Two Years Later

There is something about Italy that you can’t find anywhere else. I kept telling this to people after I returned from the fall 2014 Harding University Florence (HUF) semester. My life had changed in so many ways after studying abroad and I had no idea how to express it to other people. I learned a lot in Florence that I hadn’t truly appreciated until now.

Now, two years later, I took the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Hungary through Harding’s Global Outreach. This was my first time returning to Europe after my semester abroad and I was so excited to be able to serve in this part of the world! A few months before the trip, I made the decision to return to Italy after the mission trip and I am very glad that I did! Returning to Italy gave me the chance to re-visit the people and places that had made me think about mission work in the first place. HUF provided me with the opportunity to interact with different cultures and showed me how much I enjoyed learning about people from different parts of the world.

After a great experience on my mission trip I was nervous (but mostly excited) to return to Florence for a week before I made my way back to the United States. Would it be the same as I remembered? Would I be able to find the same experiences that I had two years ago? My mind was racing as I boarded my cheap Ryanair flight to Pisa, Italy.

I landed and made my way to Florence by train. I immediately saw that Italy hadn’t changed, but I definitely did! My flight and train ride refreshed so many memories. I remembered traveling with friends and I trying to navigate through cities and many modes of transportation during independent travel, but this time I felt like a pro! I got off of the train and knew exactly where everything was around me. I never had to pull out a map because it felt like home.


I found myself exploring my favorite sights in town but this time I made sure to appreciate it even more. The enticing aroma of leather from the market, the intense taste of a macchiato from the bar, the roar of a Ferrari engine down the alleyway, and the breathtaking view of the Duomo’s façade downtown. Italy had given me a new perspective in life that I hadn’t found anywhere else. I view people, places, art, food, cars, and nature like I never have before. The people of Italy know how to aggressively seek beauty in everything they do, and I am thankful to have learned so much at HUF about the amazing country of Italy.

– Thoughts of Ethan Brown [attended HUF fall 2014]


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