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.



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