STEP Reflection: Studying Abroad in Costa Rica

Name: Bonnie LaGrange

Type of Project: Education Abroad

For my STEP project, I studied abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica through ISA. I stayed with a host family, took classes at Veritas University, and volunteered at Parque La Libertad, in order to improve my Spanish and get a taste for daily Costa Rican life. We also went on excursions to better understand the culture of Costa Rica.  


Studying abroad in Costa Rica was undoubtedly a transformational experience in my life, both personally and academically. My confidence increased immensely, throughout my time in Costa Rica, both in terms of speaking Spanish and in a more general sense. I noticed myself speaking Spanish more frequently and more fluently not only because I was learning new grammar or vocabulary but also because I felt capable. I also noticed myself becoming braver and more adventurous in my decisions. I was more willing to step outside of my comfort zone to meet new people, have new experiences, and learn.

I don’t think studying abroad completely changed my view of the world, but rather it expanded it. I realized the world is much more complex than I had ever imagined (and I had always found it complex). I encountered so many people with various perspectives, backgrounds, attitudes, and personalities, which lended to this complexity. One of the things, I loved most about studying abroad were the encounters I had with people and hearing their perspectives. I’ve gained a new appreciation for the beautiful complexity of our world and for listening to people’s stories, opinions, and perspectives. I also learned a lot about how culture permeates our everyday lives. The culture we’re immersed in changes the ways we see the world around us. Living in Costa Rica and being acclimated to “Tico” (what Costa Ricans call themselves) culture gave me an opportunity to change the way I look at the world. For instance, I can see life as much more relaxed now, as Costa Ricans tend to have a calmer disposition towards time (being late for social activities is very acceptable in Costa Rica).


Living with my host family was probably the most transformational part of my experience. My host mom, María, made our homestay truly feel like home. However, María didn’t speak English, so in order to communicate with her, my roommate and I spoke a lot of Spanish. Her patience and desire to help us learn allowed us to take risks when speaking Spanish and thus grow in our ability and confidence to speak Spanish. Living with María also taught us a lot about Costa Rican culture, as we were living in it day to day. The word I think I heard María say most was “tranquilo”, which means calm; whether we were asking how her day was or apologizing for something, the answer was always “tranquilo”. This is a definite reflection of the calm or “pura vida” (a phrase Costa Ricans use very frequently, which means “pure life”, but can be used for any good vibes) attitude in Costa Rica. Living with María, we were able to embrace this lifestyle.

Another specific event that helped me gain confidence and courage in stepping outside of my comfort zone was a daytrip with Cristianos en Marcha (CEM). CEM is a Christian community for college students, which a friend had recommended to me. I decided to send them a message to see what kind of meetings or events they had. Since the University of Costa Rica wasn’t starting classes until March, for most of my semester there, they didn’t have many events or meetings. One weekend in March, however, they were having a fun activity/field trip to Cartago, a province nearby San Jose. They invited me to come with them, so I decided to go. I showed up at their meeting building alone, knowing no one there. I felt really nervous because I was with a group of strangers who were (almost) all native Spanish speakers. The people there were really friendly, though, and they spent time talking to me and getting to know me. This event was super encouraging because, although I had to continuously choose to step out of my comfort zone for 8+ hours, it paid off. Later the next week, I ran into a friend I had made at the CEM trip and he invited me to their welcome event! Not only did this help me feel like I had a life in Costa Rica, but it gave me encouragement to keep doing things that were out of my comfort zone.

One of my small favorite things about my time abroad was talking to Uber drivers. In San Jose, taking Uber was one of the best ways for us to travel safely, quickly, and cheaply, so we took them often. I usually tried to make conversation with my Uber drivers to practice Spanish and to make the drives less awkward. Through those conversations, I met so many interesting people and learned so many things about Costa Rica and the world that broadened my perspective. I met marathon runners, world travelers, immigrants (from Cuba, Nicaragua, etc.), environment enthusiasts, grocery store owners, etc. One of my favorite conversations was with the marathon runner, whose name I sadly forget. He told me that people in Costa Rica love Costa Rica and that they choose to be happy, regardless of circumstances. But, he also talked about the social problems and poverty he witnessed. He talked about how much he loved the United States, but how he didn’t understand the problems we have with mass shootings.In this conversation, and in many other conversations with Uber drivers, fellow volunteers, and professors, I became more aware of new perspectives and the complexities of the world.

Finally, one day I got to help volunteer at a safe house for women on the street (mainly prostitutes). We served them breakfast and brought supplies to decorate canvas bags, which were filled with toiletries. The women were such a diverse group and had such a range of experiences. Many of them had really creative, beautiful bags and many included Bible verses and Christian song lyrics on their bags. They were kind, grateful women, and it really taught me to keep an open mind towards all people, regardless of their circumstances. It also re-convicted me of the inherent dignity and worth of every person, and how much each person deserves love and respect.

Personally, learning how to be more confident, adventurous, and open to new perspectives, will help me to have better experiences and relationships in the future. Learning how to take good risks will give me more opportunities and help me to grow and succeed more. Additionally, my experience abroad allows me to share new perspectives and ideas with people around me. Academically and professionally, being more proficient and confident in Spanish will be extremely beneficial to my ability to participate in and learn from my remaining Spanish classes. Additionally, I want to be a high school Spanish teacher, so my time abroad will allow me to immerse my

students more in the culture and language, by sharing personal experiences abroad and speaking more fluently.

I blogged about my experience, while I was in Costa Rica! Here is the link to that blog:


STEP Reflection

Zachary Meder


For my STEP Signature Project, I studied abroad for the spring semester in San Jose, Costa Rica at Veritas University. Through living with a host family and taking Spanish classes at the university, I was able to improve my Spanish language skills, while being immersed in the Costa Rican culture.


Through my STEP Signature Project, I learned a lot about myself, my assumptions and how the United States is perceived around the world. I learned about what I truly value and what I find happiness and joy in. I learned that I can survive and/or thrive in an environment where I know no one and where Spanish is the primary language spoken. In addition, I learned about racial stereotyping and prejudices that exist all across Latin America that I thought were mainly problems in the United States. I also learned that you cannot judge anyone before you get to know them. Lastly, I learned that the government actions of the United States affect the whole world and affect how people from other parts of the world affect those from the US.


My personal development stemmed from the nature of the program in itself. When someone studies abroad, he/she is thrown into an unknown environment where they are basically living on their own for a few months. While being in Costa Rica, I quickly found that I had much more time to myself than I was used to. At Ohio State, I live with 9 of my best friends in one house, whereas in Costa Rica I lived with one other student, who stuck to himself for the most part. This gave me an opportunity to read, do yoga, and exercise on my own, giving me a lot of freedom to reflect on my independence and self development. Also, neither of my host parents spoke English, which provided me with an amazing chance to practice my Spanish at every meal and every time I was passing through the house. The Spanish at home paired with independent travel on the weekends showed me that I could really function easily in an environment where English was not the primary language spoken. Since I am a Spanish major, this was a pleasant confidence boost and sign that I should continue to develop my passion and love for Spanish.


I also had several experiences that contributed to a change in my assumptions about people and the world. First, I learned that discrimination is not something that just the United States is guilty of, but instead an inherent reaction to new and different people. From spending time with my host parents in the center of downtown San Jose, I quickly realized the prejudices that they had against Nicaraguans, who are constantly migrating into Costa Rica from the North because of few regulations at the border. Also, through a Spanish class I took called “Cultural Heritage in Latin America,” I learned about the discrimination against indigenous and African people throughout all of Latin America and how the Spanish colonization of the Americas have greatly influenced the religious tendencies and cultures in the region through the present day.


I also want to discuss how my perception of my roommate completely changed during the three months that I lived with him. When he moved in on January 5th, I was incredibly nervous and skeptical for how the semester would turn out. It seemed like we had nothing in common, a 6-year age difference, and he knew absolutely zero Spanish. However, after a semester of bonding through discussions about religion, vegetarian diets, and everything in between, my roommate became my best friend. Since being back in the US, I can truly say that I miss him more than anyone else that I met in Costa Rica, and it taught me the lesson of not judging anyone before you really get to know them.


Lastly, my views changed regarding the rest of the world and more specifically how the United States is perceived. In one of my first classes in Costa Rica, I was dumbfounded to discover that the United States referring to themselves as “America,” instead of the combination of the North, Central, and South American continents is one of the many ways that the US gives off a condescending appearance to much of Latin America and the world. In the same class about cultural heritage, I learned a lot about United States’ involvement in lots of Latin American countries civil wars and conflicts, and a lot of the effects that it caused in the region. I also saw how the wastefulness of the United States was viewed in a society with a lot less wealth and fewer economic opportunities. Another benefit that I gained from being in Costa Rica was learning about all of the environmentally beneficial programs and processes they have in place, like using over 90% renewable energy, limiting when citizens can drive their cars, and giving tax breaks to people with electric cars. I learned about sustainable food practices and how we can combat climate change, all of which I am hoping to bring back to Ohio State to help invoke change in our country as well.


These transformations are valuable in my life for a multitude of reasons. My increased self-awareness will be incredibly useful in my relationships in the future and helping me decide which career path I go down, which company I work for, and in which activities I decide to engage in the future. I think increased awareness about prejudice and judgement can be helpful in any and every situation to make sure that you are accepting to everyone and tolerant in all circumstances, especially in the workplace. Finally, I think learning more about US international relations and how they are perceived is extremely useful. The US population is only 4.4% of the total world, and learning about how our actions is extremely important when talking to people from other cultures and backgrounds. Especially since I want to work in the Peace Corps or teach English in another country, all of this increased awareness and experience will be extremely helpful and beneficial going forward.

STEP Reflection

For my STEP signature project, I chose a spring break travel abroad program that entailed traveling to both London and Paris. The main goal of this program was to go to scientifically historic sights in both cities and also see internationally famous landmarks.

This project helped change my understanding of myself through making me truly understand independence. Traveling to a foreign country is never an easy task, especially when the country’s main language is not English. Traveling to such places already can be intimidating, and even more so when going alone. On my study abroad trip, I made it a goal to travel alone and to work to enjoy the experience as well. Being alone is always something that I have struggled with, especially in places that are unfamiliar to me. As an out of state student, coming to Ohio State was an experience that had helped me come a little bit out of my shell but since freshmen year, I found that I still had some trouble going to new places by myself. Going on this study abroad trip had helped immensely with my comfort level of being alone in new places by myself, as even though it was a bit uncomfortable and scary at first, overtime I learned how to enjoy the new sights and experiences more than feel my fear of them.

One time abroad that had helped me become more independent was when I had decided to explore some more of the city of London by myself. One specific instance includes when I decided to explore the main part of the city by myself. There was a free afternoon given to the people in my group and I was not interested in the activities that the other people were doing. I instead wanted to go sightseeing and so I then decided to go by myself. I at first thought it wouldn’t have been enjoyable because I was afraid of getting lost alone, but I found if that I did enjoy the experience as I got to see a lot of sights and take photos of the landmarks. These were things I enjoyed, that I would not have been able to do if I was too afraid to go by myself.

Another experience that helped me realize the importance of independence was when I discovered this Indian restaurant in London. It was later in the day when people were leaving to go to find a place to eat dinner at. Again, I was not interested in any of the places that a lot of people were going to, and I had heard that the Indian food in London was quite good. As a result, I tried to look for an Indian restaurant and found a really good place that was only a few minutes from our hotel. This restaurant was more special than I had originally thought too because it had food from Kerala, a region of India my parents are from. Finding a restaurant that serves this type of Indian food in the states is quite rare, especially since there are not that many Kerala Indians in the U.S and also since our cuisine is special in the sense that it is heavily non-vegetarian. Even though it was a sit down restaurant, I made myself stay and as a result had some of the best Indian food that I have had in a while. If I let my fear of being alone take over, I would have never tasted some of the best Indian food I have tasted.

Finally, in Paris I had gone to the Lourve. I really enjoy fine art and found that there were not really people in my group who had as deep of an interest in art as me. As a result, I went to the Lourve by myself and was really glad for it. By going alone, I got to spend as much time as I wanted on exhibits I was interested in without worrying about people moving on too quickly or getting bored about the things I was passionate about. Consequentially, I really enjoyed my visit and was really glad that I got to see all the pieces I have wanted to and was able to appreciate them fully without worrying about the opinions of others.

Becoming more independent was a very valuable skill that I had developed as its something that I will have to be ok with throughout my life. There are so many changes that will still need to happen in my life, such as finding a job, that would require me to be alone. If I were to get my dream job in a completely different state or even country, I don’t want my fear of not having friends near me or being in an unfamiliar place to affect decisions like that. Being comfortable alone opens up a lot of avenues in life from simple things such as going out shopping to larger things such as moving to a different country.



International Pharmacy Experience: Switzerland – Spring Break 2019

Name: Madyson Reed

Type of Project: Study Abroad

I travelled to multiple cities in Switzerland with The OSU College of Pharmacy over spring break. During our week abroad, we visited several cultural sites as well as educational sites, including the WHO, United Nations, Chateau de Chillon, and the University of Basel.

My view of myself has changed through this experience. I now see myself as much more confident in new and unfamiliar situations, as well as more outgoing. My week abroad opened my eyes to everything I am capable of doing and really allowed me to set goals for myself that I would have perceived as unattainable before. I have never travelled abroad before this trip and having done so now, I look forward to experiencing more of the world in my future endeavours. My view of the world has also changed through this experience. Prior to my travels, I never really put much thought into travelling outside of the U.S. just because I didn’t think it was very different or attainable. But, after experiencing the culture in Switzerland, which is admittedly not as different from the US as many other countries are, I am excited to travel to several other countries in Europe as well as other continents. I could honestly even see myself living in Europe for a period of time and really experiencing all the world has to offer. Overall, this experience has really opened my eyes to all of the possibilities I have in my life and has pushed me and my desire to explore any opportunities thrown my way

Exploring a new environment with new people, surrounded by languages that I do not speak was a transformational experience in itself. But, just putting myself outside of my comfort zone like I did allowed me to gain confidence that I can navigate anything in life. I was able to navigate my way through the cities we visited and through the public transport. I made several lasting friendships with those people I did not know and I learned some common phrases in the languages I do not speak. In overcoming all of these obstacles, I gained the confidence I needed to be more outgoing and open to new experiences. These experiences also gave me the confidence to pursue my career goal of being a per diem neonatal RN and eventually nurse practitioner. As a per diem neonatal RN, I will need to navigate unfamiliar environments with new people and processes to be a good nurse and take care of my patients in critical times. Through facing somewhat similar challenges during my time abroad, I have the confidence now to know that I can achieve my goal.

Throughout the visits to several beautiful cities in Switzerland, including Zurich, Basel, Geneva, Lucerne and Lausanne, I have gained a desire to travel as much as I can. The site visit to the United Nations was a very unique experience and I love that I can now say I have been to the UN and was present during a real Human Rights Council meeting. Along with my favorite site visit, to the Chateau de Chillon, I have gained a perspective of what all there is to see in the world. The Chateau was so breathtakingly beautiful and pictures truly did it no justice. It is through this privilege of travelling abroad that I have realized how possible it is and how amazing it is to travel and see things through my own eyes instead of through a lens.

Growing up in a large family, there were never any hopes of going on a vacation anywhere outside of the US, so travelling to Europe or elsewhere has always felt very out of reach for myself and I had accepted this. Along with the financial incapability, I also felt I was incapable of travelling outside of the US because it was just so unfamiliar, with the different currency and languages, I just could never imagine leaving North America. Now, having done it and gaining the confidence with it, I want to go back already, I want to take my family and give them what STEP gave me through the opportunity to study abroad. This experience will continue to transform my perspective and myself as I continue to reflect on different aspects of this experience

This growth is so important to my personal, academic and career goals and has altered them in the week I was abroad. Personally, I have gained the confidence I needed to become a more outgoing person and developed friendships that will continue to grow. Academically, the friends I have gained will be and already are great study buddies and have already helped me in the classes we share by promoting thoughtful discussion and just someone to lean on after a hard exam. I think most importantly, this experience has made my career goals higher and given me the confidence to know that I can and will do per diem neonatal nursing. I can and will pursue my dream of travelling throughout the US to help to tiniest patients and their families in whatever ways I can. I now know that I can adapt and overcome any obstacles thrown my way. I think that the most important part of myself that I discovered is that I can and always will overcome those challenges I face in life and that these challenges will only lead to more personal development.


Mountain against a lake

Scotland’s Ruminants: STEP Education Abroad Experience

Name: Ashley Sindelar

Type of Project: Education Abroad

I had the opportunity to utilize my STEP funds to travel abroad for ten days in Scotland over Spring Break 2019 with the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences.  The focus of the trip was Scottish ruminants so I had the opportunity to visit a variety of farms as well as the University of Glasgow, a veterinary school in Scotland and partner of Ohio State.  I also had exposure to many cultural sites in my time abroad such as the National Museum of Scotland.

I feel like my experience abroad has truly been transformational on several levels.  Going into the trip I had numerous misconceptions about Scotland and Scottish history, a distaste for history and politics, and minimal involvement in staying up to date on any sort of news- local, national, or global.  My experiences on this trip have cleared up my misconceptions about Scotland as well as actually piqued my interest in history. I am also more interested in politics and try to stay more involved in news. For example, I’m closely following Brexit now.  I barely knew what Brexit was going into this trip. This trip has also led me to see the importance of staying politically involved at home, including doing thorough research on issues and candidates before voting.

Personally, this trip has made me much more comfortable stepping outside of my comfort zone.  Professionally, I have a newfound interest in working with camelids as a veterinarian one day.  I also realized that going to Ohio State for veterinary school is the right choice for me (as opposed to attending the University of Glasgow).  Lastly, I’ve realized that I’m very interested in studying abroad again, or potentially even working abroad one day.

I had the opportunity to visit Edinburgh Castle and the National Museum of Scotland while I was abroad which cleared up some of my misconceptions about Scotland and actually piqued my interest in history.  My only perception of Scotland were the scattered clips of Braveheart I had seen.  On this trip, I learned that William Wallace, Mel Gibson’s character, was nothing like he was portrayed in the movie.  He wasn’t a peasant; he was actually a knight and would have rode into battle with the latest military fashions. The crash course I got on the past 2000 years of Scottish history at the museum was incredible.  I learned about everything from currency to Scottish interactions with the Romans and Vikings to the roots of how Scotland joined the UK and why the Scottish people may be bitter about Brexit today.

My interactions with the Scottish people helped me become more politically engaged and helped me understand the importance of global politics.  I learned about Brexit as well as various Scottish perspectives on the issue from our tour guide at the museum, veterinary professors at the University of Glasgow, and different farmers.  As an aspiring veterinarian, I thought politics, especially global politics, were irrelevant to me, but I was so wrong. Brexit will significantly affect farming in the UK which could lead to changes in the current balance of trade in Europe and beyond.  I learned that the US is actually facing many similar issues that led to Brexit in the UK such as concerns about immigration and migrant workers.

This trip also forced me to step outside of my comfort zone.  I climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano and the highest point in Edinburgh.  Before this trip, I never would have considered going on more than a relaxing hike. Climbing to the top of Arthur’s Seat was incredibly difficult, but I realized how worth it it was when I saw the view at the top.  I also tried haggis while abroad, not once but twice! Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made of a sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, usually boiled in the animal’s stomach. It sounds disgusting, and I had always vowed never to try it, but I actually really enjoyed it!  Lastly, I had always been rather hesitant to speak to people who weren’t from America. Usually it was just a fear of being misunderstood or not being able to understand the other person. I engaged with several native Scots in my time abroad and was able to learn about everything from Brexit to how my tour guide at the museum ended up working there.  

This trip has been incredibly transformational on a professional level as well.  At Velvet Hall Alpacas, I got to interact with alpacas one-on-one. I’ve never had this opportunity before.  Exposure to more species will allow me to be a better vet one day. Everything I learned about alpacas, from social structure of the herd to foot care was fascinating, and the animals themselves had such unique and friendly personalities.  I learned that in Scotland, students only get a few days on alpacas in all 5 years of their veterinary program. All of these aspects combined lead to a newfound professional interest in camelids (camels, llamas, alpacas, etc). Speaking of veterinary school, I decided that Ohio State was the best fit for me.  I visited the University of Glasgow while abroad, and while it would be an incredible experience, I felt like OSU is a better fit for me. This is mainly due to the lack of full animal dissections, lack of a large animal hospital, and decreased access to the teaching hospital for veterinary students at the University of Glasgow.  Lastly, I’m very interested in going abroad again due to this trip. I enjoyed all of the veterinary professionals I met, the food, and the culture in Scotland. On our last night, I went to a pub with some of the other students in my group to watch the Scotland versus England rugby match. The atmosphere was incredible; it was like the Michigan game at OSU.  I want to have more experiences being completely immersed in another culture.

My newfound interests in history and politics is incredibly important as it is allowing me to grow into a more well-rounded and knowledgeable individual.  Having an understanding of how history plays into what is going on now is incredibly important and will help me think more critically about current events and political issues.  I plan to do more research on my own time about history now. I realize now that history and politics are actually still very relevant to me as an aspiring veterinarian. By extension, I’ve realized how important it is for me to be a politically active citizen because local, national, and global politics can and will affect me whether I realize it or not.  

Overall, this trip was an incredible experience that forced me outside of my comfort zone on numerous occasions.  As a result, I feel much more at ease trying new activities or foods and talking to new people that I never would have considered before this trip.  I also developed an interest in possibly specializing in camelids as a veterinarian. I’d actually like to do a rotation on camelids in my fourth year of veterinary school now.  Deciding where to attend veterinary school is also incredibly significant because my time in school will lay the foundation of my entire veterinary career. I’m very interested in going abroad again as well.  I’d like to have more exposure to new cultures and experiences. In the near future, I’d like to study abroad in Thailand with the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine to work with elephants. I’d also like to do a rotation abroad during my fourth year of veterinary school.  Lastly, I’m even considering moving abroad to practice for some time after college now. My trip abroad was far more transformational than I ever could have imagined going in. It wasn’t one discreet change, but rather, a conglomeration of changes that are still ongoing and may very well shape the course of the rest of my life.  I’m so incredibly happy I was able to have this amazing experience.


This is a photo of me in the Scottish Highlands, the northern and more mountainous portion of the country.

This is a photo of me with one of the alpacas at Velvet Hall! Did you know that alpacas actually have pads on their feet similar to dogs as opposed to hooves?

STEP Signature Project Reflection- Scotland’s Small Ruminant Education Abroad

Name: Hailey Snyder
Type of Project: Education Abroad

Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. 

For my STEP Signature Project, I participated in the Small Ruminant Education Abroad program. I traveled through Scotland with several other students to several different cities over the course of ten days. This education abroad allowed me to gain an array of knowledge and experience with small ruminant animals and Scottish culture.

1.What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? 

My STEP Signature Project was the Scotland’s Small Ruminant Education Abroad. Through my STEP Signature Project, I was able to grow personally, gain a greater understanding of Scottish culture, and learn about differences between the animal industry in Scotland and the United States. I know that this experience will help me in the future by instilling acceptance, curiosity, adventure and understanding.

2.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? 

The changes of personal growth, understanding of culture, and recognition of differences between industries was due to the people that I encountered in Scotland and the many activities that I was able to participate in. Not only did I have the opportunity to get to know my fellow students, but people from Scotland who were passionate about their role within the animal industry.

During the Education Abroad program, I was able to explore the cities and rural areas of Scotland. While we stopped at many locations with the group, I felt that I experienced personal growth during free time. Other students and I often sought out different experiences relating to food and culture. For example, at one point I was able to try the traditional Scottish dish, Haggis.

Before traveling to Scotland, I was not familiar with their culture or history. One experience that really taught me of how the Scottish people came to be was a guided tour through the Scottish National Museum. Our tour guide began by talking about how many people (Picts, Irish, Roman, and Vikings) traveled to Scotland and influenced its people, culture, and traditions. Moving towards the present, he explained the relationship that Scotland has with the United Kingdom and European Union. Learning about history and influences on culture allowed me to better understand Scotland as it is presently.

Through our visits to many farms and The University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, I was able to see and understand differences between Scotland and the United States in regard to the animal science industry – specifically small ruminants. While at the University of Glasgow, we were asked to participate in a debate with current veterinary students. This experience led me to realize that Scotland faces many different challenges than the United States with invasive species, spread of disease and weather/climate. However, there are similarities such as a high emphasis on animal welfare.

3.Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? 

The changes and transformations that I have experienced through my education abroad STEP Signature Project are valuable to me because they benefit me currently and will continue to benefit me in the future. The information that I have learned about small ruminants and the animal industry relate directly to my classes as an Animal Sciences major. As an Animal Sciences major, my goal is to continue onto veterinary school and then practice large animal ambulatory medicine. My experiences during the education abroad program have made me much more comfortable handling goats and sheep, which I did not have experience with before my project. I hope that I can teach others more about the small ruminant industry and how animals are perceived differently around the world


STEP Reflection

Name: Olivia Wolfe

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.


For this project, I went on an education abroad trip called Scientific Roots in Europe where we traveled to London and Paris for spring break. During the semester, I took a class, and abroad we toured different museums and tourist attractions. Some of the places we visited include the British Museum, Down House, London Eye, Pasteur Museum, El Musse de L’Homme, Eiffel tower, and many more.


  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 in Europe my views of different countries changed. I had never left the country before so, I expected it to be this huge difference but in reality, it really wasn’t that different at first glance. The places had amazing architecture, but also reminded me of New York how the buildings were so close. London was different because it was very clean and you couldn’t find a trash can anywhere, whereas Paris was much dirtier and had a lot of homeless people. Overall, I think this trip showed me that I am capable of exploring new places. This trip helped me come out of my comfort area and made me realize that trying new things isn’t as scary as I thought.


  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/transformations.


Being abroad led to my change in beliefs in the way I view foreign countries, as well as my confidence in trying new things. While in Europe, I did not have phone service and had to navigate my way around to different places and had to plan what I was doing each day. I think that it was a very valuable life lesson to use maps and signs to navigate versus just relying on a GPS.

One major change was my views of other countries. I thought that I would be in a huge culture shock upon arrival but found that the areas were very touristy and it was very easy to adapt to the new environment. London especially was very easy since they spoke English, Paris was a little bit harder since they did not speak English.

Overall, I felt like this trip taught me various life lessons. I feel more culturally aware, and also feel like I can adapt to new situations better. I think that this is an important lessons because if I every move to a new place, I think that I will have the ability to adjust easier from my experience abroad.



  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.


I think that this trip is valuable to my life because it will help me when adjusting in new environments. My goal is to go to dental school, and I may have to move for that, so I think that spending a week in a foreign country not only proves that I can adjust to new environments, but also helped me in learning new places and talking with different types of people.

In addition, I met other science and pre-dental majors in my class that I was able to form unique bonds with while abroad. I was able to connect with my two professors, and various classmates. Since we are at such a large university, it is nice to have a smaller science class. This is helpful if I have classes with them in the future.

STEP Reflection

Name: Lauren Tucker

Type of Project: Education Abroad

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

I participated in a hands-on service learning experience during Spring Break 2019 in Choluteca, Honduras. During this trip, other students and I worked in rural villages to provide health education and medical treatment to the community and explored a healthcare system in a low-income area. My role was to translate educational materials before the trip and interpret for the nurse practitioner students on site.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

This program gave me a different view of both Americans and Hondurans. Before the trip, I knew very little about Central America. I have learned a lot about their culture and value the differences. Yet, although customs and traditions change, we are all just people. The Honduran people were excited to meet us and talk to us, but we were truly there to learn from them. All of the students on the trip (other than me) were nursing, nurse practitioner, or DNP students. They were still learning from the faculty on the trip, but also learning culture humility through interactions with patients from different cultures than their own. Through my interpreting, I was able to facilitate that connection. On my end, my language skills improved and I became more and more confident of my own abilities. Additionally, my view of Americans changed. I think that the U.S. has a culture that is very focused on itself. In Honduras, there is world news on every television, and they are more excited to involve themselves in a different culture. For example, a lot of the Honduran students watched American television, yet we as Americans rarely engage in pop culture in other languages. Also, with Americans, there is an attitude that when we lead these missions, that we as the Americans are bringing our resources to help the “less-fortunate”. This is incredibly wrong and I have seen first-hand why this is wrong. These communities are not “less-fortunate” and they don’t need our charity. They are people who have developed communities that look different from ours. Americans are taught to take a very ethnocentric view, that everything should be judged off our culture. It is an attitude change that needs to be made to accept the Honduran culture as different but equal. For the items that we bring, yes, they might be able to be used, but those things will be used up quickly. The most meaningful thing that we can bring is education and a willingness to learn.

My view of myself also changed. I have always had a confidence problem when speaking Spanish. I sometimes would rather not say anything than make a mistake. This experience took me out of my comfort zone and built up my confidence in the skills that I already had. The other thing I learned about myself was that I love teaching. I have enjoyed tutoring in the past and always enjoy public speaking, but this was a really great opportunity to stand in front of a group and teach. I love making connections as I am teaching, and making the material engaging so that the students will absorb the information and remember it. This was an even more difficult task in Spanish, but I think the students really appreciated it.

  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?

There were a few situations where I really learned a lot about the world. I think that a lot of times we go into a country thinking they’re “third world” and that we have more knowledge than they do. At the hospitals at Ohio State, there is better technology than the hospitals in Choluteca, but it is because of a difference in resources/access to resources, rather than intelligence. Ingenuity was the word that stood out to me. At the public hospital in Choluteca, there were all sorts of ingenuous ideas to make up for the lack of resources. In my mind, it was more impressive that someone built a wheelchair from a lawn chair and bike tires, than anyone buying a mass-produced wheelchair. So yes, we taught about health education to the communities, but this is something that can be done in the US. It was more important for me to admire their creativity and learn critical thinking from them.

A situation that helped me with my language skills was working with an interpreter from Honduras. This interpreter was an 18-year-old kid who had learned English through school, watching TV, and social media. He and I conversed in Spanglish and I was able to ask him many questions about the specific dialect in Choluteca and words that I didn’t know. In return, he asked me questions about American English. Through this collaboration, we both learned a significant amount about the other language and became good friends. I find that when I am using Spanish, I sometimes can’t articulate the nuance of my personality and sense of humor. He helped me be confident enough to make jokes and converse with anyone around me.

Lastly, like I said in the previous question, I was given the opportunity to teach. In Choluteca, there is a nursing high school that was on the property where we stayed. These students were in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. I translated materials beforehand, such as presentations and posters about different health topics, but I got to teach CPR and suturing to the students on site. I didn’t have all of the words, and had to act out many things, but the students really appreciated that I knew Spanish. They couldn’t joke around with the other members of my team or talk about life, but with me, they were truly able to make connections. The best part of teaching was when I was able to watch my students teach other students. We went to another high school and the nursing students taught those students how to do CPR. My students enthusiastically spread the information that I had taught them. This really confirmed my idea that education is the most valuable resource that we can bring.

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

These experiences are valuable for my academic, personal, and professional goals. Academically, I was able to practice my Spanish and greatly improve my confidence and vocabulary.  This will be useful as I finish my last year of my Spanish major. My professional goals are to go to medical school and be a physician with a diverse patient population. The experience of watching healthcare interactions in a different culture will help me understand how to connect with my patients from different cultures. Yes, I learned a lot about Honduran culture, but I also learned how to approach a culture that is different than my own, medically and personally, with dignity and an open-mind. Finally, a personal goal of mine is to be more culturally aware and put myself in others’ shoes. I truly believe that everyone should learn another language and spend time in a community other than one’s own. The vulnerability that I feel, the lack of confidence I experience, and the way I question my own intelligence, shows me some of the challenges that immigrants face in the US. These experiences have made me an empathetic person and I will use this in my career.




International Healthcare Experience in Pharmacy – Spring Break 2019

Jayllex Mills

Education Abroad
Chateau de Chillon

For my STEP Signature Project, I traveled to Switzerland with the Ohio State College of Pharmacy on their International Healthcare Experience in Pharmacy trip over Spring Break. We traveled to seven different cities throughout the country, visiting sites and participating in activities related to the pharmaceutical industry along the way. These included the presentations at the World Health Organization, a conference with pharmacy professors and students at the University of Basel, a tour of Novartis International, and an overview of the community pharmacy system of Zurich.

This trip was transformative to me in just about every way imaginable. It tested my limits and confidence while teaching me new things about my future profession, and made me more aware of the similarities/differences of the United States and Europe. This was my first time ever leaving the country. As my first time abroad, I hadn’t the slightest idea of what to expect from this trip. I took it upon myself to learn elementary conversational Swiss, and while it turned out that most of the country learns to speak fluent English by the age of four, I am still glad that I did so. We spent a good portion of our time wandering the cities and speaking with the locals, and I am immensely glad that I was able to immerse myself in their world as much as they allowed me to, for it truly had an impact on me. I became more aware of my body language and how I presented myself to others, learning that the Swiss love eye contact and hate small talk. My confidence in myself grew as I was able to help a small group of us make the journey to a remote mountain town, complex transportation and all. My time surrounded by the healthcare system of Switzerland made me draw comparisons with our own, and helped me form solutions to problems we face based on their example. My view of the world, the scope of healthcare, and of myself all changed for the better because of this trip, and for that I could not be more thankful.

There were many components of the trip that led to these transformations. First was my interaction with individuals from the area. I was able to get together with a friend that participated in a foreign exchange program my senior year of high school, and she showed me her favorite places to eat, hang out, etc. Seeing the city of Basel from her point of view made everything more exciting, as she incorporated backstories and the history of the town at each stop. Meeting her friends proved to be as exciting and entertaining as it sounds, and it felt great to be so immersed in their lives, even if it was just for a short few days.

The group also took us along to the celebration of the last night of Fasnacht. We saw the parades, were attacked with confetti by masked participants, and partook in all of the festivities that came with saying goodbye to the “best three days of the year.” I felt that this way a key experience as we met more of their friends that were actually in the parade, and visited the exclusive underground locations that served as practice areas for 362 days of the year, then transformed into makeshift bars to fundraise for each individual group. I feel that I was able to see a major tourist attraction in a way that hardly any tourists have, and for that I think it was something special.

Of course, the reason I went on the trip was highly rewarding as well. The sites that we visited will stick with me far beyond my years in school. Being able to hear firsthand from leaders in the field had a major impact on my professional views. As I mentioned earlier, I was able to draw comparisons with the U.S. and Switzerland, and I strongly feel that we can learn from each other. I spoke with students from the University of Basel College of Pharmacy one-on-one, and while they were astounded by our interactions with students in different areas of medicine (they do not even take pre-requisites out of their pharmacy group), I was shocked at their exposure to the field long before graduation. I have examples such as this for every site we visited, for each one possessed its own eye-opening revelations. Overall, the trip resulted in my love for my major and my future career to grow, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to participate.

The transformations that resulted from this trip will carry on for the rest of my life. My confidence in my ability to do things independently has skyrocketed, and I look forward to relying more on my own competence rather than seeking help from others. My initial culture shock gave way to a newfound appreciation for our differences, and I will be sure to keep what I learned about residents of Europe in mind should I find myself responsible for their treatment in the future. This trip combined travel and an opportunity to further my education in an alternative way, and I will forever be grateful for both the College of Pharmacy and STEP for allowing me the chance to transform myself in this way.


Scientific Roots in Europe – Amanda England

Name: Amanda England
Type of Project: Education Abroad

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

    • I completed the Scientific Roots in Europe for my STEP signature project. This education abroad program took place in London and Paris where we discussed various paradigm shifts and visited different museums that recognize innovations in various fields of science with a focus in Biology.
  • 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.

    • I had been abroad to Costa Rica right before coming to OSU and had an idea of how different life can be abroad. However, I was always in areas that were heavily tourist driven. So, when I was getting ready to head to London and Paris, I was expecting to not have a true understanding of how life actually was in those countries. After spending a few hours in London, I had already seen how different and also similar it is to life in America. I started to notice how much more science and knowledge in general is appreciated abroad compared to where I grew up in the States. It made me feel really gracious that I had the opportunity to get to go on this trip and the true impact that the scientists in those countries have had on the world.
  • 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.

    •  When we were abroad, we had visited multiple museums and historical sites. The focus of the program that I was a part of was on scientific achievements that lead to paradigm shifts. One of the first places we visited was Charles Darwin’s house and hometown, Downe. I really enjoyed this experience because it was nice to see the country side of England and how influential Darwin was in this little town.
    • The Darwin house was still open and running as a museum but I had already noticed that the museum experience was completely different in London than in the States. The museum was self guided and much like a walk through to were visitors could spend the amount of time they needed to spend with each exhibit. Also, there were multiple museums who offered audio guides at little to no cost. It really surprised me because the museums in America are usually guided or more focused on keeping guests interested than the actual information itself. I also found it interesting how much information was included in the exhibits. I could easily spend an hour in each of the ten rooms just looking at the exhibit and read everything they had available.
    • I started to notice just how many more museums an history there was in both cities. Paris, although more art driven, had a museum on nearly every corner. Being close to Notre Dame, we could easily walk to the Cathedral and get onto the metro to go just about anywhere. I was able to get to experience the Louvre, which was one of my favorite museums to see in Paris. The size of the museum itself was just absolutely insane. It took me about an hour just to find the Mona Lisa. However, once I got back it hit me just how much history and appreciation I had to get to be there and see the art most just get to read and see pictures.
  • 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 change was significant for me because it made me appreciate the experiences and opportunities I have had. I have always believed that education is very important but being able to tie that education to the real world was a step I had never really taken. It’s like reading a fiction book and then realizing that it was actually nonfiction. Just being in the city and getting to see the places where history was made that completely changed the way a certain field is today will stay with me for life and influence how I look at my experiences in the future.

I have also published a travel journal with pictures for this Study abroad which is linked below: