Adventures at the Laundromat

May 23, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

Miriam Mayo Headshot.fw

Miriam Mayo; Senior Marketing Major Hometown: Tarboro NC

Although today started out as a dreary day in Altavilla, it turned into a day filled with adventure! To start my day, I was woken up by my next door neighbor, Katie, bright and early. I am convinced Katie has an expresso machine in her bedroom because that girl is the definition of energy. I think she just enjoys laughing at me when I answer the door, because I’m usually still asleep. We then headed to the café in the hotel to get our morning breakfast, it has become a shared ritual here. Moving on, it turns out, we didn’t even have to be in class until 9 for our lecture. It was a sigh of relief because this gave us plenty of time for breakfast and the routine cappuccino. Shifting to a more academic tone, the lecture today was on the Italian social and economic system. My classmates and I were worried that it was going to be a boring one. I don’t mean boring as in, ”oh no, I don’t care”. Moreover, it was my fear the speaker was not going to be capable of holding our attention. Thankfully, it wasn’t bad at all. I learned a lot about the European Union and the Eurozone. They’re not the same thing at all which was surprising to me. I would go into more detail but I have more to tell you.

 

mayo group

Italian Laundromat

After the lecture, everyone had so much to do. A few girls and I made our way down to the laundry mat, boy was that an adventure. It was pouring rain and all the locals just happened to be doing their laundry at the same time. At first, we couldn’t figure out how to work the machines. Finally, we figured out how to switch the coin machine to English, which made it super easy. While my laundry was washing, I decided to head to the supermarket to find a small snack to entertain myself. I found myself in the deli section and decided the in-store cooked food looked appetizing. It turned out that it was under 2 euros for a lunch size portion of chicken and potatoes. I will definitely be going back again.

 

mayo tv

Group Dinner

Around dinner time, a group of us set out on an adventure to get some fit-bit steps in and in hopes of running into a new restaurant we hadn’t tried. After a short 4,000 steps, we found a place called Fantasy. You know it’s going to be a good restaurant when the server speaks absolutely no English and they have the old-school toilets that are a hole in the ground. When ordering, a classmate of mine ordered a marinara pizza, it turned out that it was a pizza with strictly marinara sauce on it. The server quickly realized that he had no idea what he had ordered, as he looked super confused. She immediately asked him if he wanted mozzarella on it, which of course he did. She was so kind to us, even though she didn’t know any English. The meal ended up being fantastic. On the way home, we blared throwback music on our cellphones and enjoyed each other’s goofy personalities. This is a trip of a lifetime and I am so grateful for this experience and the life-long friends I have already made.

 

 

The City of Love

May 21, 2016
Verona, Italy

Caitlyn griffin headshot.fw

Caitlyn Griffin; Senior Marketing Major Hometown: Williamston, NC

Well, today was the day it all set in. I’m in Italy!! We’ve been here just under a week, and we all have become so close. We started the day out in Altavilla and traveled by bus to the beautiful Verona. As our group pulled up to the hotel, I knew today would be perfect. We quickly unpacked and hit the city. The hustle of the town was simple, yet so inviting.

We immediately dived into the history Verona had to offer us. Our group set out for the Roman arena, which was just a short walk from our hotel. We all got a student discount with our one cards (woo)! It saved us 3 euros, which was enough to get 3 espressos at a local café. The arena was so intricately detailed and in tact from when the Romans first built it. There was a bit of construction going on, but we all still enjoyed our climb to the top!

 

Caitlyn griffin juliet

Love letters in Verona

Our next stop was at a quaint little café on our trek to Casa de Guiletta! This was definitely an anticipated stop by the girls. We got turned around a few times on the way, but thanks to some locals, we were on our way again. Juliet’s square was down a little alley, and it was packed! You could tell that this was one of the biggest attractions in Verona. We anxiously waited in line to see Juliet while watching everyone frolic over the thoughts of love.A few of us moved on to lunch, where we found a small café that was perfect. We sat out on cobblestone walkways under umbrellas just taking everything in. Our waiter spoke English and was so fun. He surprised us with different sandwiches and spritz! He offered us a drink that was not on the menu, when we asked him what he liked best. This made us feel super special, and it was amazing. Definitely our new favorite Italian drink!

 

caitlyn griffin beach house

We roamed around the city a little more and ran into a huge group of fellow study abroad students from UGA. It’s crazy how you can so easily spot Americans in Italy. The shorts are an instant giveaway for sure. We quickly got away from them only because we were enjoying our small group time. It was nice to see Americans though.Finally, we came across the tower, Torre dei Lamberti. We purchased our tickets and visited a little art gallery beside the tower. The pieces were beautiful and interesting. Luckily, there was no line to climb the tower. Half way up, we could tell why. The climb was rough! Some ran quickly up the stairs, but I took my time for sure. I thought my legs were going to fall off but the view was worth it! We could see a 360 view of the city. The mountains were to our right, and we could see the arena to our left. We could still see a little bit of snow of the Alps. Fortunately, on the plane ride over, I sat beside a Verona native coming home for the summer. She told me that normally the snow is gone by this time of the year. I went to all of the places she suggested and was definitely impressed.

 

As I’m sitting here typing my blog, I can’t believe that this is real life! TheCaitlyn Griffin pastel houses
experiences my classmates and I have already taken in on just the first week are incredible! The girls and I ended our day with shopping, where Emma was quickly corrected for touching a $500 shirt in Dolce and Gabbana. This was so hilarious to us and will be a memory for sure. Our day ended with cheese fries from a local eatery down from the hotel where the server hooked us up for sure. This was a little taste of home, and they were so yummy. I’m rooming with Emma here in Verona, and so thankful for this new, sweet friend of mine! I can’t wait for the adventures at Lake Garda tomorrow and the wine tasting Sunday!

Homework in Altavilla

May 19, 2016
Altavilla, Italy

catie kimball headshot

Catie Kimball; Junior Marketing Major Hometown: Towson, MD

Today it really hit me, I am actually in Italy! It has been a hectic yet incredible five days so far here in Altavilla. The town we are staying in is a small and quiet, yet filled with the most accommodating and friendliest people I have ever encountered.  I am trying my best to blend in as much as possible but it is a little hard when you are walking down the streets of a small town with twenty other Americans all with the same confused and lost look on their faces.  Something that we as Americans are not used to is that everyday from one to four, most of the shops and restaurants close.  I have been here for five days and I am still not used it. Sometimes we will walk around Altavilla for an hour, trying to find one place that is open.  I don’t think anyone minds though because the town is beautiful and I don’t think I could ever grow tired of looking at it.

 

Catie Kimball street

View of the Mountainous terrain

I never thought that I would ever say this but I am actually very glad that it is raining today.  I have so much schoolwork to catch up on, and the Wi-Fi is finally working.  We have had so many issues with the Wi-Fi, it has made completing the homework assignments very difficult.  Today I had my first test in English 3380 and the Wi-Fi kept cutting in and out, causing us to have to retake the test four times. This whole experience has really made me realize how dependent we as Americans are on technology.   I’m not sure if these types of Wi-Fi problems are normal in Italy in general or just the hotel but the Italians do not seem to mind very much.

 

catie kimball room

Kimball’s Dorm Room

As I sit here on this rainy Thursday, I reflect on the last couple of days.  I think about all the beautiful sights I have seen, the everlasting memories I have made, and the awesome people I have encountered.  I am so overwhelmed by all of the incredible things this country has to offer.  It is unbelievable to me to think that for Italians, these sights that we travel so far to see are something that they normally see everyday. I personally was never a big traveler, but I can honestly say that after five days of being here, I want to become one.  I am so grateful that I have been given this amazing opportunity and I will make sure that I will take advantage of every experience that comes my way within these next five weeks.

 

Walking along the Cobblestones

May 22, 2016
San Giorgio, Italy

Christopher Banks

Christopher Banks; MBA Student Hometown: Washington NC

I did not realize how sunburned I was from the day before until my alarm sounded Sunday morning, and it was time to get up and start another wonderful day in Italy.

Once all the students were checked out of Hotel Mastino, we boarded the minibus to visit San Giorgio di Valpolicella, a Romanesque parish church built in the 8th century. The church was beautiful inside and out, once on site, the massive bell tower caught my eye. I kept wondering what it would be like to see the construction process of this marvelous church. After looking at San Giorgio di Valpolicella, I turned around and walked towards the overlook for a view of the surrounding vineyards and Lake Garda in the distance. Once again, the pictures I took do not do the view justice.

christopher church

San Giorgio Church

Exploring the narrow cobblestone streets of San Giorgio caused me to work up quite an appetite. After a short bus ride, the group arrived at the beautiful Villa Mosconi Bertani located in Negrar, where we sampled three of their wines while enjoying a delicious lunch. Soave Lepia was the first wine served. It paired nicely with the cured beef, arugula, cherry tomato, and cream sauce. Valpolicella Ripasso, a red wine bottled on the vineyard was served with the next course which was a creamy pumpkin risotto infused with their wine bottled on site. Of the three wines I tried, this was my least favorite because of the strong taste. The final red wine sampled, Amarone Classico, was served with a savory and sweet chocolate dessert topped with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. This wine had the highest alcohol content and most complex flavors.

Christopher banks villa

Villa Moscani Bertani

Following the rather filling lunch it was time to walk off those calories. Once again, we boarded the minibus and headed to Molina Waterfall Park, which is a short mountainous drive located in the quaint town of Molina (Verona). I opted to hike the medium, less-strenuous route which was 2.3 kilometers long and took approximately one hour to complete. Throughout the hike, there were many opportunities to view the scenic waterfalls and traverse the slippery rocks and trails. Afterwards, I purchased a container of freshly picked cherries for four euros and enjoyed them during the short walk back to the minibus. I then relaxed and reflected on my wonderful day, during the bus ride back home to Altavilla Vicentina.

 

Weekend in Verona

May 21, 2016
Verona, Italy

kathleen lyonnais headshot

Katie Lyonnais; Senior Accounting major; Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC

We started our day with a traditional English breakfast at Hotel Mastoni in Verona, Italy.  Our meal consisted of scrambled eggs, very small hot dogs, and of course, one of my favorite Italian comfort foods: a variety of crescents. After the most important meal of the day, we all gathered in the hotel lobby to depart for Sirmione, Italy. It was very fun to explore the town with Grace, one of my new friends, and all my other classmates. Almost immediately when we arrived to this new city, we toured the castle that overlooked Lake Garda and all of Sirimone. I couldn’t help but smile and take lots of pictures because the water was so beautiful. I have a funny story of water you will hear about soon enough. We passed so many gelato shops that we couldn’t resist, even at 10 in the morning.

Kathleen lyonnais beach view

After satisfying all of our cravings, we continued to walk through the city of Sirimone, and as soon as we smelled the sulfur, we knew we had found the hot springs that the area was known for. Shortly after, we boarded the ferry that took us across the beautiful lake to the town of Garda. There was café close by when we arrived into town. I decided to eat lunch with my “crew” in order to take a break from the sun. My gut was telling me to order a pizza and after agreeing to split one with Grace, it satisfied my craving. After lunch, all of us found a spot on the shore of Lake Garda. Although the water was frigid, most of our group still decided to get in and swim to a nearby floating dock. One of my classmates had the “great idea” of tossing his iPhone in a life proof case to a near by classmate. Long story short, the said classmate now has a broken cellphone for the next four weeks. Moving on to a more positive note, the lake wasn’t like anything you would find in the states. Believe me when I tell you, the “sand” was made up of rocks and sea glass that was EXTREMELY rough on our feet. I was debating wearing cowboy boots so I wouldn’t get my feet hurt.

Ckathleen shorelineontinuing on our journey, we went to Bardolino. The city itself had so much to offer. Grace and I gazed at unique street art, antique items and found a spot to enjoy a refreshing drink. I’m always a sucker for a nice drink. As time flew by, we made our way to Lazise. Upon our arrival, the “crew” walked into the town, found a small wine shop and grabbed a cheaper bottle of wine. Let me be the first to tell you, you get what you pay for with wine in Italy and your girl is balling on a budget right now. Immediately, we realized that we had no way to open our bottles, so we returned to the store and the gentleman was more than happy to assist us with this. I am beginning to think Italian men are much nicer to us single American ladies. Speaking of Italian men, all of us stumbled upon a group of men on a bachelor weekend. What are the odds right? His friends made him dress up as a fisherman and they told us he had to complete many tasks. This seemed to be the trend as there was a woman in Bardolino doing the same thing. After chatting with the men for a while, all of us sat on the side of the lake. Grace and I shared our bottle of wine while we continued to enjoy the quaint town. A cute Italian couple were taking wedding pictures and enjoying some laughs while a family returned from a boat ride across the lake.

On the bus ride home, we were playing throwback music, all singing along to what seemed like a very short ride back to town but was actually an hour. After returning, we got a local favorite street food which consisted of fries in a cone with a dressing, we chose picante sauce. It was a fast, but great weekend in Verona.

kathleen group selfie

Getting Lost in the Floating City

Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Altavilla Vicentina, Italy

Emma Brothers Headshot

Emma Brothers; Senior Marketing and Supply Chain Management Major Hometown: Fuquay- Varina NC

In just a few days, I have fallen in love. Italy is indescribably beautiful and the food inexplicably delicious. Pizza, pasta, and gelato–everything that comes to mind when you hear “Italian food” and it’s all better than you could ever imagine. The buildings are amazing, the architecture breathtaking and that’s only the few Italian places I’ve seen in four days, there is so much more to experience.
We are staying in Altavilla Vicentina, which is a quiet, small town that somewhat reminds me of my hometown. The closest big city to us is Vicenza, about a fifteen-minute train ride away. We have been to a few restaurants here, chatting in terrible Italian with locals who speak wonderful English. In fact, some of our waiters are Facebook friends now (shout out to Pietro and Andrea) because they were so nice and helpful to us clueless Americans.

Yesterday we took an afternoon trip to Venice, which was a very interesting experience. When we first got off the train, you could immediately tell you were in a big Italian city. Tourists were running by with suitcases, merchants lined the streets with roses and knockoff purses, people pushed through and there were signs everywhere booming warnings of pickpockets. It was overwhelming, but once our group stood on the bridge overlooking the Grand Canal, I felt at ease. We were in a beautiful, ancient Italian city. We were surrounded by other people in awe over a place that has awe-struck millions of people for thousands of years.

Emma Brothers Venice Street

Water street in Venice

Emma Brothers Gelato

Italian Gelato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We found a ristorante that sold us on going in by offering “spritz on the house for the Americans!” And I indulged in gnocchi and lots of formaggio. After our bellies were full, we decided to walk all the carbs off. Venice is the place to go if you want to reach your Fitbit steps in less than an hour. Our group watched the other tourists, walked into some churches, drank prosecco, and I bought a gorgeous hand painted Venetian landscape from a local artist.

Emma Brothers group pic

Somehow we ended up at a dead end, realizing that the inevitable had happened: we were lost in Venice. The buildings ran together and the streets all looked the same. I practiced my Italian with shop owners and between their directions and the help of Google Maps, we finally found our way back to the train station. But I would have to say getting lost in a maze of cobblestone and bridges will be one of my most memorable times in Italy. Almost one week down, four more to go. And I’m going to enjoy every second here, la dolce vita. As long as I don’t get lost again!

Exploring Venice

Wednesday May 18, 2016
Altavilla Vicentina, Italy

Megan webb headshot

Megan Webb; Junior; Hometown: Charlotte, NC

On Wednesday May 18,  I stepped off the train and was exposed to Venice, the floating city. My first impression was the impact of color from transitioning to the train station to the architecture surrounding the Grand Canal.  It was a visual filter of the world I had not seen before. At first I was overwhelmed, the group I was with immediately scattered to capture pictures of all the initial beauty.  It did not take long for each of us to go off and explore our own desired route through the city. After crossing over the first bridge of the canal, we decided to get a bird’s eye view to relax our feeling of anxious excitement. Within the first few steps of exploring Venice, I discovered a hotel that was known for its sky lounge. A couple of us took the elevator to the fourth floor on the roof of the hotel to check it out. It overlooked a panoramic view of the Grand Canal and what we thought was a large portion of Venice. Exiting the hotel, we began our journey through the maze of bridges and canals with no sense of direction or specific destination.

 

megan webb Venice water

Steps leading down to a canal

Out of all of the experiences I had, the one with the largest impact on me was the one with the many shops that surrounded the Rialto Bridge.  It was at this moment, when window-shopping was not going to be enough. Behind the storefront displays, the shops were filled with articles of clothing you could not find back home. This discovery was my Achilles heel. However, after the help from my new good friends, I deterred from the materialistic aspect of Venice and began to turn my focus to the rich history. Walking into the church of the Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, my eyes were opened to religious art I had never encountered. I was paralyzed by the artistic detail and the realization that people just like me have the ability to create something so breathtaking.

 

megane webb boat

The view from a Gondola boat ride

After my excursions through multiple churches, I was approached by a Gondolier that was not going to take no for an answer. After bargaining with him on a reasonable price, he took my friend and I on the iconic Venetian experience: a Gondola ride. This adventure beat any leather jacket I could buy. The timing of this could not have been more perfect due to the impeccable viewing of the Venetian infrastructure filtered by the setting sun. The half hour Gondola ride came to an end with what felt like a blink of an eye. As our time was running out, we finished off the day with a boat taxi back to the train station. My journey to Venice taught me to enjoy every moment and appreciate not only its unique beauty, but also the rich culture and history.

 

The Streets of Italy!

May 16, 2016

Altavilla Vicentina, Italy

Patrick Umberger; Senior Finance major Hometown: Garner, North Carolina

Our first day of class in Italy started early around 7:30 am for a complimentary continental breakfast provided by Hotel College Valmarana Morosini, where we are staying at for the next five weeks of our study abroad program.
After eating our complimentary breakfast, we started our first class day with an orientation session about the CUOA Business School. CUOA, which was found in 1957, was one of the first Business Schools in Italy. The main building where CUOA is located, was originally built in the late seventeenth century based on the architectural designs of Palladio. After finishing the orientation, we proceeded into a lecture hall we began to work on our school work for our classes that we taking from 10am until 12:30 pm. Once we were done with our school work for the day, many of us headed onto the public bus network to visit the city of Vicenza, Italy for the rest of the afternoon.

Vicenza, Italy is a very vibrant Italian city. It has a lot of Renaissance Era architecture, including the Piazza dei Signori and the Renaissance Basilica Palladiana. Along with its brilliant architecture, Vicenza also is an economic hub in Italy where it is home to a thriving steel and jewelry industry. While in Vicenza, we had lunch at the local restaurants in the city and looked at the different architecture designs as well as stopping into a few of the local shops.

Patrick Umberger Piazza dei Signori

The Piazza dei Signori

After eating and touring the town of Vicenza, we returned for our welcome dinner provided by CUOA at the hotel in which we are staying at. A traditional Italian cuisine was served that was very delicious! The first course consisted of hors d’oeuvres which included some different small breads and cheeses. Next, the first main course of the meal consisted of a traditional penne pasta dish with small chunks of mozzarella and a tomato sauce on top. After that, the second course consisted of roasted pork with mixed vegetables and potatoes. To close our meal, we were served dessert consisting of a scoop of vanilla sorbet that was topped with sliced strawberries.

The Corso Andrea Palladio street in Vicenza

 

 

I am very excited for the next five weeks here in Altavilla,Vicentina, Italy to not only learn and appreciate their culture, but to also make some new friends and great memories!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Company Trip to Zamperla

May 18, 2016

Altavilla Vicentina

Brooke Bush Headshot

Brooke Bush; Junior Management Major Hometown: Ringwood, NJ

Ciao! I think I’m starting to get the hang of things here in Altavilla. I’ve already become close with so many of my fellow classmates that I’ve never had the chance to meet at ECU. We’re all super excited to dive into this new culture and being here with everyone, I think it has finally hit me that I’ve made it to Italy! I may not be fully unpacked (yet) but the hotel is awesome and the CUOA where we attend class is even more so. The people who work here are not only friendly but have made adjusting so comfortable knowing there’s an obvious language barrier between us. At our ‘unbelievably tasty’ welcome dinner I sat next to one of the coordinators at CUOA. I was able to talk with her and even with our different dialects I enjoyed learning about the certain differences and similarities we have with Europe. Did you know spaghetti with meatballs is pretty much forbidden in Italy? But, all is forgotten because it’s acceptable to have both a glass of red and white wine at dinner.

Brooke Bush building

Colorful Apartment buildings in Altavilla

Waking up so early for class is probably a good thing because then the days are longer and we get to do so much more. We already took an afternoon trip into the city of Vicenza and this morning we had a guest speaker, Ms. Daniela Bassetto, come in and talk to us about Intercultural Management. We learned how important it is establish how certain countries communicate and make business decisions differently based on their culture and “status quo.” She was not only insightful and intelligent but she also made us work together in teams, figuring out the power of distance and authority for countries all around the world. A quick lunch and shot of espresso later, we were off on our first CUOA company visit. On our bus ride over I was so nervous we weren’t going to be able to fit in the streets. Tiny cars zoomed through the streets and colorful small apartments sat right on top of each other. When we started getting close to Zamperla, a designing and manufacturing company that assembles world famous roller coasters and thrill rides for amusement parks all over the world, the landscape changed into a more agricultural setting and vineyards stretched across fields.

Brooke Bush study abroad group

COB Study Abroad students

 

Once we arrived, we were quickly greeted by one of Zamperla’s employees who gave us a tour and talked us through the company’s background and how they operated successfully for over 50 years. I never even thought about the process it takes to make a roller coaster and even more so who was behind it. There’s a whole team, not only consisting of engineers assembling the actual parts but also designers, artists, and managers who make sure they can set themselves apart from their competitors and build lasting relationships with their customers. I now have a deeper appreciation for these huge structures and this company puts everything they have into creating safe and innovative rides to ship out all around the world. I can’t believe it has been three days and I’m already learning and experiencing so much from both a personal and educational standpoint. This journey abroad has really only just begun and I’m so excited to see all the other little treasures Italy has to offer.

Arrived in Italy!

May 15, 2016
Altavilla Vicentina, Italy

Yuexian Hong, MBA student Hometown: Xiamen, China

Twenty-four hours ago, I boarded a plane to Italy with absolutely no clue as to what I would experience in the next five weeks. As a Chinese student who is studying abroad in the United States, I know how challenging it can be when one goes to a new country on the other side of the world, and I am both nervous and anxious. However, studying abroad is not a new experience to me and now I am more prepared to overcome the language barrier (except for the fact that I learned enough English before studying in the States but studied no Italian for this trip!) and adapt to new cultural norms. To me, another huge challenge is being the only international student in the group. The sense of being an “outsider” makes it harder to fit into the group as quickly as I would like. However, challenges are what make life interesting and I am excited to embrace this new adventure. This will be my first time traveling to Europe, and by the completion of this trip, my footprint will have spanned over three continents.

Yuexian Hong vineyard

Vineyard in Altavilla Vicentina

The trip to get to Italy was long and tiring, but it was worth it when I saw the beautiful landscape of mountains, rivers, and vineyards on the way to the hotel. I then started to picture what was waiting for me to explore! It’s a little unfortunate that we arrived in Italy in a “bad time”—in the early morning, which meant we needed to fight very hard against sleepiness to get rid of jet lag.

Yuexian Hong classroom building

Classroom Building

Although the exhaustion from the long trip began to weigh on us, our level of excitement managed to take control over our bodies. We went out and explored the beautiful town in the rain, enjoying our little Italian walk! Another Italian way of life we had the chance to experience on our first day is the well-known “work life balance” —the local restaurants won’t open until 7 p.m. after their lunch break!!  Although it may have seemed like a “disaster” to us at first, as we were so hungry and excited to taste the local delicacies, it was also a good starting point, at least for me, who is always living on the run, to slow down and enjoy life.