends now. Spending more than 36 hours with the same people in a span of two and a half days allowed us to become fast friends. Going into the first day of classes was much less stressful because of the friends I met through the OWL program. I felt like I wasn’t by myself on a huge, brand new campus because I had already made friends and walked around campus.
The OWL program mainly takes place over a two and a half day timeframe. We moved in on Thursday instead of Saturday which helped avoid the move-in day stress because there were significantly less people moving in at the same time. Thursday night we first met up with our “OWL flocks” (small groups of other OWLS) and OWL-C (OWL coordinators, one mentor for each group). We had bonding activities and went to Hoot Fest together where we met even more people that same night. Friday was OWL training day where we had a series of activities that trained us on how to assist others on move-in day and more bonding activities. Saturday was move-in day. From 6:30 AM to 7 PM, we welcomed students and their families and helped them move into their residence halls as quickly and efficiently as possible. The days are busy and tiring but the experience was worth it. The extra time on campus, learning where everything is, and making new friends has still impacted me today. The friends I made through the OWL program are now some of my closest friends that I have in college who I talk to daily. The OWL program made the transition into college much easier. Getting involved with the program gave me an early support system on campus. My OWL flock became yet another group of people that I had something in common with so I have never really felt alone on campus.
I recently made a visit to the Chemistry Learning Resource Center to get help on a lab report. It was nerve wracking at first because I was not familiar with the procedure for getting help in the LRC and I went by myself. The aspect of the open tutoring session that made me feel most comfortable asking for help was the relaxed environment. Each student brought the chemistry material that they needed to work on and worked individually or in small groups at tables that were marked by section (1210, 1610, 1220, etc.). There were several tutors in the room that would walk around and make sure everyone was doing well. If there was help needed on a particular question or section, a student simply had to raise their hand and a tutor would be around to guide them through the problem within a few minutes. The tutors were all very patient and happy to help when it came to aiding in students’ understanding of content.
Asking for help is not a thing that comes easily to most people and I fall into that majority. As a person who wants to figure everything out for herself, I find it difficult to reach out and seek help, even when I know I need it. Throughout high school, I rarely sought out help for anything except calculus. If there was material that I was confused on, I would struggle through it and try to self-teach. This approach caused more frustration and took more time than simply seeking help would have. I also found that I develop a deeper understanding of concepts when I engage in a conversation about them, rather than simply hearing them from a lecture or reading them from a textbook.
I believe that knowing when to ask for help is a vital skill, especially in college. There are several hundred students at a time in the majority of classes which makes it extremely difficult to get individualized help from the professor during class. With the advanced pace of most college classes, the material is taught one time in lecture and review and mastery of material is expected to be completed outside of the classroom. For this reason, getting help with harder classes especially with material that is not well understood is vital to academic success.
At The Ohio State University, resources to get help in different subjects are widely advertised and attendance is encouraged which makes academic support very accessible. The message that there is no shame in asking for help is very present here on campus which has made me more open to seeking help. My reluctance to seek help originates with a fear of looking like I don’t know what I’m doing and being judged for the lack of knowledge. The tutors that I worked with at the Chemistry Learning Resource Center reassured me that it was okay to not understand concepts immediately- that’s what seeking help is for. It’s always better to speak up and take extra time with a tutor to understand material than being confused in silence.
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