I used my STEP funding for an economic affairs course at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. I went with the American Institute of Foreign Study and lived in the Masarykova Kolej dormitory.
Up until this amazing experience, I have spent my entire life living in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have always lived in a quite neighborhood where everyone seems to know everyone. This upbringing is one of the main reasons I wanted to live in a foreign country for an extended period of time. Looking back on this summer, I feel I have stepped out of my parochial mindset and can effectively interact with people with much different backgrounds. I think this can help me work more efficiently in group settings at Ohio State, especially with international students whose first language might not be English. Additionally, I feel more confident and comfortable with who I am and who I want to become. I believe this transformation was due to living by myself, 5000 miles away from home.
I now feel I am in a position to fulfill my dream of living and working in a foreign country for an extended period of time. I have longed to live in the United Kingdom during my twenties, working for a British soccer club. I believe my STEP experience has gotten me prepared for such a life change. I am able to effectively work with people of all backgrounds and feel confident living on my own.
There were a lot of amazing sites to see in downtown Prague; however, I believe I got the most out of my experience in the classroom. My course detailed both the individual and joint economies of most European and Asian countries. In the future I hope to live and work in a European country. Therefore, it was great to learn about the economic culture of many countries I would love to live in someday. Inside the class, there were students from all around the world. It was great to learn about their schooling and culture as a whole.
Additionally, I feel living in the Masarykova Kolej dormitory was very transformative. This dorm was located in Prague 6, which was about a 20-minute tram ride from our school buildings in Prague 2. We lived with Czech students of the nearby engineering college. I thought it was great to live in the outskirts of the city and explore the places that the Czech students recommended. If I instead lived in the city center, I would not have seen all that Prague has to offer.
Living in Prague 6 also forced me to get used to using public transformation on a regular basis. Prague has an advanced transportation system involving an underground metro and above ground trams and busses. Prior to this study abroad, I had little to no experience with public transportation in Cincinnati. However, in Prague, I was taking the metro at least 4 times a day going to and from Prague 1&2. This provided me with good insight on what it is like to live and work in a large European city.
I will remember my time in Prague for the rest of my life for many reasons. The architectural beauty paired with nearly ideal weather made me wake up with a smile everyday. I was able to expand both my economic and cultural foundation to Europe and Asia. I learned how to live and work in a European city. I have reaffirmed my dream of living in Europe, and now feel poised enough to make it a reality. Meeting new people allowed me to cement my own ideals and realize the person I want to become. I will be forever thankful for Ohio State and the second year transformational experience program.