Author: Marisa Zamudio - "16 Things That I Wish I Knew Before I Studied Abroad at CIMBA"

If you’re a business student at the University of Iowa and thinking about studying abroad, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of (and may be considering) the CIMBA program. In fall of 2015 I decided (kind of on a whim honestly) to go to Paderno Del Grappa, Treviso, Italy for three months.  January 16, 2016 my flight took off. Looking back now, there’s so much that I didn’t know about the program when I decided to take the trip. Here are a few of the things that I wish I would have known before making my decision to go abroad.

  1. PDG is a small town.

The population of Paderno Del Grappa is 2,204 people and is 14 sq miles. That being said, there is not a whole lot to do in the town itself. That’s not to say that there are not things to keep you busy. Instituti Filipin has sports courts (basketball, soccer, volleyball) and a sports bar on campus. There are several bigger (still not BIG) towns/cities nearby. Venice is only an hour away. I’m not saying PDG is small to discourage anyone from going, just don’t go in thinking that you’ll be staying in a huge Italian city.

  1. They aren’t exaggerating when they say they eat pasta for every meal.

While at CIMBA you stay in an old Italian boarding school during the week. You eat food prepared in a cafeteria (unless you go to a restaurant – AL SOLE! – or order food to be delivered. At every single mealtime (excluding breakfasts) there is the option to get pasta and “red sauce.” It’s not the only option, but it’s always available and pasta dishes are served on a regular basis.

  1. You’ll probably gain weight.
    See #2. Your diet will consist of carbs, carbs, more carbs, and lots of vino. And EVERYTHING is cooked in oil. Some sort of green veggie on the menu for dinner? What it really means is that vegetable… soaked in oil. There is a gym on campus and making the decision to work out will, obviously, change from person to person. But I came a few pounds heavier after living off of pasta and bread for 3 months.
  1. Sign up for LIFE. And follow through with it.
    No, I can’t describe it to you. Yes, during other groups’ sessions you may be tempted to drop… DO NOT DO IT. Take my word for it. Trust the process. Go through with it. You’ll come out knowing something new about yourself and it’s a great way to start bonding with your classmates.
  1. You get (maybe too) close with the other students.
    Like I said before, PDG is a small town and you’re living in an Italian boarding school. During the week you’re pretty much surrounded by the same 100 people every hour that you’re awake. You most likely have at least one class with everyone. You eat at the same time. These people become your best friends and your family for these two months. There’s probably going to be drama… someone will hook up with someone that they shouldn’t, two people may not get along, someone may go through a bad breakup or family emergency (EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE HAPPENED SURING MY SEMESTER). These are all good things… even the bad. The bond that you leave PDG with is incredible. I can honestly say that a lot of the people that I studied abroad with know me better than anyone who I’ve gone to college or maybe even high school with. You get close. Really. Close.
  1. Budget. Budget.
    It didn’t happen to me, but I know some people who went all out for the month and a half and ended up spending the last 4 or 5 weekends not traveling at all. Going all out for a thing or two may not be a bad thing, but if you have a limit on the amount that you can spend recognize that. It would be much better to ask your friends to find a cheaper hostel or AirBnB for a couple of weekends than going with it and having to sit and watch while everyone goes to fun new places while you can’t afford it.
  1. It rains. A LOT.
    They told me that it was the rainy season in the spring… but I wasn’t ready for HOW rainy it was going to be. So definitely being an umbrella, rain coat, and rain boots. They may be clunky, but it was rainy and/or snowy in most places that I traveled except for in the last couple of weeks so rain boots definitely saved me on multiple occasions.
  1. Things move slower in Italy.
    Washer machine broken? Give it at LEAST 3-4 days before it’ll be fixed. Printer down? Probably 2-3 days. Things get done, they just take more time. It’s hard to adjust to at first, but just do your best to be patient. Lifestyles in Europe are different and there’s nothing more annoying than that kid that complains constantly because ONE printer isn’t working. You’re in Europe… stop complaining.
  1. Tabachhi sandwiches save lives.
    Diego is a saint. You don’t know what this means yet… but you will. There’s a tabachi less than a block away from the school and the sandwiches there are basically famous at CIMBA. Make sure you go there and put in your order on Thursday afternoon to make it easier on Diego and his wife. When you’re on a 4 hour train ride or have a layover nothing tastes better than one of Diego’s sandwiches.
  1. Three months flies by.
    A big draw of the program to me was the length of it. I thought that 3 months was the perfect amount of time to be away running around Europe. The first half of the semester seemed to drag on forever to me. But then I blinked and all of the sudden I was waiting in the airport waiting for my flight back home. Some students stay to travel for a week or two after the program ends, but I decided not to. I still think that 3 months is a good amount of time to be there, but I wish I would have taken that one or two weeks after just to keep the adventure going a little longer.
  1. You will get homesick.
    It’s not an everyday thing, or even an every week thing. But there will be at LEAST (probably more than) one day where you want to see your family, eat American food (I craved wings for the full last month I was there), and cuddle with your pet. Get Viber, use Facetime, and don’t be afraid to talk to people at CIMBA about missing home – chances are they miss parts of being home too. For the last probably 2-3 weeks of the program 90% of all conversations were about the foods that we missed back home…. Wings, burgers, steak…. It really helped a lot to know that other people felt the same way.
  1. School is still important.
    Classes there are easier than they are at Iowa, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require work and studying. Not to mention, CIMBA has a strict policy for missing classes. It may seem like a drag at the time, but it’s worth it. You’re paying the money to STUDY abroad, passing your classes is pretty important. There are 2 extended travel weekends and a weeklong spring break throughout the program. My best advice on this is to put the effort in during the week. You can easily get everything from your classes done during the week, and doing that allows you to really enjoy your weekends.
  1. There will be tears on leaving day.
    Many. Tears. When I went we had 2 waves of buses headed from the school to the airport for flights home and elsewhere. I can’t even put into words the emotions that I felt when those buses were driving away with so many friends on them. Honestly even writing this is making me emotional (8 months later… yeah I know I’m an emotional mess). So basically just mentally prepare for crying and maybe bring some tissues or something.
  1. Everywhere. Possible.
    Don’t stick to what you know. Ask the people who work in the CIMBA offices for recommendations. Go to small town. Visit those big, iconic landmarks. If there’s a way to get there… do it. There’s a good chance that you’ll never be able to travel all around Europe with so little responsibilities ever again, so take advantage of that.
  1. It’s okay to stay in PDG for a weekend too.
    PDG may be a small town, but I HIGHLY recommend staying there for a weekend. CIMBA offers the ability to go paragliding, if you stay on the right weekend you can hike up Monte Grappa (one of my favorite memories from my trip), it’s a good chance to catch up on sleep, and the wifi is SO MUCH BETTER when everyone else is gone. Missing one weekend away won’t ruin your trip, and you’ll feel so rejuvenated and ready to go the next weekend.
  1. Wanderlust is VERY real.

Once you’re home you will be bit by the travel bug. The first week or so home you’ll be happy to be surrounded by family and friends and will probably be a bit relieved. But very soon after that you’ll be anxiously waiting for your next adventure. You’ll see pictures of places outside of the US and crave the next cultural experience. You’ll see places in the US and want to experience their beauty. Wanderlust is real. Embrace it.

Author: Rhea Burns - "How to Handle a Large Lecture Class"

For many first year students, the thought of attending a large class with over 200 students sounds terrifying. However, there are many ways to use this size of a lecture to your benefit! I came from a high school with a graduating class size under 200 students, but transitioning to Iowa’s large lecture-style classes was easy.

Here are a few ways to make the transition from a high school sized class to a lecture hall:

  • Consistently sit in the front few rows of the lecture hall
  • Take notes by hand so not to get distracted on your laptop
  • Keep your phone in your backpack while the professor is lecturing
  • Always attend your discussion section
  • Introduce yourself to your professor (and TA) during their office hours at the beginning of the semester, even if you do not have a question to ask
  • Keep up with the homework
  • Ask questions!

It isn’t always easy to make yourself attend every class and discussion section, especially early in the morning. But by simply attending class and keeping yourself involved and engaged with the professor and the content, will bring you one step closer to success in a lecture hall!

Introducing yourself to a professor is always important as well. I was reluctant to do so my first year at Iowa because I was worried professors would be too busy for an introduction of a student. I am glad that I eventually learned, this is not true! It is the professor’s job to get involved with the students and make sure they are learning to the best of their ability, they love to help students. Additionally, many professors on campus are conducting research or might need help with a project they are working on for the University. Last spring, I introduced myself to one of my professors and we talked about our interests related to the class. This led to her offering me a research internship on an upcoming project. It really pays off to get to know them!

Lastly, as hard as it is to put our phones and social media away, it can be very beneficial. Keeping those distractions away will help you focus on the material and discussion going on in class. Overall it will lead to a better understanding of the content, and a better grade!

Author: Alex Pribyl - Shay - "How to Make Finals Week Less 
  1. Plan. And Plan.  Make a list allocating each hour of your time.  Whether Micro needs 3 entire days worth of studying or you are making time to unwind and take a half an hour Netflix break, planning my days ahead of time makes me feel more organized.  And I am always more productive when I feel organized.  I almost trick myself into think I have my life together when I use my planner!  Best part about using a planner is that you don’t have to follow it down to the minute!  Plans change so remember not to stress out if things don’t go according to plan!
  2. Remember to take study breaks! Some of my personal favorite break ideas include:
    • Going to get hot chocolate (best spots in town include Starbucks, duh, JavaHouse, Caribou Coffee, Yotopia’s Build Your Own Hot Coco Bar, High Ground Café, Nodo Café, Bread Garden and TeaSpoons in the Mall). A walk and some fresh air could do us all some good!  And bearing the cold is well worth it for a hot chocolate from any of these fine establishments.
    • Exercise! It’s a great way to get out any stress and hey, I think we are in a need of a couple extra endorphins during this hectic time.  Whether you want to do a group Zumba class or Body Pump it out the Rec Center has classes all week long.  Another great option is Hot House Yoga.  A single class for full time students is $12, but make sure to bring your yoga mat, a towel and plenty of water because renting will cost a few extra dollars!
    • Bake! Go to Pinterest for some inspiration.  Personal favorites include puppy chow, brownies and scotcharoos!
    • And what list would be complete without Netflix! December has a whole new lineup of classics and Netflix originals.  But you can never go wrong with The Office or Parks and Recreation.  Again, just a few personal favorites.
  3. Get together with other people in your class to study together. Whether you are getting questions answered or walking a peer through a concept or problem, the review will be beneficial regardless.
  4. Get to your study spaces early! With nearly the whole campus cramming study spaces can become sparse.  Reserve rooms now while they last!
  5. And my personal favorite eat FREE food! The amount of free food offered by the University during finals week is limitless (well almost).

Now I must stop procrastinating my studying and throw up the deuces.   Good luck to everyone!  Remember to take a deep breath and pick C if you don’t know the answer!  Signing off but peep the following links for even more great tips!