“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”

Only five (almost four) days remain until I leave to go home to America. I cannot believe it. Where did the past three months of my life go?

I have only just begun to reflect on my time here and frankly, I don’t even know where to start. I have gone through so much and seen so many new things in the past 80 days. It truly has been an incredible journey, especially due to the camaraderie we have here. I don’t think I will fully realize how this experience has changed me until I am home.

But for now, I thought it would be appropriate to sign off as a CIMBA Fall 2012 ambassador with a list of the top five things I’ll miss about CIMBA. Here goes nothing…

Enjoying gelato in Bassano

(5) Gelato. Italy, you have forever spoiled me with your delicious gelato, from fragola to lampone to cremino to ciccolato, I love it all. Especially the fact that my friend Tyler and I share a bond over gelato…we make it a mission to get some together every time we go to Bassano. Oh, gelaterias, what will I ever do without you? I fully plan on eating my weight in gelato this last Saturday in Venice.

PdG campus

(4) Waking up to the view of Mt. Grappa outside my window everyday. I will miss the beauty of our quaint little town that is Paderno. Even though we have done our fair share of complaining about the inconveniencies of such a small town, I believe it’s played a huge role in making us that much closer. Not to mention it has made our trips to Bassano, the nearest city, an event that we all looked forward to.

Pizzeria with good friends

(3) Pizzeria nights. I’ll never forget the first evening we discovered Al Sole, the pizzeria a few blocks from campus. It was definitely one of the best nights at CIMBA and marks one of our first bonding experiences. Since then, the pizzeria has become our favorite hang out spot and CIMBA wouldn’t be the same without it. Including the wonderful couple/owners that put up with us!

Oregon Ducks at the Colosseum

(2) Traveling. Need I say more? I have traveled to 8 countries these past three months, having before only seen the U.S. and Canada, and my eyes have been widened so much. I feel like I’m just beginning to see and understand the world and I cannot wait to travel more. Our world is beautiful and I feel so blessed to have experienced some of the sights that some people only dream about. Traveling abroad with my peers has built up my confidence dealing with new places, talking to strangers, and just learning to go with the flow. The best part is I got to experience all the ups and downs with my CIMBA family. We have made so many unforgettable memories.

Half of the CIMBA family after LIFE

(1) My CIMBA family. I never imagined I would feel so close to this group of strangers at the end of my journey. Everyone I know that’s studied abroad has never mentioned being close to their group of students, and I now realize CIMBA is truly unique in that way. Throw 76 American college students together in the same dorm building in a small Italian town, make them eat 3 meals a day together, and force them to go through an intense leadership training, and it’s inevitable they become close. The people I’ve met here at CIMBA are incredible, kind, loving individuals who have taught me so much. From accidentally saying “y’all” since I’ve been around so many Southerners, to crying on each others’ shoulders, to sharing inside jokes, to giving each other nick names, to singing “Don’t You Worry Child” together, I will never forget my CIMBA family. I love you all <3

In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” CIMBA 2012, thank you for the best experience of my life.

This post was cross-posted to https://www.biz.uiowa.edu/cimba.

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Vino Rosso o Vino Bianco?

Wine is a big part of the Italian culture, as most people know, but I had no clue how in depth the wine world really is. Fortunately I got to experience this firsthand with two activities I did this past week—a vineyard tour and a wine seminar.

Villa Sandi

Last Sunday a group of us visited local vineyard Villa Sandi. Unfortunately it was pouring outside so we didn’t get to see the actual vineyard itself, but we did get a tour of the wine cellars and a wine tasting. I was amazed at the vastness of the wine cellars. A huge underground maze of chamber after chamber, Villa Sandi must have had 10,000 bottles at least. Villa Sandi is known for its prosecco, which is a dry, sparkling white wine produced in the Veneto region of Italy (where Venice and Paderno del Grappa are located). We got to taste the Prosecco in addition to their Merlot and their Novella, a thinner red wine. A red girl myself, my favorite was the merlot. Molto delizioso!

A snapshot from the wine cellars at Villa Sandi

To build upon the Italian winery visit, last night Doctor Al, the head of CIMBA, gave a presentation on wine, detailing everything from how it’s made to the type of glass to use when drinking it. I actually learned a lot and want to share the most interesting things with you:

Enjoying wine at the second CIMBA gourmet dinner

(1) Did you know you are supposed to hold a wine glass by the stem, not the glass part? This is a common mistake Americans make and is a dead giveaway for us amateurs visiting Europe. I had absolutely no idea, as my parents hold the glass and I’ve always thought it awkward to hold the stem. But the reason for that is to a) avoid making fingerprints on the glass and b) avoid changing the temperature of the wine. Who would’ve thought!

(2) Perhaps most people know this, but I had no clue the type of wines are named after their grape counterparts.Merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay…all types of grapes! Also, there are white wines made from red grapes. The only difference is that they remove the skins. With rosé wine, which has a pinkish color to it, the red skins are removed at just the right point in time to allow a little color to seep through.

(3) The type of glass you should use to hold your wine is not based on whether it’s red or white, but rather the “bouquet” or the aroma of the wine. The more fragrance a wine has, the larger the glass opening should be. On the other hand, if the wine has a weaker aroma you should use a glass with a narrow opening to concentrate the smell as much as possible.

(4) The 4 S’s of professional wine tasting—See, Swirl, Smell, Sip. First you should look at the wine and make some observations about it, like the clarity of the color, etc. Second, swirl the wine in the glass which releases oxygen and betters the taste. Third, stick your nose in the glass and smell it. Fourth, sip the wine, taking care to get it in every nook and cranny of your mouth to really taste it. Pay attention to the after taste too!

(5) Like everything else about wine, there is a science to pairing foods with it. The pairing should be based on the quality of the food, such as its acidity or juiciness, matched to the complementary characteristics of the wine. This one is pretty in depth and a chart comes in handy. A basic guideline to remember, however, is white with fish and red with red meat.

(6) “Sell with cheese, buy on apple.” Did you know that cheeses mask the taste of a wine really well? If a wine has a sour after taste, eat it with a piece of cheese and the taste goes away. However, if you eat an apple it brings out the imperfections of the wine. So, the witty rule of thumb is to always have cheese on hand if you’re selling wine, and take an apple with you if you’re buying it.

Most importantly, how do you figure out what type of wine you like? Go to a restaurant, have everyone order from the same meat family, give your waiter a price range and he or she can usually help the group to find a wine to try. It’s all about practice, practice, practice and true mindfulness. You must really think about what you are tasting and experiment with all types of wine. Then you are well on your way to becoming a sommelier (a wine steward)!

This post was cross-posted to https://www.biz.uiowa.edu/cimba.

46 Days Later

“What is your favorite CIMBA memory?” the piece of paper said. A slideshow of photos of us played in the background, a sentimental tune to go along with it. You would have thought it was the end of the program, but in reality it’s a little more than halfway through. Hard to believe, but only 38 days remain until I’m headed back to the states.

As I sat there filling out my reflections page for the CIMBA yearbook, I realized how much I am going to miss these people. I had no idea how close I could get to a group of 75 strangers in less than two months. But it makes sense when I think about it—we all live in the same building, went through the same intensive leadership training, take the same classes, and eat three meals a day together. Most of us came here knowing nobody, give or take a few. We have learned to rely on each other for support, since we are all far from home and out of our comfort zones. CIMBA 2012 truly is a little family.

All you need is CIMBA! My friend’s addition to the Lennon Wall in Prague

What was originally 84 days here has suddenly turned into 38. I have had an amazing ride thus far, and I am only beginning to pinpoint how this experience is changing me. Just a few things I’ve noticed/learned…

1. Before coming to Italy, I relied on iPhone Maps like no other. Need to find a certain store? Whip my phone out, type in the store, and my handy-dandy iPhone gets me there every time.  But this is not the case in Europe. I’ve had to learn how to find my way around foreign countries without technology. It’s maps all the way, and let me tell you, I’ve become a master.

2. I never knew how it felt to be the minority and feel out of place before, but my European adventures have changed that too. Something as simple as walking into the cafeteria and seeing only Italians in the room makes me feel very self-conscious. It’s made me wonder how international students must feel coming to University of Oregon. The majority of people there aren’t too welcoming, but it is amazing how much a slight smile means.

Celebrating the last night of Oktoberfest

3. Europeans really aren’t that much different than Americans. Sure, we speak different languages, eat different foods, and wear different clothes. But we all celebrate, socialize, and love the same. One of the reasons I enjoyed Oktoberfest so much is because of the unity I felt there. Thousands of people from all over Europe and America who don’t know a thing about each other, yet we all danced to the same music and gave cheers to one another. It was an unforgettable experience and I want to go back.

4. Europeans are much more fashionable than Americans and I absolutely love it. Being a fashionista myself and wanting to work in the fashion industry when I graduate, one of my favorite things about being in Europe is observing all the dress. Unlike America, no one here is caught dead in sweat pants with a messy bun on the top of their head. Whether male or female, young or old, day or night, everyone I see dresses impeccably (especially more so in Italy). I wish some of the Americans would take a hint.

Amazing ceiling inside the Residence Munchen

5. Another thing Europe’s got on America is their stunning architecture. I knew the buildings here would be old and cool, but I didn’t realize they’d take my breath away. During my first travel week I saw several cathedrals with painted ceilings and stained glass that was incredible. I still can’t believe people managed to build all that hundreds of years ago, before technology or construction tools even existed. Looking at these works of art gives me hope, for if the Europeans could do that without so much as a ladder, we certainly can better our game.

So far I’ve traveled to Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and Italy of course. On Saturday I leave for my second travel week to Barcelona, Dublin, and Paris. I can’t wait to see what new things I’ll learn in these countries. Ciao!

This post was cross-posted to https://www.biz.uiowa.edu/cimba.

Playing with Prosciutto: Italian Pizza-Making

Earlier this week I participated in my first “Date with a Professor,” one of CIMBA’s many activities. Fifteen students, two professors and their wives and I had the opportunity to make our very own Italian-style pizzas at a pizzeria in Asolo.

Before we could touch any ingredients, the pizzeria owner and pizza-making master walked us through the important steps of pizza-making. The catch was, he spoke little English and therefore explained the whole process to us in Italian. The professor’s wife translated, but it was a fun challenge to try to figure out what he was saying. I felt like I finally got to use things I’ve learned in Italian for Travelers thus far.

Me and the Italian pizza master! He got a kick out of my joke that you stick your hand in the oven to tell when it is the right temperature.

The fun part was guessing things about the pizza-making process. Throughout his instruction, the owner quizzed us on pizza-making essentials. Did you know, for instance, that it takes only 5 minutes to make a pizza from rolling the dough to it coming out of the oven? I was amazed at how quickly the Italians actually make their pizzas. They can make 60 an hour, depending on the size of the oven. They use wood fire ovens which do not have a temperature gauge. They can tell when the pizza is ready based on how it looks—when the crust is just beginning to turn crispy and brown. Talk about years of experience!

Putting pizzas in the oven
The key ingredients: dough, yeast, and flour

After his detailed explanation, it was finally time to make our own pizzas! We first flattened out our dough, which was much harder than it looks. The pizza master had to help pretty much all of us, expressing “no, no, no!” every time he saw how we were doing it. Once that was out of the way we filled our pizza with sauce, cheese and whatever toppings we wanted. I chose prosciutto, salami and basil.

Classmates sprinkling toppings on their pizzas

After only a couple minutes in the oven, it was time to eat! My fellow classmates and I agreed these were the most delicious Italian pizzas we’ve had thus far, probably due to them being products of our own labor. It was a delicious and rewarding experience. After all, how often do you get to make your own Italian pizza in Italy, coached by an Italian man himself?

My pizza from start to finish. I ate every bite! :)
This post was cross-posted to https://www.biz.uiowa.edu/cimba.

Class Trip to Asolo

Today I had the pleasure of taking a field trip to nearby Asolo with my Italian for Travelers class. Asolo is a town about 10 minutes away from Paderno and is home to the CIMBA MBA campus. Our class of 22 took a bus there this morning and our Italian Professor gave us a tour of the town.

CIMBA MBA student and Undergrad Campus Life Coordinator Heather driving past us!

The bus driver had to drop us off at the bottom of the hill leading up to Asolo because busses are too big to go up there. I was surprised by how steep the walk uphill was―I got my morning workout in! As we entered the town, my classmates and I immediately wished the undergrad campus was in Asolo too. Much bigger than Paderno (but still a small town), Asolo has many ristorantes, cafés, boutiques and even an old castle. There are many more people living there and it actually felt like a happening place, compared to teeny tiny Paderno. I fell in love with the boutiques we passed and had to stop to window-shop at every one.

A colorful array of ties in a shop window
Gold Salvatore Ferragamo sneakers in a shop window

The CIMBA MBA campus sits at the very top of the hill in Asolo, right beside the hiking trail to Rocca, a fortress from the 12th century. The MBA campus itself is located in a historic building with original walls from the 1600s. Intended to be used for a “cultural” place, the interior of the building was renovated in the late 1900s to be used as an art gallery. Instead, Dr. Al and Cristina Turchet, directors of the CIMBA program, swept it up and it has been home to the CIMBA MBA students for the past 20 years.

Entrance to the CIMBA MBA building
The Rocca fortress in the background

After our tour of Asolo was done, our professoressa di italiana took us to a café where she required us to order something in Italian. Quite a fun task, I must say. I ordered a cappuccino and a muffin―molto buono! The best part was that Dr. Al, CIMBA director, paid for us all. How kind! Grazie Dottor Al!

Café Centrale in Asolo
Un cappuccino
This post was cross-posted to https://www.biz.uiowa.edu/cimba.