The 5 Things I’m Doing to Prepare For My Semester Abroad

Written by Mallory January 10, 2017

I have turned my basement into a huge packing station and as you can tell, I have a long ways to go before I leave town in a couple of days!

The pillow case I made so I have some pictures around!

Luckily most of my friends are studying abroad too which will give me plenty of opportunity to visit them!

The flatirons or "flatties" snow dusted on a foggy day. I sure am going to miss this view.

Some friends and me hiking in Boulder before the snow came!


For me, planning to study abroad has been very similar to applying to college for the very first time. Many factors go into choosing a program; location, cost, courses offered, and more. When I started thinking about studying abroad, I had NO clue where I wanted to go.

I thought about following in most of my friend’s footsteps by going to either Barcelona or Florence but then I realized this is the opportunity of a lifetime and there is no better way to study abroad than to get completely out of my comfort zone and explore an entirely new city and country all on my own (I am the only student from CU going to CIMBA)!! While I am going to miss my friends dearly, I will get the opportunity to visit them on the weekends. Plus, this way I will be able to bring back my experiences as I can imagine they will be completely different from my friends’. 

After  months of searching through all the different study abroad programs and narrowing them down based on the courses offered, I finally found CIMBA!  It was the perfect match for me as it offers courses I need in order to graduate on time and – c’mon – just  look at that view! (If you haven’t done a google search of Paderno del Grappa and CIMBA, I strongly encourage you to do so!)

Let me step back for a second and introduce myself. My name is Mallory and I come to you from the University of Colorado in Boulder. I grew up in Colorado and have lived here most of my life. One of my favorite things to do in my free time is explore new places and I am very excited to spend the next three months exploring Italy and Europe.

As much as I love exploring, I love being close to home. Luckily for me, CIMBA is located at the base of Mount Grappa and having mountains so close to me in Italy will definitely make my transition from Colorado much easier. 

With only a couple more days to prepare for my semester adventure, I thought I would share a few things that I am going to bring to Italy or things I plan on getting immediately when I arrive.

  1. Photos: If you know me (which some of you reading this do – hi Mom and Dad!), you know that I love photos. When I say I love photos, I mean I REALLY love photos. From my dorm room freshman year to my apartment bedroom, I have photographs EVERYWHERE. Pictures of anything and everything you could imagine. I didn’t think it would be reasonable for me to bring a bunch of pictures and hang them in my room only to take them down several weeks later so I took some of my favorite pictures of myself, friends, and family and had them printed on a pillow case that will be traveling with me to Italy.
  2. Shampoo: Aside from the usual things everyone will bring (a couple of shirts here, some pants there), I am also bringing some of my shower products like my shampoo and conditioner, face wash, and lotion. I have pretty sensitive skin and didn’t want to take a risk since I am not really sure what Italian products are like. More importantly, I would rather give up bringing the extra pair of shoes that I would probably only wear once or that jacket I convinced myself I would wear in Italy even though I never wear it in Colorado to create more space in my luggage so I can bring back souvenirs!
  3. International SIM Card: One of the things I plan on getting upon my arrival in Italy is a European SIM card. I don’t want to sit down at the beginning of the summer and hear all about my friend’s experiences – I mean I do – BUT I want to be able to follow along on their blog sites and social medias as it is happening! From my research, I have found data plans offered in Europe are quite a bit cheaper than an American international plan and luckily there is a store a couple of miles away from campus that sells SIM cards with preloaded data plans (just make sure your phone is unlocked otherwise you will not be able to use the Italian SIM Card). I’ll be sure to report back and let you know how it’s working out for me.
  4. Journal: Traveling with me over 5,000 miles will also be an empty journal and a glue stick. Some of you might seriously question why I would bring a glue stick over 5,000 miles, but for me it’s simple. I want to have the ability to save every ticket stub from planes and trains, a receipt from my first cappuccino (I don’t drink coffee so it will be monumental to have my first cup of Jo in Italy), postcards from all over, and any other thing I find along the way. I want to be able to write down what I am doing every day so ten years from now I can look back on all my memories. Sure, I will have my iPhone to take photos of everything but I want to be able to recreate the emotions I will have through writing and every little thing I collect over the next 84ish days. 
  5. Pre-loaded Books & Movies: Finally, I can imagine I will be spending quite a bit of time in airports and train stations so I preloaded some movies and books on my iPad. From the time I leave my home in Colorado to the time I step out of the shuttle in Paderno del Grappa, I will have been traveling for about 21 hours (yes, I did the math). Although some might look at this as a perfect opportunity to catch some sleep, I have a feeling I will be too excited to sleep so I want to make sure I have a way to keep myself entertained and cracking open a new book (or clicking on the iBooks application) is a sure way to do that.

As much as I have prepared for this adventure, it has not fully set in that I am about to spend my spring semester living in Italy, attempting to speak a language I know very little of, and exploring places I have never been before.

Right now, I don’t know much about Paderno del Grappa or CIMBA but I can promise you that will change pretty quickly upon my arrival. Stay tuned as I explore and learn more about the city and culture, adjusting to life in Italy, the CIMBA experience, and all the craziness I am about to jump into!

Ciao! (It means hello AND goodbye!)