Global May Hungary – STEP 2016

STEP Reflection Prompts


As you may recall from your STEP signature project proposal, your STEP signature project was designed to foster transformational learning—that is, learning that challenged you personally and helped you gain broader and deeper understandings of yourself, others, and the world around you.  Please address the following prompts to help you reflect on your experiences completing your STEP signature project; please give careful and critical thought to your responses.


Name: Daniel Thomas


Type of Project: Education Abroad


  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.

During my STEP Signature Project, I was enrolled in Global May Hungary 2016 – a month-long OSU program set in Budapest, Warsaw and Vienna. Throughout the experience, I was primarily able to engage with Hungarian history (coursework, self-arranged meetings with cousins living in Hungary) while exercising a personal interest in film production (created short film with classmates documenting the 1956 Revolution in Hungary).


  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.

Completing my STEP Education Abroad was a divergence from routine life more than anything else. Routines can be good – they have helped me do things like develop a strong work ethic and maintain physical fitness, but in certain areas the routines in my life have kept me less developed than I would like. When I reflect back on my study abroad experience, I recognize that my time abroad triggered a newfound initiative and perception of the learning process and new experiences, as well as the effects these two have on my intellectual and social development. In broader terms, my experience was transformative in that it provided me with opportunities to learn (as I will detail) in situations unavailable to me in my routine life. I strive to finish my time at OSU having gained skills and knowledge that will propel me on a life trajectory that is most fulfilling for me personally while being a positive influence in the lives of others.


I was in fact able to move towards these goals during my time abroad. I learned that I could add unique and transformative experiences to my life — as well as the lives of others — although doing so requires lots of forethought and hard work. The transformative experiences that I took part in during my STEP Project were creating a short film with my classmates and meeting my cousins living in Hungary. Both proved to be personally fulfilling and positive influences in the lives of others.


  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.

The first of two highly influential components of my STEP Project was the production of a short film with my classmates. My group and I chose The 1956 Hungarian Revolution (revolt against Soviet influence) as our subject. This project offered me a unique combination of challenges. Primarily, these challenges can be summed up as working with a team to handle all stages of a production process and researching an unfamiliar historical event, and then depicting that information in a visual narrative. I used both my past experience in filmmaking and research skills practiced in the English major to help my group succeed.


In creating our film, my group and I researched the history of The 1956 Revolution via a variety of sources (text, online media, etc.). We then synthesized this information into a voiceover that told the narrative of events. We placed the voiceover on historical footage of the revolution that were publicly available on the internet. When appropriate, we would cut to present day memorials, buildings and public squares in which the revolution had taken place. With this backdrop, we were able to achieve the desired effect of not only summarizing the events of the revolution, but also examining how the event still influences Budapest. In all, the production required research, scriptwriting, location scouting, filming and editing — all of which are core elements of creating a film (something I wanted to practice). I’ve linked the video at the bottom of this page.


The second key experience I had was having the opportunity to meet my cousins that live in Hungary. I met my grandmother Irene’s niece, whose name is Gabi. Gabi’s mother (sister of my grandmother Irene) and Irene were the only members of their family to survive the Holocaust. While visiting my cousins I was able to bridge the gap in communication between Gabi and Irene via phone and FaceTime. It was personally rewarding for me to do this because Irene and Gabi were both very excited to to be in contact again after many years apart.


Irene has had a pretty extraordinary life as she was the first member of my family to emigrate from Hungary to the United States. Given her status as a Holocaust survivor and immigrant to the United States, she has experienced and overcome far more hardship than I ever have in my own life. Having the chance to learn more about her history adds perspective to my own life while offering a blueprint for true perseverance.


  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.

The two areas in which my experience will be most beneficial are my personal and professional goals.  One of the internships I interviewed for this past summer was at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Ultimately, I was not offered the internship, but the addition of the short film abroad will add to my portfolio for future production related internships.


Personally, my family and I were very happy to get in touch with our cousins in Hungary. I was also able to bring home some new documents and photos that detail our family history. On top of these specific experiences, I think I came away from my time abroad as a person much more eager to engage with others and explore new ideas – I think this attitude bodes well for me academically, personally and professionally.


Link to short film:


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Summer French at Laval


Name: Tommy Sodeman

Type of Project: Study Abroad (SU16)

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

For my project, I traveled to Quebec City in Canada to study French at University Laval.  I spent five weeks learning French in the classroom, then applying the new concepts and words I learned in class in workshops.  The workshops that were provided were Dance, Singing, Board Games, Quebec Culture, Ecriture (Writing), and Theater (I chose theater and preformed in front of students at the end of the session).  During this program, you were expected to speak French at all times.  After classes and workshops, there were several OSU group activities planned that would allow for more speaking opportunities as well as free and paid programs provided by University Laval.  I attended all OSU group activities and some Laval programs.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

One thing that changed about myself is my confidence in French.  Before going on the trip, I had a difficult time with my conversational French.  I would stutter and have a difficult time remembering words and making a logical sentence.  I would pause for a really long time and try to think of what to say.  It made speaking French very difficult for me because I did these things.  However, during and after the trip, I gained more confidence in my speaking capability and began speaking French more and more.  I began remembering more words and I paused less and less.  I would even say I have become somewhat fluent in French after this trip.  Also, my French comprehension has increased dramatically.  Before the trip, I had some difficulty understanding French speakers and singers.  I would only understand some of the words and phrases they would use.  However, during and after the trip, I started understanding French speakers more and more.  I began understanding more of the words and phrases they would use and would be able to accurately respond to questions that were directed at me.

Another thing that changed about myself is how other people from outside America look at the country.  I used to think that a majority of people understood how American government and politics worked.  However, I learned, from talking to students who came from other countries like Canada, Finland, and Newfoundland, that they did not understand how Donald Trump was the nominee or why there are no viable third party candidates.  It was interesting to learn how people who were not from America understood American politics.  It definitely expanded my knowledge on how others view America and Americans and how much of an impact we have on the global community.  It was also interesting to hear the different opinions of people from different countries on American politics and government.IMG_1799

  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?

One event that happened during my project was a 24 hours in French event.  For this competition, you had to speak French, text in French, listen to French music, for twenty-four hours.  I participated in this event and found it difficult to not speak in English because it was exhausting to have to constantly speak in a foreign language.  There was also a language barrier between family because most of my family does not speak French.  It was through this event that I began seeing a large change in my conversational French as well as my confidence in speaking French.  I saw how I would speak fluently with little to no pauses in-between my words.  It was so much fun being able to speak French for a whole day and being able to practice it as well because I rarely get the opportunity to speak French in America.

I met a Canadian student, whose name was Wisall.  It was with him that I had an amazing discussion about American politics as well as the governing system behind America’s election. I discussed how America has a system where the party with the majority of the votes wins the entire state and the different pros and cons of each candidate.  It was really interesting to hear his opinions on certain candidates and then explain in more detail about the specifics of the candidates.  It made me realize that many people do not understand our basic system of governing, which surprised me since America is considered a global power.  It made me realize not to assume that everyone has a basic knowledge of America and to enjoy helping someone learn a little bit more about American culture.  There was also a girl from Finland in the program named Saara and we would discuss American politics and those conversations helped me develop a better understanding of where America is socially and politically in the global stage.

During my time in Quebec, I lived with a host.  She had a son, whom was not there during my stay.  I would talk to her during dinner and it was through our conversations that I became even more familiar with French, while learning more about Quebec culture.  My host, whose name is Naima, was always a delight to be around.  She was kind and supportive.  We would have discussions that would range from talking about our day to the ins and outs of some French words and phrases.  We would also discuss some aspects of Quebec culture that were interesting, like how little personal space Quebecois people are comfortable with.  Through our constant communication, I became more familiar with French as well as my host.  I learned that she came from Morocco and is working very hard to make a better life for her son.  It has made me appreciate the struggles and accomplishments of immigrants more as well as develop a better understanding of why so many people want to come to America (she originally wanted to come to the States, but ended up in Quebec.  She is still working hard to try to come to America).

4)Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? 

It was an amazing experience to travel to a different country and immerse myself in a different culture.  I want to use my French to get a job working for the federal government, so becoming more confident in my ability to speak French will allow me to have more confidence in myself and my abilities.  Becoming more confident in my ability to speak French will also help me in my classes at OSU.  It will let me have more confidence to speak up in class and ask questions.  Learning about peoples’ opinions about America has allowed me to become more mindful about where our country is going.  I want to use this to make policies that will further develop our country and our standing with the global community.  These changes have also helped me become more confident in general.  Through gaining more confidence in French, I was able to have more confidence to talk to other people and to do more things.  With more confidence, I will be able to take more opportunities in the future.  Overall this was an amazing experience that I am very glad that I had.



Knowlton Rome Trip

My trip to Rome, Italy was a program that focused on the history and architecture of the city. We toured the city from end to end exploring the growth of the city throughout time, and the political and religious influences that shaped the growth of the city. Staying in the city for over a month was a total immersion into the heart of Rome and it allowed me to experience life and culture as if I one of the locals.

I have not done very much traveling in the United States, but with the little that I have done I have been to some historical places with a lot of tourist traffic, like in Washington D.C. When I visited D.C. I remember there being all different types of people crowded into memorial sites and monuments around the city, and there was diverse group of people ethnically, but most of what I saw and heard were other U.S. citizens and mostly English was being spoken. When I was in Rome there were so many ethnic groups just like the U.S., but they were people who were directly from other countries and were visiting and at any given time I could hear multiple languages being spoken, from Italian to Chinese, to French to English and more! Living in a foreign country for a month gave me a whole new view on the world and how different groups and cultures operate outside of the US. There were so many different races and religions that lived in and were visiting Italy, and it was interesting to experience because these people were from all over the world and I had never experienced being surrounded by so many types of people from so many different countries speaking very different languages all at once.

While I was in Italy and was out exploring the city I was able to meet people and make friends in a way I never thought I would. I met two girls while I was there that were from Philadelphia and we immediately had a bond and began speaking to one another because in Rome, three African American girls speaking English was an exceptional minority and we were able to talk and hang out with each other because we had these common bonds. Although I did appreciate the occasions where could find other Americans in a large group of other cultures, I was sometimes frustrated when I was in areas that seemed too touristy, I didn’t want to travel half way across the world and only see the same people I see in the United States on a daily basis.

On this trip I also met two guys who were African, but had grown up in Rome and have since moved to France and Canada respectively. Talking with those two guys was such an amazing experience for me, I was able to learn so much about them and was fascinated with their lives. I learned that they both speak multiple languages and are fluent in so many that when they approach each other, often times they are unsure of which language to start out speaking! Listening to them talk to each other and even switch languages mid-conversation was something I never had even thought about being able to do.

As an American, who only spoke English I never felt unable to function in Italy, because so many people there did speak English, but it started to make me realize how much I took that for granted. English is by far the most widely spoken language on the planet, and even though in America there are so many different languages spoken, English is the one that everyone needs to know to get by. It just amazed me that I was able to travel to a foreign place and not have to adjust myself to learn how to speak their language, but in America we expect everyone to speak English, and have little patience for anyone who doesn’t. I felt bad for not knowing any Italian while I was there, and even worse for not have being able to learn any along the way. If there were one thing I could change about the trip it would have been living with some type of host family that further immersed us into the culture and taught us more about how to fit in with Italian culture, and not just how to navigate the city like a pro.

This trip was a truly life changing experience for me, it opened my eyes to the possibility of travel which I never had thought of as an attainable feat before, and allowed me to not only learn about, but to experience life in a way I am not used to living. With America having so many tourists, and people who come to live here from all over, I was able to get a taste of how they must feel when they come here and see how we live. This trip opened the door and only makes me want to travel more, and makes me feel like I really can travel, and that it isn’t as difficult as I once believed. I realized that I did love learning about the Architecture while I was on the trip but the most amazing thing I was able to learn about was the history of the culture, and this has set me on a mission to learn more about more cultures and places in the world and the history that goes along with them.


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STEP Reflection

STEP Reflection Prompts

Name: Hailey Clouse (blog)

Type of Project: Study Abroad (Maymester) Global May Britain

  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.

I took the time to document my experience throughout the duration of my trip to London. I did this is in the form of a blog and took pictures to accompany them. We were introduced to the history, politics and culture of Great Britain through lecture and then applied this new knowledge during tours of important buildings/structures I had the chance to indulge in another culture and try new things, such as foods, clothing and language.


  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.

Throughout this experience in a foreign country, I was exposed to diversity. Everywhere you turn in London there is someone with a different ethnicity. Within one small area we could hear a variety of different languages spoken. Here in the US we may be diverse, but I definitely don’t think we are as accepting of individual uniqueness. The United States is known as the melting pot, where we all try to conform to certain cultural beliefs. However, in the UK, people can practice whatever religion or cultural beliefs as they choose and are not judged. Overall, I felt extremely welcome, and as a result, I felt a sense of comfort because of this sincerity. These interactions made me realize the difference in the level of friendliness among Americans and Europeans.

I plan to apply this to my home country; hopefully this can rub off on others and create a chain reaction of increased levels of acceptance. This will allow others to freely practice their culture, religion, etc. without the constant fear of judgment. It’s okay to be ‘different’ or unique, it shouldn’t be looked down upon. In addition to treatment I would also like to focus on my adjustment to a new country. Being more open to change is something that I definitely learned throughout this process. This is a great skill to have, especially in places of employment. You will constantly be thrown curve balls in the form of tasks and may deal with coworkers that are hard to deal with, but it is important to not let this stop you from succeeding. Everything is changing around us constantly, we just need to know what to do to adapt to these changes in life. In the UK, there were many differences I had to get used to. A few examples of these would be currency and the direction in which traffic comes from and language (Paris).


  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.

We had the opportunity to go to a play called The Suicide. This performance was definitely not what I was expecting. It seems that in British culture, people have a strong sense of humor and are very bold. This type of communication is often lost in translation and hard for me to understand. Many Americans tend to take some jokes/comments offensively and do not think it is as funny. I truly did not enjoy some of the jokes. A lot of my classmates felt the same exact way and it was great to discuss how we felt. This just really made me realize how different two areas can be and what is considered ‘normal’ in one place may not be the same in another. However, this is where openness and acceptance comes into play.

Through my experience in another country, I have faced a few obstacles. An example of this would be the language barrier in France. We had to overcome this by pointing to signs/things, rather than speaking. This seemed to get us to where we needed to go pretty well. We also used context clues and inferences to read certain directions and looked more pictures than anything. Don’t get me wrong, it was certainly a challenge but it was really interesting learning a little bit about the French language over the long weekend. This allowed me to become more cultured.

Throughout these past four weeks I have truly had an enriching experience. Intercultural development has definitely occurred while abroad. I had the chance to be right in the heart of London, a foreign place to me, and learn all about its rich culture and history. This course helped me to receive a better understanding of my own cultural values/biases and apply them through learning about others’ thoughts within the classroom and from UK residents. Meeting different people in my class was great. We had the opportunity to hear others’ opinions and build friendships as well.

4)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.

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to be exposed to such a valuable transformation. Openness to others’ cultures and beliefs is very important in everyday life, especially in my place of employment. This will definitely be a useful skill when collaborating with coworkers and patients. As mentioned above, diversity is something I will have knowledge on when working with a very diverse population of patients. Knowing specifics on a variety of cultures will be a major key when treating patients. Having this experience ahead of time is very helpful and gives me a great sense as to real life interactions.

Having exceptional communication skills is a great asset to have. I went on this journey with 30 other Buckeyes and it was interesting to analyze and share opinions with everyone. Whether it was in or out of the classroom, it was nice to continue to develop this skill even after the semester was over. This gave me a better understanding of others and made it much easier to relate to peers and, in the future, OT patients. In addition, hearing the professors’ thoughts and knowledge on certain topics was interesting and quite informative. They truly cared about our education and put in a great effort to ensure we were getting as much out of our time there as possible.


London Theatre Study Abroad Reflection


Name: Dane Morey

Type of Project: Study Abroad


Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

As a study abroad experience with the OSU Department of Theatre and through the Office of International Affairs, my STEP experience was a planned sampling of London and its theatre. Each day during the course of the month abroad, I explored the sights of London including parks, palaces, and places of worship. In the evenings, I spent my time seeing a variety of plays and musicals, a total of 27 shows, in a variety of theatres throughout London.


What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

I learned a lot about myself and my American culture by spending a month in London. Firstly, I learned more about my passion for theatre. The 27 shows I saw in one month in London were probably more than I would see in a year or two normally. Even though I saw approximately one show ever single night, I never got tired of seeing good theatre. Each night, I looked forward to seeing a new piece of theatre, regardless of how good or bad the show was the night before. For someone who is still relatively new to theatre, this was reassuring. My tireless desire to see theatre solidified my passion for performing arts and made me believe that I would be satisfied pursuing a career in theatre if I chose. This trip made me sure that theatre is not simply a passing fancy of mine, but a lifelong passion.

Additionally, my perspective on American culture and history was changed through this trip to London. The American history in cities of the United States pales in comparison to the thousands of years of history in London. Even after a month of walking through the streets, it was difficult to wrap my mind around all the history around me. This long history shaped the London culture to which I was exposed, subtly influencing the modern London I experienced. Because of this rich history, the culture of London felt much more complex than the culture in even the oldest cities in the United States. It reminded me of how little I knew about the traditions and history of places outside of the United States and made me want to spend more time understanding the culture of London.


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?

The moment I knew with absolute certainty that I had a lifelong passion for theatre was when I was watching my final show in London. After 27 shows, the first show seemed much further away in my memory than a mere 25 days. Seeing such a massive volume of theatre in such a short period of time was like running a marathon. I was certainly physically tired at the end of it, but as I sat in the auditorium during the final show, I was not tired of seeing plays. I wasn’t tired of experiencing more theatre. Actually, I was more than a bit sad that I wouldn’t be seeing another show the following night. The rigor of the trip had been exhausting, but seeing shows every night was invigorating, even to the very end. This experience in particular gave me confidence that I would never get tired of theatre, and that it could in fact be a career for me.

Another experience that affirmed my passion for theatre was seeing one of my favorite shows in the place it was first developed: The Phantom of the Opera in The Queen’s Theatre. Though my seats were far up in the top balcony, seeing the show live was a wonderful experience. Despite knowing the show be heart, I was still moved to tears seeing it in London. This surprised me because I thought I knew the show too well to be that emotional while seeing it. So, I think the fact that I was so affected by seeing The Phantom of the Opera points to my strong connection to musical theatre. It once again confirmed in my mind that theatre is far more to me than just a hobby. It is part of who I am.

Riding the tube was an experience that made me very aware of my American culture. Londoners have a different comfort and expectation of personal space than Americans do. On the tube during rush hour, people pack in shoulder to shoulder, fitting the maximum number of people on a single train. Still, there seemed to be a distinct personal space for everyone, and it wasn’t awkward standing right next to someone on the train. I can’t imagine standing that close to complete strangers in America wouldn’t be awkward. Similarly, the seating arrangements in most theaters were far tighter than in America. During many shows, patrons were squeezed together so that legs, arms, elbows, shoulders, and hips would be touching each other. In America, there is always a definitive divide between one seat and the other. It made me realize the heightened sense of community in London. The history of London made theatre-goers simply more a tight community than in America. It was like the audience was one entity, rather than individuals, which I think points to the difference in culture and history.

Going to some of the historic sites in London also made me distinctly aware of the weight of British history. I was in awe to stand in Westminster Abbey beside the graves of kings like Richard II, people Shakespeare had written plays about. Being able to touch such ancient history was something I had never experience in the United States and made me aware of just how young the United States is in comparison to most of Europe. Along the same lines, it was a chilling experience to see the place where the bodies of two princes were found in the Tower of London. It made Shakespeare’s Richard III seem all the more real. So, seeing such history and being able to touch that history in London made me keenly aware of my American heritage and its relatively young history.

Stonehenge Edit

Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

Confirming my passion for theatre during my time in London is certainly valuable for my academics at Ohio State and my future career. When I decided to pursue a second major in Theatre at OSU, I was not entirely sure that I would like theatre enough to complete a full major. Now, after my trip to London, I am entirely determined to finish my full major in Theatre and completely confident that I have the skills it takes to analyze theatre at any level. This trip strengthened my conviction and confirmed that I want theater to be more than just a hobby for me. Finishing my Theatre major would be a good start for that.

Being more aware of my American culture is valuable no matter what my future career might be. Going to London reminded me that other countries have a very different perspective on history than the United States, and it is important to remember these different perspectives when dealing with other people. For instance, I am currently beginning my first year as a Resident Advisor, and I can already tell that going to London has helped me see a more world-wide perspective which helps me better relate to the international students on my floor. I hope to continue to use my experiences in London to relate to these students in particular.


Read my journal about the shows and experiences in London here: London Journals

Multicultural Histories of London and Paris

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

My STEP signature project was a 3 week study abroad trip to the cities of London and Paris. The academic portion of the trip was covered during spring semester at Ohio State, which covered a lot about leadership and culture of the states versus England and France. While in country we were able to immerse ourselves in the culture and attractions for the entirety of the day, although we did some service while in London.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

I learned a lot while in country. During the academic portion of the class, we talked a lot about leadership; what makes a good leader and what traits they need to have. A leader is not someone who bosses people around, a leader is someone who is comfortable leading a group of people but includes everyone in decisions and activities. While abroad, I got to see myself grow as a leader. Additionally, I saw myself become a much more open-minded person. In class, we talked extensively about minority cultures and how they are treated in the states. Specifically, we learned about the Muslim population. In both London and Paris, we visited Muslim communities and got to see how the populations are treated. It really made me open my eyes, because I was horrified to accept that the states is not a welcoming place to Muslims; especially with the recent acts of ISIS. Once home, I found myself very upset with the connection of the religion of Islam to the terrorist attacks. I am a strong believer that these attacks are due to the person, not the religion, and I’m not sure I would have said the same thing before this trip.

My view of the world has also changed dramatically. I definitely have the itch to travel now. I was so amazed at the beauty in Europe; it is so full of history and architecture that the United States just doesn’t have. In reality, the United States is a very new country, and I loved seeing the ancient art, buildings, and museums that London and Paris had to offer. On a different note, my view of the world changed because the trip really made me realize how unaccepting we are as a whole. In London, I could really see how nervous they were about the refugee situation, and in Paris, I definitely noticed a negative attitude towards the war in Syria. In the United States, we always say that we are a melting pot, but in reality, we are not accepting of new populations. Look at the immigration issues from Mexico, or the refugee problems from the middle-east. I look at the world as a place of beauty and opportunity, but it’s going to take much more time for people to realize that we are all the same, no matter where we come from.



  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?


One of the things I liked most about the Multicultural Histories of London and Paris trip was the variety of places and activities we got to participate in while abroad. We did some volunteering, education, and we got to see much more than just the cities of London and Paris.

As I said previously, we interacted with the Muslim populations in both London and Paris. We visited The British League of Muslims, where we sat down with a group of Muslim people that are very active in their community. We discussed a variety of topics, such as the treatment of women in the religion of Islam, the treatment of Muslim people overall in the London community, and how the Muslim people in Europe look at America. Americans tend to think that Muslim women are not treated equally. However, the women that we talked to were police officers and made it very clear that the stereotype of gender inequality in the religion of Islam is just not true. The group stated that Muslims in London are treated very well, and they felt that Europe is generally a more accepting place for all religions compared to America. This is a statement that made me sad that I live in a place where not everyone is accepted; I can only hope that America can soon realize we are all the same.

Also while in London, we spent the morning and afternoon at the North London action for the homeless. We helped with their garden, and a few of us helped prepare the lunch that the church serves every week. We all got to interact with the homeless population, and it was a very eye-opening experience for me. Not everyone is homeless because of financial problems. Some people choose to be homeless, because it is a way for them to avoid the abuse or problems at home. I got to meet a group of people that I would never have interacted with had we not taken the time to volunteer there, and I learned a lot. Many of the homeless people had a very negative view of America, and they were surprised that an American was spending time there at all. After leaving the church, I was frustrated with America and the fact that we have so much progress to make before people will look at America differently.

While in Paris, we visited The Grand Mosque. Some people say that this mosque is like the Notre Dame for Catholics. We took a tour of the mosque, and got to see their prayer rooms, garden, library, and common areas. What surprised me the most is the amount of protection that all religious institutions had in France. The Grand Mosque had two armed guards with rifles standing at the front door. Due to the recent ISIS attacks in Europe, all the religious institutions, including Notre Dame, had increased protection. It was definitely uneasy seeing so many armed policemen with rifles in the city, but at the same time, I knew that it was only for our protection. That being said, it’s sad that a city has to go to that extent to protect it’s people, especially at a religious place of worship where people should always feel safe.

After coming home, all I want to do is travel again. Visiting places like Bath in England and Versailles in France showed me that beauty that lies outside of the main cities of London and Paris. I can only hope to go back to Europe and see more of the amazing cities it has to offer.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? 

I came into college knowing that I wanted to study abroad; I just had to decide where I wanted to travel. Since my goal is to work in the healthcare industry, it was hard to find a program that traveled abroad with a science curriculum. Therefore, I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone and choose a program where I could grow as a person and learn something new.

Europe has always been somewhere I have wanted to travel, so I narrowed my search to trips throughout Europe. When I stumbled upon the Multicultural Histories of London and Paris trip, I knew it was right for me. It gave ample time to explore the cities, but also included many tours and educational experiences that I knew I would enjoy. The academic portion of the program during spring semester definitely challenged me at times, but I believe that I am a better leader and well-rounded person than when I started the course. I got to volunteer at a library and tutor children, which was a great experience and definitely made me realize how important education is and made me all the more grateful that I am a student at The Ohio State University.IMG_8105 IMG_7875 IMG_7734

Study Abroad: Oxford University Pre-Law Program

This past summer, as part of my STEP Signature Project, I spent roughly five weeks studying pre-law at the University of Oxford. During this time, I was exposed –via classroom learning and real-world experiences– to various aspects of legal history and its impact upon society. The classroom aspect of the program entailed two courses: Law & Society, and Introduction to the Anglo-American Legal System. The former was taught primarily by Dr. Christopher Whelan, an Oxford University law professor– although there were other Oxford professors and speakers that would address the class as well. The latter was taught by Professor Terri Enns of the Ohio State Moritz College of Law. Together, these two classes allowed for discussion-based learning, which encouraged each student to think critically about the impacts and aspects of various statutes and case law.

When not in a classroom setting, my peers and I were exposed to a plethora of different aspects of legal history through various field trips and excursions to legal point of interests, such as the Old Bailey Crown Court and Oxford’s own branch of the Crown Court. While visiting the Old Bailey, I was able to observe a real-life murder trial for a murder that had occurred 19 years prior. The judge and barristers were each wearing traditional black robes and wigs, which is a very unique and interesting aspect of the British legal system. Moreover, when my peers and I visited the Oxford Crown Court we were excited to be given the opportunity to speak briefly with a local judge and ask him questions about the British system of law. After our brief discussion, the students were allowed to observe the case that the judge was presiding over. Other points of interest that were significantly relevant to our studies included the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the House of Parliament. True to form, the judges of the Supreme Court were also each wearing the traditional black robe and wig.

Future lawyers posing in fron to the Old Bailey Criminal Court Building.

Future lawyers posing in fron to the Old Bailey Criminal Court Building.

Throughout my time abroad, I learned that a few of my assumptions regarding the system of law were, for the most part, accurate. However, by the conclusion of the trip, I was truly amazed by how much I was able to learn about the history and development of law– especially given the short time that my peers and I were abroad. For example, upon my arrival in Oxford, I had known that I was interested in Government, Politics, Public Policy, and Law. However, I was also aware that my knowledge and exposure to the study of law was quite limited and not far-stretching. I knew that a well-functioning system of law creates a sturdy and foundational framework for a society, but I had little understanding of how this impact was achieved, and from where such a system originated. Moreover, by participating in the various activities that made up most of our designated class time — activities such as briefing cases, examining and creating legal analyzes, and group discussions centered around the conflict between moral duties of a human and the professional duties of a lawyer– I was able to develop a greater appreciation for the services that a system of law contributes to a society.

On a more personal note, I learned a few things about myself as person while I was abroad as well. For example, in high school, I knew that I was remotely interested in a possible position in the legal profession one day– an interest that has seemingly become more focused and passionate as I have progressed through college. However, after my experiences studying law this past summer, I can now say with firm conviction that my desire to enter the legal profession has now become a definitive goal for my future. Furthermore, as a result of my studies I have come to understand the importance of justice being properly implemented and achieved in a society, and have moreover grown to better appreciate that order that a system of law creates. Likewise, I have found that as a result of these transformative experiences, I now possess a strong passion and desire in seeing that justice and human rights of individuals are efficiently, and more importantly, effectively achieved.

Moreover, by being able to observe the history and evolution of the system of law through not only the course that I was enrolled in, but also though the visits to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the Old Bailey Criminal Court, I was able to garner a more direct and first-hand understanding of the evolution of law. Walking through the underground exhibit highlighting the history of the Supreme Court, I was able to generate a more well-rounded appreciation for the evolution of the country’s legal system. Furthermore, it was also through these visits that I became more aware of the influence that the British system of law has had upon what we understand to be the American legal system. In addition to the group excursions and field trips, the professional relationships I developed with my peers and professors also proved to be invaluable aspects of the program with each allowing for a richer understanding of our lessons through collaborative discussions.

Pre-Law students pose in front of the Tower Bridge located in London.

Pre-Law students pose in front of the Tower Bridge located in London.

While there were many different events that I feel contributed enormously to my transformational experience abroad, I believe that the activities of briefing cases and writing legal analyzes provided perhaps the most important impact to my academic habits. Prior to approaching case briefs, I always found myself needing to thoroughly read every bit of an argument or paper in order to understand the main point of the discussion. However, after being exposed to the practice of briefing cases, I have since been able to teach myself to search for the gist of the argument without needing to understand every little detail. In addition, while I understand that details are a hugely important aspect of case law, I am also aware that the skill of skimming is a skill of great importance for anyone in law school.

Likewise, the weekly lectures provided by various Oxford professors also served as another aspect of the Oxford Pre-Law program that helped to transform my cultural understanding of the world. Through these lectures– which covered topics such as the “Royal British Monarchy”, the “Rise and Fall of David Cameron”, and the “History of the National Health Service”– I developed a deeper awareness of the close relationship that binds the United Kingdom with the United States. In addition to providing students with a greater appreciation for the cultural traditions and systems of the United Kingdom, these discussion also served as great source of educational evening entertainment.

OSU Pre-Law students outside of Blenheim Palace. Blenheim Palace is primarily known for being the residence of the Duke of Marlborough.

OSU Pre-Law students outside of Blenheim Palace. Blenheim Palace is primarily known for being the residence of the Duke of Marlborough.

Ultimately, the experiences I had while abroad were vitally important to my development as not only a student, but also as a human being as well. Over the course of my five weeks in the United Kingdom, I developed countless study skills and habits that will hopefully prove to be useful as I proceed along the path to a career in the field of law. Likewise, I additionally learned that I definitely want to pursue a Juris Doctorate degree and would furthermore like to obtain a job in the legal industry.

From a more personal perspective, I discovered that I am deeply interested and passionate about learning about the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the numerous cultures around the world. Moreover, I learned that the each system of law and government found within various countries all have their own unique structure and organization. Thus, I feel that I am now better able to understand the relationship and role that the United States system of law and government has on the world stage. Perhaps most importantly though, I learned that a system of law is a crucial aspect of any society, and it creates an absolutely crucial degree of stability and order for any civilization.

Architecture across Europe

My STEP Signature Project is traveling abroad during the summer of 2016 with Professor Jackie Gargus of the Knowlton School of Architecture to France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, and Belgium. This is to learn, sketch, experience and engage with the architecture around Europe. During this study abroad experience, we will be visiting numerous famous sites that have influenced the world of architecture.
After completing this Signature Project, it changed my understanding of who I am as a person and my view of the world. I am now more comfortable with myself and feel more free to speak my mind. I also now know that if anything comes my way I can handle it if I have just a second to think about the problem at hand. My perspective of the world has changed for the better and I now have a better understanding of the interrelations between countries and the different cultural quirks that make each of them special and unique.
This experience abroad was one of the most fulfilling and most exhausting things that I have ever undertaken. With the days starting promptly at 7am for breakfast and ending around 8pm, they were filled with the exploration of the cities and buildings that we visited, sketched, photographed, and sampled the local cuisine for most if not all of our meals. The two modes of seeing these buildings was by a chartered bus, which stopped and let us off for a bit, and then we would get back on, or simply through walking around the city. By walking through the city we got to experience the feeling of living there and the culture, as opposed to the isolation of riding the bus where we didn’t really get to engage with the surroundings.
The tours for the day generally stopped around 8pm and this was the start of our free time in the city. We were encouraged after our daily tours are over to go out and explore the city. Our professor has spent hours planning this trip so that we will get the most out of this experience, but she said many times that, “you haven’t been to the city unless you have seen it at night.” Allowing us this freedom gave us a responsibility of planning what activities we want to do in a foreign city that I had not had the privilege to do before. This means planning out with friends and coordinating where to go so that we make the most of our time there. Professor Gargus crammed an amazing amount of sights and activities for all 40 of the students on this trip making us quite close and exhausted after these extremely long days. Spending our nights in local hostels or hotels, we got back very late in the night, to then wake up early in the morning to get a head start on the day to see not only the buildings and churches but giving us the opportunity to experience the culture of each city, and get a taste for what it must have been like to live there.
Experiencing a city as if we lived there is something my parents instilled in me from a young age when we would go traveling to different places around the United States. They always said that when you are in a new city, eat wherever it’s crowded and ask around to random strangers and locals where their favorite place is to eat, this is almost a sure fire way to get something that will not only fill you up but also be delicious.
Our study abroad trip with professor Jackie Gargus took us through seven different countries starting with France, and ending in Finland over the course of a month. From there my friend Keegan, who also was accepted to participate in this trip, and I travelled over to Spain to spend some time in Barcelona and Madrid, traveling around and seeing the architectural works of Gaudi, among others, in both of these amazing cities. From there we traveled to Italy where Keegan and I meet up with my parents to see the sights of Rome, and get a taste of its rich history. We then caught a train to Florence and then Venice to examine the architecture there. It has been one of my dreams to go and travel the world, and I am so excited that I had the opportunity to not only see and experience these cities, but to learn about their rich histories and share my travel experience with others since I have returned home.
This change is valuable for my life, because as an aspiring architect and a future architect I need to know how things are interconnected and feed off of each other, much like the different countries. It is important that I am now comfortable to speak my mind so that I can stand my ground and make sure my voice is heard in the community. Also that I trust myself to look at a problem and work it until I find a solution, all without losing my composure. This STEP Project has allowed me to grow as a person and to help me find out things that I never thought I could do, like travel on my own, so thank you.
Villa Savoye

Firminy Church

Sustainable Business Global Lab – Denmark and the Netherlands

Posted by Katharine Garrett

My STEP Signature Project entailed spending two weeks in Copenhagen, Denmark and Rotterdam, Netherlands during May of 2016 as part of Fisher’s Sustainable Business Global Lab. While participating in this experience, I was able to explore both of these cities on a cultural level, as well as dig deeper into their focus on sustainable business.

While I was in Denmark and the Netherlands, I experienced a change in my concept of sustainability, culture, and global business. The Sustainable Business Global Lab (SBGL) examined how various businesses and industries incorporate sustainable practices; a topic which I had little knowledge of before embarking on this project. I initially thought that a business perspective would mainly focus on streamlining operations and ultimately improving bottom line profits. However, I quickly discovered the sustainability entails so much more. Corporations around the global, and especially in the two countries I visited, are really taking a look at how their practices can be altered to cause less environmental damage and provide greater resilience.

In addition to my assumptions regarding sustainability, I also experience a transformation of my concept of culture. This was my first trip outside of the country, so the change in culture was unlike any other travels I have done. I now have a greater appreciation for different cultures and languages. Having the opportunity to be completely immersed in another country instantly widened my understanding of how nations and people interact on a global scale.


My transformation in concepts of sustainability and culture was the result of many activities throughout the SBGL trip. While abroad, our group of 25 students visited ten different companies in order to see firsthand how sustainable practices were being implemented. This one-on-one interaction with native professionals was a fascinating way to learn about the material.

I started to realize that the view of sustainability in the United States varies greatly from that of Denmark and the Netherlands. Typically, Americans think that going “green” and attempting to be eco-friendly is the key to sustainability. In contrast, these Scandinavian countries are constantly trying to make their processes more efficient and productive, with less waste. In turn, this allows companies to be more resilient when faced with turbulent economic and environmental constraints.

Various cultural activities throughout the SBGL also contributed to my transformation of worldview. Being surrounded by a foreign language for the first time was very enlightening, and has instilled a new desire to visit other countries around the globe. I toured numerous historic sites in both Copenhagen and Rotterdam, an experience that highlighted how incredibly vast our world history really is, and how much there is to explore. In addition, it was interesting to see how other nations run their governments and how citizens react to different policies. For example, Denmark imposes extremely high taxes, but its citizens almost enjoy paying them, for they know it allows them to have a reliable social system and functioning government.


These changes and transformations have provided me with valuable skills as I move forward with my career. My new knowledge and perspective of sustainability will be applicable to future jobs that I hold as a business professional. I will be able to take the innovative sustainability practices I witnessed while abroad and help implement them within other companies. By altering my perception of sustainability, I have a greater appreciation for any business that is employing new practices to improve resilience and environmental impact.

A development in worldview and culture has proved to be a valuable asset to my personal goals. I pursued this Signature Project with the hope that it would propel me into even more future travels abroad and global experiences. I now have a new appreciation for travel and look forward to experiencing other cultures and languages.

India: Health Perspectives Study Abroad Course

Post by Alex Carter

For my STEP project, I participated in the India Public Health May Session course. The goal of this course was to study India’s public healthcare systems firsthand, including public and private hospitals, clinics, women’s shelters, and preschools. With an emphasis on comparisons, we learned different public health strategies and solutions to similar problems based on a country’s culture and attitudes. Using this perspective, we also were immersed into Indian culture and learned how this culture affected India’s public health system.


This course has truly changed my perspective of the world and different cultures. I have learned that there is no “correct way” to do things. While cultures may have different social norms, one culture’s norms are not inherently better than another society’s cultural practices. To understand a culture other than my own, I have to examine a society in context. Often times these exercises reveal novel ways of thinking and a unique perspective on life that explains the differences between societies. Practicing this in India has made me more open to different ways of thinking and has helped me cross cultural boundaries.

Traveling to India has also made me more confident as a person. Interacting with a culture so vastly different than my own was sometimes overwhelming. However, through perseverance, observation, and patience I was able to adapt to this new culture. By the end of the course, I could successfully communicate with other students at Manipal University, navigate rickshaw price negotiations, and blend in with the people around me on campus. My success in adapting to and understanding Indian culture has shown me how resilient I am and has helped me be more confident and assertive in other areas of my life.

A middle class neighborhood in Manipal, India where our class surveyed people's knowledge on the spread of communicable diseases, such as HIV and tuberculosis.

A middle class neighborhood in Manipal, India where our class surveyed people’s knowledge on the spread of communicable diseases, such as HIV and tuberculosis.

Several moments of my study abroad course have influenced these changes in my perspective. The most notable challenge I faced was the language barrier – while most Indians speak English, it is significantly different than American English, and I had difficulty carrying a conversation with many of the professors and students at the beginning of the course. The most striking example I experienced is when I had to visit the hospital after I had gotten sick. I was attempting to describe my symptoms and medications I was taking to my physician, but we both kept having to repeat ourselves to understand one another. After nearly ten minutes of this, the doctor said, “You have a very thick accent that makes it difficult for me to understand you.” This moment has stuck with me because, while I thought he had an accent, from my physician’s perspective I had an accent. My interactions with Indians have shown me that there isn’t a correct form of English, but merely a different cultures adaptation of vocabulary, grammar rules, and diction.

In addition to gaps in language understanding, I also had to adapt to a vastly different transportation system and social structure. My first experience with transportation in India left me rattled – not only were we driving on the left side of the road, but cars kept passing one another at 60 miles per hour on single-lane winding dirt roads around blind turns while honking profusely. There are no crosswalks to cross the road, so we had to quickly adapt to this transportation system so that we could cross the 6 lanes of traffic to go anywhere off of campus. In addition to the traffic, India’s social structure is based on the caste system. Unlike the US, minority groups are not based on appearances, but rather on gender, social class, and occupation. This subtle system of social structured is nuanced and complex, so adapting to this new set of societal standards was also a significant challenges. By immersing myself in Indian culture, I was able to learn and adapt to these different cultural norms, and the self-reliance I gained from these experiences has made me a more confident individual. IMG_4205[1]

Finally, observing the differences between healthcare in the US and India has forever altered my opinion on the role healthcare should play in a country. Healthcare faces different problems in the US and India – while the US primarily treats noncommunicable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cancer, India’s primary challenges include infectious diseases and traffic accidents. As such, each country’s healthcare system is geared towards their respective causes of disease. As an emerging second world country, India faces a struggling economy, uneducated and illiterate patients, and overpopulation that places a strain on its public health system. In response to these factors, the government provides free healthcare and sends members of the community out to low income areas to provide free vaccinations and education about infectious diseases and their spread. The reason these efforts have not eliminated infectious disease is due to the sheer number of people who require health services – there are not enough resources to treat everyone. However, because health care is free, health is treated as a fundamental right as opposed to a personal good. In the US, we have a private healthcare system which treats our health as a good – something to be purchased out-of-pocket. And despite America’s booming economy, when our public healthcare system is compared to other first world countries we are spending more money on healthcare but have higher rates of disease. So, while America’s public health system is outdoing India in many respects, we have several lessons we could learn from India on the importance of affordable and accessible healthcare for all.

Slums in Manipal India where we further surveyed the public's knowledge of disease and sanitation.

Slums in Manipal India where we further surveyed the public’s knowledge of disease and sanitation.

My experiences in India have changed my outlook on life, which will make me a better scientist, a better physician, and a better global citizen. Collaboration across cultural boundaries is becoming more important as globalization continues to bring the scientific community closer together. I have developed the skills I need to communicate clearly across cultural divides, and this will help me interact with the scientific community across the globe and contribute to the collective knowledge of scientists through collaboration. As a future physician, seeing the differences between Indian and American healthcare has inspired me to advocate for better healthcare policies – both in the US and abroad. Perhaps most importantly, I have become a global citizen. I can relate to people who live on the opposite side of the planet and I care for their wellbeing as much as I care about my own. My experiences in India will continue to shape my world perspective as I strive to help the world not only as a physician scientist, but as a human being.

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