European Architectural Studies

Name: Becca Schalip – European Architecture Studies Tour

Type of Project: Study Abroad

My STEP Signature Project falls under the category of study abroad. The 34 day experience consisted of traveling through six countries to visit over 250 significant architectural sights. While in Europe we taught our classmates about the buildings we previously researched back at OSU. Our primary assignments while in country were sketching exercises multiple times a day to document and analyze important aspects of the structures we saw in country.

People kept telling me before the trip started that it would have such a huge impact on me and that we would see and experience an incredible amount of things, but I didn’t fully realize the extent of the impact the trip was having on me until towards the end. Not only did I learn about and become immersed in the culture and architecture of the places we went, but I also got to meet so many new people within the architecture school. I can’t wait to see their smiling faces around Knowlton when the semester starts. I feel so confident going into the school year having so many more connections. These connections are essential to becoming successful in the architecture field. I was able to gain insight on my upcoming undergraduate school years, what to expect when applying to graduate school, and even finding a job after school in the real world competitive environment.

Throughout the trip the entire group of 34 students became very close. We ended up going out together after program hours and exploring the cities as a group without being required to. I think this was really what brought us all so close together towards the end. We even have had a pool party reunion since we got back to the states. The building book we made before the trip and my sketchbook are my favorite souvenirs. I have used my sketchbook countless times to show people when I got home what I did and saw while I was in Europe and I am excited to use my building book to reference during studio when I need inspiration. The entire trip was uplifting, inspiring, and just plain fun. I didn’t think I would ever be ready to go back to school in the fall, but this entire experience has been so inspiring that I can’t wait to get back into studio and start creating and designing again.

I didn’t realize how important or handy connections in the architecture world could be until I was talking to one of my friends I made on the trip. He said that one of our professors that was leading the trip helped him to get an internship for the summer. I had been trying for a while to obtain one for the rest of the summer following the trip and hadn’t considered my professors as an approachable resource. After gaining confidence and guidance from my new friend, I talked to my professor about my options and he said that he would look into a couple firms he has good relationships with. He was able to recommend me for a position at an architecture firm for an internship. I ended up getting an interview and then the job. Recognizing that my professors and fellow classmates are the biggest resource I could possibly have was a turning point for me that has continued to open up so many more possibilities and allowed so much more access to ideas and options that I wasn’t aware of before the trip.

Gaining sketching skills through making quick as well as detailed sketches of the buildings we saw was so important to my transformation throughout the trip. Essentially these exercises gave me more confidence to communicate my ideas and actually be able to talk about the different aspects of buildings in a more advanced and technical way that I was not capable of before this experience.

I know that I now have a huge advantage in my upcoming theory class next semester. This class leads discussions on many of the topics we talked and debated about while in country. The class covers many theoretical ideas related to most of the architects and buildings that we covered while abroad. I will be able to transfer my knowledge of these buildings to further study these topics and become even more educated on these important ideas that the architecture world seems to revolve around. I am excited to tie my findings from these daily history lessons from the trip excursions and apply them to new and innovative strategies for building, creating and designing in the future.

I now have so many precedents archived in my mind that I will be able to pull out and reference for my upcoming projects during my studio classes. I was almost overwhelmed after our first week because it was starting to hit me that all of these buildings I had only seen previously in history class on PowerPoint slides were actually real structures in front of me that had three dimensions. I was in awe to be occupying the space of these buildings that had inspired me before, but were beginning to inspire me on a whole other level because of the personal engagement I have with them now. I understand what it is like to be in the environment that these buildings create and I have come to discover that I have started to develop my own opinion on what makes a building great. I went into buildings such as the Church of the Autostrada and decided that this was the type of building I want to create. This building and the entire trip gave me direction and drive and now I have a focus to start figuring out what I truly want out of my degree and even on the path to figuring out what I want out of my career as an architect.