Global May New Zealand

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: Wesley TsouTop of a Volcano

Type of Project: Study 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.

For my STEP Signature Project, I attended the Global May New Zealand program, where I spent a month abroad in New Zealand studying a linguistics course. A combination of coursework and fieldwork was used in order to take in the differences in culture.

  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.

I’m no stranger to tackling new situations by myself, but I’ve also never flown half way across the world by myself. Going on a study abroad trip to New Zealand challenged my independence to a whole new level. My skills in areas such as responsibility, adaptability, leadership, and communication were all tested to a new extent and this helped me develop these skills. Throughout my life, I’ve prided myself in trying new things and going outside my comfort zone. Before this trip, this personal philosophy could be best represented by my decision to attend an out of state college without any of my friends. It’s true that moving from my home in Canton, Michigan to Columbus, Ohio could be considered quite the change of culture and lifestyle, but I attribute much of that to the transition from high school to college and that sudden change would’ve occurred regardless of where I attended college. However, going to a whole different country provided a culture shock that I have never experienced before.

I flew over to New Zealand early, before the actual study abroad program began, in order to explore on my own and take in parts of the country that I wouldn’t be exposed to during the program. Going there before the program started meant that I would have to completely immerse myself into the culture of the country without any previous experience. If I were to have stayed in the country after the program, I would’ve had the experience from the program to help guide me through. This truly tested my independence and helped me develop many life lessons and new perspectives about myself as well as 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.

Before actually going on a study abroad trip to New Zealand, I’ve heard nothing but good things from people who have previously attended study abroad trips. Because of this, I expected to learn a lot about myself during my trip to New Zealand. I didn’t know exactly what I would learn, but I went into the experience with an open mind and the willingness to change. There was a multitude of things that stood out and helped transform who I was, but one of the main things was the new relationships I was able to establish.

I mentioned that I went to New Zealand early, but I didn’t mention that I went with my friend that was also a member of the Global May New Zealand program and that we were staying with a friend of his who actually lived in New Zealand. I spent a couple of days living in the house of this Kiwi family (‘Kiwi’ representing people from New Zealand) and it left an impact on me that I will never forget. Right off the bat, their hospitality and their willingness to take in two foreigners without hesitation immediately made the entire family role models for how I wanted to be. They didn’t just take me in to provide a place to stay, they all took time out of their busy schedules to spend time with me and my friend, take us out, and show us around. In the handful of days I spent with this family, I felt like I could call them family and it was hard to believe that I had only known them for less than a week. They continue to inspire me, as I want to be the same as them in regards to the impact you can leave on someone, regardless of time.

In addition to the relationships I developed with this family, I made dozens more valuable relationships during the actual program. This ranged from waiters at coffee shops that I talked to for an afternoon to the people in my study abroad group that I spent a month with exploring New Zealand. You can’t find a Starbucks on every corner in Christchurch, New Zealand. Instead, there are lots of individualistic cafés that do their own thing to stand out. These coffee shops were common hang out spots for our group, and when a group of a dozen Americans mobbed into the stores, they didn’t complain – the customers and employees actually went out of their way to talk to all of us. We traded questions about our respective countries and these small chats really cemented the stereotype that New Zealanders were ridiculously friendly. I wanted to be best friends with every person I talked to and the conversations always felt natural and genuine. I look back on this and hope that I can bring this same friendly attitude back to the States with me.

OSU Global May New Zealand Group

  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.

I believe this transformation was important for me because I felt like my life was kind of plateauing in some regard. School was tough and was becoming an unwelcome routine, my friend group wasn’t expanding, and my general approach towards life became more and more tedious. This trip to New Zealand not only reminded me of all of the positive experiences in my life, but also helped kick start a new attitude towards my personal goals and my future plans. Now, I have dozens of new friends both here and across the world, and I can focus on applying my new attitude towards my academic, personal, and professional goals.

My experiences in New Zealand inspire me to try and break out of my comfort zone and just be friendly. Before my trip, I wouldn’t have thought much of “being friendly”. I probably would’ve thought that it wouldn’t even matter, people wouldn’t respond to it. It wasn’t until I was on the receiving end of genuine friendliness did I realize how impactful some nice words or gestures can be. I want to be able to apply this philosophy to everything I do in life. All the time I’ve spent being nervous and anti-social because I was scared of what people thought can be countered by just being genuine and friendly. If I approached someone with respect and a positive attitude, and they responded negatively, I shouldn’t be hung up on it. They could be having a bad day, and I shouldn’t fault them for it. I must keep my head up and stay positive.

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