Antarctic Exploration

With the support of STEP and The Ohio State University, I embarked on a research-based trip from Ushuaia, Argentina to Antarctica this December, 2017. Our large group’s research was centered around three topics: the sustainable development of Antarctic tourism & its effect on the environment, seabird conservation, and iceberg census data analysis. We travelled through the Drake Passage to visit a variety of locations around Antarctica, including: Orne Harbor, Wilhelmina Bay, Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island, Pleneau Island, Dorian Bay, Paradise Harbor, Neko Harbor, Curtiss Bay, Mikkelsen Harbor, & Deception Island.

The journey that landed me on the bottom of the earth did more than open my eyes to our world’s undeniable beauty. This course engrained both a deep understanding of human and biophysical dimensions of life in Antarctica and insight into its history and potential future state. My interest in the exploration and conservation of the mysterious, fragile continent grew more and more throughout our field experience. Through travels from Argentina to Antarctica, we viewed and analyzed the positive and negative effects of ecotourism. I believe that we need to act as vocal advocates for the preservation of this ever-mysterious continent, so that we can protect it from the negative aspects of the tourist industry and other forms of exploitation.  Additionally, my critical takeaways of this experience are vast and varied. Not only was I able to further develop my intellectual maturity, my cross-cultural engagements, team positions and frequent self-reflections greatly enhanced my confidence. It is difficult to observe such an untouched environment and refrain from getting overwhelming feelings of appreciation and envy. I applied my learnings from this semester to conduct research over a combination of my favorite things: exploration and the environment.

Our team’s overall focus was on iceberg census and environmental data analysis, and idea generation regarding the potential impacts of icebergs melting. My sub-group was responsible for the analysis of the census data collected throughout our trip to and from Antarctica. The teachings from the course administered prior to our travel departure, as well as the specific readings assigned to our group focusing our team’s focus, were vital to ensuring knowledge was obtained and properly applied throughout the research assignment. The field experience substantially affected my sense of identity and growth, and widened my global perspective. Not only were we able to enjoy what the area had to offer, we were able to utilize specific knowledge to draw conclusions about our observations.

Additionally, this field experience greatly influenced my sense of global awareness throughout the journey from Argentina to Antarctica. From the beginning of our time in Ushuaia, we were exposed to the effects of tourism on a town based on the profits of this industry. Although large amounts of tourists coming to visit the bottom of the world may appear purely beneficial due to monetary benefits, there are negative elements to keep in mind. The town has an especially important responsibility to keep its ecosystem clean based on its proximity to the delicate ecosystem of Antarctica. Steps were being taken to ensure that this was accomplished, as special recycling bins were located throughout the hiking routes and store personnel only handed out paper bags to package items purchased. Although measures were taken to minimize pollution, I still viewed scraps of trash throughout the streets – a sad sight. Before our field experience, I had primarily contemplated the preservation of Antarctica focusing on the area around the continent, spending minimal time thinking about how the gateway cities must specially monitor their inhabitants’ pollution, as well.

Furthermore, our time spent in Antarctica largely expanded my global awareness. Our experience was especially interesting because our boat consisted of many passengers from different cultures experiencing Antarctica with less knowledge about the fragile ecosystem, a sole intention of observing the views and taking pictures, and/or less respect for described regulations. These factors were maximally prevalent through people’s actions when walking around wildlife. Penguin highways were stomped through, paths not followed, distances people were required to stand away from animals were disregarded, and people would encircle the penguins, overwhelming them. Because penguins are not the most intelligent animals, when overwhelmed, they may retreat into the water and never return to their egg, forget where they are going, or get startled enough to hop off their eggs – leaving them open for skuas to prey on. At times when I would witness these acts, I would be swarmed with guilt because I was an addition to the intrusion of these protected habitats. Overall, I am glad that our group of educated and intrigued students witnessed the negative aspects of ecotourism, as we are now able to advocate for Antarctic preservation. My global awareness of positive and negative aspects of life both in Argentina and Antarctica has massively expanded based on specific field experiences from this journey.

Finally, this field experience was not only educationally beneficial, it widened my sense of self-identity and aided in my ongoing personal development. I have always been strong-minded when the subject of nature and preservation arises. I believe that this experience further established my need to prioritize reusing, reducing and recycling in everyday life. Last summer I worked in the Environmental Health and Safety department of a L’Oreal manufacturing facility, where I worked to reduce carbon emissions, educate people on environmental issues, and brainstorm ideas to decrease the company’s environmental footstep. This trip further established my need to work for a company that is extremely focused on these issues. I have recently accepted a job working for Ecolab, a company that’s aim is to help make the world a cleaner, safer and healthier place. I believe that my passion for environmental sustainability must continue within my career path. Also, I feel extremely humbled by this experience. I have been privileged to visit many historic and beautiful places around the world, but Antarctica presented a new level of breathtaking. The undisturbed ecosystem reminded me to value the important things in my life, and take advantage of every opportunity. If the opportunity arises to return to Antarctica and visit the same harbors and bays, it will never look the same, as the ice melts and glaciers fall. This is a reminder to put down our phones, take out our headphones, and absorb the world around us.


STEP Final Reflection

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  4.  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.

Haley Spiron- Education Abroad Reflection Post

For my STEP Signature project I chose to participate in an education abroad experience. During the Multicultural Histories and Legacies of Rome and London education abroad experience, I got to travel to Europe for the every first time and was able to immerse myself in culture and life in two very distinctly different cities. This education abroad experience delved my fellow students and I into culture, religion, art, and everyday life, in history and in present time, in Rome, London, and their surrounding areas.

Throughout the entire study abroad experience, I took a lot of time to personally reflect on how I was feeling and thinking about what I learned and what was happening. Day after day I experienced prior assumptions I had about the places we were visiting being challenged and changed with the incoming information. As an example, when we traveled to Pompeii in Italy, my prior assumption that the people and city were destroyed by the lava from the volcanic explosion was proved to be false, and rather explained to have been a result of the toxic gases and ash that caused suffocation. Another example is that in London when we learned about torture I assumed that hundreds or thousands of people were tortured, but it was explained that only about 80 cases of torture were recorded.

In addition, I formed close relationships with the other students on my trip that will encourage me to reconnect with them when we are back in Columbus to continue the learning we began back in May during the Multicultural Histories and Legacies of Rome and London experience. The close experiences with the professors that led my trip will also aid in furthering that learning.

I quite enjoyed learning something new everyday and having my ideas and views challenged, whether about a piece of history or about a group of people. I feel that my personal experiences on the Multicultural Histories and Legacies of Rome and London broadened my knowledge base and appreciation for two new places greatly. I know more, care more, and experiences more in the two cities we visited than I could ever have imagined I could. I feel that through this study abroad experience I truly got to be a part, or at least observe, two distinctly different cultures that were created by two vastly different histories and legacies. I think this experience will help me to connect what I learn in a classroom setting in the future to the experiences and lessons I learned while on the education abroad. I can pull from what I learned about myself and the world in my future academic endeavors.


My Time in England…

I am so thankful to STEP for helping me fund my Global May Great Britain Experience this summer! The program consisted of a 2 hour class Monday-Thursday in the heart of London, with daily excursions to sites around the city. The program also included a weekend trip to Glasgow, Scotland. After our course was finished, I stayed and explored England for 10 more days.

I thought I had experienced a large change when I moved from my small town in Virginia to a capital city of Columbus but that was nothing compared to the experience of moving to a global city like London from Columbus. At first I was overwhelmed by how big London is, and how fast everything moved.  It felt impersonal and I didn’t think that I would be able to find my way — I quickly learned that London was much different than I expected. The architecture in the city of London was probably one of the first things that stood out to me, especially that first day traveling to class. My eyes were looking up the entire walk from the Tottenham Court Road tube station to our classroom in Arcadia University (exactly what my Dad told me not to do when he gave me a speech on pickpockets) and I was obsessed with taking pictures of every building we passed. I loved how the city is a mix of old and new- architecturally, and in other aspects as well. Another initial thought I had was how much more diverse it was in London than in Columbus or my hometown. It was great to walk down the street and hear 3 different languages in one short walk to the tube station.

I would describe London as the New York, Los Angeles, and Washington DC of the United Kingdom. It is all at once the finance, fashion, arts, and political capital of England and truly is a global city. Over the course of my program I learned so much about many different aspects of London. It was one of the reasons that I chose this specific program, so that I would come back to the United States and have broad knowledge about another culture and country. While in England we experienced many things that I do not normally do, truly expanding my horizons. One of my favorite excursions was when we saw Twelfth Night at the Globe. It was so cool to be there and really feel how a “groundling” would have felt in Shakespeare’s time. After the play was over, a few friends and I waited near the actors’ exit, and I got to meet and take a picture with the actor who played Duke Orsino, Joshua Lacey!

My first exposure to the Camden Market was the final Thursday of class, during a music tour! It was so much bigger than I had thought, so I vowed to go back and check it out thoroughly. On my last day in England I went back and spent the entire afternoon, and too many pounds, in Camden Market! I loved that the market was outdoors and had such a huge variety of vendors. There were many different food and dessert stalls, as well as home decorating shops, souvenir places, and clothing / tapestry stalls. I still didn’t see everything in my afternoon there.

One of my favorite nights from this entire experience was in the first week of class, just sitting down in the 2nd floor kitchen of our house with my new friends and planning everything we wanted to do and see throughout the next month. I loved it because we used a Google calendar to keep us organized and we made solid plans, so that we felt like we weren’t wasting a single moment. It was great because I had been hanging out with another group and then transitioned into this one where I fit in much better. I think it was because our travel styles and budgets meshed. During the month we followed this calendar and constantly added to it whenever someone mentioned something they wanted to see such as a new musical coming to the West End or when someone had heard about a great ice cream shop in SoHo.


I was surprised to see two dogs in a pub that we went to in the first week. Upon further observations, I continued to see dogs on trains, in coffee shops, and in restaurants. I really liked how dogs were welcomed everywhere, even on the tube! After my program was over I stayed with my friend Holly at her house at the University of York for a few days and I had the pleasure of sitting next to a cute Cocker Spaniel puppy on the train journey back to London. This is something that I definitely think that the U.S. needs to get on board with, more dog-friendly areas!

The tube was similar to the Metro in D.C. but I can say with one hundred percent certainty that in my 20 years of living less than an hour away from Washington D.C. I have never taken the subway as much as I have in the last month in London! One difference I found between the Tube and the Metro was that in D.C. they had metro card machines on either side of the turnstiles and in London they only had them on the outside. These were irrelevant for me during the program because we had travel-cards given to us but afterwards I got an oyster card to travel around the city. I found that if I did not put enough money onto my card then the turnstile still let me through but the next time I would have negative money on it and would need to pay that and more. In D.C., the turnstiles don’t let you out unless you have the money on your metro card so that was a big change for me. Also in London, public transport was huge! In Columbus I rarely take the bus, I just walk everywhere but in London I felt we mostly used the tube to get around, and then the bus sometimes.

While staying at my friend’s houses and my Airbnbs, I noticed that it was very common thing for a host to offer their guests some tea, and because of that I drank a lot of tea while staying at those places. I intend to take this back with me to America and plan on drinking more tea with my mom as well as offering it to guests in our home.


This experience has already impacted me greatly. At the Ohio State University, I will remember my time in London and I plan to connect it to my studies. In the spring semester, I took a Linguistics in Advertising course, and so during my time in London I paid special attention to the advertisements or adverts as they are called in the United Kingdom. While abroad I was able to apply the concepts we learned in class to the adverts. And so I could figure out why the advertising agencies behind a certain campaign chose to use certain language. I really loved being able to connect what I had learned to what I was seeing in England. I imagine that it will be similar to how I will connect my Maymester in London to my next few years at Ohio State. There are a few political science classes (focusing on American as well as Foreign politics) I plan to take and I believe I will have an interesting perspective when we discuss topics such as Brexit or the Prime Minister Election of June 2017. I also feel that going on this study abroad will help me in my International Business course next semester.

This study abroad opportunity will also have an impact on my social circle at OSU. I have been exposed to so many new and wonderful people that I probably would not have met if it weren’t for this class. I met people from years above and below me and in every type of major you can imagine! It was also really great meeting girls from other sororities because I feel like a majority of my OSU friends are either in my sorority or not in Greek life at all. Now when I see them at various philanthropy events or at combined study tables I’ll have a few friends I can make sure to say hi to. The girls in my group and I have already made plans for a few London reunions during the Fall semester including a trip to a tea place in Columbus, which we are all very excited about!


Through this experience I have learned a lot about myself, travel, and traveling by myself. I’ve learned that although I have immense love for London and I like to think I am pretty independent, I would not want to travel alone in the city again. I have learned that who you’re with is a huge part of travel. That is why I am so thankful for the amazing relationships I’ve built over the past month.

Now, after about 6 weeks in the United Kingdom, I do see myself living there for a period of time. I definitely want to go back to London and share it with my family and other friends. I think it’s a great city that everybody should see at least once in their lifetimes. After I graduate from Ohio State I can see myself pursuing an internship in England, specifically in London. I would be very interested in a marketing or advertising position there.

Haoran Wang – Engineering the Castles and Cathedrals of England and Wales

My STEP signature project was an education abroad experience to UK, called Engineering the Castles and Cathedrals of England and Wales. Within the study abroad program we studied different ancient architectures in England and Wales, with respect to their historical and cultural effects at that time and now. We stayed on campus for the first two weeks researching our assigned architectures, and for the last two weeks we traveled in different parts of England and Wales to visit them.

I had been to UK once before this trip, so I expected this revisit would deepen my understanding of British culture, but I actually gained more than that. Because of the mobile nature of this program, I got to travel in this country extensively and experience their culture. It was very interesting for me to see how people live in both history and a modern life. I’m from Beijing, a city also combined history and modern elements. However, we live mostly in the modern parts of the city, the historical parts are what we carefully took care of. No one lives in the ancient palaces and we are only allowed to visit there for sightseeing and history learning. It was really innocent for me to think of the rest of world to be like Beijing. Seeing people lived modern life in the old town of Conwy Castle and the little pubs built next to the 14th century’s ruins of Chepstow Castle, I had a deeper understanding of the pass and present. And it was amazing to see how modern people live harmoniously with the history.

Experiencing how different the cultures are even from one city to another, I appreciate this study abroad chance in how it expanded my eyesight and how it taught me to learn things from both depth and breadth. We went to visit Bangor University during our trip in Wales, and listened to Welsh people talking about their country, history and culture. Wales is a country less known by the world compared to England, Ireland, etc. We learnt about why Wales flag was not on the national flag and why the people called themselves Welsh instead of England. It was very exciting for me to hear about the British people themselves talking about political issues, like Brexit, Ireland issues and how these issues affected and would affect their lives. From outside of the country, in US or in China, what I usually heard about was how these political issues affected the country and the rest of the world, hearing about the views of the local, I kind of understood why and how they made those choices.

Besides the world view shaped in this trip, the most important factor in making my experience invaluable was the group of Ohio State students that I travelled with. Since most of us were introverted engineer student, I didn’t expect our group would get along that well at first. But after the first few days unfamiliar with each other, we found our ways to get along with each other and became really good friends. Maybe because we are engineers, maybe because we are more similar, they became a positive force of perspective and curiosity that drove my interactions with the Welsh people and the towns in which we stayed.

Although we are engineers and are quite for most of the time, my group on this trip was always so genuinely interested in getting to know each other. I remembered even before our trip when we first formed the group, we were invited to gather to know each others by one of our members in her house. We played ice breakers and game, everyone was making efforts to get to know the group. I never knew that traveling could be such a great way to bond with people. We learnt, ate and took tours together for the two weeks during the trip. I couldn’t forget the time we spent on the Great Orme making “OHIO” with rocks and couldn’t forget the two-hour experience taking unusual way down the hill together. Now I can’t imagine my experience without the other 19 people on the trip. They helped me learn and grow by making me think, and challenging me by pushing me out of my comfort zone, and overall just being there for me when things weren’t going as planned. We hope we can still meet up in the future, and I am forever grateful that these people are in my life.

This experience allowed me to experience different historical and cultural side of England and Wales in person and taught me to learn through traveling. After this experience, I couldn’t agree more with the saying that traveling is the best way to study. The lessons you can learn from being outside your comfort zone are priceless, and I am so grateful that I was given the chance to learn these lessons through STEP. This experience allowed me getting along with future engineers, which gave me an idea about what role I would play in my future career and shaped me a future goal I would do my best to achieve. After this amazing study abroad experience, I finally decided I would work in an international company in the future so that I could work in different countries. This experience inspired me how important traveling and learning would be in my life, and it will continue encouraging me to travel more and learn more about other countries whether through learning about the history and culture in person in the country, or talking to the locals and or doing sightseeing. I am so looking forward to learning about the world.


STEP Reflection: #New2NZ

Name: Gretchen Albrecht
Type of Project: Education Abroad, Global May New Zealand


My STEP project revolved around my travelling to Christchurch, New Zealand for 4 weeks. During that time, I stayed with a host family while also taking a Linguistics course at the University of Canterbury. The main goal was to be able to combine these two aspects of the program, along with our excursions, to develop a better understanding of Maori history and New Zealand English.

Before I left for my study abroad experience, I really didn’t know much about the history of other countries. Sure I have been to Costa Rica, but my short time spent there and lack of maturity didn’t allow me to fully absorb or appreciate their culture and history. This time, after only two years, I feel like I have grown and developed the patience and maturity it takes to truly appreciate another culture. I was able to take information from our lectures and directly apply it to our adventures outside of the classroom.

For example, one of our lectures focused on New Zealand history: how the island was discovered, European settlement, and the impact this had on the Maori people. While this material could be dull in class, the reason I’m able to remember it so well is because of our excursions outside of class. One of our excursions was a trip to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. At the reserve, we not only got to see some of New Zealand’s signature plants and animals, but we also got to participate in a Maori cultural experience where we got to see the tribe dance and then eat food that was prepared using a traditional Hangi method.

Another aspect in history that we touched on is the earthquakes that have affected Christchurch. The day we arrived, one of the first things we were told is what to do if an earthquake occurs or if we experience a tremor because there was a high likelihood that we would during our month stay. Although I didn’t feel any quakes myself, I did learn a ton about the Christchurch earthquake of February 2011. It was hard to avoid the topic whenever you walked through the city because there is still so much damage left behind from the natural disaster; the whole city is still under construction. The cathedral in the center of the city hasn’t even been touched since the earthquake hit 6 years ago, and local government officials are still debating on whether to rebuild or tear it down. When I asked my host mom about that day, she talked about it like Americans talk about 9/11- it was a day that she could recall exactly what she was doing, where, and when.

Lastly, the greatest aspect of New Zealand that we focused on was the development of the New Zealand English (NZE). Just as American English is a variation of British English, NZE stems from it as well. There are phonological terms to describe how the pronunciation varies, but as a Finance major, I’ll just highlight some of the major things I noticed: the absence of “r” when they speak, how some of their vowels overlap, and their use of different terminology. We learned about these features of NZE in class, but it wasn’t until I heard people talk and had my own conversations with them that I noticed these to be true. A few examples of the different terminology they use include: flat for apartment, togs for swimming suits, biscuits for cookies, and mate for friend.

In the end, I learned the importance of taking time to immerse yourself in a culture as opposed to skimming the surface. I really like how the Global May program is designed to allow students a full month to live in another country and experience life on a daily basis, as opposed to taking a 1-2 week tour of multiple cities and countries where you only see the main attractions. While I have nothing against doing that, being able to actually live in New Zealand for a month is something that I will never take for granted. Moreover, this trip reaffirmed my love for travelling, exploring, and learning about the world. It reminded me that my goal in life is to find a job that allows me to pursue this, whether that be a part of the job or in my free time.

STEP Signature Project Reflection

Our Folklore presentation at the library

Cutting 6 crew

Medieval Earscoop and Toothpick

Laura Ruffner

1. My STEP signature project was going to Trim, Ireland and working with the Irish Archaeology Field School to excavate the Blackfriary. We learned about monastic life and how to dig on an archaeological site. It was also a great opportunity to learn more about folklore, because we worked on researching how stories surrounding the site were influenced by the Blackfriary.

2. Excavating the remains of a medieval monastery makes you feel very small. So many people lived before us and being able to see remains of their daily life is really special. It makes them seem so real and so human and not this hazy figure in the distant past. Archaeology was this amazing tool that I could learn to make the past real. It was hard work and it was tiring but at the same time it meant so much to be a part of the discoveries made.

I realized myself how much I can grow when put into a situation like this study abroad. I was with 15 other students from Ohio State that I didn’t know and didn’t necessarily have a lot in common with. It made me get out of my comfort zone and make an effort to get to know the rest of the students. I had to defend my views more than I had ever had to, but in that I also got to see where people with different views than me were coming from. It made me realize more than ever how important it is to have an open mind. While you need to stand by what you believe in, if you never hear what other people think then you will never get anywhere. It was great to realize that no matter how hard it was to speak up sometimes, my faith is important enough to defend

3. The first thing that made the archaeology very real was troweling up a medieval ear scoop and toothpick tool with the Irish field school. At first I had assumed it was just another nail until we looked at it again and realized  it was something different. Once the Irish Archaeology Field School figured out what it was, it was so exciting. Not only because we had found something medieval but because it was such a personal tool. This wasn’t just one of their floor tiles or nail, it was something someone would have held and used. For me it made it so much more real. We were excavating someones home, really someones life.

Another thing that really brought about my transformation was how different most of the other students in the group were from me. At Ohio State I have found a strong faith community to support me and help me grow. It was an adjustment to be taken out of that and be with other students that didn’t necessarily agree with my faith and didn’t think it was important. It forced me to take a step back and decide what my faith meant to me alone. Interacting with people that were making choices I didn’t agree with made me have to decide how responsible I was for saying something.

During my closing interview with the instructors they helped me remember that I wasn’t responsible for everyone elses actions. Talking to them about the month made me realize how much I learned and grew from the experience. Even though this was something run through Ohio State and wasn’t faith based it made me grow in my faith. I had to work to put in prayer time. I had to work to stick to my values and figure out when I needed to speak up to defend those values. Talking to the instructors of the course made me realize all of those things. They were very supportive the whole time, helping me find masses and feeling like I could fit in. This month in Ireland was way more transformative than I ever thought archaeology could be.

4. This was very significant for my life. I realized there are a lot more ways I can grow in my faith to be more comfortable talking about it. It also was a good practice for the rest of my life. There is a very good chance that in whatever Logistics Management job I get I wont be surrounded with people that have the same values and beliefs that I do. I need to be able to hold up my relationships with the people around me and my faith.

I also realized that I love troweling and that is significant because I went out on a limb and tried something completely different. It was a great decision because I learned so much and got to do a lot of work. The best part about the archaeology was that it was pretty easy to see the transformation we had made. You could see how much soil we had taken away and how much we had uncovered. It was amazing to be a part of and amazing to see.