Almost Time for Italy!

Ciao! My name is Amanda Mroz and I am enrolled in Pitt Business. I am planning to double major in Human Resources Management and Marketing and double minor in Political Science and Economics. I am from 30 minutes outside of Pittsburgh in Gibsonia. I have never traveled to Europe, so I am very excited to be traveling to Italy in just a few short days!

About a month and a half ago, we began pre-departure meetings on Sundays from 5-8 pm. During these meetings, we had the opportunity to meet everyone we will be traveling with and to learn more about the textile industry in which we will be studying and some information about Italian culture. In addition, each time we met, our groups presented a new project that corresponded with the day’s lesson. Overall, these classes prepared me very well for traveling to Italy.

The first meeting was by far the most exciting. We met our fellow travelers through quick, one-minute presentations. Each person shared cool facts about themselves that gave us the opportunity to get to know everyone. Next, we were given groups. I was placed into Group 3 with Sydney, Sumi, and Nate. Throughout the next few weeks, we would be meeting outside of class periodically during the week to work on our presentations. After a presentation about travel updates and what to pack, we had our first lecture on Hugos chapter 1. This chapter was an introduction to supply chain management and provided a brief overview of the topic. I learned how to tell the difference between an upstream supplier and a downstream supplier in a supply chain.

At the second meeting, we had our first group presentation about supply chains. My group had to describe the supply chain of a t-shirt. We chose to focus on cotton shirts and talked about downstream suppliers such as cotton farms and upstream suppliers such as wholesalers. After the groups presented, we had another lecture on Hugos. This time, we went deeper into the supply chain and discussed important decisions that companies must make. For example, they need to decide how to transport the product through the chain. It is cheaper to transport through train or bus, but may not be the most effective. The final part of our second class was a discussion about the changing fashion industry through generations. We completed an out-of-class individual activity in which we were to interview our grandparents about how they shopped, what they wore, and who their style icons were. I interviewed my grandma and she had very interesting opinions. Her style icon was Elizabeth Taylor, and she bought few well-made, fancier items instead of many, cheap-made items.

The third meeting focused on Italian culture. Before our group presentations, we went around the room and introduced ourselves in Italian. This was a fun way to learn more of the language so that I can use it in the country. My group presented about “time-out” which was about food, clothing, and exciting sites. When working on this presentation, I became more excited about the rich history and culture that Italy has to offer such as museums and architecture. Our out-of-class activity required us to read a few articles and watch a video about fashion and sustainability. I learned that many common brands do not produce their clothing sustainably, such as Abercrombie. Actually, they have been called out by the Rainforest Action Network in the hopes of changing their practices. Next, we had to watch an old video about looking for the union label on clothing. Today, we do not see advertisements like this because clothes are often made as cheap as possible in unsustainable and unethical ways.

Our final meeting began with group presentations about companies that we will be visiting. My group presented on Bottega Velasca, a shoe making company. They are unique in that they do not sell to wholesalers or retailers and instead, rely mainly on their own storefronts and the internet. An interesting question that we plan to ask them is about how they compete with other big brand substitutes for their product. After the presentations, each group chose the top three questions from the rest of the class to ask at the visit. Finally, we had our final travel update in which we received an almost finished itinerary and more tips on what to pack and how to prepare in the next few weeks.

In conclusion, the pre-trip departure meetings helped me meet my fellow travelers and learn about supply chain management in the textile industry and more about Italian culture. With this information, I am better prepared for living in a foreign country for 2 weeks and for visiting prominent companies in the area. Stay tuned for exciting updates on my travel!

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