A Sincere Thank You
Patrick, Florence, Spring 2013
June 17, 2013

I have now been back in the United States for two weeks. After the initial period in which there were seemingly endless things to do (bags to unpack, friends and family to reunited with), things have started to calm down again. That means that it is finally time to sit down and thoughtfully consider my experience in Florence. I have yet to find the ability to sum up my experience in a few short words. Inevitability I am asked by everyone that knows me, “How was your experience in Italy?” I usually respond with a few simple words such as “incredible”, “amazing”, or I simply say, “I didn’t want to leave.”  I believe that it is truly impossible to accurately and fully articulate the importance of my time abroad. I will attempt the modest task of highlighting just a few important changes that I underwent as a person.

Through my experiences abroad I gained a profound sense of independence and confidence in myself. This is not to say that I was a completely dependent person before I left for Italy, but I did so many things that pushed the levels of my comfort zone and so many things that required an independence that I did not know before. A simple story will clearly illustrate this point. I planned a trip to the seaside town of Rimini to see a tennis tournament for the second weekend of the semester. I could not find anyone else that wanted to go, so I bought tennis tickets, train tickets, and I booked a hotel. It was the first time that I had ever traveled alone. I had an idea that I would have an excellent, stress-free weekend. From the very beginning, everything seemed to go wrong. I couldn’t figure out which train was the correct one and I just barely made it on the correct one. Once I arrived in Bologna, I asked for directions to the city center and then followed the given directions. I walked for over one hour and a half, and I ended up in the outskirts of the city, very far from the main piazza where I was trying to go. After a few minutes of slight panic mixed with a large amount of frustration, I was able to regroup and find my way to the main piazza. The rest of the weekend turned out to be a wonderful experience, but there were still many other problems that arose. I know that that particular weekend taught me many things. On a practical level it taught me that a lot of planning is needed to make a trip smooth. I also learned that I was a much stronger person than I thought I was. I was able to learn to trust in my abilities, and it also taught me to be flexible. Not everything in life will go as we planned. I have learned to accept this as a part of life, and I think that this will be an invaluable skill.

Perhaps the most important thing that emerged from my time abroad was the fact that I was truly able to realize my passions. I study European politics, both at a domestic level and the level of the European Union. I could not have asked for a better time to study in Italy. During this past semester, there were parliamentary elections, a new Pope was selected, and a new President of the Republic was elected. I had countless opportunities to discuss Italian politics with locals. I was truly able to learn a lot, and the information I learned cannot really be captured in a book. I also had the opportunity to travel to Brussels to visit some of the institutions of the European Union. My experience abroad has reaffirmed my passions and it has given me new vigor to pursue my academic and personal goals.

I sincerely thank all those who contributed money to the scholarship fund. I am so grateful that I was awarded a scholarship. My experience abroad completely changed me. It gave me a new global experience, and I experienced a lot of personal growth. I thank you all so much for helping to make this experience possible for me.


– Patrick, College of William and Mary


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