Tag Archives: Italy

The Culture of a Line

A few weeks ago I played Four Square for the first time in probably 20 years. All the kids were done with their homework so we headed out to the playground. It started with just 4 of us but within 15 minutes we had 20 kids playing the game ranging from 5-years-old to 15.  To me it was amazing that the older kids had no problem playing with the little ones. They even gave the smallest ones second chances so they wouldn’t have to get out so fast.

The only problem that came up during the game was waiting in line. No one wanted to wait their turn and if someone even stepped out of line to throw a candy wrapper away, their place was lost and they were forced to go to the end or fight to get their spot back. I never once had to referee the game but I ended up settling disputes about the line for the entire hour we played.

As I waited in line for an hour and half to vote last week, I had plenty of time to contemplate the cultural aspects of waiting in line. Behind me was a gentleman who continuously got out of line to talk on the phone, but the strangers around him let him back in each time. In Italy, I doubt that would have ever happen. In fact, from my experience, there would be no line. There would just be a herd of people who would eventually funnel their way into the door. It reminded me just how drastically different the concept of time and efficiency is my beloved Italy compared to my hometown of Oklahoma City.

Yep…this was my election line

I’m curious now if the problem of waiting in line for Four Square was an age issue or a cultural one.   Are these kids who came to the US from Iraq, Myanmar, Honduras, and Sudan taking on the impatience of American culture or just being kids who want to hurry up and play the game? It’s a question that I believe I’ll have to ponder on for a while, but in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy another game of Four Square.

Say Queso!

While in Minnesota with family and friends, I was in charge of bringing a craft for the kids. Ranging between the ages of 2 and 9, I wanted to come up with a fun idea that incorporated culture but that everyone could participate. So after a trip to Michael’s, I decided to do a photo booth but the kids would make their own props. I came prepared with Venetian masks, Mexican sombreros, and word bubbles with international greetings for the kids to decorate. In the end, both the adults and the kids enjoyed our international craft time.

If you want to host your own internationally themed photo both, here’s what you need:

  • Black plastic masks
  • Feathers
  • Pom-poms
  • Glitter glue
  • Decorative duct tape
  • Construction paper
  • Wooden dowels
  • Headbands
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • White sheet for back drop
  • Camera

Abroad Blog of the Week: Mauled by Europe

Have you ever traveled with little ones? Then you will love this Abroad Blog of the Week. Jesse and Liz of Mauled by Europe have taken on the adventure of moving to Italy for three months for Jesse to do a design internship. What makes this adventure even more fun is that they are doing it with their two little boys who are both under the age of three. So far the couple has survived several flights, car rides, and after a stop in Denmark for a wedding, they are just now getting settled in Italy. If you are planning travels with toddlers you should definitely check out their post on sleeping with a baby on vacation and flying with kids. In addition to great posts on kid travel, you’ll also enjoy Mauled by Europe’s daily thoughts on culture, food, and living abroad. I was lucky enough to catch up with Liz via email and get some great advice on how to plan a three-month international move. Be sure to read our interview!

How did you go about setting up your life (housing, transportation, etc) in Italy while you were still in the States?

We searched all over the internet for furnished rental by owner and we came across one on airbnb.com that we thought felt cozy. It wasn’t the cheapest housing option but with two kids coming along too we wanted it to be comfortable and have everything we would need. Jesse is going to see about using a bike to get to work. It’s only 3 miles away on the map but we’re going to play it by ear when we get there and maybe he’ll need to rent a scooter? I guess we’ll see.

After your recent cross-continental flight with your two little ones, do you have any tips for success you’d give to traveling parents?

On our trip from Chicago to Copenhagen we packed a small rolling suitcase with diapers and toys and food. But we had to put it in the overhead compartment which you really don’t want to fumble around and grab it down a billion times. Now on our trip yesterday from Copenhagen to Bologna we only brought our small carry on backpack/diaper bag which fit under the seat in front of you. Sooo much nicer when you wanted to keep going in for food and milk and such. Also, even with the liquid restrictions you can bring in stuff for your kids like milk and such.
Also, about an hour into the trip, Crosby (our youngest) was so cranky and I started freaking out inside. I was standing by the bathrooms then in the bathroom while he cried and whined. I was thinking to myself, “Oh my gosh, I am going to have to hold a squirming crying baby in the bathroom for 7 more hours.” But if you just wait it out he’ll soon get tired.

How is your Italian?

We know zero Italian! We both took spanish in school but are nowhere near fluent, but we can pick up a few words. We’re hoping that this trip will give us, and more than anything our kids, a chance to pick up the language. We are going to try to get our almost 3-year-old into a Carpi preschool. Hopefully when we get back home in November we can keep Italian lessons going to give him an edge with learning a language.

Do you have any must-dos while you are living in Carpi?

My husband is going to be focusing on working which will be interesting going into a new job across the world. Interesting and very stressful! We both want to really learn how to eat and relax like an Italian. It also would be interesting to see child rearing differences between America and Italy/Europe. A few weeks before we left I quit my job so my husband could take this opportunity. So, I am looking forward to learning how to be a stay-at-home mom for the first time but also a stay-at-home mom in Italy!

 What advice would you give someone considering internships abroad?

When Jesse was looking for an internship abroad we literally googled “design firms abroad” and then applied to a ton of internships in really cool places and some not so interesting places all over Europe. Our first hope was to get one in Italy and then somehow he got this amazing internship in Italy. We’ll have to tell you more advice once he starts working. I know a lot of places in Europe have strict working restrictions and laws. Some where they can’t hire outside of citizens or ones where they can’t offer internships. We are also going into this whole adventure with the mindset that we’re not really sure what we’ll get out of the living/working in Italy. But as long as we just remember that this our chance to do something different and change the way we think on a daily basis, then the trip will be worth it in the end.

Singing Her Praises

As the medals start coming in, I’ve been trying to pay attention to the anthems as the Olympians take the podium. After the Italian team beat my Americans in men’s archery, I realized this weekend that I had never really heard (or maybe just never paid attention to) the Italian anthem before. So thanks to YouTube, I found a version with both Italian and English subtitles.

As I read the words of “Il Canto degli Italiani”, I realized a commonality between many of the European and American anthems. In our American “Star Spangled Banner” we sing of our flag still standing as we defeated the Brits and achieved freedom. In the U.K. “God Save the Queen” describes crushing the Scots. For the French in “La Marseillaise”, they call their citizens to bear arms and stand up against tyrants. And for the Italians, they claim victory as their personal slave and promise to die for Rome and country. It seems that our anthem writers were all pretty obsessed with our war-time wins and liked to sing our praises.

Reading through the national songs made me wonder, if we were to re-write our national anthem in 2012, how would it be different? Although I can’t speak for every country, I feel pretty confident to say that the Americans would definitely change it up. We would sing of the American dream, equality for all, and patriotic pride. In fact, if it were up for a vote, we may just adopt “I’m Proud to be an American” and call it a day.

But yet, as Missy Franklin took the podium the other day and they played the “Star Spangled Banner” over the aquatic center, my last thought was of changing the anthem, but rather pure pride in my fellow countrywoman. And from the looks of things, “God Save the Queen”, “La Marseillaise”, and “Il Canto degli Italiani” are invoking the same feelings. I suppose its best not to fix what’s broke but I’m curious to hear other’s opinion.

Happy Olympics!

House Hunters International

Fresh off of house hunting in Oklahoma, I thought it might be fun to do a little perusing of the international real estate market. We can all dream, right?!

Perugia, Italy

Bed: 6
Bath: 5
Asking Price: 700,000 Euros
Listing Agent: Zetta Group

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Bed: 2
Bath: 3
Asking Price: $289,000
Listing Agent: Coldwell Banker

Da Lat, Vietnam

Bed: 6
Bath: 6
Asking Price: $350,000
Listing Agent: Move & Buy Vietnam

List, Germany

Bed: 8
Bath: unknown
Asking Price: 2,500,000 Euros
Listing Agent: EREN

Dubai, UAE

Bed: 3
Bath: 2.5
Asking Price: AED 2,100,000
Listing Agent: Better Homes

Patagonia, Argentina

Bed: 6
Bath:8
Asking Price: $3,500,000
Listing Agent: Sotheby’s

Villa Marigot, St. Lucia

Bed: 6
Bath: 7
Asking Price: $1,975,000
Listing Agent: Altman Rela Estate

Becoming a Study Abroad Advisor

When I tell people what I do for a living, I usually get one of two responses:

  1. What is a Study Abroad Advisor?
  2. That is the coolest job in the world.

I tend to prefer the second response as I 100% agree. I am living my dream job. How many people at the age of 30 can really say that?

I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a Study Abroad Advisor; in fact I doubt many people grow up with that goal. My path was round about. I started pre-med, switched to pre-law, then contemplated getting an MBA and finally decided to get a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. But even then, I still didn’t think about being a Study Abroad Advisor.  Nope…I wanted to be Greek Life Director. I had just graduated from college, had accepted a job with my international sorority as a leadership consultant and planned to go to graduate school so I could advise fraternity men and sorority women for the rest of my days.  At least that’s what I thought, until one day when I was in Italy.

After studying abroad twice with my Italian professor, she asked me to be her program assistant for the summer after I graduated. My job consisted of counting to 40 a lot (40 students on the program), buying tickets, enforcing quiet hours, etc., and in return I got to be in Italy for 8 weeks for free. Best job ever. At the end of every program, my Italian professor took our group to the Aeolian Islands to get some rest and relaxation before final exams. It is one of my favorite places in the world; I love the black volcanic sand and swimming in underwater craters. It is a true paradise. It is also the location of one of the most significant moments in my life. I was standing on the docks with my Italian professor one evening after dinner and I remember her saying, “Elise, I just don’t think you’ll be happy working with fraternities and sororities for the rest of your life. I really think you should consider international education.”

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Vulcano, Italy – one of my favorite places in the world and where I first contemplated a career in international education

While I didn’t think much of it at the moment, her words resound in my head still today. As I started my job with the sorority, I quickly realized she was right. It wasn’t fulfilling. I wasn’t inspired.  Six months into my job, I was headed to Argentina to visit my best friend and I felt troubled and lacking direction. While on the plane I began reading The Eighth Habit by Stephen Covey, a book that had been given to me by one of my mentors. The book said that in order to be effective, we have to be great. In order to be great, we have to be passionate. I let this swirl around in my mind. What was I truly passionate about? I loved the college experience. I loved traveling and exploring. I loved studying abroad in Italy. It was at that moment that my Italian professor’s words came back to me and everything clicked. I realized I could combine all my passions if became a study abroad advisor.

Grad school, eight years and three universities later, here I am, in the best of positions I could ever imagine. My students awe and amaze me every day. I am energized by their experiences abroad and find so much joy when I can convince a student to do a semester overseas; I know it will be the best semester of her life.  While my time as an advisor in San Diego is drawing to a close, I am more confident than ever that this is the perfect career path for me. And until I find the right position in Oklahoma, I plan on being a virtual advisor via the blogosphere and Facebook.  So any study abroad students out there, if you need some help, don’t hesitate to ask!

Interested in exploring a career in International Education?

1. Register for the study abroad listserv – SECUSS-L I recommend the digest version…otherwise expect 5 to 20 emails a day. This listserv is specifically geared towards education abroad and is very active. On the listserv you’ll see emails from professionals asking questions about different programs, marketing their own programs, and posts for positions. Many entry-level positions get posted here by both study abroad providers and universities. It’s a great place to know where you can apply but also to get a feel for what is going on in the field.

2. Check out NAFSA (the biggest organization for international ed) for job postings and conferences. It is our national organization for international education and their website has great resources. NAFSA is divided into into regions and usually the regional conferences are held in the fall. They are a bit pricey but having gone to a regional conference does show initiative and is great for a resume. It’s also a great way to meet people in the region and start building your network. There often are scholarships too that you can apply for to go and most regions offer a mentoring program for young professionals.

3. Explore graduate programs in Higher Education Administration or other relatable field (MBA, foreign language, etc). If you are interested in a job at a university, a masters degree is usually required. Sometimes exceptions are made if you have a lot of life experience, but if you are straight out of college, an advisor position will be hard to get. Once in grad school, engage with the study abroad office on your campus any way possible. I got started by volunteering for 5 hours a week on a project in the Study Abroad Office at the University of South Carolina while in my first year of grad school. When a job opening came available, it was pretty much mine.

4. If you aren’t ready for grad school, research different study abroad program providers. For recent grads, this is probably the easiest way into the field. Many program providers have university relations staff that typically are younger staffers (under 27) and travel around the US to market the study abroad programs. We call them road warriors because they are out of the office a lot and most people only do this kind of role for 2 or 3 years before they move into a more stationary position. The great thing about these positions is that there are lots of them, you get to do a lot of travel (some international travel may happen in the summer), and you get exposed to a ton of different schools. The down side is living out of a suitcase and the pay is usually pretty low. Then again, pay in study abroad is typically not so great so don’t expect to get rich in this field.

My final advice no matter what route you take is to really hone in on why you want to pursue a career in study abroad. Loving to travel is not a good enough reason. You have to really want to help others have the experience you had. I also believe that you can’t expect a career in study abroad means you’ll get to do a lot of travel yourself. Some positions do send you abroad a lot but often if you work at a university this is not the case. Finally, I would really research the issues currently in study abroad and find something that resonates with you that you can focus on in your cover letter and interviews. Some of the hot topics right now are curriculum integration, social media and study abroad, enhancing cultural integration, long vs. short term study abroad programs, returnee programming, and assessment of cultural learning. Melibee Global is great site to do some initial research.

Pecorino Moment

Do you ever have those moments that catapult you back to into your memories from abroad? I had one of those last night – what I would call a “pecorino moment”.

Hubby and I went for some great Italian in La Jolla at a little place called Barbella.  It was a lovely restaurant with an open covered porch and all kind of character. The menu was small but looked scrumptious. Trying to implement portion controll, we shared the cheese plate, a bibb salad, and fettuccine alla bolognese. When the cheese plate arrived, I was immediately thrilled to find one of my favorite combinations: pecorino e miele (sheep’s cheese and honey). As soon as the sweet and salty concoction touched my tongue, memories of a meal in Montalcino sprung to my mind as if I was reliving it again from 9 years ago.

In general, I would say I am not a lover of food.  I more eat to live, than live to eat. I could eat a turkey sandwich for every lunch for the rest of my life and be fine. But there are a few meals that I have partaken in during my 30 years that are truly memorable (for good or bad):

Age 7: My Aunt Ethel made cabbage rolls and my mother told me I had to try them.  I told her that green was not my color.

Age 15: I went to the homecoming dance with a group of people and at dinner all the girls ordered salad. Trying to not be the odd duck who really wanted steak, I had my first salad ever and discovered that maybe green was my color – at least if it had enough bleu cheese dressing on it.

Age: 18: I was in South Africa volunteering at local high schools and staying at a Christian camp that provided three meals a day. We were told we had to eat everything so as not to offend. This included the neon pink hot dogs; I’m still not sure what they were made of.

Age 20: Sitting in a tiny restaurant in Montalcino, Italy, I had the very best meal of my life consisting of risotto di Brunello di Montalcino (risotto made with red wine) and pecorino e miele.

Age 27: Dining with a group of students in Cusco, Peru, they decided to order cuy (guinea pig) for the table. I just couldn’t get myself to try it…with teeth and all staring at me, I contemplated becoming a vegetarian.

I just couldn’t do it.

What are your “pecorino moments”?