Ciao America, Ciao Italy

Written by gregoryzentmyer January 8, 2022

Not only have I been traveling around the United States these past two weeks, but I will be flying to Italy in four days to gain cultural experience while pursuing my college degree. Traveling consists of many factors: weather, political and social culture, destination’s customs and beliefs, but currently, the most significant factor is the pandemic. I started off 2022 by receiving my booster shot to travel and protect friends, family, and others. A couple of days after my booster shot, I was greeted with warm weather and beaches in southern Florida. Unfortunately, Florida left me with a seafood-full stomach and a nasty sunglasses tan. A week later, my sunglasses tan then turned into a ski goggle tan while skiing in Breckenridge, Colorado. Now, I am preparing to depart for a whole new country, and I am so excited. 

My packing list was influenced by an email explaining how the January weather in Italy can be pretty cold, around 25-45°F, however, that is almost “shorts weather” compared to my hometown Madison, Wisconsin and my college town Iowa City, Iowa. This “cold weather” creates smaller crowds and affordable shopping because January is considered the sales season. While activities might be limited due to the weather, Italy still creates exciting getaways and adventures. I don’t plan to bring my skiing gear; however, I strive to find a weekend to hit some of Italy’s renowned ski resorts, accompanied by a dip in one of Italy’s various hot springs. 

Not only did I pack for cold weather, but I also packed for warmer weather for March and April. My lack of European travel and my preference for warmer weather has made my forecast of Italy biased, but I am most excited for the spring season. Italy’s beautiful flora and fauna create an incredible landscape and scenic view almost wherever you visit. Paderno del Grappa hosts a weekly market that offers tons of tasty food, diverse shopping, and flora and fauna. The spring season also allows me to tour Italy via boat. My dream getaway is to hang out with friends on a boat, tanning and listening to EDM music. On the other hand, a fine gondola ride in the Grand Canal, overlooking the various Italian restaurants and shops sounds pretty nice. With some of my hometown friends also studying abroad in Venice and Sicily, I mapped out some potential excursions. Sicily offers jeep tours of Mount Etna. While I would like to ride a gondola in Venice, it would also be a true religious and fun experience to visit St. Mark’s Basilica. 

My travel bucket list is not limited to Europe. I plan to visit Spain, specifically Barcelona and Ibiza, to visit college friends studying abroad. Most of my friends are there right now, and they have said amazing things about Barcelona’s nightlife which I am excited to experience. 

When I was in middle school, my family took a trip to Europe to see some famous sights, one of them being the Eiffel Tower. At that time in my life, I was too focused on video games and Angry Birds, so I never truly appreciated the fact I was standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. So, I would also like to revisit France and take in its beauty, history, and significance. My trip to France will also include watching one of my favorite things- sports. Lionel Messi is one of my favorite athletes, so to watch him play in Paris alongside Kylian Mbappé would be life-changing.

Words can’t describe the excitement I have going into my study abroad semester. I hope to gain life-long friendships, a new perspective of traveling and Europe, a good education, and most of all, a semester of fun times.