As I sit here studying vocabulary equivalent to a 1st-grade Italian student, a notification arose on my phone:

“Maggie, I’m very pleased to offer you the Digital Merchandising Internship…”

Success. Accomplishment.

I reread that email roughly four times before the words began to resonate with me. However, my mind can’t help but be flooded with the opportunities that have been coming my way recently, so I thought I would share as my heart is pounding with gratitude.

When I first arrived in Verona, Italy, I never imagined where I’d be and what exactly I would be doing – other than traveling of course. It began with my International Sports Business class taught by Davide who just so happens to also work for the local professional soccer club: Chievo Verona. For some brief information about the club, they worked their way up from the lowest division in Italy to Serie A (this is equivalent to the MLS in America). Davide’s job is to expand the club internationally through the use of youth programs such as camps, visits, and academies. Through the help of my program here in Verona and Davide being my professor, I will be working with Chievo to assist with social media, communications, and press releases for the academy players staying year-long. Never would I have imagined being presented an opportunity such as this – and it’s in a “calcio” (soccer) environment! Oh, and they’re giving me access to their facilities to train… speechless.

Per the advice of my Uncle Patrick, I contacted a local marketing firm here in Verona. Not knowing much about marketing itself in Italy, I wanted to better understand how they operate, are successful, and specifically how the company got to where it is today. I met with CEO of WinTrade, Andrea. Speaking broken English, Andrea’s eyes lit up when I explained that I was a student trying to learn as much as possible; seeking information and advice that he could pass along to me. He explained to me that he was once in my shoes: motivated, excited, and energetic about pursuing a similar career. He passed along his ideas and visions, some he managed to be successful with, while others he was in the midst of pursuing. The few hours we spent chatting made me appreciative of the people in this world who truly seek to help educate students such as myself.

My roommate befriended a local Italian male (yes, she’s becoming an international pop star like Lizzie McGuire only with a happy ending). He invited us to attend a conference with chief visionary officer, Holton Buggs from Houston speaking. Mr. Buggs became a multimillionaire in a short amount of time by developing a prestige network-marketing business plan to optimize residual income. Although I won’t be pursuing this particular business plan, it was an amazing event to attend; I was happy and grateful to be given an opportunity to learn from a fellow American while being in Italy myself.

To top it all off, I was offered an amazing internship opportunity with American Greetings for this coming summer (with a big help from Katie Drenik). My heart is overflowing with gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities that have been coming my way recently. I never would have imagined being where I am in the world, literally. However, with a little courage and a lot of dedication, it’s amazing to see where you’ll end up.

Maggie O’Donnell is a University of Mount Union student. To read more about her study abroad in Verona, Italy check out her blog