It is a bittersweet feeling leaving a place that I have called home for the past three and a half months and leaving the friends and coworkers that I have shared laughs and challenges with to return to my other, more permanent home. It is comforting to know that I will have family and friends to return to and who I can share my time abroad and what I have learned from this time with. 

I came into Florence with a practically clean slate and minimal expectations. I knew only one person coming into this program and had very little knowledge of the internship and working culture I was to be thrown into. If I could have gone back and prepared myself for this experience more than I have, I wouldn’t. This clear mind allowed me to be open to the experience and absorb whatever I could without letting personal biases or expectations get in the way.

I have definitely seen personal and professional growth throughout my time here. I was always a very ‘on the go’ person who loved to constantly be involved in tasks to make myself feel productive and ahead, but that mindset is the opposite of the Italian working culture. Everyone approaches work in a slower paced and in a more independent way; supervisors give minimal directions which gives individuals the freedom to exercise their own problem solving and creative skills. There is very little pressure to over or out perform others, which allows me to think through my tasks and complete them the way that I believe is the best without compromising or sacrificing elements due to constraints such as time or supervisor preferences. 

A major lesson I have learned abroad is not to rush things or kill myself in order to appear successful or ahead of everyone; everything will get done when it needs to. I used to put in hours and hours of work in order to prove my working abilities, sacrificing sleep or time with friends and family. This approach always eventually led to burnout and my work also suffered. I will take the more relaxed approach that Italians are masters in my work back in that States. 

Having minimal guidance or direction in both work and studies abroad allowed me to strengthen my problem solving abilities by having to work out solutions to challenges and tasks on my own. This also enhanced my creativity because I was allowed to think outside of the box and employ my own tactics and style when it came to the content we were putting out for Tornabuoni. I now know that I am capable of handling difficult situations and will be more confident in my decisions and work. I will try to bring a unique perspective to challenges in my professional and personal life at home so those around me can also see different sides to every situation.

My time abroad has allowed me to grow and develop, both personally and professionally. I am grateful for this experience and have learned skills and made priceless memories that I will carry with me during my senior year and onward. Despite leaving this place physically, Florence will always be with me in the lessons that I have learned and skills that I have acquired during my time here. It isn’t a goodbye, but more of a thank you Florence!