Name: Kari Fletcher
Type of Program: Education Abroad
For my STEP Signature Project, I participated in one of OSU’s 4-week study abroad programs to Great Britain. As a part of this program, I spent a month living in London and learning about the culture of Great Britain. My classmates and I would attend class in the morning where we learned about Britain; we would then would supplement our classroom education with excursions into the city to further immerse ourselves in the culture.
Spending that month in London, I quickly came to learn that I was capable of doing more than I thought possible before. I learned how quickly I could adapt to different circumstances. Things that might’ve freaked me out before, like traveling the city alone on public transportation or using an entirely different currency system. With a country like England where they speak the same language, I would not have thought of there being a language barrier, but I found the slightest changes in the language could sometimes end up complicating communication between myself and English citizens. Many times there were things that were second nature to me that I then had to change my perspective on in order to fit in with the society that I was living in. Before I went to London, I was afraid that I might have a more difficult time getting used to these things. However, I found myself adapting quite quickly. I believe that, if I were to go back to London right now, I could go back to living a normal life there almost instantly.
One of the activities that led to the biggest changes in myself was traveling. At home and at school, I tend to not travel around much outside of my usual routine. I don’t really go exploring much. However, in my time abroad, I made a point of exploring as much as I could. Traveling was an integral part of our program. Every day we’d visit new parts of the city. We traveled via train to Glasgow. We’d commute via the tube or the buses to new parts of the city. Beyond what was including with my studies, I did my own traveling. I traveled to places in the far end of the London area, I travelled outside of London, to the city of Bath, and I travelled outside of the UK to Paris. I very quickly lost my reservations towards traveling and decided to make the most of the short amount of time I had overseas.
The main thing that helped me to overcome any small issues, like dealing with currency or miscommunication due to differences in language, was simply practice. I’d study up on basic information in my free time, like which pence coin was which or what tube lines I would need to take to go somewhere. I’d constantly remind myself to say or do things a certain way. I found that people were often very helpful. If I had trouble on the tube or was confused about money, there were always people who reached out to help.
Overall, the biggest thing that helped me when I was in London was communication and keeping an open mind. I was with a large group of people all in the same boat as me, and we all learned together. We were also supported by wonderful OSU staff and local staff. It was all the people around me that helped to really make the experience what it was.
This experience ultimately proved to be a valuable one for me. It made me more adventurous. I’ve found myself more willing to explore the world around me and discover new things from the places I thought I knew. It has helped me to make connections, both with people on my trip and people who have had similar experiences. It has also, overall, made me more worldly. Seeing and interacting with so many people from different places around the world, I could see the world from so many different perspectives. It is an experience I hope to have again very soon.