For my STEP Signature Project I had the chance to travel to London during the spring break of 2018. Leading up to the trip, I attended a course directed by Aimee Moore to help prepare for the trip and develop skills in design to accurately catalogue the experience. In total, it was an amazing ten days, even the plane-rides there and back.
Throughout the trip I had a lot of thoughts about how the city met the needs of the people who lived, arrived, and worked there. This was partially due to the fact that I had always glamorized London and United Kingdom which meant there were a few ‘huh’ moments. To be exact, the lack of trashcans and water fountains was something I didn’t understand. With a city that is on the cusp of sustainability and health, why weren’t there any resources of that nature? Also, there was never a lack of smokers. Everyone and their sister either had a cigarette or e-cig lit as we walked down the sidewalk. That was the main drawback I found from London that put a damper on the experience, but other than those rainclouds, London was a dream.
Though originally I didn’t seek transformation as much as I sought for enjoying the adventure, I find myself to be a different person after this trip based on the development of my original goals and expectations. There were lots of ways I grew (literally and subjectively), but two transformations were more prevalent:
- When I first wrote out my expectations for the trip I said I wanted to look at everything, but also find time to see it too. In my visits to other places I did a lot, but I never really got a chance to see what I was looking at. I think the way the trip was ‘timelined’ each day allowed for that and I’m grateful for the moments we had to sketch and observe. For example, we had enough time at Saint Paul’s Cathedral to run and explore around with enough time left to sit down and sketch, but it wasn’t just at St. Paul’s where I developed artistically.
Every place we went to lead to me TRANSFORMING my skills in sketching. A large portion of the class for the trip was centered on drawing using pens, pencils, ink-wash, or charcoal. Originally, I didn’t feel comfortable at being that artistically because I was never put in the position to sketch or draw something under twenty minutes, but at the end I had dozens of sketches that qualified as good. It was fun especially at the British Museum where I sat in the Enlightenment Room drawing the hallway because I myself became an exhibit that other attendees would watch and comment on.
- In addition, I was also concerned about adventuring, but not getting lost. London is big and busy. There’s not a lot of room for error when it comes to traveling through it. At the end of the ‘school’ day I planned on exploring the area around where we stop to the fullest extent, but I was concerned about getting lost since I had limited phone use to map around.
Surprisingly, though, I had a big moment of TRANSFORMATION when I grew the confident to go out on my own without needing guidance from a teacher. The night after we rode the London Eye, we were left to our own devices, and while everyone went to their respective plans, I took up my own journey. Despite being worried about getting lost, I was able to wander but not get lost, and find the piece of the city that I loved the most: the endless amount of options. In less than four hours I ran into two art gallery openings, a gala, a rock concert, and friends from summer camp five years ago. It was probably the bravest I have ever felt in my entire adult life; jumping from place to place. That night cemented my goal to live in the United Kingdom permanently.
London was exactly what I hoped for and more! The city was a collection of old and new, home and away, and an incredibly diverse population. I cannot begin to explain how happy I am that I went. I know that without OSU’s STEP program it would have impossible to have done this, and in addition to the new group of friends I made out of my classmates, I have been reminded what opportunities this university can provide with the help of its faculty.
Note: During the trip we posted our experiences onto a u.osu blog site. Click the link to check it out! — https://u.osu.edu/london2018/blog-posts/