Global May Hungary STEP Reflection

Alexander Vaeth

Global May Hungary Study Abroad Program


This program consisted of a four-week OSU study abroad course located in Central Europe, more specifically Budapest, Hungary, Vienna, Austria, and Warsaw, Poland. The course work involved weekday classes and tours focusing on the geography, politics, history and cultural aspects of the afore mentioned cities and the greater region. Another aspect to the trip was to collaborate with a small group of classmates to create a video project on a topic of our choice, learning the basics of video editing in the process.



The first thing I realized during this course is how little I knew about the region of Central Europe. From my experience, when I thought about Europe I had only thought about the western and eastern extremes of the continent, carelessly ignoring the countries in-between. The course work of this trip also made me think more about what defines a culture, a state, a nation, and a people. These questions are difficult to answer, but before this trip I had not given these questions the thought and time that they deserve. This experience has made me realize the world is an enormous place and every corner of it is filled with history and people that make it truly unique and beautiful.

This trip also made me realize that I am not as introverted as I thought. Coming into the trip I was worried about making friends. Luckily after a month-long adventure through Europe, I now consider my fellow classmates being very close friends. This experience has taught me that it isn’t that hard to get out of your box and meet new people. I can’t wait to hangout with my new friends back on campus!



The course work of the experience was one of the biggest transformative aspects to the trip. Our instructor, Dr. Daniel Pratt, turned course work that could have been bland and dull and transformed it into an intriguing and fun topic. There were two classes that stood out the most to me. First was a discussion about the philosophical idea of a nation, and how this idea is implemented in such a diverse and colorful place like Central Europe. Thinking about this topic has given me new insight to the current (and past) politics in the region and all over the world. The second class that stood out to me was a guided tour through the city of Budapest, analyzing the monuments throughout the city. Dr. Pratt helped me realize that there are many layers if meaning in the design of state monuments, as well as subtle or obvious agendas behind them. The overall lesson from that class was to give more thought into why certain parts of cities are the way they are. Why this part of town? Who is intended to see it? What message is being conveyed, or not conveyed? These are just several questions I will be asking myself when walking through cities in the future.

Another transformative experience of the trip was traveling to more than just one city. Most of the trip was spent in Budapest, Hungary, but as a class we also traveled to Warsaw, Poland and Vienna, Austria. All of these places are located in the same region but have very different histories and culture. It was eye opening to see how drastic, yet similar cities within the region could be.

Whenever there was down time my fellow class mates and I would bombard Dr. Pratt for places to get food, sights to see, and parks to just hangout at. Ready with a list we would explore the city we would soon start to call home. It was during these adventures that the true friendships I made on the trip blossomed. By making the most of every minute and always saying yes to a new adventure I found myself in beautiful places with beautiful people.



This experience has benefited me personally and will benefit my future professional plans. Personally, I have made friends and relationships that have the potential to last a life-time. For an entire month straight, I spent every hour of every day with the same 24 people. One might say the same is true for the dorms on campus but I disagree. Nowhere on campus do I know of a group that size that sleeps, eats, and has the same exact schedule every single day. I have only known the people on this trip for about a month, but it feels like its has been so much longer than that. Having more connections on campus is great and I cannot wait to reconnect with my new friends in the fall.

Living in Europe for a month has made me consider pursuing a career in the region and has inspired me to learn a new language. For the class we had several crash courses in some of the local languages, which were difficult but rewarding. Picking up a local language would also increase my chances of landing a job there, and at the least spruce up my resume. While in the cities we toured I found myself saying: “I could live here”. Whether or not I end up getting a job in Central Europe, this experience has made aware of how many career opportunities I have and that it takes going out of your comfort zone to find them.

Year in Review

[ “Year in Review”  is where you should reflect on the past year and show how you have evolved as a person and as a student.  You may want to focus on your growth in a particular area (as a leader, scholar, researcher, etc.) or you may want to talk about your overall experience over the past year.  For more information, go to: Delete these instructions and add your own post.]



Global Awareness

The first goal I hope to complete is to get a better understanding of global awareness for my own personal benefit and to teach the people around me. Traveling led me to became fascinated with the people and the culture of places I visited. My ultimate goal in this respect would be to participate in a semester abroad, where I would spend an entire semester getting involved and falling in love with culture of the country. An example of an organization that does exchange programs, like I described would be the Rotary youth exchange. Below is a link to their website.

Original Inquiry

The second goal which holds my interest is original inquiry. Getting involved is very important to gain knowledge you would not necessarily receive in class. This semester, and hopefully many semesters to come, I joined the Under Water Robotics Team here at OSU. The team is made of up many engineering students from many different majors coming together to create a completely autonomous  underwater robot from scratch. We meet several times each week to discuss ideas and research material for the sub. After being on the team for only a couple weeks I have already learned new skills and made new friends. Below is a link to their website.


[“Career” is where you can collect information about your experiences and skills that will apply to your future career.  Like your resume, this is information that will evolve over time and should be continually updated.   For more information, go to: Delete these instructions and add your own post.]


This was a small presentation that I and two other students completed for our green engineering seminar class. The topic that we chose to study was Thorium reactors. We chose this topic because we all shared a common interest in alternative energy, specifically nuclear. Thorium reactors are an alternative form of nuclear energy, and our presentation focused on the history of thorium and how it is used today. Our findings showed that thorium did not provide the same amount of benefit as uranium during the 1950’s, the time which many large countries started to consider using nuclear energy as a fuel source. Today the United States uses uranium in it’s nuclear reactors. Other large countries like India and China have been investing large amounts of time and research into implementing thorium reactors throughout their countries. Those were the main findings from our research about Thorium Reactors. Feel free to explore the presentation for more information.


About Me

Profile PictureHi! My name is Alex Vaeth and I am a first year Engineer Student at The Ohio State University. I am a part of the Green Engineering Scholars program. Currently I am a undeclared Engineer Major. I am from a small town in Northeast Ohio called Wooster, I live with my parents and my dog Lucy. My interests include spending time with friends, finding and playing good music (I play the sax), experiencing new cultures and peoples (mostly their food), and learning about science and the world around me.