My STEP Signature Project was called Scientific Roots in Europe. We traveled to both London and Paris for a few days each and went to several museums relating to the history behind science and scientific discoveries. We had to keep a travel journal and reflect on the museums and sights that we saw abroad.
One change or transformation that occurred because of this trip was probably how I viewed the places that I had been. Before traveling to London and Paris, I had preconceived ideas of what it was going to be like from television or other people who had visited there. I had this idea that London was a very old, rustic, yet beautiful place and Paris was a romantic, breathtaking place. This was true of both places, but they were also very different from how I imagined. I think the transformation occurred when I realized that what you see in movies and what people tell you is a very tainted idea of what it is really like when you get there. I think that this helped me learn that I shouldn’t really have expectations of a place before I travel there because I played into how I felt when I got there and left me a little disappointed.
The first thing that led to this transformation was specifically seeing the major landmark tourist sites in each of these places. For example, the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Growing up, I had always been completely fascinated by the Eiffel Tower and had waited my whole life to see it, but upon seeing it, it was a little less exciting than I had imagined it to be. I think this plays into the idea that when you come with huge expectations, sometimes it may not live up to it. I found that the places I had never heard of before, or things that I ran into along the way seemed to be more beautiful and unique to me than some of the huge tourist sites.
Another thing that aided in this transformation was that when you see these countries in movies and on television, you never really know the little things about it. For example, that most of the time in these countries you have to pay to use public restrooms. I never knew this before going there and it changed my view a little because this was something I had to adjust to and something that we often take advantage of having in the U.S. This was not something I would have imagined for these places so again my expectations were wrong.
Before getting to Paris, I had imagined it being a romantic and beautiful place, which it was. The views were breathtaking, the music was beautiful and the food was fantastic, but there was one thing that was not made clear to me by the movies and shows. Paris, although extremely beautiful is kind of like New York City in the aspect that it is somewhat dirty. Not necessarily dirty, but just trash thrown around, a lot of graffiti and destruction. This was not what I was expecting, but it was foolish of me not to imagine that because this is just like any city. Overall, I just realized that the places that I had imagined my whole life were not exactly like I would have expected, and this made it even more interesting and beautiful in my opinion. I am going to continue to try and have no expectations for further travels so that I can keep an open mind and take in the culture as it comes.
I think that this change is an important thing to realize in life because it is kind of a metaphor for life itself. Life is not always going to be easy and what is thrown at you is not always going to be what you expect. If I try to not have overly high expectations than I will not be as disappointed when things don’t go exactly my way in life and I will be able to just readjust and learn from what happened. Every experience in life is a learning experience and I am thankful that I got to go on this trip and have a learning experience that most people can’t have in their life time. I am very thankful for the opportunity that I had because of STEP.