Things I wish I knew: Part One

Written by Melanie January 20, 2012

So it has only been a couple days since I have arrived here in Paderno del Grappa, but I already love it! Classes have started and I have already planned my first weekend trip! Before I left the US there were so many things that I was worrying about and already there are some lessons that I have learned and things I wish I knew. So, here are a few of them:

1. Travel with a buddy, but if you don’t have one it’s not the end of the world, you might just find one on the way!

For me, getting to campus was one of my biggest concerns! Airports and buses in countries where I didn’t know the language terrified me. Luckily, I was able to get the same flight as another girl from my school so that eased my nerves a LOT! It seemed less overwhelming that I would have someone else with me who was as lost and confused as I was. As it turned out, we didn’t get lost and we were never confused. Traveling was actually pretty easy! We flew from Minneapolis to Amsterdam and then to Venice. When we were in Amsterdam we ran in to two other CIMBA students who were on same our flight to Venice and when we got to Italy there was a CIMBA staff member waiting for us to help us with the buses. So as it turned out even if I had to travel by myself I am confident I would have been just fine and still met up with other students part way!

2. Put your shampoo (and any other squish-ables) in plastic bags!

I put my shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and other stuff like that in plastic bags in my suitcase incase they opened during my flights. Unfortunately, my roommate did not and her conditioner exploded all over her clothes! She spent the whole first night trying to rise and dry all of her clothes and ended up having to do a load of laundry in the morning. It was a big hassle and a little stressful after a long day of traveling, so save yourself the headache and put all that squishy stuff in plastic bags!

3. Learn a few Italian words.

As soon as I signed up for CIMBA I decided that I was going to learn some Italian before I left. I never expected to learn a lot before I got here, just enough to get by. Once I got home for winter break, I got busy and kept putting it off. I kept saying that I would do it later until finally it was just a few days before I left for the trip and the only words I knew was ciao (hello/goodbye) and grazie (thank you). Now that I am here I really wish I had taken the time to learn a few key words and phrases in Italian. There are so many friendly Italians on campus and around the town that I really wish I could say simple things to, like “good morning,” “please,” or “have a good day!” I will get better though, the CIMBA staff is going to teach us what they call “Survival Italian” later this week and I start the class Italian for Travelers soon too, so hopefully in a few days I will be able to start greeting people in their native language!

4. Stop and just look around.

This is actually advice from my Mom that I am realizing to be so true! I love being busy and running from one thing to the next with my head buried in my cell phone, so I have trouble just being in the moment. So far Italy is helping me stop every once in a while to appreciate everything around me. From looking out the window of my plane while flying over the Swiss Alps, to walking to breakfast and looking up at gorgeous Mt. Grappa, to the beautiful statues all over campus, there is so much to see if you just stop once in a while and look!

So that’s all the advice for now, but I will post a Things I wish I Knew: Part Two at the end of the trip. Also, I will be posting weekly with stories, advice, and pictures so be sure to check back!