My semester abroad experience would not have ever been possible without the generosity of scholarships like this one. Throughout the semester, I learned how interconnected our world really is. Taking international business courses taught in Italy reinforced how much of a world leader America is. It was incredible to have classes just three days a week. This enabled us to travel on the weekends and truly spend some time at the places we were going, instead of just having Saturday and Sunday to travel there, sight-see, and immediately travel back to Venice. Instructions were less spelled-out for our assignments, tests, and projects than we are used to in America. Syllabi were far from detailed and rubrics were not common. It was interesting to navigate this throughout the semester. I learned a lot about international marketing and communication. I appreciate what I learned from my professors and from my classmates who came from all across the world.

I learned the true differences in high-context and low-context cultures. I saw differences in cultural values played out in the day-to-day of life. For example, Italians really value time with friends and family spent over a meal or drinks. They do not value efficiency like we do in America. There are both positive and negative aspects to their lack of desire for efficiency. Italians truly do a better job of taking life more slowly and they seem far less stressed than Americans in the day-to-day. Also, when did we stop caring how beautiful buildings are? Venice has some of the most beautiful buildings for the most mundane purposes (like banks, grocery stores, etc.). It was incredible to walk around in a city where your eyes are so treated. My eyes, heart, and soul were treated this semester to beautiful sights, restful moments, and fun adventures.

I have always been a confident person. Yet, I have grown even more confident in who I am and my abilities from living abroad this past semester. I have always been a planner. It is part of my personality and thought process to plan things out. Over the last year in my personal life, I had to grow to be more go-with-the-flow. I noticed tremendous growth in my ability to stick less rigidly to plans in the latter parts of last year. My semester abroad this spring confirmed this growth in my ability to go-with-the-flow because when travel plans were wrecked, I would roll with it, stay calm, and even laugh it off most times.

I am coming back to America a better citizen of the world. I have a greater understanding of other cultures and ways of life. I know that “different” doesn’t necessarily mean “wrong”, even if I have strong preferences one way over another. I am so thankful to live in America, invest in and be invested in by Texas A&M University, and receive free water at restaurants again.

The amount of travel, rest, and adventure I experienced this semester was phenomenal. I will never be able to experience so many different places in such a short time frame again. What a gift this was for me. This semester I got to separate myself from the responsibilities I am overwhelmed by in a normal semester at A&M. What a gift this was for me. I took the time to be still and soak in sights my eyes had never been treated to before. What a gift this was for me. I am so thankful for the opportunity, funds, and my own courage it took to make this semester abroad a reality. It was a gift I am forever thankful for and would easily encourage others to do.