STEP Reflection

Name: Christine Ruple


Type of Project: Engineering Castles and Cathedrals in Wales and England


  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

This past May a group of 29 of us traveled to Wales and England to study the castles and cathedrals. Prior to travelling abroad, we each performed research on a specific topic we were assigned. Some of the topics included the history and structure background of different castles and cathedrals; nevertheless, other topics included a historical event occurring in the same time period of some of these buildings’ creation. Then, we were assigned to give a presentation to the class upon leaving the country. With this information we researched, we travelled abroad to visit these locations. Upon arrival to each location, the student in charge of researching that specific castle or cathedral became the tour guide of that site. While travelling to the locations, students who researched the historical time event or era lectured this information to us before arriving to a building. For my project, I was assigned to research Chepstow Castle and work with another classmate on the presentation. After arriving at the castle in Wales, we both became tour guides and took two separate groups around the castle.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

Before this study abroad, I had never travelled out of the time zone. It was my first experience flying over seas and learning about the culture on the opposite side of the world. Although this trip was less than two weeks, I was able to grasp how different cultures are compared to the American culture. The Welsh are so laid back and passionate about their country. In England, they have different priorities then us Americans. Not only did I learn about their social cultures, but I also was able to experience the geological culture. Wales is extremely mountainous with beautiful greenery and a ton of sheep grazing throughout the land. England was similar; however, it was much more populated with larger cities. Before I signed up for this trip, I had no idea Wales even existed. Now, I can say it was honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been with the sweetest, most welcoming people. This experience has inspired me to open my eyes and be more optimistic of different cultures. It has motivated me to continue to grow and learn about new places.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

Not only did the beautiful landscape and exciting cities make my trip enjoyable, but also my other fellow Ohio State students. Since this study abroad was a new trip and we were essentially the “guinea-pigs”, we all stayed optimistic upon any obstacle. Immediately, each and every one of us bonded at the airport to begin our journey. From there, we were able to continue to build our relationships for the next couple of weeks.

Prior to this trip, I did not know anyone except one girl who was in a Women in Engineering Program with me, so we did decided to room together. We only talked a few times and did not know each other on a personal level at all. Throughout our journey, we began to get to know each other very well. Along with my roommate, I was also able to get to know many other OSU students. In many ways, we were very different; however, we all were the same in some ways. We were passionate students who were determined to make this one of the best experiences of our lives. Every day, we would learn about certain topics, eat every meal together, and hang out till at least midnight. Although we were sleep deprived, I bonded with every person. Whether it was climbing 52 flights of stairs up a castle’s tower or getting yelled at for being late because we were eating ice cream, we all had fun.

I can honestly say I would have never met these amazing students if I had not took the risk of experiencing what this trip had to offer. Now, I could not imagine my life without them. Two months later, after returning from our trip, we still keep in contact almost every day in our group message; moreover, we continue to see each other for dinner or a group hang out.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

This trip has allowed me to develop academically, personally and professionally. As a civil engineering student, I learned about the structures of ancient ruins, massive castles and beautiful cathedrals. Because of their age, it was interesting to learn how their building plans were approached; moreover, how perseverant they were to make these incredible structures stable. Along with gaining this insightful knowledge, I made 26 new friends. Tall or short, athlete or engineering nerd, we all created strong lasting relationships. Along with those 26 new friends, I have personally came to know two fantastic professors. This will help me excel professionally in the future because our personal relationship will help build a better understanding of who I am as a person; therefore, if I ever need a recommendation letter in the future, they would be the professors I ask first.

Caernarfon Castle Cartwheels London OHIO in Wales OHIO at Caernarfon Castle