To this day, I am still in awe that I was given the opportunity to explore Padua, Venice, Murano, Burano, Verona, Turin, and Milan, Italy. As cliche as it may sound, these ten days in Italy were the best ten days of my life. I am ever so grateful for the Fisher College of Business Industry Immersion Global Lab program, my parents, and my professors for allowing me to experience this incredible adventure. The ten days of this program are full of exploration, beautiful cultural tours, insight, networking, laughter, and establishing life-long friendships. I cannot express how much I took away from this excursion.
As I was getting ready for my trip, there was a little anxiety inside of me – traveling to a foreign country, I was unfamiliar with their native language, flying in an airplane for multiple hours, nerves about networking with companies, and getting to know nineteen strangers. Before this trip, I have never traveled outside of the United States. I wish I could go back and tell myself to relax because there was nothing to worry about.
At first, I was not very excited to spend several nights in Padua. When you hear about people visiting Italy, that is generally not a city you hear them talk about. I was skeptical at first, but after our guided walking tour, I realized that there was so much depth to this city. The beauty and historic artifacts behind the city was breathtaking. It was also very refreshing to see a lot of younger kids and young adults my age in that city.
One of the best times I had on the trip was the night we shared with students from the University of Padua. This was such an incredible opportunity to connect with international students. It is amazing how much we could connect with people our age across the world. We shared with one another about our childhoods, professional/academic experiences, and our career aspirations. The students were incredibly welcoming and showed us their favorite parts of the city. They gave us a personal taste of their culture. What a difference it makes to actually experience and live the culture opposed to just reading about it in a textbook.
Venice – I cannot do this city justice. There are no words I can use that will express the exquisiteness behind this city. From Saint Mark’s Cathedral, to the bridges and canals, and the buildings/ apartments with small balconies full of flowers hanging on the railing, this city was breath taking. It was by far the most beautiful city we visited, along with its islands- Murano and Burano. Verona and Turin were quick visits but I was pleased we had the chance to see the Casa di Romeo and de Giulietta, and the Arena di Verona.
Lastly, I was so thrilled to see one of the fashion capitals of the world – Milan. As a fashion and retail minor, I have a huge passion for integrating art with history/culture, following trends and forecasting fashion designs. However, I quickly learned that there is much more to Milan than fashion. My favorite thing I saw in Milan was the painting of the Last Supper. The symbolism, historical references, and psychological meanings behind this painting was mind boggling.
In a professional sense, this trip provided me with an exceptional international experience with Italian companies. These visits were informative, interactive, and humbling. I learned so much about the companies- who they are, what they stand for, and their day-to-day activities. It was interactive in the sense that we were able to go into the factories and learn about the machines and step-by-step processes for their products. Humbling in the sense that I learned to appreciate the products that the companies were selling- I underestimated the processes and intricacies that go on behind the production of their products. It was fascinating to watch each worker inspect the products and ensure that its physical dimensions are both correct and aesthetically-pleasing.
I learned a lot about myself. This trip pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew I wanted to make the most of the trip and I wanted to really absorb as much as I could from this experience. I did this by being present. I encourage you to stay off your phone as much as possible. This will allow you to fully take in the beauty of the environment around you, try new things (mostly food), learn about the culture/ country’s history, generate conversation with the students, guides, professors, and business professionals around you. Remember it and embrace it because those ten days absolutely flew by. Don’t complain, don’t take it for granted, and don’t pack as much as you think you need to.
I am so incredibly blessed to have gone on this trip with such an amazing group of people, I wish this same experience for all other students.