DIS study abroad

My STEP signature project was a study abroad trip to Copenhagen, Denmark and taking a class through DIS. The course I took was called Human Health and Disease: A Clinical Approach. I partook in lecture and in medical stimulations at various Danish hospitals.

While in Denmark, I learned a lot about myself and about the many cultural differences. I learned that I am a lot more independent than I give myself credit for and that I can easily adapt to different environments. I was able to apply my prior knowledge to the course I took more than I expected. The course I was a part of taught a lecture that was discussing the similarities and differences between the Danish culture and health care system versus the American culture and health care system. My understanding of the Danish culture and hearing world views from a different culture’s perspective was eye opening. I was interesting to see how they viewed different world issues and how they operate day by day.

I met many Danes and loved hearing their day to day routine compared to the average American’s. They take life at a slower pace and seem to appreciate the small things more than Americans do, in my opinion. By taking this trip, my worldly views changed and I was able to take some of their values and implement them in my life.

Some of the events that transformed my views were talking to Danes, exploring the city, and learning about their culture in my class and tours I took around the city. By simply walking around the city and observing people, I was able to learn a lot. Everyone seems to not be in a rush and are very friendly to tourists. Whenever I needed help navigating the city, I could openly go up to a Dane and expect them to treat me respectfully and nicely. I was able to observe their social norms and compare them to the American norms.

My TA for the course I took taught me a lot by just talking to him and his friends. Hearing about what they do in a typical school day and weekend was very interesting to hear and to compare what my life is like to theirs. My TA, Magnus, told me about his experiences when living in America and hearing his thoughts on my home country was insightful.

I had a lecture about the Danish health care system and I learned the most about the Danish government in that. I learned that their healthcare is free to everyone there but they are assigned a specific physician based off where they live in Denmark. This is very different than the US considering we all must pay for healthcare but get to pick the physician we go to.

Another experience that led to my transformation was taking a six-hour bike tour around Copenhagen. The tour guide had us stop at particular spots and told us the history behind them and about their significance in the present. I learned so much about Denmark’s history and about the Danes culture through this bike tour. The biggest difference that stood out to me was that all their government buildings have no fences or security outside. Since the US has so much security and surveillance, I had just assumed all countries were similar. This is just another experience that proved how much more laid back this country is than the US.

Having the experiences I had on my STEP study abroad trip has given me the ability to think about life in a different way and from a different perspective. Living in Denmark and being immersed in the culture led me to realize that I stress way too much over the little things and that I can relax and still get everything accomplished that I need to. I learned a lot about myself and have took many of the Danish values back to the United States to better myself. I did not expect my study abroad experience to change my views so greatly, but am very glad that it did. All in all, I could not have had a better experience in the DIS program and in Copenhagen.

STEP Reflection

OSU Madrid Global May 2018

From May 7th to June 2nd I studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. While there I lived with a host family and attended class. We learned about the culture and history of Spain with a focus on immigration.

I learned a lot about myself and the world through my STEP signature project. I feel after living in foreign country for a month has made me into a more independent person. I also have become better at adapting to change and the unknown. It is very easy to become blind to the fact that people all around the world live differently than me and this trip opened my eyes to that. I was able to step outside of my comfort zone and experience a new culture and learn how other people live.

I had many experiences during my trip that transformed me and my way of thinking. One of the biggest influences to me was living with a host family. I lived in a home with a native Spanish family with 2 roommates who I had only ever met at orientation. One of my first experiences in Madrid was having name called out on the bus to go meet my new host mother and roommates. My host mother spoke no English at all and I had two new roommates who I did not know, because of this I had to quickly adapt to change. My roommates and I became well aquatinted quickly when our host mother showed us the room we would all be sharing in her apartment.

The relationships I had with my roommates and host family made the trip so much more transformational and influential to me. I have included a picture of me with my host mother, Dulce I was able to learn about the normal Spanish way of life through my host mother. Then I could share my observations about the day with my roommates. Every night we would journal and have a group discussion on some of the similarities and differences we had noticed throughout that day. We noticed the importance of conservation of water and electric when we were told by our host mother to take short showers and turn off the lights. We also noticed the importance of family time by watching our host family interact. We saw this first hand when our host mother went to see her son and sister every and spoke to us about how close she was to her family.

Another influential experience was how we got around the city. We were expected to navigate the city and public transportation system daily to arrive at wherever our class would be for that day. By the end of the trip I was able to effectively use the amazing transportation system in Madrid. This experience made me more independent and improved my planning and navigating skills. This also helped us learn about public safety. One of the most beneficial things we did to learn about the layout of the city and how to use the metro was when we searched the city for Las Meninas. Las Meninas is painting that we saw in The Prado museum in Madrid painted by Diego Velázquez. Throughout the city of Madrid over 80 statues of the girls in the painting were decorated and placed in various areas. It was a temporary art exhibit that decorated the streets of Spain. My roommates and I were able to find over 50 of them. This was a great way for us to learn and see a lot of Madrid quickly. We would get off at random metro stops to find these statues and then navigate our way back to our apartment. 

Me and my roommates next to a Las Meninas statue in Madrid, Spain.

I come from a small town in rural Ohio and sometimes it is very easy to live inside my own little bubble, but I think it’s incredibly important to see how the rest of the world lives. What I learned about the Spanish culture, history, and language will benefit me in my studies as a Spanish minor. This transformation will also benefit me in my personal and professional life with the changes it has helped me make to become a more well-rounded person. After living in a foreign country for a month in a stranger’s home I can say I have become more outgoing, independent, and adaptable.

            I chose this program specifically for the home stay that it offered because I wanted to be immersed in the culture. I think my experience on this trip went above and beyond my expectations. I learned something new every day about Spanish culture and myself.

Me and my host mother, Dulce.

Global May Hungary

Emily Hayman

Education Abroad


During my STEP Signature Project I participated in the education abroad category on the Hungary Global May program where I travelled to Hungary, Poland, and Austria with twenty-two Ohio State students as well as an Ohio State professor. During the month abroad, I took a three-credit hour Slavic course and studied at the Budapest Metropolitan University. Outside of class I participated in many guided tours, museum visits, and personal sightseeing.


I think my view of the world drastically changed during my time abroad. It was very interesting to observe how different the day-to-day life was as well as how Europeans viewed America. I have travelled in the past, but not to the extent and independence that this trip gave me. This program really allowed me to immerse myself in another culture and gain the confidence that I needed to potentially travel alone in the future. Finally, I think the experiences on this program allowed me to find a new love for life, learning, and myself that I will keep with me forever. I can already see this in my day-to-day life upon returning home as I have begun waking up earlier, making the most of my day, and appreciating all of the little things that so often go unnoticed.


I think the simplicity and slowness of life in Europe compared to the United States was most shocking to me at first. It was amazing to see how nobody was rushing around, meals were leisurely without waiters pressuring you to pay the bill and leave the restaurant, and people would sit and relax in a park without being pressured for time. Observing these aspects of European life helped me realize that it is completely unnecessary to overbook myself at home and instead I should make more day to day activities leisurely so I am able to enjoy them.Next, I made it a point to try my best to engage with locals or other travellers in order to make a new network of connections all over the world. I feel that I was successful in doing this as I took part in many conversations and worked around many language barriers.

I found it interesting to see how people from different areas of the world viewed Americans. I’m not sure why I assumed that everyone would love us, but I quickly learned that was not the case. It was interesting to see how we were treated differently in some restaurants and shops and how easy it was for someone to peg us as American. On the other hand some people absolutely loved us and took extra time to make sure that we had everything we needed. I found that almost all conversations with a foreigner started with them asking me something related to politics in America. Though it was difficult to know how to answer without causing conflict, it helped transform my communication skills as to how I would like to represent my country and how others view it.

Finally, every single day I was learning something new, in a new place, with new people. I loved being able to learn about decades of history in a classroom and then actually go and see what I was learning about in person. I think that this is a type of learning that I don’t get to experience enough and it really opened my eyes to how much I love learning. I noticed this especially in my travels after the program ended when I was no longer required to go to museums. I found myself taking the extra trip to a museum or monument to continue learning. I’m pretty sure everyday of the trip I said, “this is the best day of my life.” I could not believe how impacted I could be by a beautiful scoop of gelato or a man selling roses in a restaurant.


Overall, I have gained a new confidence for traveling and feel that I have become more independent. I learned how to better use body language to communicate with people who don’t speak the same language as me, navigate a foreign city using public transportation, and make connections with people from all over the world. This is significant to my career goals as I hope to one day travel abroad and work for Doctors without Borders and care for people all around the globe. All of these new skills will be incredibly useful especially if I don’t have someone to help me. I think this trip also gave me the academic boost that I needed to get me through the rest of undergraduate and graduate school. The new love for learning I gained has made me more ready than ever to get back to school and continue my path towards my career. I feel extremely motivated to stay on top of all of my work, take every opportunity given to me, and take time to enjoy my time as a student.

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Study Abroad: North Queensland, Australia

My STEP signature project was a study abroad trip to Australia to study human impacts on the environment. I spent about a month abroad traveling in the North Queensland area learning about the multiple different ecosystems like the great barrier reef, the rainforest and the outback. It was an amazing experience where I got a lot of hands on field experience and gained a lot of great knowledge.

The main reason I chose this program was because it was so centralized around the environment. I consider myself a pretty environmental conscious person. I compost, bulk buy and do a handful of other environmentally beneficial things to help reduce my carbon footprint. I am also an environmental science major so my entire world revolves around the environment. Despite all of this, I always find myself questioning my efforts when I’m at home in Columbus. But, while I was abroad I reminded about how important the environment is. The little things people do in the US have major impacts on ecosystems on the opposite side of the world. It was such a reassuring experience that it made me want to do more. It confirmed that I’m not only in the right field of study, but it also confirmed that I want to go to grad school to broaden my education further in order to really make a difference.

I think the other big transformation for me was that this was my first time traveling internationally. I’ve done a lot of domestic travel throughout the US but I never traveled to a foreign country before. While Australia is considered to be a pretty similar country to the US, I found it to be so different. Their culture, values, and beliefs differ quite a bit from the US. There’s even a little bit of a language barrier with the Australian slang being different from America’s. It really helped broaden my own views, try new things, and just overall want to travel to even more places all around the world.

There were many things from the people, to the places we visited that guided this transformation I had. For starters, the people that we met in Australia were some of the most genuine people that I have met in my entire life. I was lucky enough to connect with so many people who were so passionate about what they did. There are three people who I’ll continue to share stories of for the rest of my life; Ross, Gail, and Peta. I met these three people during different parts of the trip but each had stories and lessons that I could talk about for hours on end. But one thing that they all had in common was their passion and integrity. From the conversations that I had with them I learned more than I could’ve ever imagined which included things that weren’t in the program material. There were so many like them that I not only learned things about the country but I learned little life lessons as well.

While I got to meet so many amazing natives I spent most of time in Australia with the other members on my trip. Over the course of three weeks, I got to know these twenty-two students pretty well and each one of them taught me something different. In a group that size, every person will have a different story and different perspective to share. We all came from different backgrounds and majors and each individual person gave me a different perspective. I’m glad that I had this community of people in Australia and that I’ll be able to see their friendly faces at OSU.

The natives and my fellow students all showed me new experiences and hearing their passions was such a great experience. But I’d have to give a lot of the credit to my transformative experience to the amazing faculty members I was lucky enough to have on this journey. Dr. Slater and my TA Chelsey are probably two of the best OSU faculty members that I’ve ever met. The reason I’d credit them with my transformation is because they inspired me in ways I wasn’t thinking they would. I wasn’t expecting to learn from them outside of course material but they are so passionate about their field that they made learning easy. They placed such an emphasis on experiencing the world and the country we were visiting and through this mentality I was able to learn so much more. Being able to hear their stories and have them inspire me, I was able to have the transformative experience that I had.

The last thing I’d like to give thanks to for my transformation would have to be the country of Australia itself. I don’t think anyone can go to the opposite side of the world and see what we saw and not have at least some form of a transformation. Everywhere I turned there was something beautiful, whether it was an animal, a plant, or just simply the landscape. Australia is such a beautiful country; from the mountains, to the outback, and to the coral reef, everything took my breathe away and I couldn’t be more thankful that I was able to experience it.

As a move forward in college, my career and my life, Australia will be a time I never forget. I already find myself referencing the country in all aspects of my life. I was lucky enough to study the environment in a country that is on the frontline of sustainability and that will do wonders for my academic and professional career. I gained field experience and knowledge that I can apply to my major. But, this is something I anticipated when I came into this program. It fit perfectly with my major, my interests and what I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t know however, how much this month would change me personally. I’ve learned so many life lessons and broadened my perspectives and that is something I’m thankful to have experienced. All of this is probably the real transformation me. So, thank you Australia, I can’t wait to come back.

Introduction to Western Tradition and Contemporary Issues in Corfu, Greece

In Corfu, my time mainly consisted focusing on the history general education course I was taking that moved through the evolution of history, from Ancient Greece to the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, ending with Modern Greece. When I was not in class or studying for exams, other students and I explored Corfu town, spent time getting to know the locals and visiting almost every beach on the island! In addition to all of this, we took two weekend excursions with our advisors to see the historical landmarks we focused on in class, only further bettering our understanding of history itself.

In terms of my understanding of myself, I realized being away from home is a lot harder for me than I initially thought. Culture shock is completely real and evident when you’re on the other side of the world. When I first arrived in Greece, I felt guilty being sad because I knew I had done so much to be where I was, but I was still not comfortable. I gave myself a week to adjust, and by that time, I had gotten used to how the bus system worked, the showers that were three feet in width, and the insane amount of feta used in every meal. I found the people I had the most fun with and spent a lot of time with them, and once I reached that point, the next three weeks flew by. I learned how to adjust to my given situation and to make the very best of it, and that’s something I never really considered a strength of mine. I found out I have a much larger capacity for independence than I ever once believed, and I am thankful this trip gave me something more than just an opportunity to visit a beautiful country.

My view of the world was another thing that had changed while completing my STEP Signature Project. I came to discover that we are really spoiled here in the United States, in terms of something as simple as Wi-Fi. Even students who had purchased international plans had trouble getting signal and communicating with others back home. Wireless internet is simply not a luxury available in such ease of access as it is here in the United States. Although it might come off as a negative thing, not having Wi-Fi at all hours of the day was actually a blessing. Because of this, I was able to spend more time looking at the things around me and spend more time with the people I was surround with. Leaving the United States and spending a whole month in a foreign country actually taught me something that seems so simple to understand; to live in the moment.

The first thing that contributed to my change of comfort being in a foreign country with no familiar faces was the group of friends that I made during the trip. My trip consisted of twenty-two girls, and a majority of us had never met each other before this program, which I think contributed a lot to my rough first week. But as I mentioned earlier, by the second I had found my group of girls that I bonded with the most, I was at complete ease. We would get dinner together, study together, and go to the beach whenever we had a free afternoon. It was nice to be able to get so close to a group of people having only known them for a couple weeks. Even now, we all keep in touch and I am confident these are friendships that I will never forget.

A second factor that contributed to my experience enhancing was our relationships with the locals. Nearby where we were staying was a cute, family-run restaurant called “Captain George.” Captain George was one of the friendliest people we came upon in Greece. Simply knowing we were from Ohio State, he treated us as all as if we were his daughters. He gave us free food and put on a show that had us laughing to the point of crying almost every time we came over for a meal. Feeling that type of hospitality from someone was so welcoming and warming. None of us will ever forget Captain George!

Lastly, the excursions that we took to the historical sites were life changing, one of the many things I felt I was living in the moment for. We saw tombs of kings and princes of ancient Greece, and walked through the very sites that these historical events actually occurred in. It was a surreal experience knowing the things we read about in history books, even back in the United States, still lives on today. I was able to focus and actually feel a sense of importance that I do not naturally feel back home, and maybe that is because these were things I never thought I would get to experience.

As I mentioned earlier, this trip gave me the ability to become more independent. I adjusted to being in foreign country with no one I know for a whole month. I learned skills and gained the ability to deal with things I have never encountered before. I know for a fact that I will be able to use this new found confidence in my future endeavors, whether that be being comfortable talking to strangers I meet on the street or attending law school across the country. In terms of living in the moment, that is something I have already taken advantage of since I got back home. I now spend more time with those around me and embracing every moment, versus my old habit of sitting on my phones and “living” through social media. This trip has truly been life changing and without the help of the STEP program, it would not have been accomplished.

Between France and Morocco: Diversity in the Francophone World

My experience during my study entailed visiting both France and Morocco. In France we were able to visit many different places as it pertained to its history. In France we also learned a lot about the Islamic religion, Christianity, and Judaism which was a preface to what we would actually be able to experience in Morocco. 

If you ask my closest friends, they will tell you I am a very “bougie” guy. But that was far from true in my opinion. I began to realize my “bougie” traits during my trip to France and Morocco. We would go to extremely nice restaurants although the food was subpar, and transfer to different hotels almost 5 times a week. This was very exhausting but at the same time I was “living my best life”. Instead of living in middle class homes and eating home food for most of the trip, we would stay in 3-5 star hotels and eat at the finest restaurants in town. Living like that came natural to me (although I was somewhat unfamiliar with it) and now I don’t see myself living any other way after my study abroad experience. Also, the experiences that I have had while being on that trip is something that not everyone gets the opportunity to have, which makes me even more “bougie” in other individuals eyes. 

While I was in France, I had the opportunity to visit the Eiffel Tower. As I stood on top of the Eiffel Tower and stared down into the streets of Paris, France with all of its beautiful history-rich architecture, I knew that in that moment anything was possible for me and that I was extremely fortunate because not everyone gets to have that experience abroad.

I was also discovered that being in the presence of the history that you are being taught about is the best way to learn. I was so used to being taught in classrooms and taking notes and having to study these notes which was the best way for me to learn at the time. But since my experience abroad, being in the presence of what you are being taught is more engaging and more interesting which forces everyone to be more attentive and learn. For example, in France we stood outside the Notre Dame and had a tour guide take us around the building explaining the carvings in the building and the history behind it. I think I remember everything she said word for word. 

My education abroad was very interesting as I was able to witness certain thing first hand; such as  the difference in norms between Europe and America, and traditions within the Islamic community in Morocco and also having to conform to them out of respect for the people that resided there. I came into this program not knowing that much about other cultures except for my own, Christianity. Things that certain cultures did would always leave me in wonder because I never understood why they did certain things, and how. But this trip taught me so much about the Islamic religion and Judaism. I was able to eat their foods, practice their religious holidays, and be around them more. 

I would say my journey to France and Morocco was life changing, to say the least. I have definitely walked out with a different perspective on life since I have been back. I now feel more urges to explore, and try new things. For example, I am from New York City and previously, in my 19 years of living there I had not experienced all it has to offer. Since being back, I have became a tourist of my own state. I also discovered that traveling is now a hobby of mine, because after my trip abroad I booked a flight to Jamaica. I do not feel like I am the same person I was before going on this study abroad trip, and I can’t wait to see my change in perspective manifest itself in the Fall. 

STEP Reflection: British Invasion 2018

My STEP Signature Project consisted of a two-week course at OSU and a two-week abroad experience in London and Liverpool, United Kingdom.  As a class of 14 students, we explored British music from the 60’s and how it impacted society in the UK and the United States then and today.

During my British Invasion course, I grew to understand myself and the world at a higher level.  In terms of myself, I realized that my love for music impacts so many of my day to day interactions and experiences.  Learning more about music during this course, and how it can impact so many people at a large scale, was extremely inspiring.  After this course, my love for music has only grown and I want to continuing growing my knowledge of it.

Along with this, my mind was also opened up to new groups of people at OSU.  I went on this experience not knowing a single person, but I left with so many new close relationships.  In addition, rooming with an international student was an extremely moving experience.  Since I have attended OSU, I really have not interacted much with the international students outside of class.  Getting to grow close with a girl from China made me realize how although our cultures differ vastly, we are still just 20 year old girls and can connect through this and learn from each other in different ways. Being surrounded by a new group of people from OSU really reminded me to never close myself off because I am still so young and there are so many people to learn from and grow with.

In terms of my assumptions about the world, getting to travel abroad really changed so much for me.  Not only did I travel to London and Liverpool with my class, but since there was no return flight, I continued my travels to the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, and Germany for another month once my education abroad experience ended.  Getting to see how various countries and their cultures differed from one another was extremely interesting and eye-opening.  In Spain, I got to practice my Spanish and this really gave me more confidence in the field.  In addition, in Italy I got to experience my heritage and see where my ancestors came from, which was a beautiful experience.

Along with this, learning to navigate public transportation and interact with people who did not speak the same language pushed me to be more flexible and innovative.  I now return feeling as though I am a more independent version of myself.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to travel on my own and push my boundaries and feel much more mature and competent when I came home.  Being comfortable with being alone is extremely important to me and after this experience, I will savor any alone time I can get rather than feeling uncomfortable with it.

All of these changes are extremely important now and will carry into my future, as well.  In terms of personal growth, I am much more confident and independent.  In terms of academic growth, I have sparked a new interest for music and this shows me how important life long learning is.  I also now want to study abroad again, possibly for an entire semester.  In terms of growth for my future, getting to interact with new people and see new parts of the world made me realize that I would love a job that would allow me to travel.  It also showed me that I will be more than capable in pursuing graduate school in Clinical Psychology in my dream state of Colorado.  I now know that I can navigate foreign countries and meet friends there and feel at home, so I will definitely be able to do so within the United States.


In conclusion, the most important lesson I have learned from this experience is that although comfort is great, a person can not grow unless they explore.  Whether this exploration be with new places, new people, new ideas, or simply new food or music, it does not matter.  All that matters is we keep asking questions and we keep looking for answers.  Although comfort may be nice sometimes, we must continue to expand our horizons or else we will get stuck.  I know now that life is too short to waste any time being just comfortable.


STEP Reflection: Western Europe Architecture Program

Emma McMonigal

Type of Project: Education Abroad

This summer STEP helped me fund a month-long trip through five countries in Western Europe that opened my eyes to the amazing works of architecture and the unique culture each country had to offer. We traveled through several cities where we participated in discussions and sketches in order to fully analyze and respond to the architecture presented to us throughout the trip.

What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

After my trip to Europe, I feel like I look at the world around me in a new way, mentally and architecturally. This program gave me a great opportunity to challenge my self-reliance. By spending a month in Europe with limited connection to my support system back home, I discovered a level of independence and confidence that I had not previously felt. I’ve now developed a skillset that can help me tackle new experiences and help me push outside of my comfort zone. Therefore, I experience less terror at the thought of failure and I’m more willing to try things that I will not excel at right away.

I also used this trip as an opportunity to develop new skills that could help me become a better architect and designer. I feel like after this trip I have become more inspired by the ways architecture can define a country and embody the personality and culture of places. After this program, I now have a new view of the world of architecture. Nowadays, I look at the world around me as a collection of experiences that could one day inspire great designs. I also take the time to analyze the spaces around me, using the skills I have studied, to develop a catalog I can pull for my own projects. The knowledge and skills this trip has allowed me to develop have already influenced my thoughts and views of the world and will continue to do so for several years.

What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

The responsibilities and new conditions I had during the trip helped me develop my independence and confidence. Throughout the trip, I had to interact with locals who did not speak much English, keep myself on a budget, and learn to navigate completely new cities every day. Those undertakings were almost as foreign to me as my surroundings, however, I slowly developed the skills to become more self-confident. Being responsible for myself was not a wholly new concept as I have been doing so in college for many years, but the everyday tasks that seemed ordinary in the US became a new challenge to tackle in the foreign countries. I’m normally a very shy person around strangers and find it difficult to be assertive in new situations. Not being able to read signs or even most menus gave me several opportunities to communicate with locals who didn’t speak much English. These instances forced me to step out of my shell so that I would know where I was going or what I was going to eat for dinner. I learned to conquer my fear of speaking out and to take charge of a usually daunting situation, which helped me acquire a new confidence in myself to handle novel circumstances in the future.

This trip was also about developing new skills that could help me become a better architect. Throughout the trip, we all learned to sketch the architecture we were visiting. Before I even left the US, I was terrified of failing at sketching or not knowing enough about architecture to keep up with the graduate students and even my peers. The fear of failure made it difficult to start my first sketch, but the encouragement from the graduate students helped me push past that anxiety. I will admit my first couple sketches were a complete mess and it was a struggle to sketch at all knowing they would not be the best. However, pushing myself to keep practicing and using the advice all my peers collected allowed me to finally draw some beautiful sketches that I was extremely proud of. All the work that went into developing my sketching skills made it that more meaningful to me when I got to a point where I enjoyed sketching and liked my final products. It has been a long while since I have pushed myself to develop a new skill and I have been stuck in a bit of a rut where it has been hard to try new things. This program allowed me to discover the joys in sketching and the benefits of stepping outside of my comfort zone. It also reminded me that even if I’m not the best person for the job in the beginning a lot of hard work and help from others can lead to success later.

Seeing the architecture I have been studying in my major and developing the skills to analyze architecture further has given me a greater appreciation for my major. I’ve learned to see architecture in a new light and I enjoy trying to unearth the core design elements used in buildings. Learning about architects from the past and the different processes used to inspire all the unique designs really changed my outlook on architecture. I now see that architects can be inspired by almost anything and the best work is born from strong inspiration from the world around us. While in Paris, we saw a gallery featuring the architectural ideas of a Japanese architect who had strong influences from nature. His bold designs and use of nature throughout his work were simply elegant and something I hope to use as influences of my own designs. That gallery gave me a great opportunity to appreciate the work of an architect I have never even heard of and it was only one of several architectural works that I hope to emulate in future designs. This trip gave me a ton of inspiration and made me excited for this upcoming semester where I can hopefully use this newfound interest to create designs not typically seen in the US.

Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans

These transformations in myself are valuable for my future as they have helped me grow as a person and as an architect. The confidence I have in myself will definitely make it easier to tackle new challenges in my life, like interviewing for internships next summer. This trip also made me want to try to learn new skills, such as baking or writing. If I can learn to sketch in a month, a world of possible talents is open to me. Also, the knowledge and inspiration I have gained from this trip will hopefully transfer into better designs in the future. This trip has allowed me to gain confidence in myself, to develop a greater interest in designing, and to be excited about all the new skills I can develop if I just give myself the time to learn them. I feel enthusiastic for the last two years of my academic career and where I could go from there. A lot of that awareness comes from the encouragement and inspiration I found from this trip. I hope these skills I have developed will last throughout my life and keep pushing me out of my comfort zones to become a stronger person professionally and personally.

Western European Architecture Studies

Annie Richardson

Education abroad signature project 


During the month of May, I participated in the Western European Architecture Studies education abroad trip. The group stayed in eighteen cities during the thirty-day trip and traveled to many other cities along the way. The program focused on seeing and sketching the built environment.

As my trip progressed, my understanding of self improvement deepened. Going into the trip, I was a person without much traveling experience. I had never been out of the country, and I had never flown on an airplane alone. I originally felt very intimidated by this trip since I had to branch out and be on my own. When I got on the airplane to fly from Indianapolis to New Jersey, a nervous feeling rushed over me. The fact that I was traveling without my family to a foreign country frightened me beyond belief. After being in Europe for a couple of days, and realizing all of the neat opportunities I had in front of me, the nervous feeling subsided. I came to deeper understanding of my limitations and a realization that I can do more than what I originally thought.

The first event that led me to my internal transformation was the plane ride to Germany. While on the plane I came to understand that I can do anything through will power. I am physically and mentally able to travel and experience life on my own. This led to a great start of the trip. Without this realization at the beginning of my trip, I don’t think I would have had the transformative five weeks that I did.

While my group was traveling around Amsterdam, I got to experience culture like I had never seen it before. The Netherlands offered some of the richest cultural adventures. The beautiful architecture led me to think about the architecture in my own home city. While thinking home to Indianapolis made me nostalgic, it also made me appreciate the opportunity I was given. It is not everyday that a person from a small town in Indiana gets to travel the world and experience new cultures and ideas.

Since my trip ended in Spain, I had to make the most of my time in such an incredible country. Between the food, the architecture, and the friendly locals, Spain was easily my favorite country we visited. I think this is when I truly started to find myself. Over the course of the trip I had been accumulating confidence and it all started to show when I was in Spain. I even did not want to go home. I started out as a person scared that I would not be able to make it through the entire trip without my family, to being a person that was not ready to go back and see my family. For me, the transformation I made from the plane ride at the beginning of my trip to ending in Spain was the most visible change I had ever seen in myself.

The personal change that occurred while I was on this trip will be extremely valuable to me in school, work, and my future career. Since I was in foreign countries for five weeks without many people I knew before hand, I have learned that I do not need to depend on other people. I have all the skill sets necessary to accomplish any task that might be thrown my way. I will be more confident in my school work in the upcoming year due to my study abroad trip. This trip will leave a lasting impression on me. I know that I will always look back on this trip with fond memories with new friends, but also as a personal learning experience for myself.



Study Abroad to Cyprus

My STEP Signature Project was a study abroad trip to Cyprus for a month. I traveled with nine other OSU students along with an OSU professor who is originally from Cyprus. We studied Geography of the European Union at Neapolis University Pafos.

Traveling to a country so far and so different from my home made me learn a lot about myself. Although almost everyone spoke English, the culture difference was very significant. In many countries Americans are viewed as loud and obnoxious so we were stared at almost everywhere we went. As a group, we learned to respect our surroundings and appreciate the culture that we were so immersed in. I fully embraced the people and environment that were so welcoming to all of us. It made me appreciative of how accepting other countries can be compared to the United States.

During our month in Cyprus, we met a lot of locals that we became close with. Some of them were other students at Neapolis University and some owned local restaurants. One of my favorite people we met was the owner of a local gyro shop. I went there so often that by the last week of my trip, I would walk in and the owner would already know my order! It touched my heart that this local Cypriot man took the time to care about me.

Additionally, during this study abroad trip the group of students I traveled with became very close. Because there was only nine of us, we quickly all became life long friends. I feel very lucky to have met these people- people I probably have passed on campus- halfway around the world. I hope to help see that this program stays alive in the coming years so that other students can have the same experience as me.

However, the most important relationship I built during this trip was that with my professor, Dr. Constantinou, who is originally from Cyprus. Dr. Constantinou went out of his way to make us feel at home in his country. Whether that was getting coffee with us on the regular, or taking us to the village he grew up in, he truly went above and beyond. My favorite night on this trip was traveling to his village and eating a completely homemade meal cooked by his brother. The way that many people cook in Cyprus is much different than here in the United States- his brother had raised his own chickens and vegetables, made his own wine, and spent the entire day hand cooking everything on our plates in a traditional manner in stone ovens. I think this was one of the most transformational nights of my trip. Seeing into the lives of this family, how they live, work, and go to school, was an amazing experience. We sat with them while watching a soccer game and talked about our two completely different worlds, but were still able to connect. This specific experience not only made me appreciate the Cypriot culture, but not take my culture and country for granted. The hospitality that his family showed us was amazing.

The class that we took while abroad was Geography of the EU. This class really doesn’t directly apply to my major which made me all the more excited to learn about a topic that I had no prior experience with. Throughout the class we learned about the physical geography of the European Union, the changing culture of all of the different parts, as well as the political, governmental, and banking systems of the EU. We were also lucky enough to travel overnight to the capital of Cyprus, Nicosia, and visit the EU Commission Office as well as the National Bank. It was such an immersive way to learn about another part of the world that really functions much differently than the United States does. It was a transformational experience that opened my eyes to new ideas, especially in a political climate that is so polar these days. The EU strives to bring together people of different countries, beliefs, and backgrounds into one group that’s unified- this is something that I now carry with me and hope to see grow within my own circle and even beyond. I feel that it was important for me to learn about these topics within the EU, the more educated and open minded we make ourselves, the better we learn to work together and love each other.

As a business major- an industry that can constantly be surrounded by greed and selfishness- I always strive to break from the pack and make a positive impact in the world wherever that may be. It was always important to me to study abroad, not only to see the world, but also to see other people’s perspectives and learn more in depth how other cultures function. I think that having this outlook on life is a very transferable trait that can apply to many other aspects of my life. Spending an extended period of time learning about other cultures and systems around the world is something I will take with me on all of my future business travels and when working with people who may have different beliefs than me. I want to work in a diverse workplace where nobody should ever feel like they can’t share their beliefs, I think this trip led me in the right direction to accomplish this goal.