My education abroad experience was a two-week program to Germany, Belgium, and London. During this time, we had the opportunity to enrich our psychology knowledge as we toured museums, churches, and more looking for ways to tie psychology into each day. This was a wonderful way to learn more about how psychology is connected to almost anything and learn how psychology is similar and different in the United States compared to other countries.
Prior to this trip, I was very hesitant about traveling alone outside of the United States. Even though I have been to other countries with my family numerous times throughout my life, I was nervous about trying it on my own for the first time. However, once I boarded the plane out of Columbus, I never looked back. Every day was a new adventure and I really feel like I was able to see myself grow from this experience. I found myself being a leader as we were walking the streets of Germany and London during our free time. In addition, I gained the confidence to be able to use the underground subway system in London, the Tube, which is something that I was not sure I would be able to master in just a few days. From a personal standpoint, I have learned that I can successfully travel abroad on my own. The world seems a lot smaller from this trip and I can’t wait to explore more of it in the years to come. Another transformation I saw throughout this trip was how much appreciation for history and museums I gained. In the past, I did not enjoy looking at monuments and going to museums, but by the end of the trip, I really looked forward to being able to do these things. Lastly, another change I experienced was my ability to make several new friends during a short period of time. With Ohio State being such a large school, I always try to get involved in activities like these to be surrounded by a smaller group of people. I find this an easier way to make friends and once again this experience proved to be a success as I return home with friends that I plan to spend time with once classes begin again.
One key aspect of this education abroad experience that played a role in this change was our assignment of writing a blog each day about what we did, one thing that surprised us, and how the activities from that day connected back to psychology and the specific topic we chose for the course. These blog posts contributed to my transformation because prior to this trip, I had a hard time finding the value in museums and monuments. I would always hurry through the museum in order to see more of the city. By giving us this assignment, it gave me the chance to really focus on what our tour guides were teaching us and kept me interested throughout the day because I knew that at the end of the day I would need facts that I would be able to write about in my blog. I especially saw this transformation after I came home and was able to remember a lot of the things I learned as I was sharing with my family all of the places we went. In the future, I hope to continue to use a blog to write about my international experiences because this was a quick and easy way to share my experiences from each day as well as give my family at home something to read too. The link to my daily blog can be found at: www.artandartistsinfluenceduringtheeuropeanexperience.wordpress.com.
Another part of this trip that led to these changes was the relationship between the students and professors on this trip. This became very important during our free time, as they were very flexible with what we chose to do as long as we told them where we were going first. By allowing us to explore the cities in smaller groups after completing our itinerary for the day helped me gain more confidence in my ability to navigate cities that I had never been to before. I saw an even bigger change while in Germany, as I was able to successfully travel throughout Cologne even though most of the signs were in German. Although we did not experience the language barrier in London, this was another city where a lot of transforming took place due to the size of it. The size of the city required everyone to quickly learn and understand the Tube, which is something that I will be able to bring back with me as I travel to larger cities in the United States and use their subway systems. Lastly, having free time each day helped me see changes in myself because some of the days I would need to just follow the group instead of doing the things that I wanted to do. Being able to be flexible and go with the flow is something that is very important in everyday life and I think that I continued to work on this skill over the duration of my education abroad experience.
Finally, a third key part of this experience that changed me was taking us to places where English is not their first language. Although I have had this experience in the past, this was different because we were interacting with people a lot more on this trip compared to my other experiences. This helped me change because it showed me that I really want to practice learning other languages in my spare time. I have always enjoyed learning and taking Spanish, however, I want to try to pick up a few other languages so that I can be even more confident next time I travel outside of the United States. In addition, I think this will be important because I was able to notice that when we did try to use German, the people we talked to could tell that we were trying and this made it a more enjoyable experience. This will only have positive benefits in the future as I hope to travel as much as possible to different countries.
These changes and transformations above are valuable to me for many reasons. One reason is that traveling is something that I have always enjoyed. From this experience, I now have the confidence to travel alone and even use the train systems to get from country to country. This is something that I would have never imagined doing prior to this trip. Another way that this experience was valuable was that I hope to do another education abroad in the future. I think that this is a wonderful way for me to grow academically as I found it incredible how much I was able to learn in just two weeks. Lastly, this experience helped develop my future goals of planning an international trip for my family to go to several different countries. Just a few months ago, I would not even know where to begin with this task, but now I feel confident that I know what resources I could use to make this trip a success.