I had never been abroad. I had never flown to another country. I had never traveled this far without my family ever, and here I was getting on an international flight to a country I had never been to, didn’t speak the language, and didn’t know a single soul…or so I thought.
My time in Italy has changed me. It has made me grow. It has challenged me, and in a lot of ways, it has made me better. While I was scared to death boarding a flight to go to a country where I didn’t speak the language and didn’t know a soul, I grew from it. I learned that staying seated on a flight is the difference between finding personal growth, accepting challenge, and seeking adventure as opposed to remaining stagnant, staying afraid, and continuing a repetitious life. All I know is that if the Lord hadn’t seated that retired pilot next to me on my life who talked to me for the majority of the flight, I most likely would have walked off and missed the experience of a lifetime!
My time in Italy has taught me a lot about myself and a lot about how to trust others. Within my first few weeks, an old friend from my undergraduate career reached out and told me that he was currently in Rome studying to become a priest. I did not know, but the Lord did, that I did know a soul in Italy, and little did I know that José would make all the difference! He showed me around Rome, checked in on me during busy weeks with the program, and was a real friend to me when I needed one. I think one of the biggest lessons I have learned while being here is that sometimes we have friends and sometimes we find friends in the most unlikely of circumstances. I would never have seen the goodness of this if it wasn’t for this JSB experience.
Further, I learned a lot about who I am and who I want to be as a professional planning to work with undergraduate students. I feel blessed to have spent the past eleven weeks with sixteen young women who are going to change the world. Each and every one of them has something unique and beautiful to offer the world, and it has been an absolute gift to watch them grow and see them evolve as the weeks have gone on. While not every moment has been easy, every single one of them has been so incredibly worth it. The amount of growth I have felt throughout my time here is indescribable, and I can only hope that I continue to hold onto this feeling and seek growth once I am back in Auburn.
I feel as though it is fitting to end this post with a ‘thank you’ to the Joseph S. Bruno Program and all those involved in it. Thank you, JSB, for changing my life. Thank you for giving me a perspective that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and thank you for growing me in all of the ways I didn’t know I needed. I would not be the woman I am today without you!
All my love,