Name: Aziza Genglik
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 Signature Project was a study abroad program. I participated in Global May Hungary, spending a month in Budapest, Hungary while also getting a chance to travel to Bratislava, Slovakia; Warsaw, Poland; and Vienna, Austria. While abroad, we learned each countries history through various walking tours as well as museum visits. At the end, we created a multimedia scrapbook of our experience abroad as well as a final video project about a topic of our choosing.
2. 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.
My perception of Hungary completely changed. To be honest, before this program, I didn’t know a lot about Hungary; it’s not a country you hear about often. But upon arrival, I saw the beautiful country that had a rich history and culture. I was able to learn a lot about it’s history through Dr. Pratt’s lectures. We also had an amazing set of local professors that taught us various topics such as architecture, minorities, and socialism. My view of Hungary began to change when I realized the huge part they played in WWII and the politics of it all. We also learned a lot about Hungary during the Soviet Era. My groups’ final project had to do with Interaction With Socialist Art. We were able to learn about how pushed away all Communist Era statues and art are from the Hungarian citizens; but we also learned how people still interact. For example, the Metro line 2 and 3 were built during the Communist Era and still remain the same. People interact with these two metro lines every day and some may not even realize the history that exists underground.
I was also able to experience new food and drinks. I fell in love with European lemonade because they use sparkling water with fresh fruit. Hungary is known for their paprika, so eating paprikash (a type of soup with beef and paprika) was essential. When in Warsaw, I fell in love with perogies. Our group devoured about 300 perogies in under 30 minutes. I wasn’t a huge soup person before this trip, but you can’t not eat soup while in Central Europe.
Above all, I learned the culture of the people just by observing how they carried themselves. For example, people in Vienna never jaywalk — they always wait for the crosswalk to turn green. When I immigrated to the states, I didn’t speak English, which actually came in handy. This allowed me to use different kinds of communication methods that I had to use when I was 8 to interact with locals who didn’t speak English. Overall, I grew a lot, through food, interaction with people, and through the classroom.
3. 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.
My favorite part by far was getting to learn about Hungarian history — especially Hungarian Communist history. Kristy Ironside joined us on the trip and as a Russian historian, had a lot of knowledge to offer us. We went to Momento Park, a park about 30 minutes away from the city to look at real Communist statues. These statues were moved by the government to this park. This wasn’t a regular park, it was in the middle of nowhere, looked very abandoned, and hard to find. There were big iron doors that guarded the park and only 1 worker at the front, with no security. The statues weren’t protected and that invited people to climb on top and play around the statues. The park was almost empty when we went — there were maybe 4 other people there. As we walked around, Dr. Ironside explained what each statue meant.
While we walked around, my video project group also filmed, as the statues were important settings for Socialist Art Interaction. We were able to see many statues of Lenin, though very few of Stalin. Actually, there were only 2 statues of Stalin; 1 where he is shaking another person’s hand, and so could not be torn down without tearing down the second person; and two, a replica of the infamous Stalin boots that remained after his body and head were ripped down.
Finally, we saw the only remaining Socialist monument – the monument to the Red Army Soldiers that liberated Budapest from the Nazis. This is the only remaining Socialist monument in the city and is protected by a treaty between Russia and Hungary. With all of this, my group was able to create our final video, explaining the history of Socialist Art and the interaction with it through history to present day.
4. 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 study abroad program was truly life changing. I was able to learn history that I never learned before. Additionally, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to 4 countries in one month. Meeting people during a study abroad program is truly remarkable. I only knew 1 person going into the program, and came out knowing 25 more. Because we lived together and spent every waking moment together, the group got extremely close. I’m happy to say that we all still keep in touch and I know that we will continue to stay in touch once everyone is back in Columbus in the fall.
As for future goals, I always knew I want to travel and explore the world. This program solidified my goals. It taught me how to get around unfamiliar cities with unfamiliar languages. I dealt with uncomfortable situations as well a culture shock. I experienced new food, drinks, and cultures. All this makes me a better person and more cultures and wordily. I can’t wait to apply everything I learned from this program and continue my life long journey of learning and traveling.