STEP Reflection: Global May Great Britain

My STEP signature project was a study abroad trip in London, United Kingdom with the Global May Great Britain program. It was four weeks, and we learned all about the culture, history, and lifestyle in London and the United Kingdom. We attended a lecture four times a week, and we went on various excursions around London and a few other parts of the United Kingdom to learn about the culture hands-on.



I learned a lot about myself during this trip, especially the fact that I am much more independent than I originally thought. I knew that this trip would be a bit of an adjustment for me, and while it was, I adjusted much quicker than I thought and made friends rather quickly. It was amazing how soon I became accustomed to my living arrangement, daily routine, and London lifestyle in general. I quickly learned the route to class on the Tube, pub etiquette, common terms used in London, and even how to blend in with the locals. I never knew that just four short weeks in a completely new place could completely change my outlook on myself and the world around me.

My view on both London and the United Kingdom changed a lot as well. One major component I learned about London is that it is an incredibly diverse city, and there are so many languages spoken other than English. London welcomes its diversity, and it was interesting to see a blend of so many cultures in one place. I also learned that London is not a good representation of the entire country, and it is much more urban and wealthy than the rest of the United Kingdom. While I was abroad, I also had the opportunity to travel to Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, and Amsterdam. It was really fascinating to see a glimpse of these cities as well, and note the drastic differences among all of them. I had assumed that all of Europe was a lot alike, but that was certainly not the case. Paris was the busiest and most bustling city I have ever seen, while Edinburgh was much more calm, peaceful, and casual. This trip opened up my eyes to a part of the world I had never seen, and gave me the desire to continue traveling the world and seeing all it has to offer.



One important person from this trip who opened up my eyes to the wonderful culture of London was my professor, Chris Highley. He certainly made the trip memorable for myself and the other students on the trip, as he was always so excited to share his passion for British culture and literature. He always made the material so fascinating, especially learning about the royal family and their history. I never knew I could find a topic so interesting until he explained it. He also took the time to get to know each of us on the trip and learn some of our interests about London going into the trip. Without him as our professor, I don’t think the trip would’ve been as memorable.

One of my favorite excursions from this trip was to a primary school in a predominantly Bangladeshi community in East London. We had a whole week during the trip dedicated to learning about the education system in London, and we compared this school to Eton College. While we were at this primary school, we were able to go into various classrooms and interact with the children. It was so much fun talking to kids from a different country and hearing their perspectives about school, and even about the United States. This experience contributed greatly to my transformation because it really highlighted how diverse London is. Also, although this school is in a poorer area of the city, it was still really nice and a very quality school. We also toured Brick Lane afterwards, which exhibited how much the city valued its immigrant culture.

The opportunity to see other countries outside of the United Kingdom really allowed me to see a bigger picture idea of Europe. Each city I traveled to was vastly different in a way I never expected. Even the difference in currency and which side of the road cars drive on showed me that each country in Europe is vastly different. My trip would not have been the same if I had not had the opportunity to explore more while I was on the other side of the pond. I gained a unique experience from each city that I will forever cherish.



The transformation I experienced on this trip is valuable to me because it taught me how much I enjoy traveling, and how important to me that I continue to do so throughout my life. I learned that I love exploring new cultures and experiencing life in new places. I had never been to a new place for that long in my life, and it was amazing how life-changing those four weeks were. Europe is truly fascinating, and I know that someday I will return. I also learned that I find British culture very fascinating, and now plan to more closely follow the Royal Family.

It was also a valuable experience for me to learn so much about myself and my abilities to be independent and work well in a completely new environment. It was a little scary at first being in a foreign country with new people, but I adjusted so much quicker than I expected. This experience gave me more confidence in myself and better prepared me for the future, both in my career and in life. As a psychology major, taking opportunities to be around new people is always important, and I proved to myself that I can do just that.



STEP Signature Project Post-Reflection


STEP Signature Project Post-Reflection

My STEP Signature Project involved an education abroad experience that allowed myself to be completely immersed in the culture of Corfu, Greece: a unique, culturally rich, and beautiful island that is marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The project involved daily class, led by Greek instructors, as well as class excursions to mainland Greece in Dodona, Vergina, Ioannina, and Athens.

While completing my project several of my views and assumptions regarding the world have transformed. During our class time, I was opened to the different views that other nations have on the history of our world, from Ancient Greece to the Roman Empire to Renaissance and finally to the Enlightenment period.  However, although I learned a great deal in my class time, I feel that my most valuable educational experience occurred outside of the classroom. While on excursions to historical sites, walking through museums containing artifacts from centuries ago, and while interacting with the native Greek individuals, I gained a greater appreciation for my own history and for the history of others. Because our trip lasted for four weeks, and was coupled with daily classes, we were able to fully immerse ourselves in the culture of Corfu. Unlike any other trip I’ve attended, this experience allowed us to take a past a simple tourist’s visit as we learned, appreciated, and then experienced first-hand.

Several excursions and activities led to me to transform my understanding of myself and my own assumptions. Primarily, the trip to the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum was extremely transformative. The connection between learning about Ancient Greece and the importance of the Acropolis and actually seeing the Parthenon, Erechtheion, Temple of Nike, and Odeon of Herodes Atticus in person was transformational. I gained such an appreciation for the time, energy, and expense the Ancient Greeks took to create something as breathtaking as the Acropolis.

The Ohio State professors that led this trip as well as the guest lecturers that we had in Corfu made this experience so unique and beneficial. Professor Joyce’s jest for learning led us all to dig deeper in our lectures and ask insightful questions regarding the history of nations. Similarly, having lecturers that are native to and experts of the topic they preset was phenomenal. I gained such an appreciation for the multiple language abilities that every professor possessed.

Likewise, during this trip I made great friends that I never would have known without this education abroad experience. Our large group made excursions, classes, dinners, and even bus rides such an enjoyable experience. Although we all attend The Ohio State University, very few of us knew of each other coming into this trip; however, I can confidently say that I now have 21 new friends. Thus, this trip also broadened my reach of friendships and relationships in this way.

My STEP Signature Project was extremely transformative to my life. I intend to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy where I can pair my passion for young children with my involvement in research, community service, and dedication to working hard. I desire to work within the pediatric or neonatal sectors of Occupational Therapy. There, I hope to become an advocate for children, allowing them to achieve their occupation of playing, learning, and thriving. Thus, I currently act as a Developmental Disability Support Aid for an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a volunteer research assistant at the Nisonger Center beginning my honors thesis project, and a babysitter, all while being a full-time student. Through this STEP Signature Project, I have gained a diverse, worldly perspective, one I could not replicate anywhere else. In order to successfully practice any occupation with children, professionals must immerse themselves in as many diversifying perspectives as possible. The opportunity I had to travel to Corfu, Greece allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, learn about a novel culture, and meet many new people. All of these experiences will be vital in a job working with children, who may come from different families, cultures, and experiences. Thus, this STEP Signature Project widened my perspective, allowing me to see the world through an expanded lens. Likewise, it will allow me to better understand the perspectives of others in my occupation after undergraduate graduation and graduate school.

Japanese Popular Culture Study Abroad

The STEP signature project I chose was the Japanese Popular Culture study abroad trip. The class focused on the difference between ancient and modern popular culture in Japan. During the course of the trip we visited Tokyo, Kamakura, and Tsukuba.

During my time in Japan, there were a couple of transformations I went through. My understanding of myself was altered over the course of the class. As someone who deals with general anxiety as well as social anxiety, I thought this trip was going to be very stressful on me and that I would have a tough time connecting with people. This proved to be very wrong as I made some amazing friends very quickly, and I had the most fun I’ve had in a while on this trip. Although I was immersed in a very different culture than my own, I felt sort of at peace with myself rather than worrying about everything and anything all at once. This experience taught me that I have the capability to be happy and tranquil, I just need to realize and embrace that.

Another transformation I went through during this trip was understanding the differences from a culture extremely different than my own. As someone who has traveled to about thirty different countries, I have never been to any country in Asia. In Europe, even if you do not speak the language sometimes the words are similar to English so you can get an idea of what is happening. In Japan, the kanji and other characters do not resemble any language that I’m familiar with and google translate only goes so far. Being able to adapt and learn important words and kanji went a long way. Additionally, learning what to expect in terms of social differences before leaving helped me understand why and how people act when we arrived.

Knowing all of the students who participated in this particular study abroad had a very common appreciation for Japanese culture, altered the relationships. In other programs, the groups have been more diverse. This group all came on this trip with a great love for anime and manga and all things Japanese. That shared devotion made making friends easier than other trips I have been on. Those trips didn’t have a real common thread through the group like this one did. There was no hesitation to discuss the sometimes nerdy topics of anime with this group. That freedom caused an instant connection throughout the study group.

I believe my own anxiety issues were minimized because of the commonality between all of the students attending this study abroad trip. Again, in other trips, all of the students may have been engineers, or people wanting to visit Paris, but this one really was specific enough to gather all like minded individuals. There’s something to be said about planning and including more study abroads like this one.

We were forced to interact with the Tsukuba University students while we were in Japan. What felt like force really did turn into a cultural exchange as we continue to get to know the students there and became attached to their insight and education. They assisted us tremendously at restaurants and with customs. They made recommendations for us from places to visit to items we would enjoy on a menu.

The university students also spent time with us to explain their culture. They described what is was like for them to be students and how they spent their downtime. Their downtime was much more sedate compared to ours at OSU. They don’t have a tangible nightlife of parties or bars. They didn’t even understand drinking games. We taught them some while we were there.
They, also, didn’t understand the concept of sporting events and sports competition. We tried to explain what an OSU football game day was like. They were amazed and we were shocked that these experiences were so foreign to them.

For this first time in a group, I felt like I was with my people. I felt like I was with like minded students who were willing to explore all of the same interests as me. This is nothing against exploring with folks who do not have the same interests as you, but we all get that in any class we attend.

University classes in and amongst themselves, are just a group of people focused on a particular subject. But those classes do not represent each student’s personal interests or hobbies. That being said, I have nothing against being in a group of chemical engineering majors as part of a club, but this experience allowed me to finally be comfortable with a group of people who shared my passions. I can’t stress enough how important that was to me, personally, as a means to draw strength going forward.

Study Abroad in Seville, Spain – STEP Post-Reflection

Feria de Abril in Seville

My family and I in front of Plaza de España

Pico de Torreón in Andalucía, Spain

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

For my STEP Signature Project, I studied abroad for five months in Seville, Spain, at Centro Internacional de Estudios Culturales (CINECU). While I was in Seville, I took four classes in Spanish, lived with a host family, and traveled around Spain and other parts of Europe with my fellow classmates.

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

Living abroad was a different experience than anything I have ever encountered. Never before had I lived outside of Columbus, Ohio, nor had I lived more than a few miles away from my parents. It was the most independent I had felt in my entire life – I knew no one in Spain, all my friends and family were thousands of miles away, and I was dropped into a country which spoke a different language than what I was used to. The most significant realization I made about myself is that I can be very comfortable being alone and independent. Instead of constantly socializing and meeting new people like I typically do on campus, I tended to explore Spain independently, or with only one other close friend. Before going abroad, I considered myself and fairly extroverted person, but now I am realizing I can be quite introverted as well. Although I liked spending time alone, I pushed myself to go out of my comfort zone while I was abroad, and spoke to new people in Spanish. By the end of my time in Spain, I actually preferred to speak to people in Spanish, even after they had assumed I only spoke English. Lastly, while I was in Spain, I realized how wasteful American culture is. Throughout Europe there is less food waste, fewer cars, more bikes, more public transportation, and more walking. Environmentally speaking, Spain is ahead of the U.S. in many ways. This experience has definitely inspired me to start living my life more sustainably back in Ohio, and encourage others to do so, too.

  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?

My relationship with my host mother allowed me to learn a lot about Spanish customs. We discussed politics, education, religious practices, and simple things as well, like television, music, and food. Several of my professors were also born and raised in Seville, and I enjoyed hearing them speak about their pride in their city. These interactions allowed me to reflect on my relationship with my nationality – what I am proud of, and what I think should be changed. I think many aspects Spanish life – the right to healthcare, affordable college, extensive public transportation, to name a few – could be adopted in the United States, and my distance from my country allowed me to reflect on some areas that are in need of improvement. In addition, I feel like the independence that I had in Spain has already affected how I live my life back in the U.S. Like I noted earlier, I feel much more comfortable spending time alone, and motivating myself to do things without pressure from friends or family. Since returning to the U.S., I have been sticking to a routine which prioritizes maintaining my physical and emotional health.

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

I believe the things I learned in Spain will greatly help me when I graduate from Ohio State. I plan to move out of the Midwest, and possibly out of the country, when I finish my degree, and now I know how I can stay happy and healthy even when I am far away from my family or out of my comfort zone. Additionally, my proficiency in speaking and hearing Spanish greatly improved while I was living in Spain, and I think this skill will help me in future

Between France and Morocco: Diversity in Francophone Culture


The Between France and Morocco study abroad experience was centered on studying diversity in the Francophone world. We visited various historical monuments with past and present relevance in the lives of the French and Moroccan people. The concept of identity in nationality, religion, gender, and more is linked deeply to the physical environment of the lives of those in these countries.

The most prominent transformation that I noticed was in my appreciation for language. As an American who has never left the United States, I have not been exposed to many other languages. In Morocco, everyone knows at least three languages, due to the wide range of cultures in the country and the need for communication with Europe. It was impactful to realize that I speak a privileged language that can get me almost anywhere in the world, while they must learn two or three just to get around in their country. I have a new appreciation for those that were raised speaking multiple languages and can communicate with people different than themselves. I hope to be able to learn more languages in my lifetime.

I also noticed that my personal thoughts about how France was going to be were proven wrong. I expected the French to be cold and rude in noticing that I was American. But when I spoke French to them, they were very welcoming and supported my attempts. I expected Paris to be more glamorous than it was as well. Though the metro was easy to figure out, I found that the city was dirty. I think that this was a wake-up call to the fact that even though certain locations in the world are very famous, they may not be all that they seem. Needless to say, the history was incredible. When visiting places like L’Arc de Triomphe and the Tour Eiffel, I was in awe of the French who live embedded in a history that long predates that of the United States. I am thoroughly impressed by how close monuments are to modern buildings. It creates a stark contrast. I remember specifically when visiting the Arc de Triomphe, the amount of traffic that flew around the circle at the base of the monument struck me most. They were honking and merging in and out and around. It was literal chaos of automobiles. In fact, it seemed that, to locals, the Arc de Triomphe was more of an impediment to traffic than anything else. I remember telling my classmate that I was with that I would be amazed at driving past this historical world-renowned structure on my commute home each day. The environment of rich ancient history in Paris is something that the locals may take for granted. United States history is very young compared to that of Europe, so to see a structure and museums from thousands of years ago, is truly a different experience for me.

When I learned more about the topic of language on this trip, I became amazed and shifted completely my understanding of the dynamic of language. Going into this trip, I pictured the culture shock as more in food, mannerisms, and even climate. Never did I think that I would be most readily impacted by language. I felt prepared for this trip due to my background studying French, but really noticed my transformation in Morocco. It was there that we learned about the ongoing fight between French and the traditional Arabic as the national language. There is simultaneously a struggle between three dialects of Arabic for which will be taught in school: Amazigh, Berber, or Classical Arabic. However, what was most interesting about this was that each language is linked to nationalism, religion, and socioeconomic status. Berber Arabic is mostly spoken amongst those of lower classes and is currently not taught in schools, thus creating a barrier to poorer students seeking an education. On the national language issue, many oppose French due to tensions left from colonialism in the twentieth century, as well as the argument that Arabic is the holy language from Allah. In the States, we have never had a struggle such as this one, and I really was impacted by this lesson. Our trips to markets and mosques in Morocco affirmed this lesson, as we heard a multitude of languages. Our guide was able to point out the different dialects as well, and he himself spoke 6 languages! I have a new appreciation for communication and the topic of language, and I know that now I have an appreciation for those who can speak many. This is another aspect of diversity and privilege that I may never have learned about without this experience.

In France, I remember the exact moment that I felt unjudged for being an American. We had a free day in Paris, and I was able to figure out the metro system all by myself. I got to the Musee d’Orsay only to find that it was closed. So, I had to travel back but found myself lost in trying to find the metro for the opposite direction. I stopped at a sandwich stand and asked for directions in French. Without hesitation, the man smiled and responded in French. I thanked him and left, having felt accomplished. Whether he knew I was only a beginner at the French language or not, I felt that I was not judged for being an American, and I was proud that I was able to get around alone in another country. Prior to this trip I was feeling a little lost, and this moment I remember feeling proud of myself and my abilities for the first time in a while. I was able to get around the rest of the day, with a renewed sense of self confidence.

Another transformative experience that I had was in learning about Islam. Prior to this trip, I did not know much about the religion. Through classes and mosque visits, I learned about the peaceful and generous nature of the Islamic community, and about the teachings of the Quran. What I found most impactful in learning was in a lecture by Professor Yumna where we learned about women in Islam. They are perceived as oppressed by men, but when they wear hijab or dress modestly, it is often of their own choosing. Modesty is emphasized in Islam. We learned that the French government targets Muslim women for how they outwardly express their religion, but that they do so from a place of ignorance. There is importance in learning about identities different from our own. When we remain uneducated, we can quickly turn that to fear. This was an important lesson, and I am glad that I was able to experience this religion and speak to those whom practice it.

I think that this trip has shown me life outside of what I know. When I first moved to Ohio from California for college, I thought that I was going far enough away from home to experience a whole different lifestyle. But going to two other continents expanded my knowledge of the world to an international level, and I began to feel small in such a big world. But as the trip progressed, I could look past the differences between the cities, and notice similarities. For example, people are kind and offer help to one another, and there were American brands all over Morocco and France. Another example was in the music. In all three countries (America, France, and Morocco) there is an abundance of sharing of music. I was able to experience Moroccan music in France, French music in the US, and American music everywhere abroad. Many of the songs used by the dance crew that we were able to visit on our final night were familiar American ones. Seeing this sharing of culture surprised me. Being an American, we know that our ideals and brands stretch far, but the music surprised me. Seeing American culture in France was also a shock since I had been told that Parisians very much looked down upon Americans.

There will always be more to learn in the realm of diversity and inclusion. That is not to say that everyone will completely understand what it is like to hold every identity, but each person is a unique combination of traits and beliefs. There are infinite combinations and each person is unique. Going into life and the field of student affairs, this will be invaluable to realize. I can become an ally and educate myself about the world around me to benefit the student population better. In my future career, I will work in conduct and policy on a university campus. Keeping this open mind during my last year of college will help me recognize topics that are unique to America and unique to the lifestyle here. Understanding the population of students that are from abroad and recognizing how much it takes to move to another country for four years of schooling is something that I could not truly comprehend until this experience abroad.

Studying the Castles and Cathedrals of England and Wales

  1. For my STEP project, I participated in the Engineering the Castles and Cathedrals of England and Wales study abroad trip. The class involved a research project and an in-country presentation on the historical and social significance, construction, and design of a specific structure, York Minster in my case. We traveled to Salisbury, Chepstow, Caernarfon, Llandudno, and York before ending in London, and we saw structures like St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Chepstow Castle, Tintern Abbey, and many more. The trip also included some free time in some of the cities for individual exploration and group bonding.


  1. Traveling to another country really helped to broaden my knowledge of the world. Throughout England and Wales, I learned so much about myself and about the culture of the areas we visited. I went in with some knowledge of the United Kingdom’s culture and politics, but it was very interesting to hear from locals and experience the culture for myself. Even though there was no language barrier, I still feel like traveling to a new country with a group of complete strangers was a challenge for me. I had been to Europe once before, but I was young and relied entirely on my parents. Having time to explore on my own and with other students without a tour guide or professor helped me to feel more confident and independent. I will definitely have a more open-minded view of the world and feel more prepared to travel on my own because of this trip.


  1. One particularly challenging part of this project was getting used to interacting with the locals who are very different from myself. My hometown in Ohio and even within my major on Ohio State’s campus are not the most diverse areas, so interacting with people in a different country was a new experience. Since I had never been to England or Wales, the only expectations I had about the culture and the people came from the news and from movies and TV shows. Now having gone through this experience, I feel more open-minded. I plan to bring this new social awareness gained back to Ohio State’s campus and expand my social circle here as well by reaching out to new groups of people that I may not have interacted with before. I think that overall this trip really made me a more confident and social person.


Besides just interacting with locals, the trip also required that I give a presentation and tour of a cathedral that I had never actually been to. I was able to find a lot of information online, including pictures and diagrams of York Minster, but I wasn’t able to actually go inside until I was giving the presentation. This experience really challenged my ability to present confidently and think on my feet, which will further improve my social skills and my professional skills in my ability to give presentations for class and in my future career. I also found that I really enjoyed this experience. Learning about the minster before visiting made seeing it in person even more impressive and exciting.


Another aspect of this trip that was transformative was just being on my own and exploring in a new country. When the other students and I were on our own without a planned itinerary is when we bonded the most and learned the most about the cities we were in. Many of us didn’t have cell service, so we had to rely on memory when walking around the city, which was a big challenge for a me because I have always used my phone for direction. I also encountered some challenges on my own, such as planning out my flights home, transportation to the airport, and dealing with delays. My flight out of England was delayed, so I missed my connection. However, I feel like experiencing this challenge on my own helped me become more responsible for myself and independent. I now feel more prepared to travel on my own in the future.


  1. This experience was truly the trip of a lifetime. I think that having my parents with me last time I traveled to Europe really hindered my ability to grow from the traveling experience because they were the ones constantly deciding where we would go and interacting more with the locals. This trip gave me plenty of time to really immerse myself in the culture and customs of the local people. Traveling abroad can really be valuable to anyone, regardless of what career they intend on pursuing after graduation. However, I think that this was particularly helpful for me since I plan to pursue a career in the medical field. Working in a hospital type of setting requires dealing with and empathizing with many people of all ages, genders, and races. Therefore, I believe that it is important to have an understanding and appreciation for other cultures before being put in that environment. Traveling and exploring different parts of the world is the easiest way to develop this understanding because you are completely immersed in the customs, foods, traditions, and social patterns of another country. Additionally, the experience of setting out on my own and exploring a new country with a group of strangers really helped me build confidence, a skill that will be extremely helpful in all of my future endeavors. I hope to travel more in the future, and I think this trip has provided me with valuable experience in organizing a trip abroad.

Japan Public Health Perspectives

I went on the Public Health Perspectives: Japan education abroad trip. On the trip we visited Tokyo, Hiroshima, Minamata, Fukushima and Ishinomaki. At these places we learned about many major environmental public health events.

I learned that the country that we live in may not always do things the best way possible. There were many great things about Japan and both countries can learn a lot from each other. It was also easier to understand why they do certain things such as wear surgical masks in public. It was nice to see that a student halfway around the world lives relatively the same as the students here which was not what I assumed. One thing I think that we could take from their culture is the respect they show for others especially elders, and the respect they show to the Earth.

I believe I now have a deeper appreciation for thinking and problem solving out of the box. Further it was told that you should not judge by preconceived notions, especially if you don’t have all the facts. I learned that there are so many unfortunate disasters that have happened in the world and there are many things to learn from each of these. I am aware of the peace that we see in our country and I value it much more. I also value the way that our community is very open, excited and expressive when talking about everything we stand for. Finally, I have a greater appreciation for the diversity in our community.

Some of the relationships that I valued the most after visiting Japan are with the University of Tokyo students. We got to attend class with them as well as eat dinner and go to karaoke. Through conversations we got to learn all about a normal student life in Japan and it really wasn’t much different than at Ohio State. They studied and hung out with friends. They also went out and were involved in activities. One interesting difference we discussed was the typical living situation and transportation. Many Japanese students live at home and commute to university on public transportation. I think these differences are minimal and prove how similar things can really be.

One experience that really led to a transformation of my thoughts was visiting Hiroshima and the memorial, peace park and museum. I thought that I would feel weird as an American going to the site of the atomic bomb dropped by Americans. However, they are very accepting of visitors and want to educate others about the effects of the bombing and promote peace throughout the world. These experiences lead me really appreciate that I have not experienced war in my lifetime and makes me want to instill peace around the world. It also is very impressive that the country has little resentment towards America.

After visiting so many devastating circumstances that caused disease that was discovered and understood by out of the box thinking, I think no idea should go undermined and should be explored when trying to solve a problem. Many of the doctors’ findings were not popular ideas. Further many of the victims of one of the diseases we studied, Minamata disease, were severely ostracized by people who didn’t know what was wrong with them. This leads me to be more aware of prejudices especially towards the sick.

I have used this experience for my capstone class. Not only did I make some friends that I will be able to talk about this trip with forever, I also have have a good relationship with a professor who could help in my future. These are two ways that this trip really helped my academic career. I got to further my learning to outside of Columbus and expand my way of learning while exploring new place.

This experience really provided me with a better view of the world. I think it allowed me to explore emotions, opportunities and relationships that I wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise. In the future I hope that I can use all of the things that I have learned in my career especially in problem solving and in having professional relationships.

Transnational History of the Second World War in Europe

For my STEP signature project, I completed an education abroad program through the Office of International Affairs. I traveled throughout the United Kingdom, France, Poland, and Germany for nearly a month where I studied the transnational history of WWII. By being able to participate in this program, my understanding and assumptions of the history of WWII and the way it influenced the post-war world were challenged and transformed.

Learning about history in the United States is from the biased perspective of our national memory. We learn about what we experienced and remember from WWII, not exactly the full story of what happened or all of the different people and nations who were involved. Relearning this history from the perspectives of so many different countries allowed me to compare these histories and to arrive at my own conclusion of what is likely the most accurate representation of what happened in WWII. This has allowed me to gain a broader understanding of the history of WWII and how it shaped the world into what it is today.

My interactions with the locals in the countries I visited had a very large impact in the transformation of my understanding of the history of WWII. Interacting with the local people really revealed the nation’s national memory and sheds light onto what that nation’s perspective of the war is formed around. The nation where I found this national memory to be the most profound was in Poland. Here, many Polish citizens referred to Poland as being innocent throughout the war and really stressed the theme of national victim hood. Even when asked about Polish participation in Nazi atrocities, every Polish citizen we conversed with continued to deny this and stress national innocence. This was much different than what I was taught in the United States, where we did not shy away from acts of Polish compliance with the Nazi regime throughout World War Two.

Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland

Many of the places I visited also impacted my understanding of the history of WWII. Seeing the differences in the ways that museums and memorials were designed also reveals the way that nation and their people remember and teach history. For example, many of the museums in France and Poland emphasize that they were victims of Nazi atrocities who suffered greatly and often present warnings for future generations to prevent this from reoccurring, where as in Germany these memorials were very matter of fact and didn’t exactly seem like the most heartfelt apologetic memorial. These differences in museums and memorials allowed me to really compare and contrast the national memory of these nations and to be able to understand why these differences exist. Being able to understand these key components were crucial in being able to truly analyze the transnational history of WWII.

Exhibit at the end of the German History Museum in Berlin

The transformation of my understanding of history and the world during WWII has been incredibly valuable to me. Being able to understand these differences and why they exist will help me in my personal as well as professional life to understand why nations and their people perceive history so differently and how this contributed to the formation of the post-war world. By understanding this, I will be better able to understand and adapt to cultural differences. Additionally, these skills will be useful to me in my future history classes and will hopefully allow for more cross cultural and transnational comparison of history.

Omaha Beach, Normandy, France


WWII Education Abroad – STEP Post-trip Reflection

Found on Omaha Beach

1.  For my STEP Signature Project, I took part in Ohio State’s World War Two Study Abroad Program.  Following a discussion-based seminar focusing on the study of World War Two through various cultural lenses during the Spring Semester, the 24-student group traveled to Europe to see sites related to topics discussed.  Places visited include London, Normandy, Paris, Krakow, Auschwitz, and Berlin.

2.  While traveling abroad, experiencing a variety of cultures, and seeing how different nations present their history, I have come to appreciate both history and being an American much more.  Often, Americans tend to simplify the war down to the umbrella idea of the “Greatest Generation,” but have no idea what it was really like to have an entire country devastated by Axis occupation and combat for liberation.  Even today, Europeans are reminded of the war when an unexploded bomb is found or when looking at land that still bears the scars of war (i.e. the craters at Pointe du Hoc).  Every country also has to grapple with how they memorialize their war dead and how to rationalize the difference between survival through collaboration and survival through resistance.  Finally, participating in this trip has shown me that Americans in general often view history from a victor’s perspective.  We do not have a law like in Germany that makes it illegal to deny that the Holocaust ever happened, for example, or the law in Poland that was recently passed to make it illegal to suggest that Poles were complicit in the crimes against Jews.

3.  Three primary experiences really hammered home the aforementioned change:  seeing battlefields, seeing cemeteries, and seeing and comparing the museums of different countries.  While in Normandy, we had the unique opportunity to travel to several invasion beaches, as well as towns which were heavily fortified by the Germans.  One of the most touching and personal experience that I had was while visiting these locations was at Pointe du Hoc, an American invasion point between Utah and Omaha Beach.  The destruction of this area is vastly obvious: craters pock-mark the earth, char marks inside bunkers are still visible from American flamethrowers, and gun emplacements are still visible, riddled with battle damage.  Seeing this location simultaneously helped me to understand the scale of battle, yet forever be unable to imagine just how large that scale is.

The scarred landscape of Pointe du Hoc

The cemeteries of Normandy were places that helped me to see how different countries memorialize their war dead.  The American, British, and German cemeteries were all distinctly different.  The British cemetery’s graves each featured short epitaphs or messages from loved ones (such as messages from young children to their father or a heartbroken mother to her lost son).  These gave a certain “life” to the graves that I have never seen from any other cemetery in the past.  The German cemetery was an interesting location as well, and definitely helped me in seeing how the Germans view the war.  Here, on a mass grave, was a quote that essentially stated that we do not know what potentially horrible acts that some of these men could have carried out, and that these actions are known and judged by God.  In contrast to both of these places was the American cemetery, which was extremely bright uniform in appearance.  Visiting all of these cemeteries highlighted to me just how differently each country interprets and remembers their war experience.

In a similar light, visiting the museums of these countries was another way that I was better able to appreciate history and see how the war affected the world.  In seeing the museums in London, France, Poland, and Germany back to back, my classmates and I were able to make immediate and direct comparisons of what facts were presented and how the it was displayed.  Where England had a generally holistic look on World War Two that reflected the triumph through Churchill’s leadership, the French presented a slightly different narrative that “filtered” its history by highlighting the valiant efforts of the army and resistance instead of the defeat, all the while idolizing Charles de Gaulle.  In Poland, a certain tone of victimhood was expressed and was re-enforced by the fact that the law was produced to deny Polish cooperation in acts against Jews.  Germany was vastly different from all of these, relying on an overwhelming amount of facts in order to prevent any sort of denial or mis-representation of the atrocities committed.  In Germany, there were no hero stories.  All of these places – the battlefields, cemeteries, and museums – all provided me with different snippets of information on how each country remembers the war.  Putting these experiences together, I have been able to get a slightly more “worldy” look at history, and have a greater appreciation for the efforts of the Allied forces.

The site of the Wannsee Conference

4.  Taking part in this Study Abroad program has been extremely beneficial to me because it has broadened both my scope of history and of cultures.  As stated above, I have been able to see how different countries view their part in the largest conflict in human history.  Moreover, I have been able to experience the beautiful cultures of these places and meet people from around the world.  Not only does this help my goal of becoming a better historian, but I hope it will help me in moving forward with my career in the United States Air Force.  Someday, I may have the fortune of working with airmen from the nations that I visited, and I look forward to being able to use my understanding of their culture and history in order to better work together for a greater good.


For more blogs that I wrote from this trip, please click here.

Business School, but British

  1. My STEP project was a semester-long study abroad exchange through the Fisher College of Business. This allowed me to enroll at one of Fisher’s partner universities around the world. I enrolled at the Alliance Manchester Business School in Manchester, United Kingdom, where I took courses regarding mental health, team management & personnel selection, and sustainability in business.

  1. This exchange was transformative to me in many ways. I had never traveled overseas, and much of my previous travel abroad was leisure based, so I did not necessarily need the skills to communicate and live on my own abroad. Through this exchange, even though the country I was in spoke English, it was necessary for me to pave my own path and become much more independent. When I first showed up, I had no friends there, and was given fewer resources than I had expected. I had to learn to be flexible and fend for myself more. I also spent a bit of time in other countries while aboard and developed skills to communicate with language barriers. There is nothing more difficult than trying to find cold medicine in a different language.

I also found the educational aspect very transformative. The British education system does not focus much on daily tasks or homework, so I often found myself lacking schoolwork. That said, your final paper or exam made up most, if not all of your grade. This required me to shift my focus on daily tasks toward more of a continuous study schedule to ensure that I had an understanding of the course material. By the end of the semester, I had been working on two of my papers for the entire term and felt very ready to submit them.


  1. The biggest transformation I saw was my independence. I had always felt that I was a fairly independent person, but that changes when you arrive in a different country for four months with no people to go to. I was in a position where nobody from home could be of help to me and I had to figure things out for myself. The standoffish attitude of the British did not necessarily help, as many other students gave vague answers to questions like “Where is the laundry room?” or “What time is dinner served?” the latter to which I received the response “Check the Facebook page.” (I didn’t know we had a Facebook page! It was also private and invite only.) Looking back on those frustrating moments, I have grown to realize that they were some of my best learning moments. Not only was I learning how to deal with these issues, I was learning about myself and how much I was capable of.


I also learned a lot about fiscal responsibility. I had known that I wanted to do a semester abroad since my early high school years. I had also been working 20+ hours per week since I was in 9th grade. I knew that I wanted to save up the money to be able to make the most of my experience. I often held myself back from doing thing in Columbus or back home, knowing that it was an unnecessary expense. When I left for England, I knew I had quite a bit saved up. Europe is fairly small and easily connected. Cheap flights make travel on weekends very accessible. Through this, I was able to budget all of my trips while I was abroad and all of my other expenses. I actually ended up spending far less than I expected I would. I now have a better understanding of how to ensure that I will be fiscally stable, while still putting aside funds to treat myself whether it be a vacation or seeing a movie.


One other thing that stood out to me significantly through this project was the American sense of superiority. I also felt this sense among many Brits, especially when travelling to continental Europe. Most Americans and Brits are not well versed in other languages which mean that many businesses must have English speaking staff to succeed, especially in touristy areas. I also overheard many fellow American students & tourist make complaints such as “Why don’t they just do it this way….” Etc. Although there were times that I also got frustrated at the lack of logic in tasks or systems, I understood why there were differences both economically and culturally. I also often saw times that the way that they were doing things made more sense. For example, nearly every business in Manchester accepted contactless payment such as Apple Pay. Although many places in the US take it now as well, it is not highly utilized. This method can make transactions significantly quicker and allows businesses to serve more customers. I also found that the toilets used far less water and many hotels often required the key to be placed inside a sensor to gain electricity in the room. These small sustainable steps could definitely make a difference if implemented in the US at a larger scale.


  1. Through my study abroad, I was able to become more independent and gained more openness to other cultures and ideas. I try to think with a level head and hear out everyone, because I have realized that you really do not know everyone’s story or how they formed their views. Not only were my experiences outside of the classroom reflective of my transformation though. Though my courses I was able to take a deeper dive into the mental health system and what issues have arisen along with what can be done. I also looked into different industries and learned of ways to have more sustainable practice, including writing a report on how an airline can be less of a polluter. Through courses like these, that I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to take at Ohio State, I was able to learn about topics that interest me and could pertain to my future, along with learning them in a different education system with different perspectives.


Although I am still not entirely sure which field I want to go into once I graduate in May, I have realized that I have a strong passion for working on a global scale and that I enjoy working on environmental issues. I also have realized how independent I can be and how much I am capable of doing and overcoming. Before I left, a friend of mine that had previously studied abroad messaged me, “Even your worst days abroad are some of the best in your life,” and I stand by that. These experiences have also helped me to appreciate the people around me and the environment I am in. I have learned to slow down and take it all in, because everything is what you want to make of it. There is no need to rush or worry about the little things, because everything WILL fall in to place just as it is supposed to.


I went to a Manchester City football match with a few of my friends from my exchange. Students from all over the world were part of the exchange. These three all happened to be from the University of Southern California.