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Opinion: STEP Expo was a useful experience

Alex Drummer’s poster for the STEP Expo on Oct. 14. Credit: Alex Drummer / Oller reporter

Alex Drummer’s poster for the STEP Expo on Oct. 14.
Credit: Alex Drummer / Oller reporter

With midterm season in full swing, I will be the first to admit I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be adding anything else to my calendar — the Second-year Transformational Experience Program Expo included.

The inaugural expo took place Tuesday from 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. in the Ohio Union Archie Griffin Grand Ballroom. Weeks ago, I chose the 4-6 p.m. slot.

Fast forward to this week: not only did I have a dreaded four-class day, but I had a midterm to take and an essay to turn in for another class — and it was raining.

I rushed over to the Union after class, umbrella in hand, not knowing what to expect and not feeling particularly excited.

STEP received some criticism last year from participants about its lack of structure, with many students uncertain as to what they were even doing. Although I enjoyed my STEP experience last year, I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing at this expo.

I made the mandatory poster, which admittedly served as a pleasant distraction from midterm studying. (Students could choose to do a poster, video, demonstration or display.)

However, I had no idea who would be there and if anyone would want to talk to me about my experience studying abroad in London for the month of May. I was delightfully surprised to find that it wasn’t just faculty roaming around an empty room and a lot of current STEP students were in attendance.

Several students stopped at my table in the first few minutes of my presentation slot, and they didn’t just stop to look at the pictures. Many asked in-depth questions about my experience and seemed genuinely interested in how I spent my days abroad.

Answering all their questions not only reminded me of the incredible time I had studying abroad, but it also hopefully encouraged them to do the same.

It was great to feel like a useful source of insight and be able to give back to a program that helped make my dreams come true.

Being in the inaugural class of STEP, I did not get the chance to experience the expo and talk to students who were in my shoes a year before, but I can only imagine it would have been useful.

Nonetheless, I was fortunate enough to pick a transformational experience that ended up suiting me perfectly.

Before this year, I had never been abroad. Now, I’ve been to England, Scotland and France. The STEP fellowship made my dream of studying abroad a much more financially feasible reality.

Thus, despite my hectic schedule, the STEP Expo was well worth my time. It gave third-year students a chance to pass on some words of wisdom to the new second-year students and a chance for faculty to see the results of real experiences, which were, in fact, transformational.

I know OSU still has an abundance of opportunities in store. As for STEP, I am happy to be passing on the torch to a new generation of Buckeyes.

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