I spent six weeks at Université Laval in Québec City, Québec, Canada this summer. While there I had the opportunity to take intensive French courses, conversation sessions, and explore the local life all while completely submerged in the French language. This program really pushed my limits academically, emotionally, physically, and socially.
My interactions with the world drastically changed this summer. I feel as though I have become more of a global citizen. Especially in this time of political turmoil in the United States, I was able to observe other people’s views and opinions on how our political decisions aren’t just largely affecting our lives but the lives of people all around the world. I was able to push my language abilities by discussing the different situations in the US, that otherwise, I might never have known how to communicate about these subjects. This experience really opened my eyes to the importance and responsibility of my citizenship and the right to vote that goes along with that. It wasn’t something I ever expected to be an area of growth for me while I was outside of the US.
I also leaped outside of my comfort zone and was very social in Québec. I made many friendships that I believe will last a lifetime. I was lucky enough to make friends with someone who has similar mental health issues as me and we have connected on a very deep level. I was able to have self exploration on this trip as I journaled the whole time. I think it has made my mental state much better and allowed me to explore deeper the state of my well-being.
Being in classes or meeting new people out in Vieux Québec, once they’d find out I was an American, they’d always ask about my political opinions and they’d offer theirs. They were always stressing the importance of our votes and that being able to decide this much will have an impact on everyone in the world. This also pushed conversations among my fellow OSU students on the trip to be able to see criticism of our government and how our vote can really affect the outcome of many events in our future lives.
These changes in my life are valuable to me because I want to be a responsible citizen and not just locally but also be a good worldly citizen. I was able to push my perspectives beyond my formerly smaller view of the world. I think this will help me achieve my goal of being a good leader in the world because to be a good leader, you must know the most you can about the people you lead. Being able to take myself out of my perspective and imagine new ones has always been a valuable tool for me and this experience has enhanced it immensely.
Another goal of mine was to become more healthy mentally. I didn’t know what this trip would hold for me when I first signed up for it, but it turned out that this summer was the most emotionally, physically, and mentally challenging times in my life. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I felt much more homesick and lonely than I think I normally would have been. I also experienced some dramatic self-image issues this summer, that I honestly had never struggled with before. But hitting all these low points allowed room for me to rebuild my life, support system, and self-esteem into a much healthier lifestyle. I value this more than words can describe because in order to live a good life, you have to have a strong base. The cracks in the infrastructure of my old lifestyle were taking its toll, but by breaking through that, I now live a much more well-rounded life.
I was able to make new friends that encouraged me to strive toward a healthy lifestyle, below is a picture of me and one of those friends (Emily Burkart) who is also my sorority sister in Zeta Tau Alpha. She and I bonded over learning conversational French, exploring the city, studying together, and ZTA. I’m so blessed to have been able to turn my bad circumstances into one of the most influential experiences in my life.
My STEP project has truly affected my life more than I ever imagined it would. It was an incredible experience filled will fun, learning, strife, adventure, and personal growth. I am so overwhelmingly grateful I was able to experience all of it!
Here is a link to my album from my whole trip, including my way back through Chicago: