Nursing Experience in Nicaragua

 Arboles de la Vida (trees of life)

O-H-I-O outside the Nueva Vida Clinic

Name: Hannah Kayuha

Type of Project: Education abroad

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My STEP project was a nursing study abroad in Nicaragua. Throughout our time in Nicaragua we mainly worked in a clinic just outside the country’s capital, Managua. In the clinic we helped check people in, worked in the pharmacy, went on home visits, and sat in with the doctors in the clinic.


  1. 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 project was very eye opening despite having visited family in Peru throughout my life. Working in the clinic and visiting Managua’s children’s hospital really showed me what their healthcare system is like and what equipment is available to them. I loved working in the clinic because we were able to see how the people in the community lived and cared for each other despite what little they had. The Nueva Vida Clinic is located on the outskirts of Managua in an area called Ciudad Sandino and it is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. When hurricane Mitch hit Nicaragua in 1998 it devastated Managua leaving many homeless. The families that were displaced were given two pieces of tin and a tarp by the government and told to make a home in the Ciudad Sandino community. The people in this community started with nothing and built a beautiful community where they care for each other, despite the fact that their homes are still made from tin and tarp. This experience affirmed my belief that one can always find beauty and should always look past the poverty.

When we first arrived in this community one would think that they have nothing and wonder how they survive, but upon working in the clinic and interacting with the people you realize that they love their lives and make the most of the resources they have available. One of the most valuable parts of this experience was learning to provide good patient care without the advantage of advanced technology. For example, I learned to rapidly find a fetal heart beat by palpating the mother’s abdomen to identify the best location to listen with a Doppler. In the U.S. I would have wanded the abdomen with an ultrasound machine and allowed the machine to find the heart beat.


  1. 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.

For our first few days in Nicaragua, our knowledgeable guide and driver took us around Managua to learn about the history of the country, so we could better understand the culture and people throughout our trip. For example we visited the house of the old dictatorial president and learned about the current political and economical standing of Nicaragua. Their current president elected his wife as vice president and instead of helping the poor people she has spent millions on unnecessary things such as the 134 metal “arboles de la vida” (trees of life) that are lining the street of Managua. When we arrived in Nicaragua it was late at night so we were able to see the arboles de la vida lining the streets. Each tree stands 17 meters tall, costs $20,000, and because they light up, roughly $1 million more in electricity each year. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the western hemisphere, so the majority of the people don’t like the trees. Had I not known the story behind the “Arboles de la Vida”, I would have felt they made Managua unique. Having a tour guide that was able to explain the history of many different sites allowed us to connect with the culture and people on a deeper level.

In the clinic we worked in the pharmacy by filling prescriptions for the people of the community. The pharmacy had wooden shelves along the walls and didn’t have near the medications we have available here. At the clinic, we were also able to sit in with the physicians such as the gynecologist, podiatrist, pediatrician, radiologist, dentist, etc. The doctors were so eager to teach us examination techniques that they offered to let us examine some patient’s; we respectfully declined as it was out of our scope of practice. I learned a great deal from the doctors, such as measuring a fetus’ bones on the ultrasound to determine the approximate week of gestation. They also taught us a simple math equation to determine the week of gestation with just a few pieces of information.

The final part of our work at the clinic included home visits into the community that consisted of checking on people with chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes; we also check on pregnant women and newborns. These visits are brief checkups with the patients to make sure everything is well. When we checked on the chronic disease patients, we would take their temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar, answer any questions, and give them advise on how to better manage their disease. The pregnancy visits consisted of taking the mother’s blood pressure, measuring the abdomen to determine the week of gestation, and finding the fetal heartbeat. The newborn visits consisted of checking their reflexes and making sure they were feeding well. The people were very welcoming of us into their homes and allowed us to examine them and/or their babies in order for us to learn and to help them. Everything we did throughout the trip affirmed my goal to become a pediatric nurse and to continue to do more medical mission trips abroad.

  1. 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.


This experience made me appreciate how fortunate I am to have grown up in a home where I have endless necessary resources available. It also made me realize that we live in a consumer-driven nation, yet the world doesn’t have the resources to sustain that way of life everywhere. By vising Peru and now Nicaragua, it has become abundantly clear that a materialistic way of life is unnecessary in order to also have a happy life. I am much more appreciative of what I have, but I also realized that I could live a simplistic life and be just as fulfilled and happy.

This transformation is also significant to my life because ultimately I would like to become a pediatric nurse practitioner and go on more medical trips abroad. It is my passion to help people and learn about other cultures, so this experience was the perfect mix of what I love. I have not had my pediatrics or obstetrics clinicals yet, so this experience allowed me to learn a great deal about the population that I am most interested in working with. Most mothers would be hesitant about handing their newborn to strangers, but the mothers in Nicaragua were proud to have us hold and learn from their children. This experience will make me a better nurse because I will be more understanding of my patients no matter their situation.

STEP Project Reflection

For my STEP Project, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, through the program DIS. I was there for the Spring semester of 2017, and I lived with the loveliest Danish host family. My core course with DIS was on prostitution and the sex trade in Europe, and included study tours in Sweden and the Netherlands. I immersed myself in Denmark by forming relationships with Danes, joining political organizations, and taking part in important cultural practices, such as commuting by bike and learning the language.

While in Copenhagen, my life was radically different. I was exposed to different languages, foods, political views and lifestyles. I was transformed not only by living in a new place, but also by the people I was around. Perhaps one of the most influential parts of my STEP Project, was that I was living with a Danish family. They taught me useful cooking skills, and shared with me yummy Danish delicacies, such as salty licorice and Koldskål. With my host family, I also participated in cultural traditions and holidays, such as Fastelavn and Easter in Sweden. There are three children in my host family, so I also was able to learn more about education in Denmark and family benefits under the Danish Welfare State.

Winter walks with my host family

Just as my Danish host family opened up their life to me, I tried to do the same by sharing some Ohio traditions. I taught my host family my favorite Ohio State football chants, and we made Buckeye candies together.  I showed them pictures of my apartment and my favorite Columbus coffee shops. They were impressed with the size of the Oval, and I promised to take them there someday for an O-H-I-O style family photo. By sharing my own Ohio experiences, through baking, music and photos, I grew in my sense of self and feel a closer connection to my home.

Making Buckeyes in Copenhagen!

Living in Copenhagen for eight months, taught me more about what it means to be an American than my twenty-one years living in Ohio. Not long after I started my travels, President Trump was inaugurated. Throughout my entire stay in Europe, as soon as I was recognized to be an American, people wanted to debate politics with me. It was in these conversations that I grew in my ability to listen and discuss. It gave me new perspectives on the United States, a country I thought I already knew so well. I now recommend that everyone travel outside their own country if they can, especially those interested in government. As a Public Affairs student at OSU, I feel excited to share my new global perspectives in my classes and with my professors.

Observing political action on May Day

My classes through DIS were also life changing! My classmates were from all over the United States, and studying with them exposed me to a variety of learning styles and ideologies. I made lasting friendships and connections with my classmates and DIS professors. As the only student from OSU in my classes, I also learned to appreciate and share the incredible experiences I have had from the faculty here. Returning to OSU for my senior year, I feel affirmed in my decision to earn my degree with this university.

Now that I have experienced what it means to travel, I know it is something I will do the rest of my life. Studying abroad, through the guidance and support of the STEP Program, allowed me to grow into the person I was met to be. I feel more passionate than ever about my field of study, and my experience at Ohio State. I will continue to cherish the relationships I formed while living in Denmark, and look forward to the next time I visit. My STEP Project may have ended, but the personal growth and the knowledge I gained will continue to develop, as I find myself home again in Columbus, Ohio.



Stays Abroad: Valencia, Spain

I participated in a five week study abroad program located in Valencia, Spain. Throughout the program we visited Spain’s most historical and important cities, learned about Spanish culture and got to know some of the locals. I took two classes Spanish Cinema and Spanish Culture. Additionally, myself and another student lived a host family. Throughout my time in Valencia I immersed myself in the culture by bicycling throughout the city, making friends with locals, and participating in cultural events put on throughout the city.

Because I lived with a family that spoke no English, I learned how to cope with and overcome the language barrier, which was my principle fear in studying abroad. Ultimately, I became a more confident and empowered student. Before my trip I had never spoken with a native Spanish speaker outside of a classroom environment. Because of this, I felt extremely nervous about how I would communicate with my host family. I found that although I struggled in the beginning to understand their accents, I was able to comprehend almost everything they said by the end of my program. Although I believe I needed more time to improve my speaking skills, I have noticed that I am able to speak with more fluidity and confidence than before I traveled to Spain. Additionally, the trip has made me a more confident person in general. I feel that being in such a starkly different environment from my regular life forced me to interact with people I would never have met. Since returning I have found that I am much more confident in awkward or new situations than I have ever been in my life. It feels less terrifying to meet people when I know that I’ve been able to form lasting relationships with people that spoke none of my native language

With limited data I was almost never able to use Google Maps. Because of this, I was forced to use a map to navigate throughout a huge city that I was completely unfamiliar with. As a result, I was frequently lost. In these situations I was forced to walk up to strangers and ask for directions, something I almost never did in the United States. By the end of the program I felt completely confident asking for directions, and I felt that I had a complete grasp of the layout of the city.

Every Tuesday our International Studies Abroad (ISA) held a program that was called “Intercambios” in which the students in our program met with Spanish students to practice our Spanish and their English. At our first meeting I was terrified. I had communicated with our host family and my professors but never anyone my age. As the weeks progressed, I met two students, Adrian and Soleil, that went to the same university. Throughout this friendship I was able to practice my Spanish skills, which was especially helpful in learning how real students spoke. Additionally, Adrian and Soleil helped to introduce myself to a number of different cultural activities including a holiday called “La Noche de San Juan”.

Visiting many different cathedrals and churches throughout Spain gave me a much better appreciation for Spain’s history and the importance of Catholicism within the country. Before the program I had learned that Spain was a predominately Catholic country and that it had been that way for many years. It was amazing to see the architecture of these buildings and to think about the significance of these buildings not only for present day Spaniards but those that lived and worshiped there centuries ago. This experience helped me to better understand the culture of the people that I was living and interacting with.

This transformation has made me want to pursue Spanish in my everyday life. Before I had felt that the language was something that I had to learn for school, but now I use it in my free time by watching movies and speaking to native Spanish speakers. I would love to incorporate Spanish into my personal and professional life in the future as well. It has given me the confidence to step out of my comfort zone, which has led me to talk to multiple professionals in my professional field and build relationships with influential people. Personally, I have a dramatically increased desire to understand and  other cultures. I hope to continue my travels and learn more about many different cultures in the near future.

STEP: Exploring London with the College of Pharmacy

Jen Slogar

My STEP signature project was a 1-week study abroad trip to London, England with the College of Pharmacy. This trip was split between professional development activities, such as visiting a hospital and a community pharmacy, and cultural experiences, like riding the London Eye and visiting Stonehenge. I was extremely fortunate to be able to explore such an incredible city with CoP faculty, PharmD students, and my undergrad peers.

I was awestruck from the second we landed in Heathrow. I could see Big Ben and the London Eye from the plane as we flew in. That first day, we walked around the burrough where we were stayed, Kensington, and I was so amazed at how different it felt from America. It seemed like I had just stepped into a movie set. The streets were more quaint, lined with red phone booths, double decker buses zooming past the impressive architecture of the old-fashioned buildings. I really appreciated the change of scenery and as a group, I think we were all very eager to explore as much as we could in 7 days.

Learning about the healthcare system in a different country definitely challenged my views of the world. It was very interesting to study a system that differs so greatly from what we have in the US and it was truly an added bonus to be able to experience England’s healthcare system in person. We met a lot of great healthcare professionals and educators on our visits. We were able to talk about what pharmacy and healthcare meant to them, as well as how they were advancing the profession. Their energy and enthusiasm was inspiring; halfway through the week I had a sort of “aha!” moment where I was so happy and excited to be pursuing a career in pharmacy. It was very cool to realize that even on an international scale, pharmacy is still a great fit for my interests and talents.

The professional events perpetuated this excitement throughout the week. One of my favorite activities was the trip to Green Light Pharmacy, a community pharmacy in Cambridge. This visit resonated with me because I work in a community pharmacy here in Columbus, so I was able to draw conclusions about how my work experiences compare to what I might experience as a pharmacy technician in London.

Overall, retail pharmacy in England seems to be more relaxed than it is here in America. Oftentimes, the patients I work with are impatient and stressed about the cost of their medications. Patients in England receive the majority of their prescriptions for free due to the way their healthcare system is structured. Yes, you read that correctly–there is no charge on most prescriptions in England. Green Light Pharmacy also provides free needle kits to anyone who wants one; these kits include clean needles, syringes, mixing powder, and condoms and their purpose is to discourage sharing needles, which transmits disease. These free needle kits blew our minds–can you imagine providing free needle kits to everyone in Columbus, especially in the middle of the opioid epidemic we are experiencing? Interestingly enough, opioid abuse is not a significant issue in London at this time. In fact, is it legal to buy stronger pain-killers such as Tylenol #3 (aka acetaminophen-codeine) over the counter at pharmacies–in the US these pills are a controlled substance requiring a valid prescription. Other than the free prescriptions and readily-available narcotics and needle kits, Green Light was pretty similar to the Meijer I work at in Columbus. The pharmacist that we met at Green Light was very enthusiastic and engaging, which made for a fantastic visit.

Our group had another great visit at The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, which is a professional organization that leads and represents the pharmacy profession in the UK. It is not required for pharmacists to join, but members do have easy access to the most current information and happenings in the field, as well as networking and other benefits. We heard from some of the awe-inspiring individuals at the forefront of the organization who explained their visions for the future of the pharmacy profession. Pharmacists in the UK are gaining more prescribing privileges and really stepping up in their roles as healthcare professionals. The UK is way ahead of us, but it would be awesome to follow their lead here in the US someday. The speakers at the RPS rivaled the one we had at Green Light; the passion and enthusiasm was contagious and once again, I found myself deeply appreciating my opportunities as a pharmacy student.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society


Of course, we were not only exploring the pharmaceutical world, we were simultaneously delving into English culture. When we weren’t at professional events we were exploring the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the city of Bath, The British Museum, and whatever other activities we could fit into our 7 days. For a few events, we had guided tours, which really enhanced my learning experience. Our tour guide was a sweet older lady who had endless stories about the history of England. We were so lucky to have her with us as we explored the city of Bath, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and the British Museum. By the end of the week, I felt like I had learned a lot about the culture and history of England.

The Roman Baths
Westminster Abbey

This was my first trip ‘across the pond,’ and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of navigating a new country. Personally, I LOVED the Underground–from figuring out the different lines to people watching, it was such a fun way to travel throughout the city. I liked the amount of freedom we were given to explore when we didn’t have group activities scheduled. As I mentioned, this was my first big trip by myself, and I  as excited to discover that I am comfortable and confident traveling on my own. I greatly look forward to taking another trip to Europe sometime in the future.


My week abroad was extremely transformative. It highlighted a sense of independence I found in myself after surviving a week spent thousands of miles away from Ohio. Not only did my trip solidify my passion for pharmacy, it opened my mind to the ways the profession could advance in the future–it made me think about what my role could be in this ever-evolving healthcare field. It was exciting to feel so secure in my career path, especially since I struggled with finding a major that was a good fit for me during my first two years at OSU. I developed professionally through attending professional events, asking questions, and meeting new people. It was very rewarding to have such informative and inspiring first-hand experiences. In a few weeks I will begin to apply for pharmacy school. I will definitely be able to talk about my time abroad in London as I continue throughout my academic and professional career. This is such a unique experience to have, and it has given me a greater appreciation of the role of pharmaceutical sciences on an international scale. I am so fortunate to have been able to participate in this amazing trip 🙂


Shannon Cogan STEP Reflection

For my STEP project, I was a member of the Biological Roots in the UK class and study abroad trip. During class time throughout the semester, I learned about the origin of biological and scientific inquiry (particularly in the UK and France). After learning a great deal about these origins, our group visited the sites of many historic discoveries in London and Paris over our spring break.

My experiences taking this class and traveling to London and Paris greatly changed my outlook on scientific study and how I can contribute to the study of science in my own life. Our class and visits abroad focused a great deal on the personal lives of great scientists such as Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and Louis Pasteur. By viewing these scientists in a more human way, the idea of scientific inquiry became much more accessible to me. In my future, I hope to work as a psychologist. As the field of psychology is becoming ever more reliant on neuroscience, it’ very important for me to understand the natural sciences as well as my role within the field of science. This trip really helped me to gain a better understanding of both areas.

There were many experiences that really impacted me during our visit to London and Paris. Our visits to Down House, The Royal Society and the Louis Pasteur Museum were particularly impactful for me. At Down House, what we learned in class about Darwin really came to life. I especially enjoyed the upstairs exhibit of the house that focused on Darwin’s time on the Beagle, and learned a lot about Darwin’s collecting during this time. Overall I think that our visit to Down House gave me a much better idea of who Darwin was as a person, and not just as a scientist. Hearing about how he liked to play with his kids, read novels and play pool contrasted with the idea of Darwin that I had from school. I think this was very impactful for me, because it’s a reminder that all scientists are still real people. Learning to define myself as a “scientist” has sometimes been difficult for me. The term can seem a bit sterile and can lack a strong sense of humanity. For me, learning about the personal life of Darwin helped me to understand how he could make such profound scientific discoveries even though he had many other responsibilities in his life.

Our group visited The Royal Society on our last full day in London. The Royal Society was a group of scientists that have focused on the improvement of natural knowledge since 1660s. Members of the Royal Society including Isaac Newton, William Cavendish and Robert Hooke. At the Royal Society, we heard more about the history of scientists like these and learned about the continuation of the Royal Society, and some of the ongoing works of current members. On particularly special moment was when our group was able to view the original transcripts of the Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton and the first printed copy of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. I believe that the preservation of these works by the Royal Society is very important because it allows us to look back at the progress of scientific history and see how many changes we have made in the last 400 years, as well as how much scientific progress we still have to make.

Seeing the Louis Pasteur Museum was also definitely one of the highlights of our trip. We got to see the actual glassware and microscope used by Pasteur. We also got to look around the apartment that Louis Pasteur lived in at the end of his life. Finally, at the end of the tour we saw Louis Pasteur’s crypt which was amazing. The crypt looked like something that would be built for royalty (which seems to be how the French view Pasteur). Seeing how much respect the French have for a scientist (Pasteur had almost an entire neighborhood dedicated to him in Paris) made me think about the way that we view science in America. I don’t think that our scientists are quite as venerated in the U.S. and I’m hoping that this will change in the future.

I believe that overall, this class and trip were very important for me because they increased my appreciation for and understanding of the natural sciences as a whole, and biology in particular. In my studies of psychology, I have sometimes been frustrated with the emphasis on research and hard facts. However, by knowing more about the history of science I can see more clearly how ideas of experimentation and empiricism have improved our modern world, and how they will continue to do so. As a history minor, the class also made me realize the impact that the study of science has had on the progress of history and the change of governments and social norms. Overall, this program has really impacted my academic study as well as the way I see my own future in a scientific field.

Grand Canyon Adventure Trip

Jasmine Davis

Education Abroad

For my step signature project, I decided to partner with Buck-I-Serv and the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC). I was able to go on a bucket list trip to the Grand Canyon. We flew into Phoneix, AZ and then spent three days volunteering and at a Native American historical park. We then traveled to Flagstaff, AZ and began our descent down into the rim of the Canyon where we camped in for two days. Then to conclude the trip we packed on into thirteen feet river boats and traveled sixty miles down the Colorado River. Oh did I mention all of this took place during spring break!

Before embarking on this journey I did not have a strong appreciation for nature. I loved doing outdoor activities but I did not realize the impact that it may have had on nature. One of the biggest lessons that the team from the OAC taught was the idea of “Leave No Trace”(LNT). This meant leaving the areas that we visited in better condition than we found it. Practically this meant that we picked up every food crumb after eating, we packed our garbage out and we even dug cat holes. This idea even included noise pollution, which meant speaking quieter at night and making sure to eliminate unnecessary noise. Since returning from the trip I have still continued to participate in LNT in hopes of making the Ohio State campus experience enjoyable for everyone.

The first activity that we participated in took place at the Palatki historical site. The historic site was maintained and ran by volunteer national park rangers. The rangers lived on the historic site and helped run tours around the ancient area. They also maintained the visitor center and the site to ensure that for years to come others would be able to come and visit and see how the Palatki people lived. The tour guide, Bill, made sure to inform us that those that were native to this land were able to come back to the historic site at any time. And that could request to have the site for a certain time to perform certain rituals.

While at the Palatki site, my team and I were responsible for restoring a trail that the thousands of visitors that come to the site annually walk on. None of us had experience in building trails but with the help of our group leader Eric we quickly learned and began to follow along. The task was very energy consuming as we had to carry large barrels of rocks over a half a mile to the trial. We also had to use large tamps in order to pack the gravel in and ensure that it would not erode with water. But my time in I took the challenge with grace and used songs and games to make the time enjoyable and go by faster. In fact, we were able to work so fast and efficiently as a team the the Palataki historic site that we were volunteering at ran out of work for our team to complete within two days of our arrival. The initial plan was that we would stay there three days and volunteer but on the third day, we took our services to a local food bank.

The local Arizona food bank was both surprised and excited to have our team of twelve to help them. The food bank services a part of the Phoneix area in which has been reported that over 90% of the children live in food insecurity. While at the food bank we packed food that would go out to the local elementary schools. We helped sanitize and clean the large refrigerators that stored the food. We also helped paint the front of the store room to give the non-profit better curb appeal. The team of five women working at the food bank was so appreciative of our help as they would never have enough man power to complete a task of that size. The quickly also ran out of work for our team to do but we’re really grateful for all that we did for the organization. It was amazing the difference and the joy that we were able to bring to their jobs in the course of a short few hours.

This trip was transformational to my life as it showed me that there is more to life than just money and the obtaining a better future. But there is the past and a present and they too must be protected and enjoyed. College is great but it is easy to forget where you have come from and even enjoy the moment that I am currently in. My future plans are to become a Biological Engineer. This is a career that is engulfed in a lot of technology and forward thinking. In the midst of that, I must remain grounded. I must realize the impact that the decisions that I will make will have not only on the future but on the present. I will try to preserve the culture and history that is ingrained in so many things in the city and even in nature.



Studying Abroad in Rome, Italy

With the STEP program I decided to take a semester off of Columbus, Ohio and through a third-party study abroad program study for a semester in Rome, Italy. Through Arcadia University I studied for five months at Roma Tre University.

I have always known that I wanted to study abroad and wanted that location to be in Rome, Italy. I did not realize how much love I had for this city and this country until it was time to say goodbye. The Italian culture is joked about being revolving around food and I am here to tell you that is indeed the case. But the idea of food is different there compared to here in the states. Food is about how and where the ingredients on the plate came together. For example, if you ask an Italian who makes the best blank, it is their mother or grandmother. So all of a sudden there is a tradition to your plate of food. You see outdoor spaces even in the bustling metropolitan of Rome that are used as gardens and so the plate becomes organic in the most purist form of the word. The idea of food also incorporates where you are eating and who you are eating with. My favorite moments abroad in general were the hole in the wall places that you walked down two alleys and just stumbled upon. Those were the places that we as a group drank wine with the owners and tasted the chef’s favorite, creating memories that last a lifetime. So there are two parts to that, the location and atmosphere of your food and who you are sharing your meal with. In the states both those sentiments have been lost in our fast paced lifestyles and that isn’t a fault on our part but it is drastically different. My view of that differences became apparent being abroad and coming home. It is a noticeable difference that has inspired me to take some changes in my life including finding farmers markets on the weekends and family dinners even if they are quick.

Rome allowed for so many interesting and inspiring relationships that have quickly impacted my life. To start the people that I was able to interact with was so refreshing. My program was an international study abroad program that included eighty-five students. I was one of four coming from Ohio State. I loved that fact because while I had never met my other three peers I am now able to return to campus in the fall with three new relationships that are unique because of our experiences abroad together. The other eighty-one students came from all different places and we were all able to swamp stories from our different home schools. This formed a bond leading into our structured classes.

Classes through Roma Tre were led in english by professors. All who have inspiring resumes and were just unique people. Classes were structured in the sense that it was mostly out of the class work, where we would meet somewhere in the city of Rome and conduct class in front of ruins and in front of art or food. That then contributed to a close relationship with our professors which allowed for in depth conversations. What I thought to be the most fascinating thing about ninety percent of my professors is that they all came from other countries and in fact not native Italians but ended up staying in Rome because they fell in love with the city.

That is the relationship that has touched me the most, my relationship with Rome. The cobblestone streets and hustle and bustle of mopeds and bikes are something that I longed for the moment I landed back in the states. For as loud as Rome can be, all that sound became white noise and for awhile I couldn’t sleep without it. Rome has an extensive history and you feel that walking around the preserved ruins but you feel that walking through the different neighborhoods and the different bars (coffee shops) that have been there and have seen many years. You taste the history in the cucina povera (poor food) that now has become delicacies after generations and generations of perfecting. You taste it in the family owned gelato place around the corner. All things I miss everyday.

I am a sport industry major and whole I have always had an interest in travel it does not necessarily apply directly into my major but with that being said I feel that I have been enriched as a person from my experience abroad. Studying outside of the states pushed the limits of my comfort zone and I will be the first one to say that I did miss home. Reflecting back though I know I have grown as a person because I have experienced different cultures, being truly independent and navigating language barriers. All of those things are interchangeable with the different aspects of my life. I would encourage all undergrad students to enrich their lives by going abroad.

European Architecture Studies





My project was a 5 week trip throughout Europe to study the seminal works of architecture throughout the past 1500 years. We ventured through a number of countries, including Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Germany. We learned about culture, history, and importance, through discussion, presentation, observation, and intensive sketching.

While on the trip, I was exposed to a completely different style of life. Particularly, we were engulfed in a sea of people who cared about design in a much different way. Throughout various conversations with locals on buses, or in cafes, the general standard of knowledge on painters, buildings, and designers was incredible. It is rare for me to ever have that type of conversation with someone outside of the arts in America, but it has prompted me to talk to my peers much more about the subject (I have definitely annoyed my roommates since being back by the amount of art opinion related questions I have asked them). This is in stark contrast with  the US, where seemingly nobody cares.  This trip has certainly sparked a desire to bring that common understanding back to the US. It is fortunate I plan on going into a profession, architecture, where that mission is attainable.

Looking back, I realized I was quite closed minded before the trip. Everything I knew, including my ideals, were a result of my upbringing in a small town in Ohio. Overseas, you quickly realize there are a lot more people with a lot different views on life. We were fortunate enough to have meetings set up with various art curators at world famous museums, personal building tour guides, and my favorite, a meeting with world famous architect Wolf Prix. They were all not shy to impress on us their views on current events, world affairs, political leaders, and what they’re doing to influence it all. It was extremely encouraging and justified completely the major path I chose. It also gave me so much motivation to work hard in school, in order to one day be in a position similar to them, where I can make my voice heard.

Being an architect is a way of life. It influences everything that you see and do. Its not like math, in that you learn a topic and then are done. It is a life long learning process of history, theory, art, design, etc. There is an unlimited amount to learn about the software that architects use, about materials, and especially about buildings that have been built. It is a very simple formula, the more you see and the more you know, the  better designer you will become. Thats why I am never really done with homework. Theres always a way I can make a drawing better, or another book I can read to improve myself. The most important and significant way to enhance all of this, is to visit famous buildings. I had a pretty extensive knowledge of a handful of the buildings we visited on the trip. And I can confidently say my experience of seeing them dwarfed anything I thought I knew about them previously. There is no amount of reading in a book that can give you the feeling of sublime when standing in Vierzenheiligen, of appreciate the delicacies of suspended formal composition we saw at the Vitra fire station. Seeing these buildings will always and forever have changed my life. In my current studio class, there’s not a day that goes by when I am working on my current project that I don’t in some way use what I saw on my trip to influence my design decisions in some way.

The strategy my professors chose as a way of obtaining this knowledge, and of documenting it was sketching. We were given intensive sketching lessons and mandatory scheduled critiques throughout the trip. It was hugely transformational to learn what is important to sketch to evaluate a particular piece of information  (it could be drawing a specific detail, where I normally would have just drawn the whole buildings, or making diagrams, or drawing a plan or section). Aside from learning to critically evaluate in a new way, it was also amazing to learn a new skill. Sketching is clearly something that is a useful means of communicating an idea for an architect. And it is almost embarrassing to see where I was before I started. But I really devoted time on the trip to improving this skill, often times finishing incomplete sketches in my book, or doing new ones instead of hanging out with my classmates.  My teacher noticed my hard work and dedication, and at the end of the trip, gave me the award for most improved. It was very significant for me to hear someone who had been on so many trips with so many student say such nice things about me at the awards gathering and it was really affirming of all the hard work I spent on the trip. I continued to do a sketch about every other day over the summer to continue growing in that skill.  And during the semester now, I sketch every idea out, which i normally would have just done in the computer. Additionally, the head of a local architecture firm in Columbus saw a few of my sketches, and he told me it would be incredibly valuable for their firm to have someone who could sketch like I can. Learning how to sketch and having a recorded documentation of all the buildings we saw has clearly been valuable on a multitude of fashions.

This was certainly the most unbelievable trip I have ever been on. It absolutely confirmed what I want to be doing with the rest of my life. It broadened my knowledge base and opened up a whole new realm of possibilities of what can be done in the world. My dream is to influence people through design and the build environment, and to see first hand what the leaders in the field are doing currently and throughout history has definitely inspired me and affirmed what I want to do. I am confident that when I am much older and working in a firm, I will use the ideas from the buildings I saw in my future buildings. It has already paid off, allowing me to communicate with the teachers I have in a whole new way.  I now can’t wait to travel again and feel so thankful to STEP for making this previously unattainable trip possible.

Arielle C Hooks Canadian Parliament Internship Program

Type of Project: Study Abroad/Internship

I participated in a study abroad internship program in Canada. The main objective of this program was to provide us with the opportunity to intern with the Canadian Parliament. The main activities I participated in was working in the office of Member of Parliament and touring the city on excursions.

Prior to the internship I believed that the United States should look up to other countries in terms of their political systems and the way that they handle social issues. After the internship I realized that no country is anywhere near perfect. There is a lot of change that the world needs and every country can look to one another to see how they can improve. This internship showed me the importance of unity for growth.

Watching members of Parliament challenge each other on issues had a large influence on the change of my views. I realized that many people come from various backgrounds which influence their political opinions significantly. It became obvious to me that when people choose to be aggressive rather than listen and seek to learn, it is more detrimental than effective for their agendas. I began to realize just how much lack of optimism to the views of others can impedes progress.

Policy research was an important part of my work in Canada. It allowed me to see how legislation effects various people. Doing policy research taught me the importance of discovering how many possible effects legislation change can have on citizens. I learned that no legislation is perfect but failure to thoroughly explore the ways that legislation does or does not affect every citizen is problematic.

The people I worked with during my internship really helped to shape my views. They sought to show me the flaws that could be found in a parliamentary system. They also sought to show me the flaws that can be found in politics in Canada as well as the United States and the rest of the world. I think that this was very important because in order to know how to grow you must know what to change.

This change in my view of politics and government was significant because it gave me a new outlook on the way systems function. This is important because I wish to make a career in the legal field and this internship gave me a new perspective on how I should approach said career. It made me realize how decisions that may seem small can have a large impact on certain groups of people. It also helped to see how important working together is.

Step Reflection-Scientific Roots In Europe Study Abroad

For my step signature project I had the opportunity to study abroad in London and Paris. I participated in the Scientific Roots in Europe Study Abroad. During the semester we participated in a weekly class and learned about the scientific history of Europe and gained historical background on certain advancements we utilize today. We also learned about the culture of Europe. During Spring Break we had the opportunity to travel to London and Paris and visit various museums and historical sites that have significant science contributions.


Before this trip I had the opportunity to study abroad in Italy. Leaving the country for the first time, really pushed me out of my American bubble and exposed me to a different culture. I felt this exact same way traveling to London and Paris. The trip was refreshing and gave me an overall greater positivity for life as I got to come in contact with different accents, languages, food, and architecture. I truly created memories that will last me a lifetime.

Overall, I think completing this study abroad made me more daring. Because I knew I was traveling to a different country I did a lot of research in advance and made sure I exposed myself to new things. This is a far different mindset from the one I have when I’m at home. I’m usually a lot less daring and do activities that I’m used to but I feel like this signature project gave me the platform to transform and step out of my comfort zone.


Trying French and British cuisine was by far the biggest culture shock for me. While in London I had the opportunity to attend an Alice and Wonderland Themed afternoon tea. The pastries were super intricate. They gave us macaroons that were shaped like time clocks and lady bug shaped red velvet cake. All of the teas were really good as well. They also had really pretty garden with a waterfall in the center of the restaurant, which made the experience relaxing. Having an opportunity to attend high tea really immersed me in British culture and allowed me to have a unique experience. While in London I also got the chance to try duck at a Chinese restaurant in China Town. In Paris I also had the opportunity to try authentic Moroccan food for the first time.

Another unique experience was in London. As I was walking  down Piccadilly Circus, which is similar to New York’s Times Square, I passed Jamie Oliver’s restaurant. Jamie Oliver is a popular celebrity chef in the United Kingdom, he is similar to a Michael Symon or a Bobby Flay here in the U.S. There was a small crowd of people taking pictures in front of his restaurant. Then we realized that Jamie Oliver himself was sitting in his restaurant eating lunch and doing a taping for his cooking show. We were able to videotape him waving at us. I was not expecting this to happen. It is awesome to see what unique things you can experience out of no where when you choose to explore the streets of an unfamiliar country.

Visiting the museums in both London and Paris were huge historical and cultural experiences. When I visited the Louvre and the Musee de Orsay I had the opportunity to see the Mona Lisa, and the work of Vincent Van Gogh. These are artist and pieces of artwork that we learn about in school from an early age, actually seeing them was breathtaking. In both London and Paris we used the subway systems to get from point A to B. This experience is one that definitely made me more daring. Using a map to navigate foreign countries was a daunting experience. However, I felt so much accomplishment not getting loss and learned so much about the language, accents, and mannerisms of the French and British by sitting right next to them on the Underground or the Metro.


Being pushed out of my American bubble and coming in contact with not only one but two very different cultures, makes me feel more positive about life and overall more well rounded as an individual. Specifically, I work as an Resident Advisor (RA) here at OSU. As RA’s we are always told that we should push our residents out of their comfort zone and encourage them to be open to new experiences. I think the  experiences, stories, and memories that I picked up during this study abroad can be shared with my residents. If they are interested in studying abroad but are maybe scared or unsure, I  hope to give them the encouragement they need to be daring and go on a transformational abroad experience during their college years.

Scientific Roots in Europe Blog: