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ISI Florence Plus Seven Years Equals Self-Confidence!

Gabriella Krohmal
University of Virginia
ISI Florence Alumna Spring 2010

I studied abroad in Florence during the spring of 2010. While there, I learned many important lessons. For example, there’s a strong correlation between good food and wine and a happy life, and the most colorful gelato is usually the least flavorful.

The most important lesson I learned, however, was the self-confidence required to travel alone. There’s nothing quite as unnerving as finding yourself lost in a foreign city, separated from friends, with a dead cell phone; or better yet, traveling solo and missing your train stop somewhere in northern Italy when the last bus connection to your hostel leaves in an hour (don’t worry, I caught it). These sorts of occurrences may sound scary; they may even prompt a certain level of panic in you (or your parents). But they are inevitable and central to the experience of traveling abroad. And they teach you important lessons about self-reliance, staying cool under pressure, and brainstorming creative solutions.

The skills I developed traversing the Italian countryside in search of adventure (and a really good pesto pizza) have also served me well in my career. Over the last several years I have traveled to Budapest, Paris, Madrid, and Tokyo – all for work. I have landed in a snowstorm in Saint Louis, and had my 11:00 AM transoceanic flight home canceled at 4:30 AM. There is simply no way to know what will happen. When traveling with your boss, there is no room for panic (or stress-induced anger). Your CEO still needs his/her briefing; and the Major General still needs to get to DC for his/her meeting with the German delegation. You still need to present at that conference, and the fact that you haven’t slept in 24 hours won’t matter to your hosts.

Confidence in your own ability to handle anything and everything life can throw at you is central to success. And the skills needed to back up that confidence can be learned, with great reward, in Italy.

 

That time I took the wrong hiking trail in Cinque Terre…

That time I almost missed my bus connection to Menaggio, Lake Como…

That time I lost my friends in London and my phone died…

That time I went hiking alone in the Italian mountains and found snow and ice on the trail…

That time there was a strike in Greece and my brother had to find a friend with a European driver’s license to rent a car to get me from the airport…

That time nothing went wrong and I decided Florence was my favorite European city…