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

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