For my step signature project, I studied abroad in Canada. The duration of my five weeks in Canada was spent working as an intern in the office of a member of Canada’s Parliament.
Before this experience, I hadn’t traveled very much, let alone traveled by myself or traveled internationally. At first, I was intimidated as I am with most new experiences, but as soon as I arrived/settled in, I found myself quickly able to adapt and it wasn’t soon before long that Canada began to feel like home. Additionally, prior to my travels, I was always under the impression that Canada was just a more Northern version of the United States, but I learned that while we do have many similarities, there are many ways in which we are different- whether it be our culture, politics, values, etc…
Studying abroad was a landmark experience because for the first time in my life, I felt as though I was truly being independent. I’ve always been a shier individual, so I wasn’t sure how well I would adapt to being around so many new people. With time, I learned that I definitely underestimated my ability to engage in social interaction, as I built many relationships with different people throughout my time in Ottawa. As an intern in the Canadian government, I was able to meet many political figures, as well as a wide variety of Canadians and people who came from different backgrounds than my own. I also made a lot of new friends that were American, much like myself. These interactions exposed me to a lot of new people, whom I was able to speak to and hear many opinions and perspectives different from my own. These interactions allowed me to become more open-minded and learn a lot about not just myself, but others as well.In addition to the relationships I built during my time abroad, I endured many new, valuable experiences. I was able to travel to Gatineau, Quebec City and Montreal, two places I’d never been before. These cities also happen to be predominantly Francophone, so I was able to finally put my limited French speaking skills to the test, as I’d never been anywhere that primarily spoke a language that wasn’t English. It was in these cities and through the experiences that I had there, that I was able to recognize the cultural differences between Anglophones and Francophones. Another experience I had during my time abroad was seeing and meeting Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. It was a valuable experience to have an internship in a government office, as these kinds of events don’t happen to an ordinary person, such as myself, everyday. I was also able to see the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, as he visited Parliament prior to the 2018 G7 Summit, which was being held a few hours away in Quebec.
Lastly, the internship, itself, was a brand new experience for me as I’d never worked in a professional setting before. For a long time, I felt as though I wouldn’t survive in a professional setting because I wasn’t sure I had the skills or mindset to do so. However, being immersed into a professional, white collar setting really pushed me to implement my writing, organizational, and communication skills along with a rigorous work ethic. The different tasks I was assigned to in the office, helped enhance the skills I’d already had and gave me a true sense of what life in the professional world is like.
Through my STEP signature project, I personally underwent many changes. The new people and experiences shaped me into a more open-minded individual, and allowed me to truly value the idea of building relationships, visiting new places, and daring to undergo new experiences. I find that I am much less timid than I was when my project first began, and I understand that there is so much left to see and do in life. I feel much more confident in not only my social skills, but in a professional setting as well. This experience has allowed me to value each new experience I have and learn from them as well. With these new skills and experiences, I feel as though I am prepared to work in other professional environments and get along well with anyone I meet. My time in Ottawa has prepared me for the future in so many different ways, and I am excited to put these new skills to the test some day soon.