Dresden Summer Language Program

  1. My STEP Project was a Study Abroad through the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature. I studied for eight weeks on the Dresden Summer Program. Through this, I was able to earn 9 credit hours towards my German minor. We took both a language course taught in German and a culture and history course in English. Outside of class, we visited neighboring areas where we were able to experience the things we were learning in class first hand.
  2. Being abroad for eight weeks had an enormous impact on my understanding of both myself and the world. I went in wanting to gain confidence in my German speaking abilities and in my overall independence. I feel that I reached this goal and beyond. I have full confidence speaking German, even if I am not near fluent. I also improved my overall communication skills. I now know how to better network with others and build relationships with people I have never encountered before. My ability to support myself independently improved substantially.

My understanding of the world expanded and I now have a more open mind about people and their backgrounds. Through my experiences, I was able to see similarities and make connections back to the United States which helped me to feel more comfortable in a new environment. However, more importantly, I was able to see the differences between the two places and gain an appreciation for a culture that I had never experienced before.

  1. There were so many interactions and events that occurred that led to these transformations. One way I was exposed to the new culture was simply through common daily events. I noticed many differences when interacting with locals such as in stores or on the trams. People mostly kept to their selves and minded their own business, and expected you to do the same. It was not meant to be rude, just the way of the culture. Germany is very similar to the United States, however the differences were enough to make an impact. Another common interaction was at restaurants. Eating is a bigger event in Germany, meaning you are not supposed to be rushed. When you are finished, many will sit and converse for a while. You must tell your server when you are ready to leave or they will not bother you.

We learned of bigger historical differences in class. This was interesting to see where the basis of a lot of the modern culture came from. We were also able to speak with the people who actually live there, who have a deeper connection to the history, and here their take on it. It was also impactful that we were able to visit the places we had learned about and experience them first hand. This brought a deeper understanding of the country by taking the textbook words and pairing them with real life. One of the most meaningful for me was our visit to Buchenwald concentration camp. We have learned about the horrors of the Holocaust for many years in our history classes. But nothing compares to walking where the victims walked and standing where so many lost their lives.

Outside of gaining a wider world view, there were many events that led to my confidence gain. There were subtle differences that seemed small in the grand scheme of things but actually made a large impact on my life. I had to learn to grocery shop and cook for myself, clean more than just my own room, and take responsibility of myself when traveling. These things may be small but they helped me to grow into a more confident and independent person. I also grew in my communication skills, especially in German. One of the biggest moments that made me realize that I had gained confidence was actually a reflection on the difference between two events. At the beginning of our program, we had to attend a sort of “speed dating” event. We had a few minutes to speak with a local, either in German or English, get to know each other, and then switch people. I noticed at the end that I had spoken in English the majority of the time. Once I sensed the German was not understanding me, I became nervous and immediately switched to English. This was a complete difference to the end of the trip when we invited out professors to a “potluck” dinner as a small departing gift. One of my professors was a local and she wanted to speak in German at the dinner. I was able to speak with her for close to three hours only in German. We got to know each other and spoke very casually but confidently. If there was something she was confused about that I was saying, I would simply slow down and attempt to either say it another way or explain what I meant. Either way, I kept up the German and had no doubt in my ability to converse with her as long as she wanted.

  1. Through this program I made not only a large step towards obtaining my German minor, but I gained many skills that I will be able to use as a physician in the future. Physicians need to be strong and confident in their abilities and practice. I have talked a lot about the amount of confidence I gained from this program and I will be able to transfer that into my career in the future. I also gained an immense amount of communication skills. This is important to be able to speak clearly and effectively to staff to ensure they know exactly what I am trying to say and get things done smoothly and efficiently. I will also need to be clear in my interactions with patients. They need to have a full understanding of what I am talking about and their instructions for the future. I will use the problem solving skills I gained to work through difficult situations that will arise throughout my career.

As for my wider global understanding, this will be helpful in assisting all of the different patients I will see. I will be working with people from all different backgrounds and I now have a deeper appreciation for the beauty in that. I will also be able to use my world connections I made in Dresden, as well as the many more I will be able to build now with my improved language skills, to be able to network and work with other physicians and researchers from all over the world to improve my practice and the medical field as a whole.

Salamanca, España: La Universidad de Salamanca

Caroline Coleman

Education Abroad

  1. This summer I studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain for seven weeks. The program was organized by International Studies Abroad (ISA). At the Universidad de Salamanca, I took Advanced Spanish Grammar, Spanish Culture, and Spanish Writing Skills.


  1. My experience abroad has greatly influenced my perception of myself and my understanding of the world and its vastly differing cultures. I had the opportunity to travel all around Spain (Madrid, Toledo, El Escorial, Salamanca, Santander, Barcelona, Ibiza) and through parts of Europe (Aveiro, Portugal; Paris, France; Venice, Italy). Immersing myself in the Spanish language increased my already strong long for the language and my desire to become fluent. I also learned so much about the Spanish culture, and living with a host family ensured that I lived these cultural differences on a daily basis.


  1. In smaller cities in foreign countries (compared to larger touristy cities), it is much more likely to encounter people who only speak their native language. Salamanca is a pretty small town. It’s home to lots of students from around the world since its university is one of the most famous and historic universities in existence (it celebrated its 800 years while I was there- founded in 1218). However, aside from the students, most of Salamanca’s residents are locals who have spent their entire lives there. My host family only spoke Spanish, which I loved because it forced me to, if I didn’t know a word, figure out another way to explain it in Spanish. During my time in Spain, I watched six movies in Spanish, multiple TV shows in Spanish, the news in Spanish, and read a couple books in Spanish.

Not only was watching the news everyday with my host family a good practice of the language, it was a great tool in exposing me to the politics and current events around the world and particularly in Europe. We saw a lot of mention on the news about the taxi strikes in Madrid and Barcelona and even experienced it first-hand one weekend when we were stuck carrying our luggage through the streets of Madrid. In my Spain Culture class, I learned about all 19 of Spain’s autonomous states and even got to visit others besides Castilla y León (where I was living). We also learned about Spain’s political system, specifically Spain’s Civil War which led to Franco’s dictatorship and eventually a republic. It was really interesting to hear my professor’s perspective, since she grew up during the Franco period and had stories about the oppression.

Another part of the culture that I got used to was their vastly different schedule. In Spain, eating breakfast is uncommon, lunch is the main meal, and dinner is small. People don’t eat lunch until 3 or 4 PM, and then the majority of people take a siesta. Dinner is eaten around 10 or 11 PM. Since I lived with a host family, we followed this eating schedule and it took some time to get used to. Another cultural norm is not to rush; in general, people estimate a time that they want to meet their friends and then will arrive within an hour of that time. Spain’s more laid back lifestyle is noticeably different from that of the fast-paced American culture. It was amazing to be able to fully experience all aspects of this culture different from my own.


  1. My time in Spain transformed me into an even more dedicated Spanish-learner. I have always been fascinated by how people learn language and always wanted to become fluent in Spanish, and being in Spain enhanced that drive within me. There were students in my classes from all around the world: native Spanish speakers from Spain and South America, and people from China, Japan, Taiwan, Egypt, France, Belgium, Lebanon, the Netherlands, and more. The ability of all these people to speak Spanish as a common language amazed me. I made a friend in one of my classes who was fluent in 5 languages. She said the best way to improve your language skills is to speak to natives without fear of making mistakes. I tried that my whole seven weeks in Spain and I have seen significant improvements in my speaking ability. I will carry this piece of advice with me forever because it really is the only way to ever improve your ability to speak another language. It carries over to other aspects of life too: if you’re too scared to make mistakes and therefore never take risks, you’ll never learn.

My experiences this summer have inspired me to take more risks and find opportunities to live in a Spanish speaking country for a longer period of time. I want to utilize Spanish in my career as I go into law enforcement, so I will seek out every opportunity to live somewhere where I can speak Spanish on a daily basis.


STEP Reflection- Dresden Summer Language Program

Emily Udelhoven

Type of Project: Study Abroad

  1. My STEP Signature Project was an 8-week study abroad in Dresden. It is called the Dresden Summer Language Program and has a great emphasis not only on learning how to speak German, but also on learning more about German history and culture. We took classes while in Dresden, but also went on field trips to surrounding cities to directly see and interact with the history in our area of Germany. Also, in the area of Germany where we were, many people spoke limited English so we were practicing our language skills daily while outside the classroom.
  2. The changes that I experienced were largely due to a different daily lifestyle in Germany. I learned more about the way I lived and how it is different from the ways others live. In America, I was used to going on weekly grocery trips where we bought an entire cart full of food and it lasted us comfortably through the week. But in Germany, many people visited the grocery store daily because there are many smaller grocery stores that may not have everything you need for the entire week. There isn’t a big “one stop shop” like in America, so people don’t buy massive hauls of groceries. My friends and I started shopping like this and it was amazing because we bought so much less and had far less food that went bad and needed to be thrown out. This way of living was not only more environmentally friendly, but it also saved us money. There was also a huge emphasis on recycling and there was much more sorting in the recycling than in America. Another change in my life was that I heavily relied on public transportation in Germany and use it sparingly in the United States. I did not have a car in Germany but still had to get around to many places around the city. This led my friends and I to the public transportation which is a much more developed and reliable system than many I have experienced in the United States. Their trains were consistent, frequent and incredibly clean. It was truly amazing how it easy it was to travel around, especially since all the transportation was in German, but it was still simple enough for us to figure it out without issues. This made me see how important it is to have a good public transportation system because it allows everyone access to all parts of the city and is so much more environmentally friendly than everyone owning and driving their own cars. I did not ride in a car the entire duration of my trip because it was never needed. I didn’t even need a taxi because the buses and trains were so extensive. It made me reevaluate the amount that I use a car and reevaluate the US-way of driving mostly individual vehicles.

These were two small examples of a lifestyle changes but are overall related to a change in the way that I looked at the world around me. I no longer thought in the abstract when it came to the way people in Europe lived because I saw it and experienced it firsthand. This showed me that sometimes the way I do things isn’t always the best and its ok to be challenged and adapt my lifestyle. In America, I think we can sometimes get stuck in this mindset that the American experience is widely understood and that everybody knows everything about America and wants to visit America etc. However, being in Germany showed me not only how many people didn’t know a ton about America, but also that many people rarely thought about America and focused instead on their way of life. I think it’s incredibly valuable to see this as a young American because it gives you a much better worldview and shows that America is just one small part of this huge world that we live in.

  1. The experiences outside the classroom were largely where I was able to learn about the people living in Dresden and the types of lives they live. We became friends with other students our age that studied at the university we were at and these relationships were also incredibly valuable. They would invite us to do things around the city with them that we may have never found on our own. It was also really interesting exchanging stories with them about each of our own life experiences. There were obviously some things that were different, but we also had many experiences in common which really showed that even though we grew up thousands of miles apart and in different countries, we aren’t as different as one may think. This section of Germany has been through a lot historically and it shapes how people are today. People around us had much less casual communication as the United States and people there were always on time to everything. It was little things that were different that were interesting to see and adapt to, but nothing that was ever so foreign that it wasn’t manageable.

One of the people that made this trip so amazing for me and helped me adjust was Birte, my German instructor. She was truly one of the best professors I had in the classroom because of how patient she was with each and every student. We had a class of 11 so it really allowed us to get individual help when needed and I can say that my language skills absolutely developed under her guidance. But, this relationship was meaningful for more than just our classroom interactions. She came on field trips with us and would tell us about her own life and experiences. It was so interesting and helpful to hear her perspective on things and made me open my mind to other interpretations of things that I wouldn’t have understood before. I will never forget how much confidence she helped me gain in speaking German and will forever be happy that I was able to learn from her for this short time.

The last, and most important relationship, that I developed during my trip was with my trip advisor Kevin Richards. He taught the culture class that we were in and it was one of the best experiences I have had academically. He encouraged us to challenge each other through respectful discussion and opened my mind up to so many new ways of thinking. He was so thoughtful with every comment that he left on my assignments and I have never felt a professor take such a distinct interest in my learning as he did. He was accessible and did everything to help us have an enjoyable and productive trip. He would help translate when we needed it and worked to make everyone feel like a valued member of the trip. I know that without Kevin my trip would not have nearly been the same and I am so grateful for the experience that he helped create for my peers and I.

  1. All of the changes that I experienced are valuable for my future because I would like to be a doctor and this is profession where communication and understanding are incredibly important. This trip gave me the ability to communicate with a whole new group of people through my developed language skills but beyond that, it allowed me to develop a greater understanding of Europeans and the way they live. Understanding the way that people want to be addressed and how they process information is an incredibly valuable tool. I’m by no means an expert, however I came away with a better understanding than I’ve ever had before which is hopefully something that I can continue to develop.

The most valuable thing that I gained in my time in Europe was a more open mind. I developed this from being pushed out of my comfort zone and being forced to adapt. Things were not the same as in America and sometimes I struggled to communicate with locals when my German was not advanced enough for what I was trying to say. However, these exact challenges are what helped me grow the most because each time I managed to find a solution and it taught me that there is always another way to reach where you are trying to go and as long as you keep an open mind and keep trying, you’ll get there somehow. This is valuable for my future because as a doctor because I’m going to have to be able to think on my feet when the first solution doesn’t go as planned. I will also have to be open minded with people because there is no “cookie cutter” patient and so I will run into a variety of people but that shouldn’t change the care they get. With an open mind, treating everybody as an equal comes naturally and will ultimately make me a better doctor and person in general.

STEP Reflection – SGIP London

STEP Reflection – Study Abroad

Fisher’s Global Internship

Summer 2018


My STEP project was an internship in London through Fisher’s Global Internship Program. I worked for a company called Cox Automotive UK in their data solutions department. I learned how to create insightful visualizations in Tableau and manipulate and clean up data using SQL.

In general, I’m a fairly introverted person. I like to make connections with people, but I’m not really one to put myself out there for those opportunities. Therefore, some of my main goals for this program were as follows. One, learn as much as I can and contribute positively to my company – after all this was an internship not just hanging out with fellow students in another country. Two, meet new people and try new things. I think it’s probably easier to invent a new self with people you don’t know in a place you’re not from. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and experience new things while I was on this program. I only two other people on my same program to London (even though there were over 60 of us going). My plan was to leverage my friendship with them and the fact that they both are super outgoing to make new friends and accomplish my goals for the summer.

Because I knew two people on my program, roomed with one of them, and all the students on the trip were sort of going through the same thing, I felt it was easier to kind of put myself out there and connect with strangers which I normally find pretty difficult to do. The program itself also put on a couple of events to facilitate the students getting to know each other. I became friends with a lot of the people on the program and found people travel with me, challenge me, and make really great memories with that I couldn’t have made without this program. I learned a lot about myself on this program because I was originally thinking that I would need the two people that I knew beforehand to really help me make friends and feel more comfortable, and they definitely did make me feel more comfortable especially the first week, but I also learned that I can be outgoing and really adapt to certain situations when I need to. As I said earlier I think it probably helps to reinvent yourself when you’re in a completely new place, but I was genuinely surprised that I was able to step out of my comfort zone as much as I did (by myself) during this program. I think it really helped that I liked a lot of the people on my trip and that I loved my job.

One of the things that really surprised me about the program is how much I loved working. I thought it would be a great way to get experience and learn about business culture in a different country but I didn’t really expect to like my job as much as I did because I was so nervous about it before actually leaving for London. I was nervous because my job was in data solutions, and while I am a business analytics minor I am one, not very good with technology and two, have very little experience working with data. However, I had plenty of time to work with and learn how to use the tools (Tableau and SQL) in order to accomplish tasks I was given. Also, my coworkers were absolutely amazing and were so knowledgeable and willing to help; it was really cool learning from them. My coworkers were also all pretty young so another fun thing that happened that I wasn’t expecting was that I actually became friends with my coworkers.

I think my trip abroad and my internship experience have given me more confidence in myself and my abilities. I have a really difficult course load for the rest of my undergraduate life and I feel more capable of doing well because of the knowledge and experiences I gained while abroad. A lot of my classes this semester are very application and project based, so I think I’ll be able to understand more about what is being asked and able to better deliver those things because of my experiences. This is also the year I finish up most of my business analytics classes and I actually have a little bit of comprehension behind this now because of my internship. Technically during my internship I was working with the BI guys (Business Intelligence) which mainly consisted of creating visualizations for the business’ internal clients. However, the coworker I was closest to was in the middle of transitioning from BI to data science. Data science interests me a lot because it has more of stat component involved so we talked about that a lot and he suggested articles for me to read, so now I feel like I’m not coming in totally blind to what the more statistical side of business analytics is all about, which again really helps with my confidence which in the past is something that I haven’t always had.

I think I also learned that in general people want to help. When I don’t understand something right away I’ve always kind of felt stupid and like a burden because if I don’t understand it I have to ask questions and then I take time away from that person to do other things they might want to do more. At the start of my internship my company was trying to launch a new product called AIMS and it was new way to collect the data that they needed for their visualizations and things of the like. They were supposed to launch it the week that I started work but it wasn’t quite ready yet because it was still in the testing phase and the people pushing to just implement it already didn’t quite understand what they were asking for but the deadline of this launch had already been pushed back at least one year, so they really wanted it ready. So, everyone in my department was working to get it launched and also had other things they still had to do for the business on their plates, so I felt bad interrupting them to tell them I didn’t have work, or didn’t understand something that was probably pretty basic to them or really just interrupting them for something that I might need which I thought wouldn’t be a priority. However, I quickly learned that they were always willing to help out even thought they were busy with time sensitive things. I was still conscientious of their time and didn’t interrupt them with every little thing I had questions on and did a lot of researching on my own. But, I did keep a list of questions that when one of my coworkers had time I could ask them. And generally, those conversations lasted longer than I thought they would because my coworkers really wanted to make sure that I had a thorough understanding of what was being asked and how to continue forward which I really appreciated. I think that was also a really good lesson for me to learn.

I had been to London twice before my program there and loved it so I wanted to go back because one, I loved it and two, I felt comfortable there, and the biggest reason I wanted to go back (for an extended period of time) was because I wanted to see if I could live there. My conclusion: I could, and I desperately want to. My biggest takeaway from this experience aside from how much I grew as a person is learning how much I love London and how well of a fit it is for me. I loved being in such a culturally diverse place. In my office alone, there were four people from England (obviously), two from Hungary, two from the states, one from Columbia, one from Spain, one from Portugal, one from New Zealand, one from Russia, and one from Latvia. Which was such a cool experience because one of my biggest passions is linguistics and language, so it was amazing to hear and learn about all the different languages. London is also a business hub which is good for a business major. There’s a big movement for finding your cultural fit with a company. That’s a big thing companies are looking for now because it’s proven that having a good cultural fit increases a worker’s happiness and productivity, so I think it’s just as important to find that fit in the place that you live. It probably doesn’t hurt that every single time that I’ve been to London I have had amazing weather (no humidity, unlike Ohio).

I feel incredibly lucky to have had this experience and found a place, culture, and people that I love so much. This experience has really made me push myself because I have found something that I really want that is not the easiest thing to do (start a life in London after I graduate college), so as of August 12, I have been researching and reaching out to people to figure out how I can make this dream a reality.


London Theatre Program

For my STEP signature project, I had the great opportunity to participate in a study abroad in London through Ohio State’s Department of Theatre. The London Theatre Program is a completely immersive program that took place throughout the month of July that focused in on the culture of the city and how it is reflected in the theatre industry that exists there. Through this program, I studied the world of theatre by seeing over twenty different productions and taking a course that discussed their current cultural significance, while also being completely immersed in the culture of London as I lived in the heart of the city. By doing this I truly had my eyes opened to the power that the theatrical art form and how it can impact those taking part in it.

Living in London while being completely immersed in an art form that I absolutely love for an entire month truly changed how I view the world, and also how I view myself. Before I left for London, I had complete confidence in what I wanted to do with my future. At that moment I was an Arts Management major with a plan to graduate early this coming Spring. I was then going to hopefully work in marketing for some sort of theatre organization. However, as the London Theatre Program ran its course and I had the opportunity to witness so many amazing productions, I was reminded of my overwhelming passion for the art form. Not only did I once again discover my passion, but I began to see how theatre can be used to make a change in the world around me. I started to see how I could transfer what I was noticing in London’s theatrical world, back to my own community. With these new realizations, my once concrete plan was transformed into one that was ready to be molded into something new with the knowledge I gained from my newfound experiences. Because of this, as soon as I got back to Columbus for this upcoming year, I declared a second major in Theatre completely throwing away my previous plan of graduating early in order to continue following my passion for theatre. My time on the London Theatre Program transformed how I see myself being involved in the theatrical industry and the world itself.

Coming into the London Theatre Program, I was the only participant that was not a Theatre major. This fact made me feel as though I was the odd one out at the beginning. I felt as though I did not have the necessary level of knowledge to discuss the productions that we were seeing and share any insights that I might have had. This feeling made me keep my thoughts to myself the first couple classes where we discussed productions. However, as my silence continued on, there was one person in the classroom the urged me to share and that was one of the professors on the program, Jen Schlueter. Jen constantly asked for my opinion and insights during class on the shows that we saw and seeing her genuine reactions to my statements made me feel comfortable with sharing my thoughts. Along with this, Jen created a learning environment that allowed us all to feel comfortable with sharing our thoughts because she made sure to let us know that there were no wrong answers when it came to discussion. Throughout the program, Jen also demonstrated how a passion for theatre can thrive in the world, and even if she doesn’t know it the relationship I had with her during this trip inspired me to continue chasing after my own passion.

The other participants in this program also played a large role in the transformation that occurred in my life. Once again, coming into this program I felt like an outsider entering into an already formed group. This feeling was completely washed away the first day in London. Everyone that was involved in the London Theatre Program welcomed me with open arms. However, there were a few people that I got very close to in the month we were participating in this program. With this small group, I had many moments of exploration in the city, a quick weekend trip to Paris, and many late night conversations that were really influential on my transformation. This group of amazing people listened to me when I began to realize that there was a shift in my life beginning, and they were, and still are, extremely supportive. Having this group in my life for the month of this program and still in my life today has allowed this experience to be as transformational to me as it was.

The moment that I realized that this program was going to be extremely transformational was when I saw a production entitled The Jungle. This play followed the story of a refugee camp in France, and it was the greatest theatrical production that I have ever witnessed in my life. Since seeing The Jungle, there has not been a single day that I have not thought about it. This was the most transformational experience due to the fact that the production was like nothing I had ever seen in my life. It was completely immersive and told a story that was so important in today’s world. The Jungle was more than a play, it was a shared human experience. While in the theater that the show took place, I felt as though I was connected with everyone there. This is the most transformational experience of the London Theatre Program because it made me truly feel the power of theatre in a way that I had never felt before, and in a way that I want to share in countless others in the future.

My time on the London Theatre Program made me realize the potentials that exist in the world for theatre to be used. Because of this realization, I have begun to take steps to transform my future so that I can be fully involved in these potential opportunities. My entire future plan has been reshaped, and with the knowledge that I gained from this experience, I am looking forward to working hard towards my desired goal. After a month of being immersed in theatre, my passion for the art form is stronger than it has ever been, and I intend to take this passion that has not only been reignited but also transformed into everything I do this semester, this year, and every following moment that occurs in my future.

Studying Abroad in Barcelona, Spain in July 2018

Name: Ally Chitwood

Type of Project: Education Abroad

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

My STEP project was a study abroad to Barcelona, Spain for a month in the Summer 2018 semester.  There, I was be able to immerse myself in the Spanish language, experience the culture of Spain, and take two courses to complete my Spanish minor.

  1. 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.

While abroad in Spain, I gained self confidence.  I learned to seek to understand those around me. I have more cultural competence and appreciation for history.  Also, I largely improved my Spanish conversation skills.

  1. 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.

I learned how to navigate the metro transit system.  I met new people. I talked to strangers in a language that is not my first.  Everyday I learned a new Spanish word. From the Bunkers of Caramel, I developed lasting friendships.  From my host mother, I learned about her experience of growing up in Colombia and living the most recent decades of her life in Catalunya.  She talked about how she can see that people can work for money rather than for personal fulfillment.

While in Barcelona, I learned about the history of Spain by studying Spanish films.  Movies filmed throughout the 1900s reflected the nation’s political climate. I was able to learn about how francoism affected the people in Spain.  The country became a parliamentary monarchy in the late 1970s when Francisco Franco died. The rule of Franco ingrained misogynistic ideals into the culture of Spain, which can still be seen in remaining doses today.

While walking through alleyways, I saw beautiful building and churches with a rich history.  We took a tour of the gothic district and learned about bombings near a church while seeing the damage on the walls.  In Barcelona, we took a tour of the Gala exhibit. Our guide told us how Gala was not only the muse of Dalí, but the creative source and creative genius.  Explaining that women did not have much representation in the artistic world, she showed how Gala was a big part of the surrealist period.

  1. 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.

For my future, I have a much better understanding of the Spanish language.  This will help me conversate with more people in my workplace. Also, having more cultural awareness will help have better communication with people that I don’t know as well.  Finally, in my future career, I will be brave enough to be a proud woman in my field and speak my ideas clearly.

Dresden Summer Language Program

Step Reflection

Type of Project: Study Abroad

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

For my STEP Signature Project, I studied abroad in Dresden, Germany through a program offered through the German department. The Dresden Summer Language Program is an immersive language and culture program in which I earned 9 credits towards my German minor. I took one class focused on language and grammar, one class on culture and history, and a final class that combined the two. Through this program we lived and studied at the Technische Universität Dresden. We also took many day trips and longer trips to other places of interest in Germany.


  1. 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.

            My STEP Signature Project was deeply transformation in many ways. Spending two months in a different country as a student was a much more immersive experience than simply visiting as a tourist. I came to have a greater understanding of Germany, it’s history and culture, the German people and the city of Dresden specifically. As someone who has become increasingly critical of American government, society, and culture, I was looking forward to experience one that is different and, in many ways, more progressive. Spending two months in a country with the types of progressive society I would like to see in America has cemented that this is the future we need. For instance, Germany’s openness to refugees and other immigrants, drastically lower costs of education, nationalized healthcare, and the list goes on. For myself, the biggest change has been that it inspired me to come back to America with a renewed goal to do what I can to bring about progressive change in my country.


My view of the world also changed. Germany is a country with a long history, and an especially dark one until fairly recently. The history of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany is something that has to be confronted in order to understand current German society. Seeing and experiencing how Germany has come to terms with such evil and life-altering events was enlightening. Coming to the realization that an entire nation became accepting of genocide and total war made me realize that people have such a potential for destruction and that erosion of truth and humanity is accomplished a lot easier than we think. This certainly made me reflect on the current political climate in our country and the danger that comes with the purposeful obscuring of the truth and increased claims to executive power. In general, the transformation has been that I am now realizing that we as individuals (especially those with privilege) have ownership in our society. We have a responsibility to be proactive in pursuing the social change we want and must defend human dignity from immoral and dangerous elements. If I don’t act, who will.


  1. 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 most impactful experience in Germany was visiting Buchenwald Concentration Camp. By far this experience is the one that I have thought about the most and caused the deepest reckoning from this study abroad. Buchenwald is located outside of the city of Weimar, a very important city to German history and culture. Seeing firsthand the remnants of the Nazi regime and the cruelty that they inflicted was chilling. Seeing the large operation of murder and the stripping of human dignity was emotional and jarring, especially as someone that would have faced persecution under the Nazi regime. This experience is something that I will always remember and use to find perspective when thinking about politics and the presence of nationalized violence, which has always been present but is being highlighted more recently.


Another important experience for me which related to the trip to Buchenwald was visiting the Topography of Terror Museum in Berlin. This museum painstakingly documents the rise and fall of the Nazi government. It showed in detail how the government ran a bureaucracy dedicated to dominance, fascism and institutionalized violence. This museum was difficult to come to terms with, as it showed how the people of Germany reacted normally to their fascist government. The transition from democracy to a fascist dictatorship so quickly was startling. It made me think about the dangers of fear-based politics and unhindered populism.


Lastly, the leader of our study abroad program, Dr. Kevin Richards, was instrumental in fostering a transformational experience for me. His open discussion style led us to have meaningful reflections on what we were seeing in Germany. His knowledge and wisdom on many subjects are something that I relied on for guidance and thought, as he listened to all of us fairly and equally. His genuine care for my opinions and experiences empowered me to share more and express my thoughts. Last, but not least, his compassion has inspired me to seek out the same kind of understanding that he did throughout our program. Compassion was something that was void from some of the historical and cultural experiences that we had, so it was welcome from him.


  1. 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.

This transformation is deeply significant to both my personal and professional goals. Personally, it has shifted some of my political views and how I look at society. I am making an effort to view societal situations from a more well-rounded and complete view, but also with a strong emphasis on compassion. Professionally, I have always wanted to be a lawyer but have toyed with which sector of the legal community I would like to work in. I now feel that it is my responsibility to work for the betterment of society, especially those in society who are facing the worst discrimination. As shown with German history, when nobody stands up for those being hurt, there are terrible repercussions. Therefore, I would like to work in legal aid or even public defense.

Dresden Study Abroad Program

Haleigh Staugler

Education Abroad

For my STEP signature project, I participated in the German department’s annual Dresden Study Abroad Program. For eight weeks I lived in a dorm in Dresden, Germany and took classes on the German language and history of Dresden, while also taking field trips and learning about the surrounding cities.

Living in a different country (and especially in the part of the country that barely spoke English) for an entire summer thrusted me out of my comfort zone. I left the USA for Germany without confidence not only in my German, but in myself, my opinions and my mistakes to some extent. But slowly throughout the summer, with the help of my classmates, my professor and the citizens around me in my newfound home, I began to respect myself and my mistakes more and more. I am no longer as afraid to say something incorrect, so long as I know it is how I will learn to be better. Germany’s history and language also taught me a lot about humanity and myself and how everyone’s lives intertwine in the world.

The number one relationship that helped my summer become transformational was my program director Dr. Kevin Richards. Kevin was always enthusiastic about learning and teaching us the history of the dynamic country we were in. Whether we were having round table discussing in our class or hiking up a mountain in the pouring rain, Kevin was always right there encouraging us to make the most of our experience. On more than one occasion Kevin made remarks to me personally that pushed and challenged and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone not only on the trip, but in my daily life. Without Kevin, I never would have played on a street piano in Berlin or been excited to write a paper on post-Napoleonic Prussia, but through his thoughtful example, his graceful acceptance of his mistakes, and his dedicated resolve to make the best experience for everyone, the transformation I experienced on the trip became long lasting.

My other classmates and now friends that accompanied me on the trip were just another piece that fit into the transformation I experienced over the summer. None of us knew any of each other when we arrived in Dresden beyond sitting by each other in a class here or there. By the end of the trip we had seen each other through a lot. Countless bed bug scares, figuring out the bus schedule to our classroom, speaking to strangers in a language we barely knew: we all were by each other’s side through all of it. German class definitely improved my German, but the number one factor I believe in my improvement was the atmosphere we built in the trip that allowed us all to not be ashamed of when we would make mistakes and to encourage each other to always try again. Having that kind of support system on the trip was invaluable and led to an effortless transformation in my life and confidence.

A personal incredibly transformational experience on the trip for myself was the Friday night we were in Berlin. When I arrived in Berlin on Thursday, I learned that the musical Ghost was currently running. After a quick investigation of my suspicions, I was excited to find out my favorite stage actress of all time Willemijn Verkaik was playing the leading role in this musical. I had my worries about how much I would understand of the musical in German, but Kevin encouraged me to go anyways, seeing as it was so important to me. My friends–who didn’t want to spend the money to see it–offered to ride the train with me to the theater and to meet me when it was over so I wouldn’t be traveling in Berlin alone. And so with the support of everyone there, I built up the courage to go see my favorite actress in a musical I barely knew in a language I barely knew. As it turned out, my German understanding was much better than I anticipated and was able to understand everything in the show. Not only that, however, but when my friends came to meet me at the end, they eagerly agreed to wait with me at the stage door for the chance to meet Willemijn Verkaik. They all took pictures and videos of me having a whole conversation with my idol in German, and it was by far one of the best experiences of my life. But it was also a defining moment for me on the trip because going into it, without everything I learned on the trip and without the support of everyone on the trip, I’m not sure if I would have ever had that experience. And after I understood a whole musical and talked to my favorite actress in a foreign language, my confidence in my skill was at a new level.

Confidence is a skill that will always be useful. As an engineering major, confidence is one of the fundamental skills I have to learn how to use constantly, especially as a woman in engineering. Learning more about respecting myself and having confidence in myself, as well as creating bonds with people that grant me undoubted support so I can continue to develop these skills, is a transformation that is invaluable.

German Department’s Dresden 2018 Blog: https://u.osu.edu/dresdensummerprogram2018/2018/07/07/welcome/

Studying Pre-Law at St. Annes, University of Oxford, England

This project was a study abroad trip from June 24, 2018 until July 28, 2018, in Oxford, England. As students, we took the Law 5796 course at the University of Oxford, and with this we studied a variety of subjects, including Law and Society (Britain and U.S.) and Introduction to the Anglo-American Legal System.

This project allowed be to develop my capabilities as an independent person, which I found challenging and rewarding. I was forced out of my comfort zone, not just being away from most of my support systems but being across the ocean from them. I had to navigate, communicate, budget, and manage all my responsibilities mostly on my own, but also sometimes with the help of my new friends that I made on the trip.

I had many meaningful interactions with people on this trip, from new friends to professors. Everyone on this trip had an impact on my life, in one way or another. I learned a lot from my peers and my professors, not just academically but also so much more than that. I was able to learn from their experiences in life and make connections to my own. At the University, we had two professors, Dr. Kim Jordan from OSU and Dr. Christopher Whelan from Oxford, a tutor (mine was Nomfundo Ramalekana, Rhodes Scholar), and multiple guest speakers, many of whom were also professors at the University. It was an incredible experience to be taught by all of these people in such a different setting. Not only did we have regular classes in the morning, but also for our final paper, we had a series of tutorials for our final papers, the tutorial system being traditional at Oxford. Having the one-on-one tutorials with our tutors was, for lack of better words, super cool. My tutor Nomfundo was seemingly an expert in all things relating to human rights, and I was absolutely in awe with how knowledgeable she was. She really inspired me and refueled my love for human rights. I hope to someday work in that field, as a lawyer or in some other way.

We also went on many trips in the surrounding area which had a significant impact on me as well. We visited so many places of historical significance, and it was absolutely astounding to me. We visited castles and palaces, Parliament, and the Old Bailey. One of the most impactful experiences I had on this trip was when we had lunch at Middle Temple. I was awestruck the entire time, trying to take in all of it not just because we could not take pictures, but also because I knew I would never be able to do that again, and I was honored to have had that once in a lifetime experience. During the weeks we had there, we also had a 3-day weekend where we were able to go pretty much wherever we wanted. Myself and 9 others planned a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, and it was probably one of the best experiences of my life; I had so much fun on that trip, even though it was only three short days. We took a train from King’s Cross station, and stayed in an AirBnB apartment above some little local shops. One place there that we went to that I will never ever forget was a small underground pub called Whistlebinkies. It was recommended to us by a tour guide, when we went on a tour of Edinburgh’s underground. Initially, we were debating on whether we wanted to actually go in, as it was a 5 pound cover charge. After about 10 minutes outside on the sidewalk talking about it, the bouncer outside of the pub called us over and let us in for free, and looking back, I would have paid 20 pounds to go inside if I had known what it was going to be like. We went down this narrow flight of stairs, into a bar area. Moving farther in, there is a dance floor, and on stage, a live band playing Scottish music. It was so incredible, I am not even really sure how to put the experience in to words. All I know is that I forgot about everything else that I had going on, and just enjoyed that night to the fullest. We had many nights like that on our trip abroad, but this one was especially special. I could go on and on about my experiences on this trip, but I will leave it here.

I believe that this trip not only made me more confident in my abilities but also gave me a new found appreciation for travel. I have always loved traveling and wanted to explore the world, and I think that actually living abroad for a few weeks amplified that desire. Getting a taste of England and Scotland especially makes me want to explore those countries more, especially the Scottish Highlands which we did not get to go to, as well as Ireland and Wales. The most traveling that I had done on my own before was flying to and from Columbus and Philadelphia, and in all of my experiences travelling internationally, I had my parents. Because of this, I was nervous for my first time travelling alone internationally, especially since I was flying in and out of Heathrow, and it is such a large and busy airport. However, after going through that and being home, I feel like I could go almost anywhere on my own and manage perfectly fine (minus any potential language barriers). I have always been used to following rules and doing exactly what people tell me to, now I feel much more confident in being able to manage myself.

This trip was transformational in many ways. It changed my idea of myself, my interests, and my potential career prospects. I feel like I now have a better sense of who I am and who I want to be. If I could do the entire trip over again, I definitely would not change a thing.