Public Health Perspectives: Japan Trip

My STEP Signature Project was an education abroad trip to Japan via the Public Health Perspectives: Japan program. The trip’s main objective was to show the differences and similarities between the public health systems present in Japan and the US, including trash collection/disposal, disaster response and prevention, elderly care, etc. We were also able to interact with Japanese students and professors at both the University of Tokyo and Azabu University.

Our group with some students from University of Tokyo

I went into this project hoping to learn a little bit more about public health. I came back to the US with a new knowledge of public health, a new appreciation of a different culture, and a new understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses. It’s always easiest to notice the differences in two cultures or systems, but this trip allowed me to notice the similarities between the two systems, as well as to critically examine what aspects of one society could be integrated into the other. On the whole, the program was an incredible opportunity for me to investigate cultural differences first-hand in an open and encouraging environment. Being in such a new environment also helped me notice what I was doing well as well as what I could improve upon, in terms of social/cultural interaction and traveling.

The educational portion of the trip, specifically the numerous field trips to public health facilities, really helped solidify the key differences between the public health systems between the two countries. One of my favorite experiences on the trip was visiting a trash collection and incineration plant outside of the city of Tokyo. We were able to see how the plant collects the trash and mixes the combustible waste; two huge cranes moved in sync to shuffle paper amongst kitchen waste, before moving the mixed trash into the incinerator. I was mesmerized by the process—I was especially excited after hearing that the excess heat from the plant is recycled by way of heating a local community pool, and that the ash from the incineration is used as an ingredient in concrete the city uses when building. The organization required to coordinate a country-wide recycling program that then recycles its own energy and waste astounded me and inspired my own investigation of the trash collection process within the US.

One of the greatest opportunities throughout was the trip was the ability to interact with Japanese university students. These interactions helped me see clear cultural differences on a personal level. It was incredible to be able to invest my curiosity in someone who was in a similar situation but from a completely new perspective. The University of Tokyo students were young people interested in health, like me. And yet, our views of the world, our societal problems, and our ways of interacting with our environment were on two different ends of a spectrum. Being able to talk about these differences in a fun, safe, and comfortable environment was so important to my ability to understand their cultural perspective. These interactions definitely changed how I want to travel in the future: I want to interact personally with locals so that I can better understand the culture I’m investigating.

A big portion of the trip was spent traveling with a large group to pre-determined destinations. However, I discovered a lot about myself in the moments where I traveled by myself or with a smaller group. Having never before traveled abroad without my parents, I was forced to become independent almost immediately upon landing in Japan. It was a quick lesson, but one that made me more confident in my ability to travel by myself and navigate a new environment. It kept me on my toes, as well, where I was constantly making sure of our location and our group dynamic and our time. I learned a lot about my strong points as a traveler and as a group member, and was able to work on my weaknesses (like my shyness around strangers on public transportation, for example).

This trip helped open my eyes to a new field of study, one that ties into my future in medicine richly and deeply. Public health is important to understand from both a social and environmental standpoint, and being able to do so in a new culture helped me clearly differentiate the two perspectives. More than that, however, this trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to experience a new country and culture in a deeply personal way—though I was not a native, my interactions with Japanese students and several helpful assists from translators helped me see the country from a local’s point of view. Without STEP, I wouldn’t have been able to go on this trip. Without this trip, I wouldn’t be as passionate about public health or understanding new cultures as I am today.

Here’s a link to a blog post I made about my time in Japan:

Here’s a link to some Youtube videos I made about the trip:

STEP Reflection: Between France and Morocco

My STEP Signature Project is a 4 week study abroad trip between the countries of France and Morocco where we will be exploring the rich and diverse cultures as well as the history between the two. We went around 3 cities in France as well as 3 cities in Morocco visiting and touring important monuments, churches, mosques and museums. We learned about the history of these countries as well as the current events influenced by the past. We went on many guided tours throughout the trip and discussed how the different cultures between France and Morocco mesh and intertwine with one another.

I think it reinforced my understanding of myself how there’s so much of the world that I haven’t seen, that there is so much to learn, to see and to experience. The wonders of the different cultures and norms that each country has truly showed me how diverse the world is. At the same time, it also showed me how because sometimes we don’t understand a different culture or religion that it can lead to intolerance and exclusion, which can be intentional or completely unintentional as well. I also think that sometimes we need to take a step back and really appreciate our surroundings a little more, often we are always pressed for time and need to hurry to do this and that, but taking a step back to reflect and appreciate your surroundings that should be done more often. It also made me realize how a lot of things that we take for granted in the US aren’t available anywhere else. For example, there were no public restrooms or water fountains in France so you had pay to use a restroom and buy water.

The whole trip and experience led to a broader view of the world and a deeper appreciation or realization of a need to appreciate the things around me. By learning about the history of France and Islam gave me a broader idea and knowledge of how France in some ways exclude Muslims because Islam has always been associated with negative events in French history. Being away in France made me appreciate the things we have back home. Walking through the streets of the Medina in Morocco showed me how different and amazing other cultures are.

Before venturing out on guided tours in France, we had class where we discussed the readings from the previous night. In these classes we talked about the places that we were going to visit and gained a bit of a background information of these places, or sometimes it would be about some issues and topics related to France’s current events like the Yellow Vests and the current affairs on immigration. Throughout the classes, we learned a lot about the French history and how Islam fit in because a lot of the immigrants are Muslim from northern Africa. Because in fairly recent years, France has dealt with many Islamic extremist attacks, Islam has been heavily associated with terror and negativity. Which is why the alt-right gained support with issues dealing with immigration. Because of the lack of knowledge about Islam and the limited knowledge of Islam appearing only in a negative light, there are exclusions and moments of intolerance in France. Being in a homestay in France allowed me to experience a different way of life. For me, it reintroduced breakfast into my diet and made me realize how amazing some jam on a piece of fresh bread can be. In my normal daily routine at school, I didn’t eat breakfast but rather had an earlier lunch at around 11:30 AM. Being in the homestay with my host family trying out different foods at a different, slower pace made me realize how enjoyable the little things in life can be. From just strolling outside in the morning when the streets are quiet and not a lot of people are out and about, to having a traditional French dish for dinner while we talked about how the French and American people are similar and different.

In Morocco, I was in awe of how many different languages they were able to speak. The language and cultural diversity that was present in Morocco, and their hospitality. When we made and cooked our own tajine in Morocco from scratch. That was an amazing experience as well and made me realize how I had yet to become fully independent because I have never cooked a meal from scratch. Walking throughout the streets in the Medina and just taking in the vast amount of different things put on display made me realize the breadth of creativity and cultural difference that different countries have.

Going on this trip made me realize a lot of things about myself as well as increased my understanding of the bigger world that I’m in because I only know a fraction of the cultures and practices of the people that live in this world. It made me realize how taking a step back and enjoying and appreciating the little things in life be so peaceful. It made me realize how things we take for granted like public restrooms and drinkable water fountains are foreign concepts to people outside the US. It also made me realize that I want to understand and explore more of the world because by understanding each other can we overcome our differences.

This change is valuable for my life because I think that one should always strive for self-growth and self-development, whether it be for personal, academic of professional reasons. And this trip allowed me to grow in all three ways. Personally, because I gained a deeper understanding of myself and how I still need to become fully independent. Academically because this course taught me a lot about learning outside of a traditional classroom where we can learn so much just by talking with those around us. And professionally because this will allow me to build better bridges and relationships with those that come from different backgrounds than myself.

STEP Reflection: A Semester in Milan

For my STEP Signature Project, I participated in the Fisher Undergraduate Student Exchange program in Milan, Italy for all of spring semester 2019. I took core business courses as well as marketing electives at Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi. In addition, I traveled extensively throughout Italy and various other countries in Europe, including Switzerland, France, Germany, England, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, and Spain.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy

Through this experience I learned what it takes to adapt to the unfamiliar and how I personally adapt. Part of the reason I chose this program was because it was completely out of my comfort zone. I had never been to Italy or spent a significant amount of time abroad. I was nervous, even after extensive preparation. I took an orientation class discussing culture shock, read books about Italian culture, learned all I could about the city of Milan, and researched academic life at Bocconi. I prepared myself for emergencies, such as making copies of all my travel documents in case something was lost and locating the nearest US consulates. I had been preparing for over a year, and still went in with little idea of what I would feel and how I would react.

My semester abroad turned out to be an amazing and incredibly transformative experience. In the end, I feel that I successfully adapted and learned how to thrive in the unfamiliar. I was able to open myself up to new experiences, move past the inevitable negatives, and embrace a new culture.

Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France

The initial hurdle after arriving in Milan was the new surroundings. I had to learn how to get around on a new public transportation system far more complicated than what exists in my home city of Columbus, and the best way to figure it all out was to jump right in, fully prepared to end up lost. I spent my entire first day in Milan wandering around by myself taking mental notes of where tram stops were, how long the commute to Bocconi was, and so on. I also had to adapt to a new campus and academic life at Bocconi. Accepting that it was going to be a little bit of a rough start getting used to a new set of campus buildings, new professors, and new assessment methods, I eventually managed to make the school feel a little bit more normal as the semester went on.

Next was adapting to the culture. I didn’t know much Italian going in, but a short crash course at the beginning of the semester helped greatly. Though I only mastered a few basic phrases, it felt like a significant connection to just be able to order espresso and a croissant. Beyond the language, I was encountering differences in food, social interactions, and many more things that could have been incredibly overwhelming. Almost every weekend I was visiting a different country in Europe as well as interacting with hundreds of exchange students from around the world, all with their own stories and experiences to share. Having an open mind and being willing to embrace these new cultures helped me adapt and thrive while abroad.

In addition to new surroundings and culture, things were inevitably going to go wrong at some point. There were public transportation delays in Milan, I missed buses, and I had flight delays. Biggest of them all, however, was having my wallet stolen in Florence about a month into the program. That wallet unfortunately contained my passport, credit cards, driver’s license, student ID, and dorm key. It was the kind of scenario that had frightened me beyond anything else as I was preparing to leave the United States. After the initial shock at the fact that all my important payment methods and forms of ID were gone, I realized the situation was not as bad as it seemed and could be fixed by staying calm and positive. After trip to the US consulate in Milan, I had a new passport. I had credit cards cancelled and replaced, was issued a new dorm key and student ID, and had a wonderful group of friends who were willing to help out with anything else I needed. Two weeks later, I was pretty much back to normal and able to move on and enjoy the rest of my semester.

St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, Hungary

Just as my semester abroad was full of the new and unexpected, my future could go in any direction and I feel I’d be able to handle it. One of my goals is to work abroad, which feels much more achievable after spending four months in Milan. This experience has given me a sense of confidence and adaptability that I would not have without it.

Tanzanian Take Aways

For my STEP project I participated in a study abroad in Tanzania.  With my group, a solar system was installed at an orphanage.  We also went on several cultural excursions.


After my trip to Tanzania, I finally understood what developing countries sometimes look like.  Obviously, I’ve only been to one area in one country, but before I had never left America, so this was eye opening.  What I think was my biggest revelation was that we are all just people.  At the core, we are all the same and should treat each other with respect.  I have also found that I am now more aware of race relations in the United States, and generally how different groups of people have been oppressed in history and how that has shaped our current world, which is still full of oppression.  I also found that sometimes the best and most important opportunities are unplanned.

Adam, Electrical Engineering Student

When we were in Tanzania, everyone greeted everyone.  There was a girl who stayed at the house we also stayed in, and she had dreams and concerns just like anyone else.  She goes to advanced secondary school and wants to continue her education, but is concerned she won’t be able to for monetary reasons.  I met an electrical engineering student; he wants to open his own solar shop, and has concerns about the state of the environment like me.  Moses, one of our guides, brought us into his parents’ home and they welcomed us, strangers, as if we were old friends.  When we were in Tanzania, people didn’t really treat us like strangers, more like friends.  I think that’s closer to the way we should be acting as a whole world.  Not everyone needs to be friends, but there should be a mutual respect between people.


Race and Oppression was a topic that came up a few times.  I was asked if the police brutality in America was real.   Moses had seen that on the news, but was not sure if it was “fake news.”  He was appalled to learn it was real; it was a difficult conversation to have.  I later had an even more difficult conversation.  A man, Jacob, was asking why the African Americans he had met while he was in Ohio seemed hostile towards him.  I tried to explain that in America, there are racial tensions that linger from slavery.  But slavery wasn’t the only time black people experienced systemic racism, it is still going on today.  What made this conversation difficult for me is that he said something to the extent of: that was over 100 years ago, they should get over it.  This was very unnerving to me; I tried explaining that black schools are underfunded, neighborhoods are segregated, etc.  But I don’t think he understood because his position did not change.  Jacob is a wonderful man, and has a lot of love in his heart, but because he has not had much exposure to racism in America, I don’t think he could truly comprehend what black people in America experience on a daily basis.  Having these conversations made me think much harder about how racist our country still is.  We are very diverse, which is an asset, but we need to learn to respect each other despite racial differences.  Slavery is a horrible part of our history, and we are still letting it affect us today!  The racism needs to stop, and now that I have had these tough conversations, racial respect is on my mind more often.


Teaching emotional regulation skills was unplanned for this trip, but I think it was my most important contribution to the orphanage.  We were in Tanzania to install solar panels, but I think my largest assistance to Camp Joshua was in teaching a short lesson on emotional regulation.  I have struggled with mental health issues for many years, and recently learned a new tool for emotional regulation that has completely changed my life.  One of our professors on the trip asked if anyone wanted to teach a short lesson, and my first thought was to teach about emotional regulation.  He said yes and I presented the tool I had learned to the head of the orphanage, Mama Wambura.  She was very excited and had me teach my lesson to a group of older girls.  I was also approached by Mama Wambura’s son, who is in his 30’s I believe, after he learned about the skill I was teaching.  When I was teaching Jacob and listening, I learned that there are so few mental health resources in Tanzania.  He wants to start an atypical hospital/recreation space where anyone can get away from their problems.  I never would have expected to have the opportunity to teach those girls and Jacob how to use the skill that saved my life.  And I would say it is the most important thing I did in Tanzania.

Before visiting Tanzania, I already knew that respecting every person is important.  But I think I better learned how to act on that and be more open with strangers.  Racial relations have been something I have thought about in the past, but never as hard as I had to on this trip.  I think that the conversations I had with Africans about African Americans made me remember that the fight for racial justice is far from over, and I really need to assist in that fight, even if it’s in small ways.  Finally, I realized that not everything goes exactly to plan, and you can mold your experiences to turn out the way you desire.  I think this will take me far in my career; it has made me realize sometimes you can create your own opportunities.  It’s a bit like the idea that if one door closes another one opens. And sometimes the new door will lead to something even more fulfilling.

STEP Signature Project Reflection

Public Health Perspectives Study Abroad: Japan

For my STEP Signature Project, I went on the 2019 Public Health Perspectives Study Abroad trip to Japan. During the program, we learned about how geographical, cultural, and sociological factors influence health in Japan and drew comparisons to our own experiences in the United States. Over the course of 2 ½ weeks, we attended lectures at the Universities of Tokyo and Azabu, and took field trips to public health disaster sites, including the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, Hiroshima, Minamata, Toyama, and Okawa Elementary. This made for a dynamic learning experience and an unforgettable trip.

 One of the most significant transformations that I experienced was becoming more independent and self-reliant. This was the first time I had ever travelled outside of the country by myself, without my family there to do the planning and decision-making. It was exciting but nerve-racking. Before departing, I researched the places I was going so that I knew some of the cultural norms and could orient myself when I got there. This took time, but was necessary as I didn’t have my parents as a crutch. Before the program started, myself and a couple others decided to travel around Japan by ourselves. This also required planning, and gave me the opportunity to take initiative in finding places to stay and activities to do while there. Furthermore, I, myself, found my plane flights and was financially responsible for covering the cost of the entire trip. This was all new to me, since previously I had just been along for the ride on the vacations my family have taken. This trip forced me into more of a leadership role where I took on a lot more responsibility, and I am now confident in myself because of it. 

There were many points during the program that aided in my growth as an individual. While in country, I became a professional at navigating my way around a new place. There were many times when our program leader told us to meet at a specific location at a certain time, and we had to find our way there. Often times, it would be thirty to forty minutes away. This was beneficial for me because I was put in a situation where I had to take action and figure out how to get where I needed to be in a foreign country where I did not speak the language. Sometimes, when google maps failed, I was forced to step out of my comfort zone and ask a local for help despite the language barrier. This taught me to find different ways to problem solve and as a result, I have grown in independence.

Because I was able to step out of my comfort zone, I had a lot of unforgettable interactions that would not have happened had I stayed in my own little bubble. The ones that had the most impact on me, personally, were the times spent with the University of Tokyo students. I loved getting to know them and what their lives were like in Japan. They were eager to talk to us and practice their English, as well as get to know what our daily lives were like in America. These interactions gave me a unique insight into Japanese culture, specifically from a student perspective, which I can most relate to. Because of this, I was able to appreciate the differences in American and Japanese culture more than I would have if I had not met these students. Some of my favorite memories from the trip were the times we spent with them, outside of class, as they showed us around Tokyo. I felt like I got to know them on a personal level and formed friendships that I will treasure for a long time. 

Furthermore, I learned how to effectively manage my money while travelling abroad. Japan isn’t cheap, so I had to weigh my options and make choices on what was most important to spend money on. Like I mentioned earlier, I funded the entire trip myself (with help from STEP and scholarships) which I had never had to do before. This experience helped me become more financially responsible and self-reliant. 

My growth as an individual will undoubtedly aid me in my academic and professional goals in the future. I am planning on going to medical school which means I will be taking on a lot of responsibility. I need to consider my grades, taking the MCAT, my work experience, volunteering, and a plethora of other things as I begin the process of searching for medical schools to apply to. Now that I am more confident in myself and my ability to take initiative and overcome obstacles, I am better prepared for this process. And even further down the road, when I (hopefully) become a physician, I know that I am capable of taking on a leadership role and will be able to better help patients due to my experience abroad.



Five Weeks in Rome

My STEP project was a study abroad trip to Rome, Italy through the Knowlton School of Architecture. I was in a group with fifteen other students and two professors.  I took a five-week course that counted as an elective towards my major of Landscape Architecture. The course was focused on hand-drawing and daily activities included attending guided tours of different sites around Rome in addition to lots of sketching.

While I feel that in many ways I have changed as a result from this experience, particular changes that I have noticed after some self-reflection include my re-ignited passion for being a maker-of-things and my personal growth in feeling more confidently independent. Both of these changes in my perspective were unexpected in a positive way.

Signing up for this course in hand-drawing was both exciting and intimidating because as a student of Landscape Architecture, typical mediums include digital software, laser cutters, and 3D printers while pencils and paper are far less emphasized. Hand-rendering and abstract sketching is something I wanted more exposure to, so having the opportunity to set aside five weeks of my life to do just that was very valuable to me. In particular, having no distractions of other classes going on and being immersed in the richness of the city of Rome was the perfect setting to dive into drawing. Not only was my interest in drawing sparked more than ever on this trip, but I was also exposed to other art forms and hobbies that made me excited to try so many other things and incorporate them into my own creative life. Ceramics, piano, cooking, painting, and photography are all things that I paid little attention to before traveling to Rome. Getting the opportunity to see what other people do in their spare time and what they’re passionate about or even watch them turn a hobby into a career is beautiful. Sometimes I get tunnel vision in terms of creative outlets that relate directly to my field, and I don’t want to feel that way. Listening to people talk about their passions or watching them do it in a studio or on the street felt refreshing.

In particular, one of the most inspiring moments on this trip that happened to me was while visiting my uncle who goes to art school for painting in Barcelona, Spain. Though not in Rome, I would not have been able to visit him otherwise. While I was there, he showed me the academy of art and we talked about how he ended up there. He used to be a professor of engineering back in the United States, then retired to become a painter and study at one of the best painting schools in the world. He showed me drawings, paintings, and sculptures, and in that moment I realized that even at age 67 it is never too late to start again as something new. It made me realize that I should not be overwhelmed by all the things I want to try, but rather that I have all the time in the world to try them. The worst thing, he told me, is not to do too many things, but rather to do nothing at all.

(Some of my Uncle’s work)

Being thousands of miles from my parents, the people who for my whole life have stood by my side and guided me towards independence, brought back feelings of being a small child again. However, losing your mom in the grocery store is far less of a big deal than being alone in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, because this time mom isn’t just two aisles down. However, as I get older and begin experiencing life more on my own, I have found that jumping into situations of slight discomfort has helped me grow in my confidence in my own abilities. Taking an international flight alone or navigating a train station in a foreign language or even something as small as trying to buy groceries in an unfamiliar environment are all things that made me feel a bit anxious. After navigating myself out of a train mix-up that resulted in me being outside of Rome in a city I had never heard of at one o’clock in the morning, I feel much more confident in myself and my ability to not get overly anxious in situations like that and to rationally problem solve and get myself out of a navigation error. I am beginning to feel like I can do anything now by myself and feel fine about it, and it feels like an actual accomplishment to realize that.

These changes and realized passions of mine are both important in my personal life and professional goals and future plans. Personal growth as someone stepping into adulthood is something I strive for every day, but having this kind of opportunity to push me into a situation I was able to learn and grow from is invaluable. Additionally, as someone in a creative field being constantly re-inspired is vital to any sort of professional goal involving fulfilling your greatest potential as a designer. I plan on trying out and incorporating new outlets of expression and idea-making in the future and I have this trip to thank for that kind of new outlook and perspective I’ve gained.

STEP Reflection: Phang Nga

During my STEP signature project, I traveled to Thailand to volunteer with the organization GVI on their healthcare project. Throughout my two weeks, we engaged with the community through their local preschools, kindergartens and a facility aimed at helping young adults with disabilities. GVI in listening to the community partners services the community by providing English lessons and healthcare checks, as well as promoting good hygiene and an active lifestyle.

I saw a transformation in myself that I believe I would not have achieved had I not been granted the opportunity to go abroad with GVI. GVI provides a partnership with the community that is dynamic and changes based on what the community expresses as their needs. I learned adaptability that will be crucial for me in my upcoming years. I have always been a planner and have not taken well to when things get out of hand or out of my control. Naturally, thinking that I was embarking on a healthcare initiative I believed that would be the majority of my focus, and it was but not in the way I had anticipated. I appreciate this and everything else GVI was able to give me throughout my experience as a volunteer.

One way in which I learned adaptability was through encouraging an active lifestyle through teaching English with games. Getting the children up and moving through learning accomplished our goal of health as well as the communities of learning English. However, with young children, it is often difficult to hold their attention for an extended period of time. This is where the adaptability came into play. Working as a group, my fellow volunteers and I needed to always have a plan B, C, etc. when unavoidably our initial approach failed. We had to change the rules of the games to better suit the children’s abilities and understanding. I learned that although you can play something to a tee, there will likely be some curveball and I needed to learn to think on my toes in the moment.

An additional way that I learned adaptability was through teamwork and communication. Traditionally I have never been a fan of teamwork as there tend to be one or two people doing the majority of the work and several others who fail to accomplish everything. During my program, I was faced with the challenge of working with a team to lesson plan each day. While there was still a similar dynamic in which one individual was not pulling their weight, I was adaptable and encouraged the individual to express their opinions as to what we should teach and the best way to do so. In being encouraging the individual was more open to expressing their opinions and became gradually more involved in the planning. This showed me that through positive reinforcement you can encourage someone to step out of their comfort zone and participate in what might be scary for them. When planning we adapted to everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and played to each person’s strengths when scheduling to make a successful lesson plan for the next day.

A third way in which I was able to transform to a more adaptable person was through my interactions with individuals that speak a language different than that of my own. Most of my life I have only ever encountered English speaking people. Even when I traveled abroad to Europe as a child, most people I came across knew at least basic English so that we could communicate needs such as the bathroom or ordering food at a restaurant. This is a privilege that became highlighted during my program. Many of the people in the community we worked in spoke little to no English. This made me improvise and do my best to communicate with them in other ways. We had several Thai lessons that taught us basics such as how much does this cost and where is the bathroom. In learning to be adaptable and trying to speak their native language I was better able to communicate with them. I learned that though someone may not speak the same language there are many tools one can use such as gestures to get the point across. The adaptability I learned while abroad on my program was life-changing and I will continue to use this adaptability in my future endeavors.

This newfound adaptability will relate to my professional goals in a multitude of ways. For starters, working in healthcare as I do now, there are many times you think a situation will play out one way and it ends up the complete opposite. With adaptability, I will better be able to address these unforeseen outcomes and adjust my care to suit the patient’s needs. Adaptability is a necessity to anyone working in healthcare as you can never truly know what will happen to any given patient and you need to be able to change plans quickly should the current plan fail in its intended purpose.

In addition, adaptability will help me with my personal goals. I always strive to be a more flexible person when it comes to making plans. Through my program, I learned that you cannot plan out your day start to finish and expect it to remain the same from start to end. In my life, I used to try to plan my life to the minute to ensure I had time for everything I needed to accomplish. After my program, I realized it is good to have goals as to what I want to accomplish each day but that if something goes awry it is okay to just acknowledge that and move on to see how I can change the plans to better suit my needs for that particular day.


My semester in Seville, Spain

For my STEP project I attended the CINECU spring semester SAS program in Sevilla, Spain. This was a five-month long program from January to June in which I took classes taught in Spanish both with the program CINECU and with the local university, La Universidad de Sevilla. During this time, I stayed with a local family and participated in program excursions as well as some of my own. Included with the CINECU program were weekend trips to Toledo and Madrid as well as Cordoba and Granada, (paid) visits to an olive oil refinery and a winery, and cultural tours around the sights of Sevilla (the cathedral, Las Setas, the palace, roman ruins). There was also a program of intercambio in which I submitted my interests and was paired with a Spanish student conversation partner who became a close friend and introduced me to many local places and people.

During this project I transformed in a number of ways. Firstly, socially, I entered the program with no friends or acquaintances. I am not the type of person who likes to be socially isolated but also if I am going to be spending five months with other students I wanted to choose friends who actually had similar interests to me. For the first month I didn’t really find a group I was comfortable with, with some of the students I did not share views on most subjects and I often felt excluded (added to the fact that I had a roommate that I was randomly paired with and not entirely compatible with). However eventually I began to find friends outside of the OSU group in the UNC and Clemson groups that I was able to form strong bonds with and eventually take trips to Barcelona and Italy with. Through this experience I was able to transform through the realization that I do not have to change myself to fit in with others. There will be people who I actually enjoy spending time with and I don’t feel judged around.

Secondly, I was changed in the realization that I should focus more on myself than what others think of me. I am my own person and I should not have to worry about being tied down to a school of thought, any person, any city, any country. I have always been worried about what others will think of what I am doing with my life, choosing an impressive field of study, stressing about what employment there is available in my field. There is always going to be some path worth taking and sometimes it isn’t what I thought. If the thought of doing something brings me dread, maybe I should reconsider if that thing is worth doing.

Finally, I was academically transformed by my class at the Universidad de Sevilla. This class on Urban Anthropology was eye opening for me because it was always a challenge. I felt more motivated to tune into the lectures and group discussions because it was improving my Spanish to just be in class and talk about an unrelated subject. I was intrigued by the subject material and tried harder than I have in most classes in Ohio just to make sure I was able to pass a class that relied entirely on the final exam and final essay. I decided that it is important to apply this attitude to my studies for the remainder of my time at OSU.

The changes that I went through during this transformational experience were important to my life in a few different ways. I now feel much more confident in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations. Whether it be going to a country in which I am not entirely fluent in the language, putting myself in situations where I feel alone or know no one, or taking classes on subject matter that I never thought I would learn. I feel much more confident in myself as a person and my personality. I realize that I am who I want to be and not who others want me to be. In the future this will help me academically because I will choose the career goals that best suit my personality and not what my peers see as important or better. Personally, this change reinforces my independence and allows me to continue to unapologetically be myself. In terms of my future plans this experience has changed my mind as I now realize that my true love is language and I would like to continue learning languages and possibly teach English abroad.

STEP Reflection

For my STEP Signature Project, I was a part of the 2019 World War II Study Abroad cohort. As part of the program, I was enrolled in two classes this past spring that focused on World War II. In May, we traveled to Europe to visit places that were affected dramatically during the war.

This experience greatly transformed my understanding of World War II and its impact on the world. I did not realize the ways in which people were affected at the time and how it continues to shape modern world politics. Even as a business major, understanding how and why the events unfolded helped me think more critically and therefore a become a better employee. Overall, I did not know how much I enjoyed studying history and how important it is to the present and the future. I can share my knowledge with my peers and friends and help society better remember our past.

I learned a lot about unnecessary human suffering during the war. Although I knew a lot about the Holocaust, I was not aware of many other war crimes committed on both sides. Additionally, I discovered the multitude of mistakes made by leaders and superiors that resulted in a horrific number of casualties. These are all things I believe have major takeaways, and society can make better decisions going forward, learning from our predecessors’ mistakes. These lessons have made me more educated and thoughtful about consequences and what can happen when decisions are made without sound reasoning, research, and validation. This experience has had a profound impact on me and will help shape my thinking as a professional.

This experience has been transformational because of the people I have met. My professors taught me so much not just about what happened, but about its effects and how the legacy of the war continues to shape modern-day global politics. For example, I learned just how much of the war was really in the east. Most German casualties were at the hands of the Soviets, and western society tends to forget that fact. Additionally, the number of civilian casualties was much greater in the east. The Poles had a much different experience than the other European countries following the war as they were occupied by the Soviet Union following “liberation.”

In summary, I now understand that there is always more to consider when it comes to historical events and that I will never come close to knowing everything about anything. But I now know how to think about history and what questions to ask when trying to comprehend. These are important lessons that I have learned and will be useful to me personally as well as professionally.

My STEP mentor and my peers have had a huge impact on my college experience. Their support and guidance helped me be successful throughout the whole experience. This is in addition to the wonderful people I became close with on the trip. Surrounding myself with motivated people whom I believe are smarter than me has taught me a lot about my strengths and weaknesses. I have become a better writer, thinker, and learner as a result. My leadership skills have also been greatly strengthened. I cannot wait to reconnect with all of my peers who shared the experience with me and see what great things we are all doing in the coming decades.                                                                                          

The Italian City

For my STEP project I participated on a four week long study abroad to Italy. We stayed in Bologna for our trip and took various trips to other Northern Italian cities. While in Italy we looked at how Bologna has been shaped over time by its students and people.

One major view that changed for me while in Bologna was how much different the world is from the United Sates or even Italy is different form the rest of the world. When traveling I never have really had the opportunity to stay in one city for a month. On this trip I was able to sit back and relax and really experience the different culture. What I noticed in that the Italian culture is much more laid back and relaxed then the American culture. While there are still people rushing to get everywhere and do everything, for the most part people are more laid back and not in as big of a hurry. As I ate lunch or dinner, meals were not something that was done real quickly, you had to plan to spend an hour or so eating, even if it was not that fancy of a meal. People were not in a rush to do everything. Locals took there time getting from place to place. As we were scheduled to meet professors from the University of Bologna. They never arrived on time, and our Ohio State professors said that it the Italian way.  People in Italy took there time to really enjoy everything. Ferris Bueller said it best, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

One thing I learned on this trip is to just go out and do something even if I am not sure I will like it or not. I have always been a hesitant person. Not really sure if I should do something so I may just not do it. I may wimp out on doing something because the though of it may scare me. I never really was pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I have turned down a lot of opportunities because I am nervous. This would change on this trip. As I was sitting in Florence eating dinner with our group of thirteen of us as it was pouring down rain outside. We had just come from the Piazza Michelangelo, as it was pouring outside, were debating weather or not to go up and overlook the city at night. I was soaked, but four of us decided to climb back up and over look the city at night. It was only about a fifteen  minute hike to the top, and it was better then going back to the hotel and not really doing much. I wanted to make the most out of my two and a half days in Florence. The rain ended up stopping by the time we made it to the top. The views were spectacular. The city was all lit up, and it was breathtaking. I was soaked but it did not matter, it was worth the hike to the top. We ended up staying up there for about an hour and splitting a bottle of wine between the four of us. We had some great conversations and laughs at the top, getting to know each other since, less then a week ago we had just meet each other for the first time. We also just stared out at the city. Since Florence is such a buzzy city during the day, it was nice to have this calming experience. This experience had taught me to never fear from trying new things, even if I don’t want to do something. It may suck, but the experience may be worth it. I took this mind set for the rest of the trip, some stuff was not worth it while others things were. Like our Colosseum visit in Verona was not worth it, but it was better to do it then wonder what it was like. Don’t be scared to do something even if it may scared you, the experience may be worth the adventure.

As I look at cities in the United States many of them are either world cities, like New York, or small cities, like Columbus. American Cities are different from Italian cities, I assumed many cities around the world were the same. In Italy many cities are world cities. Even Bologna is a world city since it has many people from around the world there. Similar to Columbus, but has a much more diverse population and is connected to the world in a much different way. Even the small cities have a large population of tourists. Not just the large cities.

The main thing that I will take away from this trip is to be adventures. Not to be scared try new things when the opportunity comes up. I would have never really gotten to know that group of people I was with so well. Plus I would have never seen one of the best city views of my life. I will always go try something new, because you ever know what will happen. It may turn out bad, but at least I tried something new and did not wonder what could have been. I will also relax more when I try to do something, worry less about doing everything and more about having a good time. There are a lot of opportunities out there that may scare me or make me nervous, but whatever it is may be worth it. I just have to take the first step in trying it out.