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I’m officially a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, and I still have a hard time believing those words as they come out of my mouth. Out of all the great times from my undergraduate career, the ones that took place in Florence are those that are the most memorable to me, but the fun times spent abroad are not without lessons learned. The times spent in the amazing city of Florence contributed greatly to my success during the final year of my undergraduate career.
1. IT GAVE ME CONFIDENCE. Whether it was finding my way around the city by myself, ordering food in Italian, or simply speaking up and talking to new people, I was sometimes placed in uncomfortable situations while in Florence. When I realized that I was able to successfully perform certain tasks that I previously thought I couldn’t, I began to develop a greater sense of self-confidence. By the end of the semester, I felt that I had the ability to do anything, and this newly instilled confidence has led me to accomplish great things this past year. I was able to step out of my comfort zone more, try out new activities and meet new people, and more assertively share my thoughts and feelings, all of which led to some of the best moments of my senior year.
2. IT MADE ME MORE OPEN-MINDED. In Europe, I was placed in many different situations with people from unique backgrounds and cultures. This led to me seeing the world from a different perspective and developing more of an open-minded attitude. The open-mindedness that I gained while abroad transferred to my life at school where I developed more of an interest in other cultures and began to appreciate the thoughts and opinions of others more.
3. IT TAUGHT ME TO CHERISH EACH AND EVERY MOMENT. College, and time in general, goes by way too quickly. I spent my semester in Florence appreciating each precious moment that I was lucky enough to spend there. Study abroad taught me to not take a moment for granted, and I realized it was essential to keep that same mindset as I returned back to Pittsburgh for my senior year. Being abroad made me realize just how quickly the time flies, so this year I knew I had to appreciate each and every moment. As a result, I was able to fully embrace the experiences that I took part in, leading to some very memorable times.
4. IT EXPANDED MY CAREER SEARCH. Study abroad opened me up to the world of International Education. I was never aware that there were so many career opportunities when it came to study abroad. Because I had such a fantastic experience in Florence and I love to share this with others, I’ve deeply thought about going into a career in the study abroad industry. Before my senior year, I was a bit lost in regards to what exactly I want to do career-wise, but because of study abroad, I realized another track that I could take which helped me greatly as I searched for jobs this past year.
My last year of college was fantastic, and I can guarantee that it would not have been as great if I hadn’t studied abroad last spring. The person I am today, after study abroad, is much different than who I was beforehand. This year I met new people from different backgrounds, joined new clubs and stepped out of my core social circle, and I simply learned not to take advantage of the present moment. As a result of my time in Florence, I was able to gain new skills, develop more self-confidence, and realize a potential career path that I’d like to take. These experiences contributed to my self-growth, which ultimately led to the success of my final year as a college student.