Lost Between Canals and Alleyways

Written by gregoryzentmyer January 28, 2022

The first weekend in Italy blew any expectations I had out of the water. As we stepped onto the bus to travel to a local town called Bassano Del Grappa, the aura of excitement in the air washed over the group departing from campus. We headed to the train station, where we were parted separate ways and would not see one another for the rest of the weekend. A large group went to Venice (of which I was included in), while others went to Milan. The train took about an hour and twenty minutes, and the excitement was still in the air. I had flown into Venice and seen the canals from a bird’s eye view, but to experience the canals and streets for myself would be an experience like no other. As we stepped out of the train station, we were hit with a scent like nothing I’d ever experienced before. The lights, sounds, and people were to put it simply: astounding. We began to walk to our Airbnb that my friend had booked for the weekend, and I became amazed at the complexity of the city itself. After a while of walking, the group realized that we were lost and backtracked a bit. The winding maze that was the streets of Venice had us beat. Only after about another thirty minutes did we stumble to the correct location and meet the landlord Giovanni. We settled into our place and once again began roaming the streets wandering our way to a restaurant. After a while of searching, the group sat down at a pizzeria and ordered a range of incredible pizzas. After paying the bill, we kept wandering and ended up at a jazz bar.

We ended up running into a plethora of other students in the program at this bar, and it made for an entertaining night. The following day the group decided to visit a local coffee shop for some espresso and a croissant. Inside of the shop, we also saw a group of fellow travelers from Egypt and France with who we had a quick chat while eating. Once we were finished with our food and drink, the group migrated over to the Basilica, where we marveled at the architecture of the old building. After taking pictures of the outside, we moved as a group to the shopping district, which included an array of high-end stores. While I enjoyed the stores, historic sites, and beautiful scenery, the real joy of this trip was the people that I met along the way. When I was at the jazz bar on Saturday night, I ran into a couple on their honeymoon. One was from Mexico City and the other from Milan. The stories like these are the ones that make the study abroad trip so rewarding. Getting out of my comfort zone to talk to these strangers was something I wouldn’t regret. Their story was like nothing I had ever heard before and made me realize how isolated our experiences as Americans can become. By choosing to do this experience, I can genuinely say that my horizons have been expanded. And it’s only been a week and a half. As for the next ten and a half weeks of my life, I have no idea what they have in store for me, but I know whatever it is, I will be jumping at any opportunity put in front of me. Attending CIMBA was one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I can not wait to see what the future holds.