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Testimonial: Mariko Conner, Carleton College

Mariko Conner

While I've discovered plenty about myself, my academic interests, and the world on my home campus, Florence taught me something that I think I had to leave the academic pressure cooker in order to learn: the good life. The classes on the off-campus program were interesting and engaging, of course, but so many of the most valuable experiences I took away from my experience happened outside the classroom: chucking the tourist guidebook in favor of street art south of the Arno; hopping on a train for a spontaneous day trip and finding the best gelateria (hint: it's in Prato); three-hour dinners, senza guilt. To my deeply-ingrained, American sensibility of "hurry up and overachieve," it was challenging, disorienting, strangely and wonderfully aimless. I didn't realize how deeply my sense of what I "have" to do with my life would be challenged, and how eternally grateful I am for that.

—Mariko Conner, English major

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