- For my STEP Signature Project, I spent seven weeks in Paris taking an intensive Intermediate French Language course. The course was taught entirely in French, and was split into equal parts vocabulary, grammar, and French culture.
- 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.
Spending seven weeks in Paris exposed me to a culture unlike one I’d ever seen before. I had left the country before, but Paris was a completely new experience; it was the first time I had visited a non-English speaking country, and people were much less friendly than what I was used to. The culture was very aggressive and I had a hard time figuring out how to interact with French people. However, the more time I spent there, the more I realized the need to be assertive and to carve my own path to make my experience in Paris what I wanted it to be. Once I started doing this, Paris became a lot more open, a place where I could leave my mark on the world. I also learned how to adjust to a culture where I did not speak the language particularly well, as I had only previously taken two semesters of French. I faced many situations where I was forced to adapt and overcome communication barriers as a result of this.
- 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.
There were a few events that occurred during my time in Paris that encouraged me to be proactive during my time there which led me to a transformation of myself. The most exciting example of an event where this occurred was when I found out on Twitter that Emma Watson was leaving books around Paris for one day, and I decided to make the most of my experience and to go out and find her. The day had been really tough as an exam I took that morning did not go particularly well, but nonetheless I decided to try and make the day memorable. Incredibly enough, I ended up proving successful in my efforts, and I managed to track down Emma Watson and meet her. Once I met Emma Watson, I knew that anything was possible. I vowed to approach the rest of my time in Paris with the zeal that I did on that day, and my experience in Paris and perspective on life grew significantly on that day.
Another event which was transformative for me was my decision to visit a friend in Israel for 4 days during my program. While the culture shock was significant going from the United States to Paris, Israel blew it out of the water. I had to adjust to being around not just a different language, but a whole new alphabet, which made getting around significantly more difficult. Understanding the customs of the country was very difficult, especially being there for such a short period. Being so removed from a culture I was used to and being with a friend who understood the country and its customs really allowed me to open my mind and appreciate the differences that exist between my culture and theirs. I also had the chance to practice my French for a few hours with native Israelis who were also learning the language, which was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. Going to Israel was easily one of the best parts of my trip, and my visit also allowed me to understand and respect the cultural differences between France and America once I returned to Paris.
One of the less fortunate events that was transformative for me was a terrorist scare that occurred while visiting Brussels, Belgium. I was on a bus which was supposed to take us back to Paris with a couple friends when we noticed a man on the bus acting very suspicious who seemed quite nervous about something. The man’s behavior grew increasingly bizarre, and even though we didn’t know how to get back we decided to get off the bus because we were too unsettled by the situation. The incident had me really shaken, and really made me evaluate my life and what I wanted to get out of my experience in Paris and what type of impact I wanted to have on people. There were a few other terrorist scares that took place in Paris that had me shaken up, and this was definitely not something I was expecting out of my trip but I learned to deal with my fears properly and have a great experience in light of what was going on in Paris and the rest of the world.
- 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.
These experiences and my trip as a whole taught me the importance of taking initiative and fighting for a life that’s worth living. In a place where people tend to be rather cold it’s difficult to thrive without being assertive and having confidence in oneself, and once I realized this I felt that Paris could become my city and so could anywhere else in the world. I feel more confident in myself after this trip, and that this confidence will be vital in the coming decisions to be made about my future. I had a great experience in Paris, but it also reminded me of what is yet to be experienced in Columbus, and I know that everything I learned in Paris will enrich the rest of my college experience greatly.