For my STEP Signature Project I went on an education abroad program called Engineering in Ancient Greece. The group of us that went had a week of class to complete a few projects before we travel ed to Greece for two weeks. In Greece we were able to explore and see ancient sites and ruins while learning about the engineering it took to create these magnificent places.
Travelling to a new country allowed me to get a better understanding of the world from a different point of view. In the United States I feel like my understanding of other cultures is very structured and textbook based rather than experience based. Seeing and experiencing the Greek culture showed me how many assumptions I had made about other cultures without even realizing it. The assumptions are not always necessarily bad assumptions but none the less they narrow your view of the beauty in the differences of other cultures.
I do not know what other word to use besides more. The world is so much more than I imagined. More in a sense of more beautiful, more unique, more understanding than I ever could have dreamed. Being the stranger in another country that did not speak my language made me appreciate the difficulty people have when uprooting their whole lives to come to America.
I arrived in Europe before the rest of my group so I was very nervous about being able to get around. To my surprise, everywhere I went I found someone who spoke English who was willing to help me get where I needed to go. Not one person was irritated that I did not speak their language, but instead did the best they could to speak English and help me. The whole trip throughout Greece none of us had any problem finding people who spoke English. This really surprised me. It made me realize how lucky we are that we live in a country whose language is the most used language around the world.
Being able to study abroad and relate the experience to my discipline of study made me appreciate what I am learning in school even more. While we were in Greece we had the chance to speak with some engineers who were constructing a subway system in the city of Thessaloniki. Seeing how engineering affects the lives of people in every country around the world was very eye opening. To be a part of a field that can cause an impact around the world makes me even more passionate about my degree.
Throughout this trip I built strong friendships with the people in my group who traveled with me. Even though everyone was in different majors and had different friend groups at home we all got along very well. Seeing how many different types of people are in engineering made me feel like a part of something unique. It makes me excited to know that in the future I will be able to work with all types of engineers and all types of people. It amazes me how putting people together of different backgrounds, disciplines, thinking styles, etc can create such a strong bond and productive environment. I felt that being able to work with the students in my group on a project beforehand gave me a little insight into how fun the future will be to work with so many different types of people.
This experience had much greater of an impact on me than I could have ever imagined. I think this experience will push me even harder to do well academically since I am now even more passionate about my field of study. I also think this trip will allow me to be more open minded to different people and their ideas because I got to see firsthand how engineering is different around the world. My trip to Greece also made me want to travel and see more of the world. I hope to be able to visit other countries in the future and learn a new culture to be able to appreciate it even more. I also hope to find a job that I can deal with situations that will not only impact the United States, but the whole world.