Sustainable Urban Practices Abroad Program 2018

Name: Hayleigh Coppenger


My STEP Signature Project was a 22-day long education abroad where I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark; Malmo, Sweden; Berlin and Weimar, Germany; and Barcelona, Spain. Myself and 12 other students were assigned areas of the city to critically analyze the morphological, functional, social, and visual aspects of the space. We created a 300 page InDesign booklet to document our findings.

Traveling to these cities opened my eyes in the idea that pretty much everyone outside of the United States is bilingual. This shocked me and made me want to learn a second language. I learned how independent I could truly be. I thought that going on this trip would have this effect on me, since I would be traveling without the aid of my family. However, 2 weeks before I left, I broke my dominate hand and still was able to ride bikes in all 3 cities and travel by myself after the program ended. This showed me how if I put my mind to something, I can achieve it.

While abroad, most of my peers and I did not have phone service, so we had to create our own fun. This led to many goofy games being played and us truly talking to each other about our days and our experiences. This was great, especially since in the beginning, we barely knew each other. Having these 12 other students to lean on while abroad made my experience truly unforgettable.

I was also one of the members on this trip that had experience with the material, since this class was for my major. I therefore had the role of becoming one of the leaders on my smaller team and helping the other members when it came to writing their critical analysis. This helped me further my learning and also learn how to take initiative when it came to teaching the material and making observations of a space in a foreign city that I had just seen for the first time for myself.

Furthermore, as mentioned, my arm was broken for my entire time in Europe. However, I did not let this stop me from learning or enjoying my time abroad. I rode bikes in all of these cities and also even got in the Mediterranean Sea. Learning how to be flexible was a large part of this trip; because of my arm and because I was with the same people for 22 days straight. Learning how to get along with everyone definitely is a learning lesson that transcends into my personal, academic, and professional life.

Lastly, I learned to not only be a leader but also be a team player. I learned when it was my time to take a stand and when it was my time to sit back and listen. Having this balance of give and take was something I learned from working on this 300-page book as a team. I also improved my professional relationship with Dr. Lara; the faculty member of this trip. I proved to him my academic success in my critical analysis and also how flexible and mature I can be as I never slowed the group down due to my arm.