STEP Reflection – Study Abroad Scientific Roots in Europe

My STEP project was a Study Abroad for-credit experience during Spring Break 2018.  The “Scientific Roots in Europe” project spanned 10 days from March 9 to March 18, 2018 including London and Paris.  The primary objective of my STEP Study Abroad Project was to combine understanding the global community with academic achievement, pursuit of a Bachelor of Science degree, and community service.

This STEP project fit perfectly with my aspirations, talents, and passions.  From global travel, to gathering knowledge and sharing my experience to help others, this project satisfied and complimented who I am and who I want to be.  This STEP project included travel to London, England and Paris, France combined with exploring roots of famous scientists.  Prior to our trip, there were class assignments and direct involvement in learning and understanding the historic background of prominent scientists.

This project was transformative for me in integrating my personal and university life.  In the past, my travel experiences have been for pleasure and gradually increasing to understanding and appreciating global cultures.  This study abroad experience transitioned my travel experience to include more activities with other students and professors.  This project enhanced my experience at The Ohio State University by developing relationships with faculty and fellow students and increasing my involvement with the college.  My interaction with the faculty lead on the Study Abroad trip helped me better understand a professor’s perspective.  Spending time with other students created lasting friendships.  I learned about myself and my ability to plan excursions and be independent.

There were several experiences on my Study Abroad experience that contributed to transforming experience and relationships with other students and professors. The first experience on our trip was a visit to Charles Darwin’s home in London, England.  During the class, my experience with other students and professors was limited to a class setting with more professional learning environment.  Once on the trip, I was able to see the real personalities of my classmates and professors.  When you are with other people all day and all night on a trip, you can really see how they act.  At Darwin’s home we learned at a museum in a more relaxed setting than a classroom.

The second transformative experience was during a trip to Stonehenge, England during a “free day” that I planned all the travel and events.  We woke up early and took the underground subway “The Tube” from near our hotel to the Waterloo Train Station.  From there we had to retrieve already purchased tickets from a machine and board the correct train.  The train traveled through the county side to Salisbury in 1-1/2 hours.  From there we had to purchase tickets to a double-decker bus that went to Stonehenge in 30 minutes.  Once at Stonehenge, we received free group entry with tickets I had already coordinated with the Stonehenge historical site staff prior to the trip.  I had arranged free group entry that allowed us to get close to the posts and column rocks.  Our small group of five students, with me as the leader, toured the ancient site.  We were off on our own in a foreign country with no adult supervision.  It was cold and cloudy, but due to the excitement of being there we didn’t mind.  I learned about my own ability to plan and lead an event for a small group.  We took the same bus, train, and subway back to our hotel and my fellow classmates commented on how well the excursion was organized.

At the end of the Study Abroad Trip, we were in Paris, France and had another “free day” to plan what we wanted.  The other students on the trip wanted to go back to the Museé d’Orsey, but I suggested Disneyland Paris.  None of the other students wanted to take the 1-hour trip, so I went by myself.  There I was in a foreign country by myself without knowledge of the language and riding the train to Disneyland Paris.  I didn’t know what to expect, but once I got there, I realized how much fun I could have on rides.  There was a way to bypass the lines as a single rider, so I was able to ride Space Mountain six times, and the Indiana Jones ride four times.  I had a blast going from ride to ride in the foreign county.  At the end I took the train back to the room and told my classmates how much fun they missed.

These transformative experiences are significant in defining my character and helpful in my life to develop useful skills.  In my first experience, I found it important to understand the people we meet and learn from or work with are all just regular people underneath.  They have to eat, sleep, work, and have purpose just like students.  I think it makes it easier to relate to people once you know a little bit more about them.  On my excursion to Stonehenge, it became apparent I have excellent organizational and leadership abilities.  In a strange environment with a higher chance of something going wrong, I was able to execute my excursion plan successfully and students on the trip were pleased with the outcome.  Lastly, I believe I learned the most about myself on the last day of the trip when I didn’t “follow the crowd’s decision” and went off by myself to enjoy Disneyland Paris.  This independence came out of my personality at a critical juncture in my college experience.  The experiences during my Travel Abroad “Scientific Roots in Europe” with stay with me for the rest of my life.

   

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