Scientific Roots in Europe Study Abroad – Halle Flate

Project Summary

With the once in a lifetime opportunity STEP provided, I studied abroad during Spring Break 2017 through the program sponsored by The Ohio State University, entitled Scientific Roots in Europe. Through this program, we travelled to London, England and Paris, France, visiting scientific sites such as the Royal Society (London), Down House (London), Institut Pasteur (Paris), and the Museums of Evolution, Anatomy, and Paleontology (Paris). This week-long program allowed me to immerse myself in European culture and its significance to discoveries in the field of biological sciences, helping transform my time at Ohio State and my future endeavors in life.

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

The most significant change I noticed after studying abroad for my STEP project was in myself. I found a new love of mine, travel. I had always considered myself somewhat of a “homebody.” I loved traveling and experiencing new places, but I always longed for the comfort of home. Now, since coming back home, I have been more eager than I ever had been before to travel again. This trip opened my eyes to how much there is to see and experience out there and how many people are out there to meet.

My view of studying, learning, and science in general definitely transformed in response to being abroad. When we are at school, we sort of get into a rhythm of being in a class, taking notes, studying those notes, and taking a test. We don’t really stop to learn about and realize HOW what we are learning came about. This is especially true for science classes. After studying abroad with a program that focuses on the roots of the scientific knowledge I have learned thus far in my time at Ohio State, I have learned why my studies are significant, not just to me, but also cross-culturally.

Lastly, being abroad really made me realize and mentally analyze all of the similarities and differences between the US and the countries I visited. I developed an appreciation for and a longing to learn about different cultures from this program (in fact, since visiting Paris, I have been trying to slowly learn more French!). I can only imagine how different US culture is from even more diverse and different countries than England and France. In fact, I don’t want to have to imagine – I want to be able to travel to these other countries and learn first-hand.

What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed above, and how did those affect you?

More than anything else, one thing in particular made me realize that I am not as reserved as I thought I was and I love to travel and experience new places: history. Seeing all of the extremely historic places I have only learned about in textbooks was amazing. It was especially amazing when we went to the “Treasures of the British Library.” It had the Magna Carta, handwritten Beatles lyrics, original Bibles, Torahs, and other religious documents, Shakespeare, Galileo, and Beowulf, among MANY other things. We also saw buildings like Westminster Abbey and Notre Dame Cathedral. I had never been surrounded by so much history in my life. It made me realize that you can read about and see pictures of buildings, books, and artifacts as much as you want, but there is no experience like seeing the real thing. Since studying abroad for my STEP project, I have realized that I want to continue to travel and experience more history.

Seeing scientific treasures like Darwin’s original “On the Origin of Species” and Newton’s original “Principia Mathematica,” among many other things, helped me realize the roots of my degree at Ohio State. Seeing these things showed me that I am interested in science because it is rooted in historic and genius discovery, and it is still being taught to me, generations after its discovery. Before studying abroad, I was stuck in the rhythm of school, however, now I appreciate it more than ever before.

The locals that I met abroad also led me to a transformation, teaching me so much about European culture and its differences from American culture. For example, at a small cafe in Paris, we had amazing conversation with our waitress so told us she “made our food with love.” I realized how relaxing and friendly European, especially French, culture is. This made me want to learn more about other cultures and want to experience life through their lenses. I realized that this can be as simple as learning a new language and interacting with people. You can learn so much about a culture through a person, and I want to be able to experience this as much as possible in my life.

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

This transformation is significant to my future endeavors because, as a future healthcare professional, you must understand your patient’s history, background, and culture. Because being abroad led me to want to learn about other’s cultures, I will eventually be able to be on a level with my patient where I can understand where they are coming from and provide empathy. By becoming more involved in other’s cultures, I will also become more socially aware and active, which will aid me in helping others on more than just a physical level. Overall, STEP has opened my eyes to why I loved science in the first place and has shown me that I want to keep learning and traveling, helping others along my way.

Study Abroad London and Paris

Cindy Gao

Study Abroad in London and Paris during Spring Break 2017

Project Summary

For my STEP Signature Project, I was able to travel to London and Paris during spring break through an OIA program called Scientific Roots in Europe. Leading up to the trip, I attended classes for the study abroad and learned about many of the scientists we would be seeing overseas. When I was finally there, I was able to see the things I had been learning about in real life and visit the homes of some of the greatest scientists in history.

Transformation During the Trip

While I was in London and Paris, I was able witness how diverse their countries were. In London and Paris, there were people of all ethnicities. They were all speaking different languages; it was almost overwhelming. Then most of the time, they were still able to speak English very well. To me, it seems that there is a large emphasis in European countries to learn multiple languages to help with communication. This is understandable considering how easy it is to travel from one country to another and how much tourism they get.

I also realized how old Europe really was. In London and Paris, no matter where you went, there would be ancient architecture. The facade of the building would be how it was hundreds of years ago while the interior would be remodeled. Some of the cathedrals we visited were breathtaking and almost thousands of years old. While some parts were reconstructed, majority of the cathedrals still contained the original glass windows and pillars. There were also many scientific discoveries made in Europe before the United States was even a country. This makes me hopeful that the United States still has many things to discover and hopefully we will be able to preserve the history and science.  

What led to the Realization

With the language difference from London to Paris, I was very anxious because I only knew very minimal French. I was worried that I would be unable to communicate or that no one would be able to understand what I wanted. However, once I got there I realized that this was not the case. No matter where I went there was always someone who could speak English and it was very fascinating to me.  In the United States, other languages are not as frequently learned to a great level of fluency to my understanding, and I was not expecting it to be so different abroad. This lead me to realize how necessary it is in Europe to know their native language and another. With the countries being so small, they interact with people from other countries frequently and they need to be able to communicate. I was happy that they could speak English, and it makes me want to become fluent in another language. I want to be able to help someone who my not speak English very well while they are in the United States.

During my trip, my group visited the Royal Society, and we were able to see the original books published by great scientists such as Darwin’s Origin of Species. To be able to see the books and touch them was surreal. They were published so long ago, changing the scientific world and for them to be preserved and readable today is amazing. We also went to Darwin’s and Louis Pasteur’s homes and were able to see some original tools, furniture, and scientific models. I was amazed about how they were able to make their discoveries when none of the proper tools were around, and how even today majority of their scientific projects are still preserved.

I also went to the British Museum during my time in London, and I was able to see many sculptures from the Parthenon in Ancient Greece.  This was eye opening to see so many artifacts built in 430 BC. To think that the there were people alive then and creating art is amazing. The world is so old with many countries being there since the start. For the United States to only have come into the picture a couple hundred years ago makes me think one day people will be looking back at the United States. I wonder what we will leave behind for the future generations to see and learn about?

Significance of the Trip

All the things I learned from overseas will help me in my life. I have realized how important communication is. I will put more effort into communicating effectively and listening to others. I hope to one day become fluent in another language to help with my communication with others. Through my experience in Europe, I have also realized how old science really is how many topics there are I have yet to learn. In the future, I hope to learn more about the different scientific fields and also how the scientists were able to make so many breakthrough discoveries despite the times.


Louis Pasteur’s Crypt

Afternoon Tea in London