Wow – What a Tremendous Experience!

In Florence, I learned basic conversational Italian, developed a better appreciation for the arts and art history, learned about interesting International Finance topics (such as foreign exchange markets), and met amazing people.  I experienced over 25 museums throughout Italy and Europe, and saw 9 Italian cities and towns (Florence, Rome, Sienna, San Gimignano, Palermo, Venice, Naples, Pavia, and Milan).  Also, I had the fortunate opportunity to visit Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, Belfast, London, and Berlin.  I ran a half marathon with my friend from Pitt in Paris, met interesting students from Pitt and other schools, and learned from inspiring professors.  On a day to day basis, I explored different neighborhoods of Florence, practiced cooking, and studied.

Professionally, I realized that it is best to form plans and know that plans do change.  For instance, even though I have an internship this summer, I do not know where I will be in my young career one year from now.  Academically, I became better at accepting that one has to choose where to dedicate his or her studies; find what you are good at and enjoy work, then share your skills with others.  I know that it is better to admit I do not know something and in turn, ask for help from an expert or knowledgeable person.  Personally, I came to understand that everyone is dealt a hand in life; the best one can do is to play their cards right, in order to succeed and create value for others.  I learned that I need to be less self-centered; one way I am now exercising this is through volunteering more, something my admirable language teacher suggested.  Finally, I personally know that it is best to approach relationships with an open mind, celebrating each others differences and admitting when something is wrong.

Key takeaways from the program include:

  • life is short, so do not waste time sulking; identify personal mistakes and work to fix them
  • travel is expensive, but it brings countless benefits
  • people are people, whether you are from Italy, Libya, or the United States
  • ask for help before a problem arises – “hug the rock”
  • spend time on areas that interest you, in addition to the challenges your career requires

As I begin my final year at Pitt, I will be able to use these takeaways to continue to grow as an individual and find more purpose in communities.  As I sign off, I want to thank everyone who has made a positive impact on my life since the beginning of the GBI Florence program.  Because of you, I will be able to look back on this unique experience with gratitude, self-reflection, and happiness.

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