Education Abroad in Nantes, France

For my STEP Signature Project, I decided to participate in an education abroad program in Nantes, France, through IES Abroad. This was a full-immersion program, meaning every effort was made to ensure that I would speak primarily French and really delve into true Nantais culture. During this program, I spent four months living with a French host family and taking various classes entirely in French through IES Abroad and the University of Nantes, along with a group of other American students.

Mont Saint-Michel, a fortified island in Normandy with an ancient monastery at the top

My views on myself as well as on French and U.S. culture transformed greatly throughout my study abroad experience. Personally, I became much more independent and more able to handle new or unexpected situations. I also found that as time went on, I became much less shy and more outgoing as a person. My views on French culture and on my own culture also changed during this program. Learning French in middle school, high school, and even in college, it felt like we were always taught the same French stereotypes of berets, baguettes and the Eiffel Tower. Living in France for four months, I of course discovered that most of these stereotypes were exaggerated (although the French really do eat a lot of baguettes and cheese). I found that although the French tend to avoid eye contact on the street with strangers, they are very warm with their friends and kind to strangers they see often. My view of the United States also changed while abroad. I realized that Americans can be crude and loudmouthed, but I also came to appreciate the warmth and openness Americans have for strangers.

On top of the ramparts in the fortified port city of Saint-Malo

One aspect of the program that led to these transformations was living with my host mom. Living with a host family was challenging because it was an awkward negotiation between feeling at home and feeling like a guest. I had my own bedroom and area to relax, but I had to ask to use the kitchen and work around my host mom’s schedule for dinner. Negotiating my place in the household and communicating with my host mom gave me a lot of experience handling delicate situations and being more outgoing. Our dinner conversations also often led to learning experiences about French culture and trading our views on each other’s cultures. I learned that my host mom thought Americans worked too hard and that the French are louder. She told me she considered “American” as a separate language from English, and that the French learn English in school because Americans tend to “eat their words” and are harder to understand. She taught me different French customs and holidays, and I learned more subtle cultural habits such as leaving your bread on the table instead of on your plate.

The beautiful little town of Bruges, Belgium, one of the cities I went to on spring break

Another aspect of the program that led to these transformations was taking classes in complete French. This was incredibly difficult at first, and I went to bed with a headache every night for the first few weeks. However, this full immersion into French helped me pick up the language more quickly and created a challenging and rewarding educational experience. Each class I was in required a class presentation on a specified subject (in French). I have long struggled with class presentations in English, so the idea of doing them in French was even more terrifying. However, these presentations became easier as the semester went on, and I clearly survived. Being back home now and able to speak in English, I have found that I am less shy and nervous about speaking in front of people. Taking these classes has given me more self-confidence. These classes have also taught me a lot about the French school system. While college in the United States is very structured with almost-daily assignments and attendance policies, college in France is much looser. The professors don’t track your attendance, and the only grades are an exam and/or oral presentation. I was very critical of the French system at first, but I then realized that it has some merit. Instead of depending on professors for reminders and second chances, French students have to be more proactive and responsible for their own education.

A pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) from the boulangerie near my house (which happened to share my name)

A third aspect of the program that led to these transformations was just navigating the city of Nantes, traveling in France, and entering businesses in the city. From these daily interactions and processes, I learned how to navigate bus, tram and train systems. This definitely increased my independence. Additionally, I learned a lot about French culture by observing the natives around me and interacting with them. Although strangers tended to avoid my eyes, the workers at the coffee shops and restaurants I frequented often gave me a smile or asked where I was from and wanted details about my life. One time, a waitress at the coffee shop I went to all the time with my friends gave me and my friend a free piece of cake because we went there all the time. So, I realized that the French don’t go out of their way to be friendly with strangers, but they are very kind and friendly to the people they know or see regularly. Now that I am back in the United States, the chattiness of strangers tends to throw me off!

The chateau of the dukes of Brittany, which sat in the middle of Nantes. I did an oral presentation on its history in my grammar class, and I often hung out in the grass outside of it with my friends.

I highly value the transformations I underwent during this program. I have struggled with shyness and nervousness my entire life, and this experience pushed me out of my comfort zone almost daily, which forced me to adapt and rise to the occasion. Now, when I second guess myself or get nervous, I tell myself: “well, at least you can say it in English,” and I feel my confidence rise immediately. Academically, this program has vastly enhanced my French grammar and vocabulary. I went from an intermediate level of French to an advanced level, and I can more easily and adeptly communicate to someone in French. This program turned my French minor into a major, and although I do not know what career I will end up with, I know that this education abroad experience has positively transformed my personal, academic and professional capabilities.

Check out the cool video below to see how amazing the city I spent four months in is:

Public Health Perspectives: Finland and Estonia

Jacqueline Ulmer

Study Abroad

My STEP Signature Project allowed me to study abroad in Finland and Estonia through the College of Public Health. With a surface level insight, one might think an education major should have little interest in a project as such, yet public health entails much more than healthcare systems. This trip allowed me, with 15 of my peers, to study the intersection of political, educational, and healthcare systems and the impact a well-bound nation can have on its people.

As I was preparing to depart to Northern Europe, I placed few expectations for my time abroad, I wanted to be open to the opportunities and learning experiences that were before me. I wanted to be intentional with documentation –I was faithful to keeping a daily journal of my experiences while processing the personal growth taking place.

Arriving in Finland, I had a difficult time processing I was in a different country. The landscape reminded me of home and every person spoke English. I was with a large group of peers who come from a similar background as myself, I was genuinely curious about the meaning of culture shock –why wasn’t I feeling this way? I wanted life to feel different in Finland, to be foreign and exotic, like nothing I knew before.

As I enter my fourth year at Ohio State and prepare for graduation in the Spring, I have been critically thinking about teaching positions, but more importantly the location of my first job. Do I want to stay in Columbus, or simply Ohio? Do I want to move out West? Would Colorado or Minnesota be preferable to my liking? I took to reading a book, the Geography of Bliss, to find that many of the Nordic countries are some of the happiest places in the world. I wanted to see what made this so. Was it the lack of stress knowing that you could freely pressure any educational degree with no dead ends, or knowing that the cost of healthcare is covered? Or do people in this area have a different outlook or cultural perspective?

Transformation is how STEP describes the experience, yet I think this verbiage is too concrete and immediate. Rather, a metamorphosis began. My time in Finland and Estonia encompassed people not systems. I took to talking with locals and taking time to meander cities. My roommate and I would reflect on our day before bed every night. I met new university students from Tartu, Jyväskylä, and Ohio State alike. Seniors from a Finnish high school reinforced that taking time with my future is okay and welcomed –that I must not seek to find answers, but be present with myself and others. And so a metamorphosis began.

Metamorphosis does lead to change that is a process. I am noticing most of these changes as I have returned home and I realize they take time to develop. I would like to emphasize the time that people in Finland and Estonia take for each other. People do not seem to be as rushed and the intentionality of conversation reassures you that others are listening. As a study abroad, we were provided the opportunity to participate in many group meals. Typically, these meals would last for two to three hours with four courses served. Between each course, there were large lapses of time to talk and be with one another. School aged students are given an hour to eat with their peers and teachers in the same lunch area. Two to three coffee breaks are also given to working professionals throughout the day. Taking time to slow down throughout the day offered me great insight on being present, it is a simple way that could transform and deepen my relationships at home.

It was an interesting experience to learn about the systems of higher education in Finland and Estonia and talk to admission counselors and professors. What struck me most is that their system of higher education does not have any dead ends. If students start at an applied sciences school or learn a trade, they have the same opportunity to progress through different degrees with the same ability a university student has. If students fail an exam the first time, professors are required to allow students to retake the exam, understating that not everyone expresses knowledge in the same way. Students are not bound to four years of studying and to know what they want to practice for a career. Students have an understanding that more opportunities await.

I quickly realized the ramifications that history has on the lives of many people. Having lived in Ohio my entire life, I failed to take deep interest in the recent happenings of the world. A stark difference lies between Finland and Estonia. Finland managed to be a part of the free world following World War Two, while Estonia fell under rule of the Soviet Empire. With the recent collapse of the USSR taking place only 26 years ago, I was struck with how much history the older and middle aged population has lived through. For the first time, I was genuinely curious how local people saw me, a visitor. A large Russian population still lives in Estonia and tour guides made us well aware of the tensions still in place. A local Estonian guide, Trinne, described herself and the majority of her country as being peaceful. Trinne said that Estonians are open minded people with the exception being you must be open minded in return. Many of the Soviet influences in Estonia are quickly being replaced with new construction and infrastructure. A part of history is being replaced and forgotten, a struggle of sorts to understand how we must continue the conversation.

The insight that has occurred with my time aboard and the growth that is beginning with my return home is valuable to my personal goals for the future. This season of my life is fragile. Change is constantly occurring which is difficult and overwhleming to process at times. Major life decisions will be made this year and I am starting to form insight into these thoughts. I have learned to place my value in the people that surround me, to focus on intentionality. My fulfillment will not come from where I am but rather who I am with.

Reflections on Psychology and Culture in Europe

1.A brief description of my STEP Signature Project:
My STEP project was to participate in a study abroad trip, Psychology and Culture in Europe, through the psychology department. The program lasted from the 10th-29th of May, with 5 program days in Rome, 4 program days in Venice and 7 program days in London. In each place we visited museums related to the history of treatment for the mentally ill in the region, as well as sites of religious, political and artistic cultural heritage, and had both during-trip and afterwards journal entries and reflections.

2. What about my understanding of myself and my view of the world was transformed by completing my STEP Signature Project:
This project was very transformative in regards to my school and professional goals, but also personally. I think the biggest change was in the ways I didn’t expect. Because everywhere we went, I saw things and felt things that I didn’t expect! Reading about a location is one thing, but it’s another to see it, and really feel the cultural context that surrounds the history that you learned. Because that context will be completely different, and it matters! In particular, seeing the impact and shared history of the church and mental health care in Italy, and the lack of deinstitutionalization in England, were important to my educational and career goals, while seeing the places of worship we visited affected me personally, too. I also was changed by experiencing the overall cultural differences in each place.
I also found that I’m not a fan of flying, but the far travel wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, even with language barriers! I’d actually like to go again someday, or to somewhere new.

3. Events during my STEP Signature Project that led to this transformation:
Professionally and academically, seeing the three major mental hospital museums in particular was eye-opening. There were actually many similarities between how treatment of the mentally ill developed in Italy, with Basiliga’s law, and here in the states. Their process of deinstitutionalization was similar to ours, at the end in particular. However, there was a vital difference: The institutions in both Venice and Rome were centuries older than anything in the USA. Not only learning that the island of San Servolo was a nunnery before becoming a hospital, but actually standing in the chapel there myself, was completely eye-opening. There was also a storied history in Rome, and our guide at the Laboratorio de la Mente had stories of illegitimate children of politicians and such who were sent there hundreds of years ago. There was even a school for such children established there, and a program that would have them released at 14.
Being at Bethlem hospital in London was completely different, since it’s still open and in active use today. Seeing another way of handling mental treatment moving forwards in the 21st century that didn’t involve deinstitutionalization was very impactful to me. The English system is completely different than what we have in the states, but it really did seem to be working well for them nevertheless. I think it’s important that I remember that my field is a relatively new one, and there are still open questions and paths that can be explored when looking for the best ways to treat mental health in a society. I’ll never be able to become complacent, and certainly must keep in mind that I will never have all the answers… but that’s what makes it an exciting area to study for me! I think it’s important to work as hard as we can to try and find the healthiest solutions for everyone.
Another incredible thing I saw that changed me as a person, I feel, was the Pantheon. It’s famous, but the whole experience was still changing for me. To see something that old in a public square was so incredible on its own, but going in was something even beyond that! This was at the beginning of our trip, on the first program day, so I had yet to see the vast array of Basilicas, synagogues, churches and cemeteries that we would visit, all of which were old, storied, and/or beautiful enough to be incredible on their own. All of those places would cement and develop the feeling that I first had there, at the Pantheon, but that first moment stays with me most of all still. When we walked inside, and everything was still so lovely and maintained, as our guide explained how it was an active church still; I was amazed! I had known it before, of course, but I guess I wasn’t prepared for the minutia still there; the seats and schedules. The Pantheon wasn’t a ruin at all. It was still in use, just as active as my brick church at home. I had a similar feeling in Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. We walked up to the whispering gallery in the dome, and looking down at this incredible building full of ancient art (and that even was ancient art, in it’s very carved walls), I saw stacks of tables and books in one of the alcoves. It must seem silly to someone who attends regular service at these places, but for me, it was something I only really felt when I saw it- how completely different our spiritual lives were I expected, but it was how similar they were that was the surprising feeling.
Lastly, there were little things throughout the journey, that weren’t big monuments or planned excursions, which will nonetheless stay with me and have certainly affected my worldview. Little things about how people lived, like the patches of uncut grasses and wildflowers dotted all around London, the way people filled their yards in its suburbs with gardens rather than plain lawns, how they did fast food in Rome, with places that cooked lots of long bread loaves, topped them all differently, then sold it by weight! Nozones! Even the public transport in each place was an amazing experience. Before I left, I thought it would be scary, or a hindrance, but in hindsight even the various mishaps were all something to learn from. And I still cannot believe that there are people for whom regular boat rides between tiny islands on a Vaporetto is just public transport, like a bus! Even bad things, like hearing our guide speak openly about the tension regarding tourism in Venice, gave me an unexpected view of the city. These things, stuff you don’t even think of before going, were definitely an impactful part of my study abroad experience. I never could have predicted it, but that’s what makes it so important, I think. Everyone’s “normal” is so different, no matter where you go, in ways you’ll never predict. I think that’s one of the beauties of human life, and I hope I get to experience more cultures in this way, some day.

4. How this transformation was important to me and my goals:
Overall, although it may be cheesy to say, this trip is something I’ll always remember. I have seen so many incredible things that I didn’t really think I ever would get to, and undergone new challenges I didn’t predict either! Professionally, I learned even more than I thought I would. Whether it was truly feeling the connections of Christian spirituality and mental health in Italy through the ages, or seeing a modern, working healthcare system that still incorporates mental hospitals, I have gained so much knowledge of different ways of treating people, both through the ages and across cultures, that I’m sure will stay with me as I learn and grow in practice here in the US. And on a personal note, it was amazing to see all of the different monuments, both famous and obscure, and to see a history that is so different from the USA’s one. The vast differences in the churches in both Italy and England will definitely stay with me, especially how many precious and ancient places were still active. It was also transformative to live in such unique cities for a brief time, to feel how life is different there. The things I’ve learned on this trip will stay with me, I think, and I hope I have the chance to do it again someday.
Us all on the London Eye!
The Roman Forum
The streets of Burano, an island in Venice
The Colosseum looks a lot like the 'Shoe!
The PantheonThe Great Synagogue in Rome

European Dairy Science

Jacquelyn Blanchard

European Dairy Science – Study Abroad, May 2017

A brief description of my STEP Signature Project:

For my STEP Signature Project, I traveled throughout the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium as a member of the European Dairy Science program. A group of twenty students, including myself, and two professors traveled throughout these three countries and visited various types of farms. We were able to see multiple aspects of the European Dairy Industry as well as partake in sightseeing and other tourist activities.


What about my understanding of myself, my assumptions, or my view of the world changed/transformed while completing my STEP Signature Project:

My view of the farming industry changed drastically as a result of completing my STEP Signature Project. I greatly underestimated the time local farmers have to invest in their livestock and how much thought is put into each farming, nutritional, or procedural decision. While in each different country, I noticed how accommodating the citizens are by providing restaurant menus in English or speaking fluent English. This changed my pre-departure assumption of how difficult it would be to interact with local citizens due to the language barrier. One understanding I had about myself that changed while completing my STEP Signature Project includes the ease I found in adjusting to the different countries. I was able to navigate my surroundings to the best of my ability and felt completely comfortable in a new environment.


Events, interactions, relationships, or activities during my STEP Signature Project that led to the change/transformation I discussed:

Some events and interactions that led to changes I previously discussed from my STEP Signature Project include meeting local citizens and the free time spent roaming each city. Having free time each night to explore the town we were in provided an experience for learning how to navigate each city, understanding which areas to avoid and how to return to the hotel. Locals would often ask us where we were from or what our plans were in each country once they heard us speaking English. Most citizens were friendly and excited to meet students from the United States and exchange stories and provide recommendations for the area.

Interactions with each of the farmers, cheese producers, and production workers provided the experience necessary to transform my understanding of the farming industry in Europe. Discussing their every day life and farming routine reinforced how hard working these people are and how much care they have for each animal. Being able to travel across Europe and see multiple different types of farms also aided in transforming my views. Farmers are able to make many decisions based on feed, robotics, and layout of their farms. This also varies between type of animal raised on the farm. It was very interesting to be able to compare the differences between sheep, cow, horse and goat farms.

Learning the differences between farming techniques provided improved knowledge on the organic dairy farming industry. I was previously unaware of the specific differences between organic and non-organic farming, and without this STEP Signature Project I do not believe I would have ever learned. The differences in pasture, medication and feed are quite different and more effort has to be put into care of livestock in order to ensure healthy animals and safe organic dairy products. This transformation gave me a new-found respect for the organic dairy industry, and changed my previous fad mentality.


Why this change/transformation was significant or valuable in my life:

This change and new development impacts my professional career as I choose which side of the Food Industry to focus my job search on in the future. Gaining understanding of the dairy industry in the United States and Europe and comparing the two will give me a competitive advantage towards other potential candidates for one position. This personal development gives me confidence in myself for my future. I am unsure where my job search will take me, but I am confident that I will be able to cope in a new city. This development through my new knowledge of the dairy industry in Europe benefits my academic career by giving real life examples of food processes discusses in my course work.

STEP Reflection: Literary Locations Greece

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 spring semester 2017, I enrolled in the “Literary Locations: Athens,” course, in which we learned about ancient and modern Greek literature and its cultural context. Following final exams, the class journeyed to Greece for 10 days, where we got to interact with the sites of literary importance that we’d spent the semester learning about.

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.

This trip was my first time out of the country. Just getting a sense of the physical scale of the planet and the number of people who live here was mind-blowing in of itself. I was struck by how lucky I am to have learned English as my first language, as it seems to be the lingua franca for the rest of the world. I went to Greece not speaking a word of their language, yet most people were able to speak English to me just fine. Overall, people in Greece (and Europe in general) live a much slower-paced life than we do in America. While we rush around with our to-go cups of coffee, they often spend two hours or more just eating a lunch. What we thought was slow service was actually considered polite. Servers do not want their guests to feel rushed while they’re eating, which is why eating out often takes a long time. It taught me to try to slow down and appreciate life more. Going to a restaurant is meant to be an experience of savoring delicious food and stimulating conversations.

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.

It took me a few days to adjust to the Greek way of life. For a while, I actually was wondering if people were simply lazy. No one seemed to go out of their way to get things done quickly for us when eating out or shopping. And yet, once it hit me, I was ashamed of this assumption. In fact, I was informed by our tour guide that oftentimes when Greeks visit American, they think that we have extremely poor service. They feel rushed when they eat out at our restaurants, feeling that the server is constantly hovering at their table and waiting for them to finish their meal. It was interesting for me to learn how different expectations of something as simple as eating at a restaurant can vary widely across cultures. Teaching myself to take my time with my food, to enjoy its taste and the company of my friends, really helped me to enjoy myself when I was there.
Another interesting experience was the vastly different relationship that Greek have with stray animals. For one thing, there are really no “stray” dogs in Athens. A group of volunteer citizens ensures that all homeless dogs are vaccinated and neutered. These “public dogs,” as they’re referred to, all wear collars to denote that they are being cared for. They are well-fed by the volunteers and looked after when medical problems arise. They truly live a very nice life, and can often be seen dozing in sunny areas. While stray cats are not looked after in this way, they are not seen as a nuisance like in America. The cats are very friendly and will allow you to pet them. They clearly have not seen the abuse that American stray cats experience on a daily basis. The cats are an integral part of Athens, lounging on the ancient monuments which to them are just big warm rocks. It really was cool to see the compassion that Greeks show for stray animals.
The final transformative experience was simply getting to know my classmates. Here were more than 20 girls who I’d never met before. Most of them were English or humanities majors, while I’m a science major, so it’s unlikely that I’d have met them if not for this trip. Despite our vastly different experiences and interests, in those 10 short days we formed surprisingly close friendships. This is particularly true for two of the girls, who I continued traveling with after our Greek trip ended. We shared lots of laughs and got to know each other really well. We are now in the process of organizing a barbecue when school resumes to catch up with our various experiences and travels during the summer. I think that many of these friendships will stay with me for years to come. It’s amazing how traveling with people can make you so close to them, even if it’s only for a short time.

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 a scientist planning on a career in Alzheimer’s research. Perhaps it seems strange that I took interest in a study abroad trip about Greek literature. Part of it was just a hobby: I’ve loved reading and writing since I was a little kid, but I’ve had less time to explore these interests since starting college. The trip rekindled my love of literature and has got me reading for fun again, which I hadn’t done since freshman year. But it goes much deeper than that. My trip to Greece, as well as the time I spent afterward backpacking across Europe, truly transformed my understanding of what it means to be American and gave me an appreciate of the myriad of other cultures out there. A solid grasp of the international context in which we live will be invaluable for me as a scientist, as science truly knows no borders. Breakthroughs can come from anywhere in the world, and I think it’s important for me to have a respect for many different nations if I am to work in such an international field.
Link to my travel blog: “Brains and Backpacks”

Traveling in Europe from Study Abroad in London

My STEP Project was to travel around Europe while I was studying abroad in London. I used my STEP money primarily to help pay for food, travel, and accommodations. By the end of my study abroad experience I had traveled to 13 different countries.

Being able to travel so frequently was an eye opening and transformational experience. “My bag was always packed” was a reality not just something people say. Almost every weekend I was somewhere new. This really proved to me how crazy traveling in America is. The amount of money I pay for a round trip from home to Ohio and back is about the same price as five round trip tickets to five different countries when my home base was London.

I was also amazed at how much of an impact America has on the rest of the world. I used to think America was a young country and that our problems were ours; but we are a HUGE country and everything we do effects everyone. I ran into so many people I know in so many different countries – it is truly a small world. Of course the huge chunk of land called America is massively influential in the world.

The activities that I did on this journey were amazing. I tried the local foods, learned about the local history and land, and explored more than ever before. I skied in the alps in Chamonix, France, did a road trip of the South of France, drove ATVs in Santorini, Greece, and so much more. While all of these activities were some of the most fun times I’ve ever had in my life, they were also interesting ways to get to know a place. I saw landscapes upon landscapes, aerial views of cities – seeing every place from all angels.

Every country I went to I got to interact with the locals. At restaurants and pubs I would get questions about Trump the minute my accent was detected. Stereotypes of Spanish people, Italian people, German people, etc. were all tested as I stepped foot into their homes. We are all humans and should all be on the same team to make the world a happy place.

Personally, being put in a country (London) where I know no one and starting fresh when I already had an amazing life at Ohio State was really hard to do. I really stepped outside of my comfort zone and left with more confidence and social awareness. The friends I made from Texas and Minnesota were just about the same amount of ‘different’ from me as someone from London. The whole point is to understand a person’s prospective and become a more holistic person.

Academically I took classes that you can only take in London. I took an Art and Architecture class that explored paintings in museums and architecture in London and in person that go through the history of London. That being said, I also took a History of London class. This one was my favorite and something I truly learned a lot from and value. I wish classes could be more like it in America. I would have a lecture once a week on Mondays, and then on Wednesdays would be a tour of what we learned (such as Shakespeare’s London) all throughout London. So cool!! I miss it just thinking about it now.

This experience has taught me a lot about myself as a person, the world, and life lessons (outlined in a blog I took for my family to follow along):

• Throughout all of my traveling, I think I have successfully changed myself into being more of a morning person. While I still don’t want to talk to you before 9am, I am functional. I much prefer a flight where I have to wake up at 2am so I can arrive in a new place and have the entire day than to wake up at a reasonable time. My body is currently waking me up at 9am on habit now, which I’m sure will fade pretty immediately.
• I think I have become a better leader. Through my friends and my rotation of leadership, it has been really cool to be able to switch from front seat to back seat without issues. I play a different role with different people, and it has been fun to learn those roles especially between my family and my friends.
I have a great life everywhere! In Connecticut I have my awesome family and now a lot of my extended family in New York close by. My high school friends are still awesome and my homies. In Ohio I have a house full of friends I love, and that first semester living in the house was so freakin fun. In London I was traveling everywhere, learning, meeting new people and cultures, and being with a close group of girls.
• On the same point, I realized that I shouldn’t be content. I LOVE Ohio State and I LOVE my house and my friends and before leaving I questioned why the heck I would opt out of a semester in one of my favorite places ever. Why in my right mind would I decide to “waste” one of my 8 valuable semesters of my college years not being in my favorite college of all time? While that is still a crazy thought, this was amazing too! Just because life is good, doesn’t mean that life can’t be good some place else or can’t be better. It is kind of like how I think people are crazy when they think there is only “one true love for them out there.” I don’t buy it! I think you can overflowingly love someone based on where you are and who it is and that can be many different people. This is just like my school situation. Maybe it isn’t, but I feel it.
• I realized social media is so annoying. You’ve read my rants, and my instagram will stay deleted, I will continue to not watch snapstories unless I am singling someone out (like if Erin visited Lekha or something I’d watch both of theirs), and I will try to use Facebook less as I have been doing (hardly posted any abroad pictures). People shouldn’t like me based on my pictures, and if they want to know about my life and whatnot, use other technology and call, text, facetime, meet up with, whatever me!

The World
Explore more! I loved being able to go places almost every weekend. Even if I wasn’t in a different country, I was constantly exploring London. I have so many aspirations to explore the US now. I want to road trip everywhere and take friends and all that jazz, I’m pumped!
America is freakin huge! I used to think America was just another country, but we are freakin gigantic. No shit we have an influence on the world. We may be young, but we affect everyone. The amount of people that wanted to talk about Trump was absurd! People really care and are effected by the decisions that are made in OUR country even if I may not care about the decisions made in Norway or somewhere random.
Traveling in America is so much more difficult than abroad. So expensive and so much more is involved in the thought process of buying a plane ticket.
• In the Trevor Noah Netflix thing I watched he says: “Go to a place where they don’t speak your language and realize how insignificant you truly are. You’re not the center of the universe, there’s a world that exists beyond you.” I loved that! Being in Germany that first week was such a struggle. English is known in most other countries, but we suck. Most people here know 2 to maybe 5 languages on average. I’m making this up, but I feel like Americans on average know 1.2 languages. That sucks.
• People here hate talking about Brexit and are so against it just as much as I hate talking about Trump and am so against him

Take advantage of time. I don’t have a husband or a family or a job or anything tying me down really. This is the time to do crazy things! At the same token, naps and Netflix aren’t a waste of time. Sometimes you have to refuel and be healthy, and that’s okay. I’m always go go go and love being busy and feel like naps and things like that are wastes of time. Nah, they’re a necessity.
There’s no rush to start a career. Jobs, yes I need that. But there is so much time on the other end too. So much of my life will be at my career I don’t need to jump into something that pays money that can support my non-existing family immediately.
• Save on the little things, and it is okay the splurge. Compared to my friends abroad, I saved so much money not drinking coffee every day, and not shopping a lot. I value food, and adventure – so I will splurge sometimes on an amazing meal or adventure. Fret not, it’ll balance out. I’m always conscious about it, so I won’t let myself over-splurge, but just do it sometimes!
• Say yes! I almost didn’t do the South of France road trip. Financially it was frustrating seeing flights for 200 pounds that were only 12 pounds the following week. Besides that, I almost decided not to drive. I have never been the best manual driver and driving in a new place with signs I didn’t know and directions I didn’t have with a stick was scary. I am SO happy I said yes to both of these things and it ended up being one of my favorite weekends abroad!
Drink water!!!