STEP Reflection: Finland and Estonia

For my STEP signature project, I traveled to Finland and Estonia on a Public Health study abroad. Before departing for our trip abroad, myself (along with 18 other classmates) partook in a 11 day class on campus in which we studied specifics about the healthcare systems of both Finland and Estonia. While we were in country, we heard many public health experts speak, as well as went on many excursions and were able to explore all of the cities we visited.

Throughout my STEP experience, I feel that I became a more independent and worldly thinking individual, as I was exposed to many new ideas and people from many different cultural backgrounds. I also learned that I am a capable leader and creative thinker as I worked with my peers to formulate ideas about the similarities and differences between us and these Nordic Countries.

As I participated in my STEP Study Abroad experience. I feel that I was changed both personally as well as academically. I found a lot of direction in who I am as a person and what I value in my beliefs and in who I choose as friends and role models. I also learned a lot about what I wanted to do as a n adult and in my career. I discovered that I want to work in Public Health and that I want to work with adolescents, abroad if possible. My view of the world also became a lot more realistic, as I went from seeing many cultures as extremely different to vastly similar.

During my STEP project, I had the opportunity to visit a Finnish high school and talk to the students about Finnish culture, Finnish healthcare, their perception of America, and their perceptions of their own health and the healthcare in Finland.  Getting the chance to talk to people around my age and ask them questions that I was genuinely curious about, was an irreplaceable experience.  The students we spoke to offered many new points of view and offered very interesting information as to their perspectives and their country. I also saw how similar these students were as well. Despite being from completely different backgrounds, we still had so much in common and were able to bond over the littlest things, from adding each other on Snapchat, to picking out our favorite candies at the grocery store.  MY relationship with the faculty that taught our course and went on our trip with us was also a very important advancement in my goals and who I am as a person. Dr Wallace, who offered a lot of insight into what I want to do as a career and who had a lot of experience working in Finland was very interesting and inspirational as a person. I also learned that I am able to adjust to different foreign settings, better than I had expected.

I learned that I am able to communicate well as a person in a foreign country, and able to represent my country and university well.  I was able to communicate well with my peers, both American and not. I also was able to improve my planning and coordination skills, as I was able to plan an entire budget and trip with little to no help. I improved my accounting skills, my research skills, and my global understanding as a whole.

This STEP experience related to my professional, personal, and academic experiences. Visiting Finland and Estonia, gave me a lot of insight into possible career paths that I could pursue after college. I could work with youth, I could work in government, or I could work with youth in an academic environment. These many possibilities are all interesting to me and relevant to my career and major in Public Health This STEP experience enabled me to learn a lot about myself, including my felxibility, my friendliness, and my globalized mind. I was able to forge personal bonds with my foreign counterparts as well as my OSU peers. Usually, as a more reserved person, I do not ask many questions or seek out people to talk to, but while abroad, I spoke with many experts and field personnel. Academically, I was able to fin out more about my major and what else I was interested in as other possible majors. As someone who just recently switched to the Public Health major from Biological Sciences, I was not originally very sure whether it was the right switch for me. On this trip, my faith in my neighbor was reassured, as I saw what really drew me to the major, in the flesh. The global, interpersonal, and health related aspects of the major were all very interesting to me. Overall my project hugely impacted who I am as a person, and who I aim to be in my future. I learned that I am far more capable and creative then I had ever imagined and that I am set in my academic and career goals.

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