My STEP Signature Project gave me the opportunity to study abroad in London, United Kingdom through the American Institute For Foreign Study at Richmond University. The STEP grand allowed me to go on this journey by covering some of the costs of my housing fees. While abroad, I was able to complete my general education courses and studio art minor while learning about culture and diversity in a new and unique way.
My education abroad experience made me realize how independent and self-sufficient I am. I was prepared to go on excursions independently and knew I would get the most out of this experience if I did so. Every day I had to navigate one of the biggest cities and frequently went on walks with no direction to explore and observe life in another country. I was also taught a new form of responsibility through my courses upon realizing my final grade was comprised of only three grades. I had to be responsible with serious time management while allowing myself to be equally involved in the social aspect of this experience.
Upon arrival, I became outgoing and enthusiastic to make new friends and meet as many people as possible. This was a completely different experience from coming to Ohio State University 3 years ago because of the plethora of people I knew were coming along with my from my hometown. This experience made me realize I am able to be extroverted in situations I may have otherwise never been exposed to. The students on my program and in my classes were mostly Americans studying abroad for the semester, along with a few from all over Europe. Knowing that there were others in the same position as me made me more comfortable and willing to reach out. I was expecting to come to this school and be surrounded by locals who already had their foundation in London and at Richmond University. I also expected London to be populated with British residents and to hear British accents from every person I passed. Neither of these were the case. British accents were few and far between when mingled with the variety languages I heard when talking even a short walk.
My classes were small and with British instructors who were very involved and interested in the lives of their students. I was not sure what to expect from my teachers but found them to be extremely helpful and informative. I was able to learn about British culture outside of the classroom frequently in all my classes. My History of London instructor took us to various locations around London to explore the history and culture of each neighborhood. In my video production course, we were encouraged to work frequently outside of the classroom to film either in London or when visiting other cultures. These courses allowed me to experience London in a way that would have never been possible independently and without guidance.
I had the frequent and fortunate opportunity to travel frequently to different countries while abroad. This great amount of responsibility quickly became routine when planning and going on these adventures. I was able to learn so much from so many different cultures and people. I found the quickly changing culture after passing over the border of a country to be the most fascinating. In the United States, we are accustomed to state lines where not much changes over the line. In Europe, each country is like a state in its relative size, however, each country has a different language, religion, and history that influences the people and their beliefs. Becoming aware of these comparisons made me grateful for each interaction I had with people from each place I visited.
This transformation of independence and self-reliance will be valuable for my life because now I am confident in my abilities to be responsible and balance several tasks at once. While these qualities are explicitly applicable to my academics, they also play a role in my career goal of being a physician’s assistant and managing several responsibilities. I have also become more aware of cultural differences and the importance of being appreciative of diversity.