Hello all! My name is Taylor Vivino and I am studying finance here at the University of Pittsburgh. I am from Plum, Pennsylvania, a town about twenty minutes away from Pitt. I cannot wait to travel with everyone and make some unforgettable memories on the Plus3 Milan trip!
Being someone who has never left the United States, these four pre-departure meetings were overwhelmingly insightful and essential to efficiently travel abroad in the upcoming month. We not only met everyone we were traveling with, but learned how to effectively work in groups, were shown important customs of Italy, and became knowledgeable about supply chain management. To quickly introduce ourselves to our fellow travelers, the first meeting consisted of an “All About Me” presentation, where every student took a turn to talk about themselves in front of the class. There couldn’t have been a better way to begin our meetings, being that it served as an icebreaker to create conversation between our classmates. Many people were either interested in the same activities as you were, or were simply interested in who you were as a person. Forming relationships prior to traveling to abroad is imperative, especially for us, as we are young college students who have never been to Italy before. Group work was emphasized throughout our meetings as well. We were placed in groups of four to complete several outside of the classroom activities. Our groups were responsible for scheduling meeting times to work on presentations and assignments, which served as time to learn about supply chain management aspects, as well as research companies that we would be visiting in Italy. Because no one in my group is a supply chain major nor have taken any related classes yet, it was nice to learn alongside them and help each other understand concepts that were difficult. The skills and knowledge accumulated through the group work assigned to us, translate directly to what we need for our trip to Italy. When in Italy, we will be visiting companies that we now are knowledgeable about, which will impress the employees as well as make it easier for us to understand how their companies operate. In addition, a huge aspect in the supply chain field is working in groups efficiently to create and sell a certain product. Our communication skills acquired in the pre-departure meetings with our assigned groups will allow us to comfortably blend in and collaborate with company employees and Italian students when in Italy.
In the second pre-departure meeting, we were lectured on the differing customs and cultures of Italy compared to the United States. I, for one, found this presentation informative, for the fact that everyday life is half way around the world contrasts largely from the United States. Dr. Patzer and Dr. Duquin informed us on several aspects of dressing, banking, and food. In Italy people dress more formally than in the United States. I will definitely take this into consideration when packing, and bring some of my most fashionable, but most comfortable outfits, as I know we will be walking a vast amount. In addition, I will remember not to pack any sweats, baseball caps, or hoodies as they will draw attention to me, and I will look more like a foreigner, which we need to avoid doing. When it comes to banking, I was taught how save money by exchanging dollars for euros after arriving in Italy rather than exchanging before leaving the United States. I will save money because extra fees are charged if money is converted in the United States. Also, I learned that if you do use a credit card, you must inform your bank that you will be traveling to another country, as they will deactivate your card when the record shows it was used in a foreign area. Secondly, any item or service that costs lower than ten eros must to be paid with paper money, as your credit card will not usually be accepted for low prices. Lastly, going out to eat is immensely different than in the United States. Dinners can last all night, tipping is not recommended, and the most important thing to take away is to ask for your check when you are ready or else it will never be given to you!
During the third pre-departure meeting, safety was emphasized. Safety is the number one priority when visiting another country. We don’t know anyone in Italy, nor are we familiar with its surroundings. Dr. Patzer informed us that late night crime is not unheard of, as a student was stolen from and injured last year on their trip. It puts into perspective how important safety is when abroad and why you must travel in groups. Lastly, we read a book called Hugos. Each chapter explained a different aspect of the supply chain. The first chapter was simple key concepts, while the second and third were about planning, sourcing, making, and delivering the product. The last chapter we read was about information technology. These four chapters give us a useful foundation when traveling to Italy and meeting with people involved in this field.