When in Rome

This weekend we headed to Rome. We got on a train Thursday and made it to Rome for dinner. We found a restaurant by our hostel. A waiter was standing outside and the Italians pretty much give you no choice but to eat at their restaurant if you walk past them. So in we went. The waiter and food were both phenomenal. At the end he brought us some special chocolates because his mom ,who was the baker at the restaurant, told him to. He also would not let us leave until he wrote a special message in Italian on all of our place mats.My message said “amore mio” which translates to “my love” in English. And after I took this picture he then wrote his phone number and told me to call him. (I won’t be doing this by the way)

message on placemat

me and waitor

Friday we went to Vatican City. For breakfast I had the best chocolate chip danish I will ever have in my life. If you had tasted it you would realize it was worthy of mentioning in this post. Anyways, we had skip the line Vatican tickets thank goodness so we went right on in. We only went through the Sistine chapel three times. This was only because the first time through we realized we missed the most iconic part, the Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the chapel. So the guard made fun of us but told us a short cut to get back in. Next, we wanted to find St. Peter’s Basilica but the easiest way to get there is through the Sistine Chapel so in we went again. The same guard gave us directions while laughing. Finally we found the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica.

on top of st peters basilica

We climbed all 551 stairs to get to the top and it was so beautiful. The time we spent up there had to be my favorite part of the entire weekend.

me and em in front of art in vatican

That night we saw the Trevi fountain. Of course, we made our wishes and tossed in our euro coins. Now let’s hope the wish will come true! After getting gelato at the fountain we walked back to our hostel for the roof top party.

trevi fountain no ppl

Saturday, we woke up and rode the metro to the colosseum and met up with two girls from Clemson who were studying in Rome. The colosseum was cool because the floor had fallen through so the part of the bottom you see is actually the tunnel system that was below. This day we also saw the Pantheon, which was a Roman governmental building. It was now time for lunch so we went to an Italian farmer’s market. In the square of the market is a famous pizza restaurant we ate at. I had potato pizza and it was without a doubt the best pizza in the world. Potato pizza may sound odd but don’t judge it until you have tried it, trust me! While I am on the subject of food let me just talk about the best rigatonni carbonara with bacon in it I had at this little hole in the wall restaurant for dinner.


Then following dinner I had Biscotti gelato and it was so good we went back for more after we finished one cup. No shame really.

Our last day in Rome consisted of revisiting the Trevi fountain during the day, canolis, and Eatily. Eatily is an Italian based company but they have them all over the world, they even have them in Chicago and New York. Think of it as a Wal Mart and Sam’s Club but 499750 billion times bigger and four stories tall. Now we did go to the biggest one in the world but it was awesome. I am not one to be impressed by grocery stores but let me tell you this is not just a grocery store. They have samples of everything. And for each section there is restaurant type seating where you can order food and eat it on the spot. I had a sample of fresh grilled salmon, cheese from the cheese man’s goat he has at his house, pasta that was made right in front of me, and risotto that was to die for.

While we were doing this two of girls in my group actually had the opportunity to go to mass and see the pope in Vatican City. I did not have tickets but it would have been a great experience. They got a video of the pope riding by and he looked right at them and waved.

Sadly, our time in Rome was over but the adventures were not. On the train ride home, our train stopped on the tracks because of a “track failure.” I still don’t know what that meant but thankfully we made it back to the CIMBA campus safe.

me in front of colosseum

It is now time for my final week here and I have absolutely no idea how this is possible. It feels like I arrived just yesterday but in reality I have been gone for almost an entire month! I am so excited for what is to come though because at the end of this week after finals I am headed to London!

Here I go, ready to take on another week and making the most out of every moment!

the 7 of us at dinner




Reflections on Week Three

Dear week three,

Thank you for bringing many fun adventures and helping me cope with being 5,000 miles from home. They say the third week abroad is the most difficult but if you can make it through then you can do anything. Luckily, there is really no time to be home sick because we are constantly taking advantage of the wonders of daily Italian life. This week on campus I went to a local coffee/beer brewery. It was fascinating, we were able to see the process of how both are made and even do some taste testing. Who says school can’t be fun, right? For my other class I went to a nearby museum of a sculptor named Antonio Canova. There we got to see the studio where he did his work and the house in which he lived in the 1700’s.

I also had a wonderful guest speaker. It was a man from Gambia, Africa whom is only 28 years old. He came to Italy as a refugee after being mistreated in his own country and in Libya. He left his own village as a 21 year old. I can not imagine going through the things he told us. It was learning experience to be able to hear of his hard journey to Europe searching for a safe haven. I imagine that it is not easy to tell stories like this but they need to be told to bring awareness. This speaker was for my global consumer class in which we are studying China and Sub Saharan Africa. China is already a major place for business but Africa is slowly rising so it is important to understand their culture, laws, and government structure which ultimately leads to the Africa that exists today.

It made me extra grateful for everything I have and to not take the U.S. for granted. But, on the other hand we should be trying to help in any way we can. In this class, it was also discussed that while it is good for Western countries to send money and supplies over to Africa. In a way, it is also hurting them because we are taking away business from Africans who may want to be producing and selling the same items we are shipping over. Take TOMS for example, while they are a great company with a great cause, it may be hurting a local African shoe makers business. It is difficult to determine a happy medium between helping too much and helping too little. Our speaker said that the best way we could help Africa is by education. They are eager to learn so that they can better themselves they just do not have the resources.

Overall, I am learning a lot inside and more outside the classroom. Being in a foreign country really teaches you that you cannot control every situation. It has been important to know that when things do not go as planned to just take a deep breath and move on. Things have worked out well so far despite missed trains, train track failures, bad weather, and being very lost. Also, never take for granted a paper map and a compass, you never know when they may come in handy. For us, it saved us a lot of extra aimless walking in Rome.

That is all for now. I could type for days but I should probably get back to studying for my finals!!!



Time is flying by

Bonjourno amici,

When they say that time flies when you are having fun, they really mean it. I cannot believe I have been in Italy for almost three weeks now. It feels like I just arrived yesterday.

This past week, week two, was super busy filled with fun, learning experiences and midterms. Somehow I survived and am still loving it here. The whole pasta for every meal thing is getting to be too much to handle but I guess things could be worse ūüôā

For my school field trips this week we went to a company called Kiwiny, which makes drinks out of nothing but kiwis. It was actually fascinating to see how the whole process works. He told us that one of their drinks is 84% kiwi and 16% apple, that was just kind of crazy to us. We got to test them and I actually liked it, weird for me because I do not usually like healthy foods. Anyways, for my other class we went to a pottery place and we had the privilege of talking with the manager of the factory who showed us around. It was cool because they design some of the dishes for Williams Sonoma and Tiffany & Co. etc.

Enough about the school part….After class on my afternoon off I went up to Mount Grappa which is the mountain that I can see out of my bedroom window here. This is where some of the battles between Austria and Italy ¬†during World War 1 took place. There were monuments and an Austrian flag up at the top. It was cool to be on the big mountain and just think back in time to when soldiers were fighting on the very ground that we were standing on. We were also astounding that they climbed up those mountains because most of us were having a hard time breathing. There were actually clouds where we were.

This weekend was a long weekend. We were able to leave campus on Thursday afternoon after classes to travel. My roomate, Lexi, and I decided to go by train to Verona, Milan and Florence.

Our first stop was Verona, the city of love, where Shakespeare got his inspiration for Romeo and Juliet. After our first train ride that took us to Venice, we knew we only had a few minutes to make our next one that would take us to Verona. We ran as fast as we could so we would not miss that train. We found the train, hopped on, got seated only to realize that we were on the wrong train and it was headed to Rome. Panic set in immediately. However, everything worked out because we hopped off at the first stop and luckily caught our train which was making the same stop. When we finally made it to Verona we walked to find our bed and breakfast and along the way we saw a beautiful old castle called Castlevecchio. It was built in 1354, had a mote and everything! In Verona we saw went to casa di giulietta (Juliet’s house) and had a delicious dinner that night.

Then we were off to Milan. The Milan train station was breathtaking compared to the others we had experienced. It was huge! We rode a double decker bus which was amazing and had always been a dream of mine. The bus was a great decision because there was a huge soccer finals game happening the day we were there so the city was full of people. Milan was interesting because it seemed very much like an American city such as New York or Chicago. My favorite thing we saw in Milan was the cathedral…it looked like something out of a movie. Sadly, we only got to spend a day in Milan so it was time to head back to the train station to head to Florence.

In Florence we were able to get passes that got us in to all the major attractions. We were able to see the Piazza Del Duomo which contained the basilica and cathedral. Both were breathtaking. I mean we turned the corner to walk down the street they were on and our jaws dropped…that doesn’t happen often when looking at buildings. The inside of these buildings were gorgeous. I could spend hours in them and not ever see all of them. Later that evening we walked to Ponte Vecchio (this literally translates as “old bridge”). This old bridge has shops built on it and we watched a woman who was doing a pinocchio puppet show! Florence was full of history, beautiful architecture, and the best gelato yet.

Here I go into week three of four of my adventure. I do miss my family but new friends make being away from home for so long more than worth it!

Quote of the week: “And then I realized adventures are the best way to learn.”


mount grappa erin and I .JPG

Erin and I on top of Mount Grappa 

Verona castle drawbridge .JPG

Castle draw bridge in Verona 

pasta in verona .JPG

train station in milan .JPG

duomo .JPG

Cinque Terre

This past weekend was the most fun ever. Cinque Terre was about a 5 hour bus ride from campus. It is an area in the Liguria region of Italy which is on the North West coast. Cinque Terre is actually made up of 5 small villages: Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Manirola, Vernazza, and Monterosso. It was so beautiful and everything that I imagined this country would be. My group stayed in Riomaggiore at a little apartment at the very top of the mountain. It was quite a hike to get up there but once we saw the sunset it was well worth it.

erin and i in cinque terre

Once we were settled in we got ready for a nice authentic Italian dinner. The area is known for their pesto! Following dinner we were planning on heading to Monterosso to meet with some other students from our group but soon after we bought our tickets we met some nice Canadians who informed us that the train was almost done running for the night. We did not get to Monterosso as planned but everything worked out in our favor. As we were walking back to our apartment we ran across a little bar so we walked in. We ended up meeting a retired chemist from London and he even performed the periodic table song for us!

The next morning we all woke up to the bustling little village which looked completely different than the night before with all the shops open. We had the best crepes ever for breakfast then it was off to catch the ferry so we could explore the other villages. The ferry ride was amazing because we were able to get a panoramic view of all 5 villages of Cinque Terre. We got off the ferry at Monterosso and went to the rocky beach. The weather could not have been any more perfect. It was super sunny and warm. The water was absolutely freezing cold but that did not stop me from jumping all the way in. A good day at the beach is my favorite and to be able to have the opportunity to have one in Italy just felt surreal! We really did realize throughout this day that the best things happen when you are least expecting the. Unplanned adventures are the best ones. We ended our beach day with gelato and headed to the train to go see Vernazza. Vernazza was my favorite village because of all the cute boutiques and atmosphere. We met one store owner who was from California and she moved to Cinque Terre three years ago and opened up a store. She was a really cool person.

cinque terre with the 6In Vernazza we ran into some of our CIMBA friends and they told us about a castle that you could go up in and see everything. (Castles seem to be everywhere in Italy). We went up the spiral staircase into the castle and it was so high up. My fear of heights really got me on this one I was standing with a wide stance away from the edge at the beginning but eventually warmed up to it. After spending time in the castle it was time to go back to our apartment and get ready for the evening. 

We went to a fancy sea food restaurant where I ordered a fried seafood entree. It was the most interesting meal I have had in my life by far. Everything on my plate was…very fresh. Everything still had eyes and its whole body for that matter. I was proud of myself for venturing out of my shrimp cocktail comfort zone but I don’t know if it will happen again. Following dinner came the fun stuff! We went back to the Vertical Bar tonight with a bunch of other students. We met people from Spain, Croatia, Malaysia, and Australia. It so crazy how much you can talk to people even when you don’t speak the same language!

vertical bar


Week One

It has been such a fun week I honestly don’t even have words to describe how amazing this experience has been. I have only been here for a week and I have already met so many fun new people from all over the world.

Day one: We arrived into Paderno Del Grappa and I could feel the excitement in the bus as we drove closer and closer to Mount Grappa. Upon arrival we were assigned our rooms and went to orientation. The view from my dorm room is so pretty, you can see the whole little town and all the way to the top of Mount Grappa.

instituto filippin

dorm view cimba

Day two: Today was our first day of classes. I am taking Global Consumer and Entrepreneurial Strategy. After classes were over we had pasta for lunch of course. Every afternoon there is either a free time trip or a field trip for classes. Today I went to the tiny, posh medieval town called Asolo, it is also known as “the city of a hundred horizons” because of the breathtaking views from anywhere you stand in the city. At the top of the city there are castle ruins with windows that you can look out to see over Italy. I was shocked by an electric fence that was sitting on the window of the castle. That was quite a shock, literally. It all turned out alright though we had some recovery wine and gelato, yummy! Later that night we rode a bus to a nearby town that has a mall called Castlecucco. The mall had a grocery store in it so we got some Italian snacks to bring back to the dorm room.


Day three: I had class in the morning with a field trip in the afternoon. The field trip was for my Entrepreneurship class and my teacher is native to the area so he took us on a company tour of GRIsport, an Italian shoe company. It was really cool we got to see every part of the shoe making process starting with the testing of the leather all the way to where the shoes go for shipment. Following our tour we walked to the city center where the Giro Di Italia just happened to be passing through.  I did not know what this is but apparently it is the second biggest bike race in the world just underneath the Tour De France so it was a big deal. After cheering on all the bikers me and my roommate, Lexi, went to the cute pastry shop down the street where we got some yummy treats and practiced our Italian. We kind of butchered it but people tend to understand.

Day four: Today I went inside the¬†bank down the street for the first time. Man oh man did we play some charades and draw pictures in there in order to explain to the bank teller what we needed. It was a bit ridiculous and made us wish we had brushed up on our Italian a little more before coming! And after we spent all this time trying our best to use our Italian and act out what we needed the man told us the bank was closed…Later that afternoon we went on a field trip back to Asolo for Global Consumer.

Day five: FRIDAY!!!! Today is the day we go on our very first weekend trip and my group decided to get a bus to Cinque Terre!!!! We are so excited for what this weekend has in store for us!

Ciao for now, Emily




The Adventure Begins

Well, here I go. Just a little girl from Arkansas going to explore the big world and unfamiliar places for five whole weeks. Who would have ever thought?! I sure will miss my family and I am so grateful to them for allowing me to have this experience. I love you momma, daddy, SJ, and Tucker bud. And what an awesome surprise I got when walking into the airport — thank you for being such sweet friends who are more like family Reiner’s and Dorsey’s. So we made our flight on time (after accidentally trying to get on the wrong plane at the wrong gate of course) but we made it! I couldn’t be more excited and shocked at the same time that this is really happening. Of course, with all the excitement comes nerves but already having sweet travel friends sure helps! (shoutout to Sophia and Rachel). Today we explored Venice, ate some pizza and Gelato of course, and eventually got used to the pigeons joining us for dinner. When looking at our dinner menus we were not sure what to order because we thought there were so many ingredients in each pizza but really, the words were just translated into different languages…rookie mistake…but hey give us a break we have been awake for over 24 hours now. After eating we walked around the quaint little town built on water. While walking around this nice Italian man with roses handed us all roses that he said were free. Boy, did he lie, we walked away and he chased us asking for a tip…hint: don’t believe the man when he says “free.” Speaking of free, in some places you have to pay to use the restroom which is very different! Other than a few expected mishaps we are really getting this Italian stuff, we even figured out the confusing bus system! It’s such a beautiful place! emily on bridge in venice .JPGgelato in veniceclothes hanging on line in venicerachel, sophia, emily at xna to venicepizza in venice

Tomorrow we venture to Paderno Del Grappa, a little town North of Venice that we will call home for the next few weeks. We will have class 4 days a week and the weeks to travel. After 4 weeks of classes I will be traveling with two other girls that are in my program. I cannot wait for all that is ahead because I know it will be an adventure of a lifetime!!! I will try my best to keep this blog updated so keep following more more to come! Ciao for now!