Study Abroad Tip: Connecting with Peers and Professors

Written by Elizabeth October 15, 2015

Group A after finishing LIFE

Group B after their graduation from LIFE

A group of us that went on the hike last weekend- Simone is the third from the left!

Exploring Florence with a group of Cimbians

Overlooking the city of Florence & enjoying each other's company.

One of the many things that makes CIMBA unique is the size of the program. This semester, there are 59 students and 10 professors. My largest class is about 25 people, and my smallest class has only four. Coming from a university as large as the University of Minnesota, I’m used to 45 people being a “small” class… this is a nice change of pace!
Having such small numbers has already given me opportunities to connect with my peers and professors in ways that wouldn’t happen at my home university. All 59 of us live in the same dorm, and we all eat together in the dining hall three times a day. We take the same classes, we make plans to travel together, and we eat way too much gelato. Living in a community as we are, we’ve been able to become close friends in a short amount of time, and I’m excited to continue building friendships as the semester continues.
Sometimes, professors will sit down with us when we’re eating meals in the dining halls, and last week, one of the professors led a hike. Another professor came along, too! It was awesome to spend time with them outside of the classroom. They’ve got so much collective travel experience, and they also know a lot about Italy in general.
This week, I had an espresso with Simone, who teaches the Entrepreneurial Strategy and Operations Management courses. I don’t have any classes with him, so it was a chance to connect with a professor outside of my coursework. I enjoyed learning more about his background and hearing about the extensive hiking he’s done around Europe.
On Tuesday night, Professor Crawford took me and three friends out for gelato. Again, we were able to sit with him and have a personal conversation. We shared travel stories, talked about our families, and discussed how we all had discovered CIMBA. He was just as happy to be spending time with us as we were to be spending time with him! When I go back home, I want to invite a professor to go out for coffee. I think it’s valuable to get to know my professors, so why not get coffee instead of sitting in office hours?
Aside from the teaching staff, the administrative staff in the office has also been very personable. It’s easy to see that the faculty members are here for the students, and they want us to have the best possible experience while we’re abroad. They understand what an incredible opportunity we have before us, and they genuinely want to hear about the adventures we have each weekend. For example, Christina, Stefania, and Max have all been extremely helpful with making suggestions for booking transportation. Travel plans aside, they also want to push us academically and professionally. Amelia reviewed my resume for me when I was applying for an internship, and she’s going to help me prepare for an interview I have coming up next week. CIMBA is a truly holistic experience… and we’re only on week 3!