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  • Gisselle Garcia, University of Florida

Vienna, Austria – Where Everything is so Beautiful

The streets, the art, the architecture, the history, and the people. 5,000 miles away in Orlando, I started my 13-hour journey with a final destination to Vienna. Not knowing anyone, I didn’t know what to expect. However, I did expect to learn about how different public relations is conducted across the world. It was exciting to understand how communication crosses borders and how cultural differences play a role.

But the biggest lesson I believe I learned through this experience is that it is okay to be human.

It was the second day in Austria. We were sitting across St. Stephen’s Cathedral in a small cafe gearing up for the 400-step climb to the top of the South Tower of the church. I looked around feeling grateful.

I met amazing friends who I can only hope will remain lifelong friends. I’m not sure if it was the fact we were in Europe, or that we all just spent a short amount of time together, but the people I met were all so different yet our group made sense. Our dynamic became family-like. In all these diverse characters, I found strong wills and hearts.

Less than 72 hours together, we were sharing stories like we’d known each other for a decade. Our group was filled with an army veteran, a future lawyer, and a professor. Some of us were graduates, close to graduation, or just barely halfway through our undergrad careers. We were all from different parts of the world and in different stages of our lives. Yet, our bunch bonded over the fact that we respected and celebrated our differences.

By sharing our individual paths, we became open and vulnerable with one another. We spoke about the challenges we had faced and overcome. We spoke about the people we use to be and how we are becoming who we want to be.

I learned that it is okay to be evolving. It’s okay to not exactly be where you want to be, but it’s what you’re doing to get there that matters. Despite the fact we had faced different challenges, there was a familiarity in the struggles we all shared.

One of the main reasons we traveled to Vienna was to share with the Worldcom PR Group how our generations are coming into the workforce. We shared our feelings about the mentorship we hoped to get from our employers, of the work/life balance we wanted, and how we wanted to make the world a better place.

As cliche as it sounds, our generations, both millennial and Gen Z, are not just changing the workforce but everything around us. The digital age has allowed us to connect all over the world and join together. Our generations support one another, and just like my new friend-group from Vienna, celebrate our differences.

In a world and political climate that might not agree with us, it’s important we remain empathetic towards one another and open to learning from others.

Vienna gave me great food, wine, music, history, but most importantly, friendship. Friendship from which I can learn from, laugh and cry with.

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