1. My STEP Signature Project was an eleven day trip to London with the Dunn Sports and Wellness Scholars program. While in London, we studied the origin of sports such as rugby, tennis, and soccer through museums, stadium tours, and walking tours throughout the city.
2. Prior to traveling abroad, I was prepared to pack as much into each day as I possibly could. I am not a “go with the flow” type of person and most of the people on my trip seemed to be better at that. I needed to learn how to deal without that much structure in order to enjoy my trip with my peers. I was able to take a step back from being the organizer and I let other people take the lead. This was out of my comfort zone but by the end of the trip, I realized that I was enjoying just walking places instead of feeling rushed.
Another thing I realized while abroad is that, it is easy to make your way around the area by using public transportation. We were able to travel anywhere in London through the use of the tube system or bus system. It took us one day before we felt we had mastered the tube system. We were able to figure out how to get to the places we wanted to see and it wouldn’t take more than a glance at the train map. My knowledge of the NYC subway system helped me understand the tube system.
3. A few of my peers who were traveling abroad with me met up a few days before our trip to discuss what we wanted to see while in London. I originally thought we were going to sit down and fully plan out our days and fill our free time. My notes were prepped with sites to see, tours to take, and places to eat. The other 3 people didn’t do as much research and came in with the thought that we would figure things out one day at a time. This is not the way I grew up going on vacations because everything was always planned out to the minute. Once I came to terms with the idea that I couldn’t plan everything, the trip became less stressful. While on the trip, we took it one day at a time and tried to include as many people on the trip as possible. It was difficult for me to change my method of planning because I was so used to planning my days, but in order to get the most out of my trip with my peers, I knew I needed explore and try new things.
There were many times that the group would travel together in order to tour the different sports venues in London. Thirteen of us, traveling with no clue where we were going got a little tricky. Our group had a tendency to just stop in the middle of the sidewalk or train station or basically anywhere we went. I realized early on that we needed to have a game plan in order to get to where we want to go without crowding the train stations or being disruptive to the people around us. This taught me to be aware of those around me and to be respectful of others. It made me realize how rude we can be when we only care about ourselves and what we want to do. In order to solve this problem, I attempted to learn the ways of the tube system and have an idea of where we were walking before we left the hotel. My friend Erin and I would look at the maps together before leaving and were able to explain the path to each other. This way, we didn’t stop on the streets and crowd the street, instead we were able to confidently walk around London knowing exactly where we needed to go and how to get there. In the future when I go to an unfamiliar city, I know how to be more comfortable walking around and will be more willing to go to unfamiliar sites or locations.
Going along with that, we also always seemed to be the loudest people in the room everywhere we went. Overall, I became more aware of myself and how I held myself in public locations because we most likely seemed rude to the locals, adding to the ever present stereotype of rude Americans. I often felt that we were being stared at and judged because of how rude and obnoxious we were. I started trying to be quieter and more respectful and was able to observe those around me. By observing the people around me, I learned more about the local culture such as what clothes people in London wear to work, if they listen to music or if they have conversation, and if they spoke a different language. “People watching” is one of the best ways I have learned about the culture around me and how it differs from my own upbringing.
4. I’ve always been extremely independent in my life. Going on this trip helped me become a little less independent, and a little more inclusive in my adventures. I used to think that I didn’t need to do things with other people and that was a good thing. This trip made me realize that it’s good to be independent, but it can be a lonely way to live life. Instead of saying you don’t need other people to do things, think about how nice it is to travel places with friends and experience their company.
This will help in future group projects or trips that I will take, as well as in my personal relationships. Understanding this will help me relinquish control and allow life to guide me, instead of trying to control the uncontrollable. The saying of the trip was “everything happens for a reason.”