- For my STEP signature project I participated in the education abroad program. I went on the Film and Art in a Global Context program and traveled to New York City, Athens, Paris, Berlin, and Venice. This program also included an art class, Art 5797, as the education aspect.
- Before beginning my program, I had only been out of the country once, and it was with my high school. I had not ventured too far without my family, my friends, or even just one person I knew. However, when I arrived in New York City, I knew no one from my program nor had I ever taken an art class in college. Over my time abroad I found myself becoming increasingly outgoing and comfortable “going with the flow” and trusting my newfound friends. I found our group bonded incredibly quickly and that my anxiety over dealing with new people and places was gone. I believe I grew a lot and overcame many of my assumptions that I would be nervous or feel unsafe in foreign countries with new people. I also found myself enjoying taking an art class and found that I knew very little about the culture and world of art. It was an incredible experience to be able to learn all of this by seeing some of the greatest art in the world, and I will truly take my newfound interest with me in life.Building upon this, not only did my view of the art world change, but my view of our world changed as well. I think there are a lot of preconceived notions that Europe is dangerous, there’s a lot of pickpocketers, and people don’t like Americans. And while maybe I had to carry my purse a little farther in front of me, I felt completely safe and welcomed while I was abroad. I feel much more comfortable and excited about traveling after being able to go and experience so many different cities on one trip. My understanding of myself as someone who is a little introverted, thrives on routine, and likes to have everything planned, was completely thrown out and I am very content with this transformation and will continue to build on it in the future.
- The program I participated in was focused on film and art in a global context, therefore we spent most of the trip traveling to different cities to attend the most prestigious art festivals. As these shows, galleries, and collections included artists from all over the world and many different periods of time, I was able to gain so much cultural knowledge and awareness. For example, in Paris, we visited the Foundation Louis Vuitton which had an exhibit focused on African art. For someone who is not incredibly familiar with the art world in general, I was not only able to see incredibly art from artists I had never heard of, but I was able to learn a lot about the history of Africa and its current state. Art is very symbolic and political so being able to see art from all over the world really allowed me to learn so much about political and economics states of other countries.In addition to being able to see art from all over the world, I was also able to travel all over Europe. This allowed me to experience many different cultures first hand as well which is a unique experience in itself. I was able to see how poor and harmful the economy is in Athens, I was able to see how culturally diverse Paris is, I was able to see the history of my ancestors in Berlin, and I was able to see the effects of mass tourism in Venice. Each of these cities were so vastly different but I felt safe and welcomed in each one. I didn’t feel the fear that was instilled in me by apprehensive Americans before I left. I was able to interact with many different people from all walks of life, and also relied on many of these people to help me get around. My tendency to be introverted and nervous to talk to strangers or employees was quickly overcome when I realized that English would not get me extremely far in these places. I became accustomed to asking for help and being much more self-reliant than I ever had at home. I believe I truly overcame a lot of my personal fears on this trip and I am very grateful for it.
I, as science major and person through and through, was also incredibly nervous to take an art class and be thrown into a whole new world. I felt scared in the beginning that I had gotten myself into something I was unprepared for and would fail. However, as the trip went on and I was constantly being exposed to some of the greatest art in the world, I found myself developing my own personal taste and becoming more versed in the commonalities of the art world. The peak of my feelings was in Berlin at our pop-up gallery show. I created a piece of art that included photography and a poem I had written. During the show a local artist who had walked in off the street to see our show, asked for me, and came up to tell me he really liked my piece and thought it was very well written. I was shocked that someone who considers themselves a professional in the field could really like and appreciate something I, who hasn’t taken an art class since middle school, made. I felt like I had really come a long way with my learning and growing on my trip in that moment and It truly made it all worth it.
- The transformation I experienced while abroad is one that changed me as a person, and will forever influence how I live my life. I believe as someone who considered themselves an introvert, it is very uncomfortable and difficult to overcome the struggles and fears that accompany it. However, pushing myself so far out of my comfort zone to leave the country with only people I had met once or twice, traveled to cities where little English was sometime spoken, and truly having to rely on others to get through the day was one of the best things I could had ever done. I had no choice to be introverted and shy because I had to get out of my shell and work with others in order to have a successful and safe trip. This is so valuable for me in the future because I came home feeling none of the anxieties over these things that I had felt and struggled with before. I am able to be much more independent and comfortable which is key in being a successful adult. In addition, my academic and professional goals for the future are to obtain a PhD and work in research. A lot of this work is based on teams and collaboration so my increasing comfort with meeting people, trusting in others to collaborate, and being able to be relaxed and go with the flow will be crucial traits to be successful in these fields as well.