My STEP Signature Project involved a study abroad visiting London and Paris during the Spring ’18 Spring Break. This study abroad program was through the OSU Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and consisted of a 3 credit hours course in which we were visited by many guest lecturers on topics like scientific revolutions, European scientists, and global cultures.
My goal during this project was to grow as a person by getting my foot in the door that is international travel. The world is a big place with many cultures and ideals I think should be explored as much as possible. I was tired of experiencing these things through movie screens and written words. I knew living the experience first hand would be inexplicably different, and I was right.
While abroad, I grew in my capacities for problem solving, adapting, and time management. The colors and feelings of life in both London and Paris were so vivid and complex. It was amazing, being able to see iconic places in real life without any filters. It made me feel small, yet special, to be part of such a world. I walked down streets that have existed longer than the US has been a country, that feeling is indescribable.
London gave me a good transition into international travel since everyone spoke English. It was almost like twilight zone, so many things were similar to our culture. The unpredictable weather almost exactly like Ohio, pop music playing, slang people used, classic metropolitan city feel we have here. Yet their accents were straight out of the movies, they had different types of food, and, of course, the currency was (unfortunately for my bank account) different.
Because we only had about 4 days in each city, planning was key to ensure we made the most of our time. This really helped me bond with my other classmates and it prepared us for what to expect while abroad. In London, I got to see the house Charles Darwin lived in, I went to pubs and drank (legal) pints of London Pride while talking to locals, I saw classic London theater, and visited their many famous markets.
Paris was mesmerizing yet more down to earth than I expected. The Eiffel Tower in real life, during the daytime, looks very industrial and slightly rusty. It’s definitely huge and impressive, but there is obvious wear from the volume of tourists visiting it. At night, however, it comes alive. I’ll never forget walking the streets of Paris with my friends and ending up on a beautiful pedestrian bridge right outside of the Eiffel Tower and watching it light up at midnight. The Notre Dame was definitely a spiritual experience with its architecture alone and I’ve never had such good, yet cheap food.
This trip is probably the most significant thing I’ve done while here. I know people go on study abroads all the time and I’ve definitely been part of many great organizations, but I was able to really be myself without any care while on this trip. I’ve formed wonderful connections with both my peers as well as my professors. Most importantly, I know that this trip was the first of many to come.
Here is the link to the blog I have for this trip, which includes pictures!