My STEP Reflection: Nick Pietrow

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. 

I completed The U.S., Europe, And The Second World War- Intersections In 20thCentury History study abroad program for my STEP Signature Project. In this program, our group visited World War II sites in London, Bayeux, Paris, Kraków, and Berlin, focusing on the different representations of the war in each country.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? 

My STEP Signature Project transformed my understanding of myself by making me more aware of who I am and increasing my confidence. Before the program, I had never traveled abroad and was anxious about the difficulty of navigating foreign countries and the language barrier in non-English speaking countries. While traveling I came to the realization that I need to adapt to each city and give my best shot at overcoming obstacles without fear of failure. This mentality allowed me to challenge myself to grow in each city. I realized the vastness of our world while jumping to each place. A several hour bus ride could leave you in an environment that permeated a completely different culture. This was eye-opening to me. In addition, overcoming communication difficulties and traversing each city’s public transportation left me with the confidence that I could travel and achieve success anywhere I desired. By the end of the program, I learned that I am someone who enjoys exploring new territory and challenging myself.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? 

I experienced several transformations throughout the duration of My STEP Signature Project. These changes occurred over the course of the program and were most recognizable upon reflection. The language barrier in France, the different cultures, and being cut off from cellular prompted the most change.

Going into my program, I expected to run into communication difficulties. Specifically, I had heard from previous participants in the program that France was a difficult country to navigate. Prior to arriving in France, I had never been in an environment where everyone surrounding me spoke a completely foreign language. The only French I knew was a few basic sayings. Upon arriving in France, I faced the language barrier immediately, not having a clue what locals were saying to me. For example, when ordering food at a restaurant, I was only able to order by pointing since I could not speak verbally with the waitress. At first, this experience was rattling but I quickly learned to adapt and communicate the best I could verbally and non-verbally. Learning to adapt to new environments made me more confident in my abilities to travel foreign countries and appreciate the differences in humanity.

Experiencing completely different cultures in each city gave me a greater appreciation for the vastness of not only our world but humanity. We began the program in London, where taxis buzzed, and locals and tourists alike busily walked the city. The environment in London was very rapid with the city always seeming to be alive. On the contrary, the city of Bayeux, France, was the polar opposite, a small city with much fewer tourists and a laid-back lifestyle. By five in the afternoon, many of the local shops and restaurants closed their doors for the night. This contradiction in lifestyle, not to mention language, demonstrated the amazing differences in humanity. I accepted challenges each city offered and tried my best to overcome them.

My freshman year one of my uncles passed away. His life motto was that you should not judge your wealth by the amount of money you have, rather it should be judged by the number of friends you have. Spending every day around the same people for almost a month allowed for incredible relationships to blossom amongst my study abroad classmates. We all shared a class together to prepare for our program beforehand but did not get to know each other on a personal level. Once we came abroad and began exploring the various countries together, creating unforgettable memories, bonds began to form and grew stronger as the trip progressed. For example, in Bayeux, our nightly picnics served as an amazing bonding time. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to venture around our world with twenty-three amazing people who I can now call my friends.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? 

The personal changes I underwent during my STEP Signature Project are applicable to my academic, personal, and professional life. Academically, I have developed a new respect for international students who come to Ohio State and pursue an education. I plan on interacting with international students more often to help ease them into Ohio State’s new environment as I now understand some of the difficulties of going to a new country. Personally, I have become confident in my abilities to travel the world and develop relationships with new people. I plan to apply this confidence on my future endeavors abroad as I explore the world. Professionally, I think it is critical to have a strong worldview and understanding of the variety of cultures that exist in our world. I want to apply my deeper understanding of our world to my business future when I interact with international companies or clients and make decisions that could affect people in another country.