I can hardly believe that nearly two weeks have passed since the Plus3 trip to Italy. I can easily recall all the preparation that went into this program, from applications to presentations and packing. Now that I have had time to reflect (and bother all of my family and friends with hundreds of photos from my trip), I can certainly say that traveling to Italy was a highlight of my freshman year at Pitt. Without support from my parents or the scholarship from Pitt Business, I would not be able to say the same. I am thankful for the award because it helped to provide me with one of the most defining experiences of my college career so far.
The Plus3 program placed me far outside my comfort zone, exposed me to a new continent, country, and culture, and showed me real life examples of both business and engineering. While the food, sights, and people were all beautiful, the trip was challenging in ways that helped me to grow both personally and academically. For instance, when I applied to the program I thought that two weeks was a very short amount of time. I also underestimated the amount of independence Plus3 would provide to us students. However, when I was actually abroad, I found myself missing my family and the familiarity of home and with more free time on my hands than expected. Coping with these feelings and situations increased my self confidence. Within the first few days, I found myself and a few friends navigating Milan’s metro station and learning to live in new cities mostly on our own, all while getting to know one another in the process. While this was a lot to handle at times, I am appreciative of this aspect of Plus3 because I imagine it is similar to other study abroad programs and more accurately mirrors real life than a program with a curfew that is chaperoned at all times. I felt that Plus3 had a good balance of structured and unstructured activities which forced me to be confident in my abilities to live in Italy for two weeks.
Plus3 also allowed me to visit companies and see processes that I know I would not otherwise have observed firsthand. For instance, I was in awe watching the production of silk Chanel and Louis Vuitton scarves. From the Florence leather school to the MF1 knitwear factory, we witnessed artisans and designers pouring their hearts into Italian-made goods. This inside peek to the fashion supply chain better revealed to me the meaning of “Made in Italy” than a book or traditional class ever could. On the engineering side, we saw technical aspects of clothing that I never knew existed, like the computer program behind complex knitting patterns. Importantly, Plus3 opened my eyes to the cooperative relationship between business and engineering professionals. Without one or the other, the products of any industry would be unavailable. In this way, the program was unique because it let me think about this functional relationship as well as develop friendships with engineering students who I otherwise may not have met in my business classes.
After completing this program, I intend to continue pursuing a major in marketing and the certificate in leadership and ethics. However, I am going to investigate supply chain management as a potential second major because this trip made me consider the logistical side of business more than I have before. Based on my two weeks in Italy, I would love to study abroad again. I am thankful for this opportunity and the experience to study abroad early in my college years. Ciao!