Name: Maddie Perry
Type of Project: Education Abroad
My STEP Signature Project was a Study Abroad to Paris, France where I studied the architecture of Gothic Cathedrals and the art within them. We spent one week in Columbus where we learned some of the background on what we would study and some of the terminology we would use in the class. After our first week week in Columbus, we flew out to France and had class everyday, in the actual buildings we were studying.
Through my STEP signature project I grew and transformed in the best ways. I experienced many situations in which I was able to build my character. Looking back, I can see that my confidence has grown from the whole experience; this was something I was really hoping to achieve in my project. I gained a new outlook on my own life and also how I look at the world and those around me. I have become more independent through challenging situations that I handled individually, where I would have otherwise relied on someone’s guidance. Something else that has resulted from my project are the communication skills that I built.
One of my most valued transformations is how great my confidence grew. I have never been very outgoing and one to willing lead a whole group through something but my trip to France definitely helped me overcome some of those difficulties. While on this study abroad there were many afternoons where we had time to ourselves. I could have chose to stay quite and do my own thing or try to speak up and join in with others on the trip. I stepped out of my comfort zone a lot during this trip and found myself having the best 3 weeks of my life. I met so many people similar to me that were also just as nervous to go on this trip as I was. We shared many great conversations and some of them even helped me look at situations differently. By the end of the trip we could all lead each other around Paris and I even spent some days alone where I traveled without help. This project opened up the possibility that I could continue to travel even after doing a study abroad. It made me realize I am capable of much more than I imagine and it made me want to learn more about other cultures.
Another significant benefit of this trip was the growth in my conversation skills. A huge change was obviously the language. I have taken five and a half years of French but there was still fear of getting around and understanding what is going on around you. Since this was not a language based course there were many people on the trip that didn’t speak French and many of them looked to me for help. When we were out to dinner or at the store, some of my classmates would ask for my help. I was the one doing the speaking and I had always been self conscious about my French. I remember my first interaction at lunch on our very first day in Paris and I actually had a full conversation with the waiter. Looking back on it, I was so excited that I could actually interact with someone more than just saying hello or ordering something. It only got better from there and I am so grateful for that experience because it really helped in many different ways. I was able to see what it’s like to be foreign and get giggled at when people hear you talk or see how you’re dressed. It gives me a better appreciation for those who aren’t as familiar with English and how to go about those situations better.
Lastly, I am so grateful for how much this trip strengthened my independence and individuality. I am now the only one in my family to have gone out of the country alone and travel without family there. People did not believe I was actually going to do it because it was so unlike me. This trip helped me grow without others, in a way. I was on my own and I learned a lot about myself along the way. I had my classmates but in the end I was in France, making decisions for myself. I actually loved this and I felt free. Along with this, being in a science major I don’t get to spend much time in art classes but this trip let me enjoy something I have so much of an appreciation for. Since I don’t typically study art history I felt as if I had somewhat of a different appreciation from others. I may not have had as much experience in the topic but it gave me that much more of a drive to learn. It was so different from what I’m used to and I’m so happy to have had the chance to dip into my artistic side again.
My STEP signature project has transformed my life for the better. This transformation is significant to me because I have gained skills that can help with my future career. I hope to one day work in the health field and communication is key. With the skills I have gained through this project I am confident that I can handle many different situations. The boost of my confidence is something that is beneficial in all aspects of my life. This is important for school and the work force since I will be making very important decisions that impact others. In conclusion, STEP has helped me learn more about myself and feel confident as I continue on with my academic and professional plans; I couldn’t be more happy with my decision of doing STEP.