Hello from Italy! I left from JFK at 11:30 on Sunday morning and flew Air Canada to Toronto. The suitcase weight limit was 50 lbs and mine weighed in at 49.5. Woohoo! If it was over the limit, I would’ve moved my 1 lb peanut butter jar to my carryon! We had to walk out on the tarmac to get on and off the plane. Then, to enter the international terminal, I had to show my passport to a customs officer (?) and fill out a customs declaration (which I received on the plane but didn’t fill out, erroneously believing that I didn’t need to if I wasn’t actually entering Canada). I spent the layover playing around on one of the many iPads available in the international terminal and helping an older German woman with her wifi. I was already a little homesick and helping an older* woman with technology reminded me of my mom 😉 haha!
*disclaimer: the use of “older” means born in a year earlier than I was, not *old* older
Me at JFK. Can you see the tears in my eyes?
iPad area! There were short tables on the other side, too. I think there were probably about 100 iPads available for use. You could order food on the iPad from the nearby kiosks and have it delivered to you.
I left Toronto around 5:15 pm and landed in Frankurt, Germany at about 7 am local time. The flight was good. It was a big plane, with nine seats in a row. I was in the middle three section and I had an aisle seat. The plane was not full at all. My little section of three was empty. I had the choice of chicken or pasta for dinner and I chose chicken since i figured I’ll be eating a lot of pasta this semester – and I already have, as they serve it at every lunch and dinner… I watched Lee Daniels’ The Butler on the plane but couldn’t really hear it very well. I do know that I would be interested in hearing the whole movie though!
plane to Frankfurt
Once I got to Frankfurt, I had to go through security again and then wait for my short flight to Venice. I killed some time and reclined a bit at the Leisure Zone, which was dim and very comfortable.
Frankfurt Airport’s Leisure Zone!
There were a bunch of other study abroad students on the flight. We took a tram out onto the tarmac to our plane, which was a few minutes away. I was surprised at how far away it was. Somehow, my camera stopped working as I got onto the plane and tried to take a picture of the tram we were on. I have my iPod for now, but thankfully, my parents are sending me a camera to use! It should be in by the time I go on any big trips, which I’m very thankful for.
Mountains we passed over from Frankfurt to Venice. They don’t look nearly as big in the picture!
I landed around 10:15 and then got my luggage and waited for the bus to come to take the first wave of us to CIMBA. A little bit of background info – CIMBA stands for Consortium Institute of Management and Business Analysis. It’s operated by the University of Iowa and is located on the grounds of a private Catholic Italian school in Paderno del Grappa. I chose this program because I can take classes that go towards my accounting degree at UConn without putting me behind at all.
It took about an hour to get to campus from the airport. The ride was really pretty – open fields, light yellow, pink, and even blue houses, and a lot of old buildings. And many, many roundabouts! We got to campus around 2 pm, checked in, went to our rooms, and got our books. I have a single and it’s pretty nice. Other people seem to have nicer rooms than mine but I have a desk, bed, and bathroom, so I have everything I need – just not at the level of “luxury” some people have. Plus, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited to have a bidet. Embracing the Italian culture, you know. And I only have four tiny drawers, so I’m utilizing my suitcase as a giant drawer.
There was a campus tour on Monday afternoon and then orientation. I didn’t realize that campus was so small. I almost wish I could have gone to a bigger city, but this program really fit my course needs the best so I will make it work! The brochure said that classes were less than a five minute walk away, but neglected to say that that’s because they’re in the same building as our dorm! I’m on the fourth floor and all classes are on the third floor. The cafeteria is on the first floor.
On Monday night I went to the mall to buy some things I didn’t bring. I bought shampoo and conditioner (Pantene looks the same in Italy so I went with that), a soap pump because I have a thing against bar soap, some notebooks, a tissue box, and a bag to collect my laundry in. I got back to my room and saw that the bag had a tag proclaiming “Made in Prison” which is odd but I’m rolling with it! I also ate dinner at the mall. I ordered a slice of pizza. I can’t imagine that mall pizza is authentic Italian pizza, but it was good, and my other option was Burger King. I don’t think I’ve been gone from America long enough to justify eating Burger King!
Tuesday morning we had another orientation, where the director of CIMBA tried to convince us to sign up for LEAP, which is supposedly a journey in self-discovery and personal coaching. I am not signed up for it and was not persuaded to after the talk. I didn’t realize that “personal growth” by workshops and activities was such a big deal here – I figure I am growing by stepping out of my comfort zone and living in Italy! I had two classes on Tuesday afternoon, Intro to Finance and Intro to Law, both courses that I need for my accounting degree. Another thing I was not aware of is that multiple choice is not allowed on any of the exams here. For finance I think that’s a good thing, as I find multiple choice math/accounting exams more difficult than application problems!
I went to the small sports bar on campus with a girl named Erica on Tuesday night. I got a glass of red wine, and it was fine, but I’m really looking forward to the three formal dinners that were included in our tuition, where we will have multiple course meals paired perfectly with different kinds of wine. I hope to emerge as a knowledgeable wine drinker!
Today (Wednesday) I had Operations Management, Italian, and Intro to Marketing. Italian was really fun. The professoressa is from a village about 15 minutes away and she is really nice. We learned some basic sentences and I didn’t feel too rusty with my world language skills. It’s been a few years since I’ve spoken any French! (Salve, the title of this blog post, is another way of saying hello, and it is used both formally and informally, unlike the purely informal ciao.) I saw Professoressa Marin again when my CAP (CIMBA Advantage Program) group went to Survival Italian. We learned how to ask for help and how to order gelato, among other important things! And I’m very excited, because I learned how to order my favorite drink: a glass of cold milk. “Prendo un bicchiere di latte freddo, per favore.”
We had a little break, and then were back to CAP, where we had a session on time management. I didn’t realize we would have so many seminars, but they will be done after the first three weeks, and some of them are really useful, like Survival Italian. I’m looking forward to the travel orientation so I can start planning my first long weekend.
Tomorrow we have the Da Vinci Challenge, which is basically a low ropes course. Hopefully it will be fun and a good way to meet people. It seems like many people came with people they knew from school, which makes it hard to step in as someone who came by herself. I keep thinking about my first week of band freshman year, and how it was pretty hard for the first few days, but I eventually really started liking it and ended up making so many great friends from it.
Sorry for such a long post (or perhaps you’re welcome?). A lot has happened in these three short days, and it feels like I’ve been gone for a lot longer than I actually have been. It also doesn’t really feel like I’m in Italy, probably because I haven’t had the chance to do much yet. Hopefully, in the near future, my posts will be more about my travels! And I will post more pictures of campus and Paderno once I have a real camera again!
Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment!