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.
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.
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.
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.