Love at First Sight

Written by carolinepotts January 31, 2024

A little over a week ago, I climbed down the charter bus’s steps and onto CIMBA’s campus, dragging my jam-packed suitcases across the cobblestone street of Paderno del Grappa. It’s good I didn’t fall on my face as I entered the classroom building because my gaze was set on the breathtaking mountains towering above the town, kissing the clouds that littered the baby-blue sky.

While Italy was beautiful that day, I myself couldn’t have been a pretty sight. I had spent the previous twelve hours standing in security and customs lines, sleeping through rough turbulence, and eating less-than-gourmet airplane food. Like most travel, it was exhausting and thrilling.

My plane ride from Chicago to Amsterdam had a gloriously clear view of the cities thousands of feet below us, which gave me the chance to see European cities lit by their streetlamp. It made me excited for my adventure, and by the time I landed in Italy, I was anxious to see some sights on the ground.

Yet I was tired. I sleepily stumbled through the rest of my first day–finding my dorm room, unpacking my things, meeting new friends, eating pasta for dinner. I was still exhausted and most certainly overwhelmed, but the enthusiasm was still there. And that feeling was fueled by how enchanted I was by my new home.

I found the view from my room’s window a perfect mix of nature and culture. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the multi-colored architecture that freckled the Swiss Alps’ mountainsides. Before going to bed at 6:30 pm (a bedtime that’s unheard of for a night owl like me), I witnessed the most beautiful sunset. I was only four hours into life at Paderno del Grappa, but I was already in love.

Now, I am over a week into school. I have found the locals to be kind and my professors to be even kinder. I have already made so many friends. One of my favorite things about my classmates is their willingness to explore. In the cafeteria, there is constant conversation about weekend plans and spring break trips.

Barcelona is mentioned over tomato chicken at one table, while another discusses famous castles that “just have to be seen.” It has been easy to make friends because we all have at least one thing in common: everyone is ecstatic. All you have to say is: “Where do you want to go this semester?” and you have a new friend.

So, it’s needless to say that we were all thrilled to go to Asolo—a small Italian town that is only a ten-minute bus ride away from campus—a few days ago. I come from a family of frequent travelers, but I can’t say I have ever experienced anything like this small, quaint town. Sitting at the base of the Prealps, Asolo is rich in history, culture, yummy food, and breathtaking sights. I started my time in Asolo by climbing up a clock tower, where I had a view of the town, and it was like a postcard come to life.

After a warm panini, my friends and I climbed up to La Rocca, the medieval fortress. It overlooks the town atop his hill, and as you walk around, you get to look out at the beauty of Northern Italy. Asolo is beautiful from that height, but so are the vineyards and olive groves surrounding the town, which are organized so nicely in the valleys of the Prealps. I was completely obsessed with the sight!

Next weekend, I am going to Milan. And then, who knows? I just know that all my adventures–no matter how big, small, long, or short–will be absolutely thrilling and life-changing.