I am back in Pittsburgh and it is sad to see my time in Florence come to an end. While I missed being home, I wouldn’t change the experience I had abroad for anything. I experienced a lot of personal growth and development that I will take with me throughout the rest of my life. This semester I had the amazing opportunities to learn from Italian professors, travel throughout Italy and around Europe, and immerse myself in the culture through meeting with my host family and trying several local foods and activities. My favorite time was spent interacting with my host family once a week and learning about the Italian culture through their personal stories and amazing home cooked meals.
My overall study abroad experience was spent pushing myself out of my comfort zone in several different ways. Personally, it helped me gain a lot of independence. Before coming to Florence, I was not used to being away from my family and friends for such a long period of time. I was nervous to be away, but I learned how to make connections with new people (both American and Italian) to help me feel more at home in a new location. Being abroad also helped me develop several skills that I can use in my professional life. Communication was a big one, whether it be with the local Italians or through my virtual learning experiences in the classroom. It isn’t always easy to speak up and ask for help, but I got a lot of experience with this in a foreign country when I was trying to learn the ropes. I also had to learn how to adapt in a new environment, a skill that is vital in the ever-changing world of business. From an academic standpoint, taking classes abroad really helped me appreciate the Italian culture. It was interesting learning from a different style of teaching, and it challenged me to work outside of my comfort zone.
My biggest takeaway from this experience was the sense of confidence I gained. I am more comfortable with taking on challenges that may have scared me before leaving the country for almost four months. I now feel assured that when I face ambiguity, I will be able to find a solution. I am less afraid to experience new opportunities and am excited to take this confidence and apply it to the rest of the time I have at Pitt Business and the rest of my life. I want to continue to grow and step out of my comfort zone by working hard and not being afraid to get involved, have genuine conversations, and appreciate every moment I have. I will be forever grateful for the experiences and opportunities I had abroad and would highly recommend it to any student!