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I have now been back in the United States and home from South Africa for 12 days, and I have been fully able to reflect on my experience abroad.

People always say that study abroad is a great experience and that for some, it is there favorite thing they do during their college careers. It always sounded ironic to me that the best time for some people could be the time that they are away from their own university. Although, after going on this trip, I know understand what everyone meant. So far, study abroad has been my favorite thing I have done in college. I cannot really put into words how amazing of an experience study abroad was, not only for myself personally, but for my development as a business person heading into the business world.

I knew I was someone who always loved traveling. I have been fortunate enough to head to Italy with my family, and Spain with my soccer team. Although this time, I would be gone for about six weeks, without my family and friends around this time. I was nervous. I had two days of travel from the Newark airport to arriving in Johannesburg. What if I got lost? What if I lost my luggage or my passport? (I am someone who has always been good at misplacing things.) Also, I knew basically no one that was going to be on the trip with me. What if I did not make any friends? What if I did not like these people? All of these things were going through my mind as I said goodbye to my family and friends for six weeks. Although, I went through the travel, met all of the people on the trip, and my nervousness went away. I believe this experience really helped me with my confidence, not only personally, but professionally. I had to travel around the world by myself and figure things out by myself, which makes me confident in my abilities as a traveler. I was also able to make plenty of friends on this trip, which makes me believe in myself and my social skills even more moving forward. Professionally, I think businesses really wanted to see these attributes from their potential employees. Someone who believes in themselves and someone who believes in their abilities makes for someone that you can trust in the workplace. I truly believe that this trip and this experience has made me someone who will be better in that regard. Also, companies look for people who are globally aware, and would be willing to travel for their job. After spending more than a month in South Africa, and having now been on three different continents, I am growing and learning how to travel and be more worldly each time.

I cannot say enough about this trip and what the opportunity that Pitt has provided for me. Traveling to South Africa has maybe been the best decision I have ever made. I am excited to continue to learn from this experience, and cannot wait to take what I have learned and apply it to my life moving forward.

Thank you so much Pitt!

Mark Charamella