“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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A Week in Food

One of the best parts by far about traveling through Europe is getting to taste different types of food—especially because little Paderno del Grappa has no variety in food. One of the top five reasons I love travel weeks is because we get to eat something other than pasta and red sauce.

For my second travel week, nine friends and I traveled to Barcelona, Dublin, and Paris. I was so excited, mostly about the prospect of Spanish food. Having an abundance of Mexican food is something I’ve really missed about America. So boy was I excited to eat my heart out in Spain, Ireland, and France!

The first stop was Barcelona. Here I enjoyed a delicious quesadilla at our hostel, authentic Spanish tapas with sangria, and AMAZING paella with chocolate cake to top it off. I also tried hot chocolate with churros, one of their favorite desserts.

Tapas – meatballs, crab and potatoes
Chicken quesadilla
Crushed tomato bread
Veggie + meat paella dish
Couldn’t resist this chocolate cake

After experiencing Spanish cuisine, we headed to Dublin where we were met with good old comfort food and a variety that almost matched America. Ironically enough, our first night in Dublin we ate at a restaurant called Mexico to Rome that served Mexican, Italian and Irish cuisine. Odd, but their burritos were delicious! The server there even brought us glasses of water for FREE, without us even asking! Another thing I really miss about home.

Oh burritos, how I missed you!

The next day we took a trip through the countryside and west coast of Ireland and saw the Cliffs of Moher—quite beautiful! One of the best parts though was, of course, the food. We got a tour of a family farm that’s been there for over 100 years. Afterward, the young couple served us homemade cake and coffee in “Granny’s Cottage” where their grandmother used to live. It was a very welcome treat after walking in the freezing cold and wind for an hour.

Enjoying homemade cheesecake and coffee at Granny’s Cottage

Later that day I had seafood chowder and fish n’ chips. It reminded me of home in Seattle, where we love our seafood. The next day I had perhaps my favorite meal in Ireland—Guinness beef stew at the Guinness Storehouse. Absolutely amazing and perfect for the cold, blustery day.

Good ol’ fish and chips on Halloween

After three days of homey food, we were off to Paris. I started my Parisian food experience with a banana and Nutella crepe for breakfast (embarrassingly followed by a McDonald’s cheeseburger because I was still hungry). Later that night three of us treated ourselves to a nice three-course meal. My friend Mike ordered escargot and we all tried it—it actually tasted pretty good, but the sliminess made it something I would not order again.

Escargot – not as bad as I thought!

I chose to order a French version of Caesar salad, followed by flammekueche, a thin pizza like dish topped with onions and slices of cheese. Not bad! Then I topped it all off with my dessert of choice—three scoops of ice cream.

French Caesar salad
Flammekueche
Raspberry, chocolate and Madagascar vanilla :)

Now as if those first seven days of food weren’t good enough, the best part was my last day in France. I made it my goal to seek out a Ladurée shop, the famous French macaroons that I had heard of and been told to try. First, however, we stumbled upon a fancy bakery where we couldn’t pass up their bread. I tried the chocolate and orange bread…a weird combo, but somehow tasted absolutely delicious.

Amazing chocolate + orange bread

A couple hours later, we found it—Ladurée on Avenue des Champs-Élysées, otherwise known as the most popular street in Paris. There was a huge line out the door, a promising sign yet surprising because I did not realize how popular these macaroons were. After standing in line for a good 45 minutes before I finally got to buy some, I soon realized just how worth it the wait was.

Our first bite into a Ladurée macaroon! Pure bliss!

Having never eaten a macaroon before, I had no idea what to expect. But my first bite into my chocolate macaroon was pure, decadent bliss. I have never tasted something so delicious and flawless, I can’t even explain it in words. A crispy outside cake layer with the smoothest ganache filling…these were TO DIE FOR. And the flavors, oh the flavors! I splurged on chocolate, coffee, raspberry, and green apple macaroons. Every single one was amazing, even the green apple.

Raspberry macaroon

To make it even better, I enjoyed my last bites at the Eiffel Tower during sunset. It was perhaps my favorite moment of the entire week. Absolutely priceless. :)

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.

Of the Moment

Continuing my “Of the Moment” series, I present to you the things currently on my mind/recent happenings:

(1) Study Abroad – With only 17 days until I leave for Italy (holy cow, I just now counted this and got really scared), this is constantly on my mind. My best friend left last week for Ecuador, where she’ll be studying abroad for four months, and I still felt like it was a ways off for me. But not at all…I have so much to do!

Some exciting news, by the way―I was selected by my study abroad program CIMBA to be a student blogger/ambassador for them while I’m abroad. I am super excited and can’t wait to get started! I plan on cross-posting all my posts, maybe with additional content over here. More to come…

(2) Skulls – Last weekend I found this amazing skull ring at the airport that I had to buy. Not usually my style at all (I tend to think of skulls as demonic or gothic), this one attracted me instantly because of it’s sparkle and statement piece factor. I may also have been inspired by my manager’s lovely, almost unnoticeable, gold skull ring. I received three compliments on my ring from coworkers (including her!) yesterday and I just love it. Jewelry is the perfect way to try a new trend without skewing too much away from one’s personal style. I am now dreaming about this incredible Alexander McQueen skull bangle. What a simple, yet bold, beauty.

(3) Brand is a Four Letter Word – I’m currently reading this book by Austin McGhie of Sterling Brands, recommended to me by my aforementioned manager. The main point he makes is that you cannot “brand” a product; “brand” is not a verb, but a noun only. Our job as marketers is to BUILD a brand. Makes sense to me.

While only a couple chapters in, I have already come to the conclusion that Chapter 2 should be in every college marketing textbook. McGhie (who I actually met in person thanks to my job!) defines the six essential terms of marketing in a concise, sensible way. I’ve never had a crisper picture of the difference and relationship between vision, strategy, brand, etc. I’m excited to see what else this book has in store.

(4) 21st Birthday – At the beginning of this month I (finally!) turned 21. In spirit of the occasion, my mom gave me a Kate Spade pouch with the same cocktail print pictured on the tote above. It’s meant to be a cosmetic case, but I full well plan on using it as a chic, oversize clutch. Perfect for going out on the town in Italy, with camera, Berlitz, lipgloss and wallet in tow.