Ciao to Pasta, Gelato, Fashion, and more!

Ciao- Hello all! My name is Sumi Shah and I recently completed my freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh’s College of Business Administration. I intend to pursue a major in Human Resource Management, minor in Music, and Certificate in Leadership and Ethics. I’ve heard from many that study abroad is the single best experience of college years and I’m beyond excited to live that experience in Italy! Although I have traveled out of the country, I have never visited Europe which is why I’m ever so excited to discover the culture Italy has to offer.

Our Plus 3 group met four times every Sunday from March 19 through April 9  in preparation for our trip. In these three hours during each meeting, we discovered not only what to expect in Italy, but also how we can make the most of this trip. Both the individual and group assignments gave us the opportunity to research Italy’s culture, fashion industry, and the mechanisms of supply chain management. As a HR major, I had limited scope of knowledge in the supply chain management field. The readings and group assignments provided us with a better understanding of the depths of supply chain management. Our group conducted and presented research on the supply chain management process of a t-shirt which will help us understand how the fashion industry in Italy produces its products and designs. I completely forgot to mention my group! In these pre departure meetings, we were assigned teams of four which we completed group assignments with. My group included Nate, Amanda, and Sydney- they’re such great people and I cannot wait to travel across the world with them! In class, we sketched schematics of the supply chain process for coffee which helped us understand how to analyze production of an every day product without any research.

In addition to supply chain, we also learned about Italy’s culture and how to make the most of our experience. The group assignment required us to read the handbook we received about the country’s food, sightseeing, fashion, history, and government. My group researched the food, drinks, activities, and dress. We created a presentation of pictures with minimal or no captions. This helped us learn and understand the information without simply memorizing it from the reading. I presented how to dress and discovered that Italian “casual” is elegant compared to America’s casual sweats and a t-shirt- I better pack those summer dresses and sandals! From my fellow peers’ presentations, I learned about Italy as a country itself: the government, history, art, and language. In addition, in class we did an activity in which we introduced ourselves in Italian and learned some habits of healthy lifestyles from each other. This helped introduce us to others in the class- everyone was very friendly and I couldn’t have asked for a better group to travel abroad with! We also completed an activity in which we discuss how to maintain our health. This helped us learn the value in pursuing a healthy lifestyle and how that can drastically change our experience abroad.

Aside from culture and supply chain management, we learned about what Italian business is particularly famous for- fashion! My group presented on a leather shoe company that we will visit: Bottega Velasca. In addition we learned about the other companies and compiled questions that helped us prepare for company visits. For our individual assignment, we learned about the fashion industry’s impact on the environment which quite frankly I had no idea could be so devastating! Companies often demolish forests for materials without any concern of their impact on nature and its inhabitants. We also called our parents and grandparents to inquire about the perspective of fashion and shopping when they were younger. Through this, we discovered the changing landscape of fashion from their childhood to today.

After the last meeting, each group researched ten of the “must-see” attractions in the cities that we will be visiting: Milan, Venice, Florence, and Verona. These pre departure meetings helped us understand Italy through a new lens: in fashion, culture, and supply chain management.

Honestly, before these meetings I knew almost nothing about Italy except pasta, pizza, and gelato. Now, after meeting my peers, learning in these sessions, and researching for our assignments, I feel a lot more prepared to take on this experience. I cannot wait to see what our time abroad holds and I hope that I’ll leave wanting to come back to Italy for more. Next stop: Milan! Until next time- Ciao!

Leave a Reply