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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Florence gave me more in a mere six weeks than college has given me as a whole in two years. I came into college with no sense of direction. To be honest, my only purpose for majoring in engineering was pleasing my family. For the past few years, I have been desperately searching for myself to no avail. I did not feel the need to do well in my classes, I spread myself too thin amongst clubs in an attempt to find someplace I belonged, and I just was not happy.

I saw so many other people my age with tons of accomplishments, who seemed to have the whole college thing figured out.  I couldn’t help but feel even less confident about my capabilities in the face of all of these other successful students. I know that I am not the only person who has felt this way in college, and I knew I needed a change. 

Florence pulled me out of the hole I had dug for myself. This city gave me the time to focus on myself without any sense of responsibility or distractions. She showed me direction, beauty and meaning. I was introduced to new passions and my heart was reawakened to the passions I had decided the neglect for years. Florence returned me to my art.

I may be an engineering major, but I found that the part of myself that I had been missing was my imagination and creativity. Prior to taking a studio class in Florence, I had not once picked up a pencil to draw while in college. I was torn between what my family wanted me to be and what I wanted to be. I have learned that if you are doing something without any passion for it, you will never get far. Pleasing my family and the promise of a well-paid career after college was not enough to motivate me to succeed, and I had opted for simply idly passing by.

Florence returned my passion for engineering by showing me how I can incorporate my art into my major. She showed me the creative outlets to take that I had been craving for years. Although it was painful to say goodbye, I realize that whenever I miss Florence I can just close my eyes and I am there.

Florence will always be a part of me. That is what happens when you leave bits and pieces of your heart in different places. I see Florence in the wine on a store shelf, in the watercolors I swirl on a page, in the soft breeze and warm sun, in the smell of jasmine. She gave me a gift that I can never repay. She gave me vision and a purpose along with that vision. 

For anyone out there who is lost and confused, do not panic. Life has a funny way of sorting itself out. Follow your heart, follow your dreams and discover your passions. If you are considering study abroad- DO IT. Studying abroad teaches you so much about who you truly are. You discover where your priorities lie and where in your life you need improvement.

I feel that immersing yourself in a foreign environment is an invaluable experience that we, as college students, have the opportunity to take advantage of. Let yourself do something crazy, do something that you never thought possible- it just might change your life.

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