What Held True
Written by Caroline December 13, 2017
Well, just like that, my semester at CIMBA has come and gone. It’s still hard to comprehend that in what felt like a blink of an eye, I am back to driving a car, using U.S. currency, and speaking solely in English.
It’s been a bittersweet week getting re-acclimated to life at home. While I’m happy to be back with friends and family, I already miss the gorgeous mountain views and delicious meals I left behind in Paderno. But, it’s a good time to reflect on the semester and all I learned.
In my very first CIMBA blog post, I made a list of things I’d heard about studying abroad I hoped would hold true for me. Now that I have experienced life as a Cimbian, I though I’d revisit that list.
- “Studying abroad was the best thing I did in college.”
I’m happy to report this is TRUE! I made the greatest new friends from all over the country, visited some of the most beautiful places in Europe, and learned so much about myself and the world. I could never experience all I did this semester in a classroom.
2. “Italy is my favorite country in Europe.”
I’m going to have to agree. I loved the countries I visited, but there is something about Italian culture that made me feel at home. Italians are incredibly hospitable, especially in the smaller cities. It’s fair to say my favorite trip of the semester was to Verona.
- “The food is incredibly fresh- eat EVERYTHING.”
This is true! I ate a lot of pasta. And I mean a lot of pasta. And pizza. And gelato. And I have zero regrets. My Add-a-Seat host sister explained to me that food is how Italians show others they care about them, and I felt very cared for.
- “Living in a little town is the way to go.”
When people ask me the impossible question of what my favorite aspect of abroad was, I tell them about Paderno. It was such a unique opportunity to live in a small town. I would chase the sunsets over the Alps, run into locals and chat, and learn how to adjust to a daily culture much different from my life in Baltimore. I visited busy cities on the weekends, but I always looked forward to weeks in my little mountain town.
- “Your time abroad will change your perspective.”
This 100% was true for me, and I’m so glad. My perspectives were changed on several levels. Before I got to explore Italy or any other European culture, I met other students from different parts of the U.S. I have never been to Kansas, Michigan, or Minnesota, but I now have amazing friends who live there. CIMBA uniquely brought together college students of different beliefs, ideas, and opinions and allowed us to live, eat, travel, and work together everyday. My perspectives on my “normal” were changed because my new friends had lasting impacts on me.
Of course, the opportunity to travel Europe led me to feel more connected to the world. After having an interesting conversation with a German man on a plane about American politics, I realized how the world watches our political scene closer than I thought. When there was an explosion scare at a London metro stop just hours after we had left the city, we felt more upset about the situation than we would have if we’d just seen it on the news. And when I was served an authentic Italian meal by a family in Padova who had never met me before, I saw the humanity that connects people an ocean apart. My subliminal judgments or assumptions were tampered, and I walked away from my time in Italy more accepting and curious than before.
I can’t adequately express how grateful I am for my semester abroad in Paderno del Grappa and the CIMBA program that made it possible. If it were not already evident, I am an advocate for this program and all it has to offer. If you have any questions about CIMBA or studying abroad in general, feel free to reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Signing off one last time, grazie mille for reading along this semester!
Ciao from Baltimore,