My Two-and-a-Half-Year Journey to CIMBA

Written by andrewgippert September 11, 2022

March 12th, 2020 – My Introduction to Marketing Strategy discussion section was wrapping up in the early afternoon and I gathered my things to head down the hall to my academic advisor’s office. I was approaching the dreaded midterms season of my fourth semester at the University of Iowa but always looked forward to planning out potential schedules for upcoming semesters, and this meeting was different. Rather than simply discussing which remaining gen-eds I’d knock out and the major-level electives I’d prepare for, I was excited to bring up the idea of studying abroad via the CIMBA program in spring 2021, the second semester of my junior year. One of my best friends at the university, Danny McCoy, was currently in Paderno del Grappa where he continued his education in a unique classroom environment and used the program as an opportunity to explore amazing places like Egypt, France, and the Alps. I was thrilled when my advisor agreed that the global study plan I put forward would work well within my schedule. We then continued to discuss various course options and at one point joked about a seemingly harmless “threat” that would maybe force me to rethink my plans – Covid-19.

My friend Danny McCoy (right) and me in Austin, Texas this summer.

At the time, college students (myself included) thought this little rumor of a virus circulating on the internet only meant we’d receive an extended spring break, something that absolutely no one was complaining about! Little did we know that Covid-19 would very quickly send the entire campus home, force us to learn isolated behind a computer screen, and impact the remainder of our college experience. I kept my composure and told people that despite the pandemic crushing my opportunity to study abroad, I was content and not disappointed. But deep down, I was devastated that the awesome opportunity I had dreamed of was taken away from me immediately and to make matters worse, my false hope was drawn out month by month as the pandemic worsened.

However, two-and-a-half years later, I’ve once again found my opportunity to study abroad because of my unique college path and when it became a possibility, I KNEW I had to capitalize on it.

Before going any further, I should probably take a step back and introduce myself. My name is Andrew Gippert and I’m in my final semester at the University of Iowa studying Marketing and Finance through the Tippie College of Business. At Iowa, I’ve been involved in organizations providing great friendships and professional opportunities such as the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity, Business Student Ambassadors Organization (fancy title for giving tours to prospective students and being a representative at college events), and the Tippie Marketing Institute.

My friends and I from AKPsi at an Iowa football game.

I’m originally from Woodstock, Illinois, a small town 50 miles northwest of Chicago, and decided to attend the University of Iowa because of its amazing people and big-campus/small-school feel (as cheesy as it sounds). Throughout my time in college, I’ve interned with SitusAMC as a Commercial Real Estate Appraisal Specialist and with Expedia Group as an Account Management/Business Development intern. My internship with SitusAMC was rather unique, as I took the spring semester of my junior year off as a full-time student and instead worked remotely. Because of this, my anticipated graduation date was pushed back to December 2022 and has allowed me to complete my undergraduate degree abroad.

My intern cohort in Expedia’s downtown Chicago office.

More importantly, I wanted to share a little on why I originally had a desire to study abroad (and why that desire has never left two-and-a-half years later). Growing up and attending college in the Midwest has provided so many great opportunities, relationships, and values that I will always be grateful for, but I would be naïve to think that life across the world is as easy, enjoyable, and uniform as it is here. While living near Chicago and attending a major university has exposed me to many different cultures, I’ve always wanted to fully immerse myself into new ways of life – and this means breaking out of my comfort zone. My athletics coaches growing up preached that growth never occurs when you’re comfortable and I’ve found this to be true, so what better way to be uncomfortable than to leave my rural midwestern life to live in an entirely new country for three months amongst students and faculty who, for the most part, I know nothing about!? As much as I’ve learned about Italian culture through occasional dinners at Olive Garden, I’m really excited to learn so much more through my interactions and immersion with peers, professors, and locals.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous for this adventure (maybe not as much as my parents) but nerves are just a sign that you care. I’m excited to channel that nervous energy into an adventurous spirit to create memories of a lifetime interacting with local Italian culture, spontaneously exploring various countries, and creating meaningful friendships along the way. I have many exciting things in store for the next few months and look forward to sharing them with you! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some more packing to do because I, of course, wait to do everything until the last minute.