Raina Rotondo is a Sesquicentennial Scholar and civil engineering major who studied abroad on the European Cities and Sustainable Urban Planning Practices during summer 2017.
Ohio State’s European Cities and Sustainable Urban Planning Practices program provided an in-depth study of sustainable planning in the cities of Copenhagen, Denmark; Hamburg and Berlin, Germany; Malmo, Sweden; and Amsterdam, Netherlands. These cities are routinely regarded among the most livable in the world and at the forefront of engineering and sustainable city planning. After discussing this study abroad program with its supervising professor Dr. Jesus Lara, I knew it would broaden my perspectives and significantly enhance my civil engineering experience and learning. While studying abroad, we worked both in teams and individually on projects focusing on sustainable urban design, city development and sociocultural factors in community design. I quickly knew that this international experience with diverse and innovative approaches to sustainable design and construction was vital to developing best practices and solutions and to becoming the best civil engineer, city planner and community leader possible.
My transformational moment abroad was when our study abroad group traveled to Nyhavn in Copenhagen. Copenhagen was the first city we visited abroad, and attending the waterfront entertainment district of Nyhavn was the first time I experienced and understood the benefits and power of diversity and cross-cultural relationships and ideas. I realized that openness to, and exploration and analysis of, diverse perspectives and approaches is essential to becoming the best version of ourselves and to improving the lives of others. Ohio State’s study abroad provided an education far beyond the classroom, in addition to lasting personal and professional bonds with fellow students and professors.
I would absolutely encourage other students to study abroad. Prior to participating in this Ohio State program, I had never been able to travel to Europe. Study abroad is an invaluable opportunity for personal and educational growth that is highly relevant to all fields of study; this experience enhanced my global awareness, leadership and communication abilities and educational learning in a way that meaningfully promoted original inquiry and problem solving. I believe the insight gained through international study abroad has been an essential piece of my holistic education in civil engineering, and I am forever grateful to Ohio State for the opportunity and to Dr. Lara for the program.