My STEP signature project was participating in the Scientific Roots in Europe study abroad class. During the spring semester, we learned about significant discoveries and revolutionary ideas in science history. Over spring break, we went to London and France, and visited the places where these discoveries happened, along with other major scientific sites.
This trip was transformational if a few different ways. During this trip, I stepped out of my comfort zones in many ways and develop new social and independence skills. Naturally, I am shy and tend to keep to myself, but my project I became a more social person and talk more to others. My project also gave me skills for living on my own, such as budgeting and time management. Additionally, traveling outside the US gave me a chance to talk to people from other countries, and it was interesting to see how different yet similar people around the world are. Their beliefs are different from ours, but there were some actions and attitudes that it seemed were shared throughout people. It makes me think that despite different upbringings and beliefs we, are still alike and want to help one another.
My first transformational experience happened very early on, while we were waiting for our plane in the airport. Where we had been silent to each other in class throughout the semester, we finally began to talk. Being a very shy and reserved person, talking to almost complete strangers was new to me. Throughout the trip, I also made an effort to be more social with the group and talk to new people. This has affected my behavior today, and I am truly enjoying and finding it easier to be social, whereas before I would rather do stuff on my own.
This project helped me develop many skills for independence. For both STEP, and myself, I created a budget. Before leaving, I set limits on money I would sped each day on food, transportation, personal expenses and anything else. I also Had every day planned out, because we only spent a few days in each city and I wanted to make the most of my time. These were firsts for me, and really showed me how effective they could be. Before, I would never make plans such as these and live more in the moment, but they really helped me keep my spending in check and put every moment of my time to use.
One of our nights in, after our plans were done for the day, a group of us went out around the town. On our way, we ran into three guys who lived there. We struck up a conversation and talked to them for a while. They seemed just like any college guy you would find here on campus. Despite living in another country, they were so similar to people here in the US. So many people were also helpful and nice to us throughout our stay. Many people helped us with directions, and in France people even went so far as to help by translating signs, menu items, and other things.
These changes are all valuable in their own way. The way I’ve changed socially has helped my make many new friends, and even join a majorly social club (AIChE) that I had no interest in before. My project has also given me structure in my life, as I now utilize budgets and even create schedules for entire weeks. And I think my more positive view of people has made me a nicer/better person. All in all, this project has changed my personal life significantly for the better.