1. Pre-Departure Blog Entry – A letter to myself:

Dear Matt,

Although I am still almost two weeks away from departing for my study abroad experience, I am counting down the days to begin this exciting and unique experience. I am taken aback by how different this semester will be compared to both all my semesters at UVA and my current daily life at home. Even though I am somewhat intimidated, I know that I am prepared to take on this incredible opportunity. I think it is important to reflect on my goals, concerns, and other thoughts about this trip before departure. Hopefully in doing this, I can better plan for my study aboard experience and gain more perspective on my expectations.

My top three goals for my semester in Milan are to (1) try to get out of my comfort zone and immerse myself in the city and culture, (2) continue to learn more about what area of business I want to pursue after college, and (3) try and travel as much as possible. I think it could be easy to go through the semester by mostly socializing with my fellow students from UVA, going to class and learning by myself, and spending a lot of time in my apartment. However, I want to push myself to go far beyond this and do things that may initially make me a little uncomfortable. Whether that be talking to a stranger about Milan, asking professors and other abroad students for help, or going to restaurants or attractions that I would usually avoid. I also want to gain more clarity on what kind of career I see myself doing after college. I believe my courses and experiences will help with this and further my understanding of what I am looking for in an internship or job. Finally, I want to take as many opportunities as possible to travel to cities all around Europe. This may be the only time in my life where I live in Europe and want to experience as many people and cultures as possible.

Along with my personal goals, I hope to gain a better global business perspective while studying abroad. I primarily want to learn about business in Italy and if possible in other parts of Europe. I have yet to have a hands-on experience with business in other cultures, and I am very excited by this opportunity. I want to understand the subtleties of European business and learn how they differ for business in the US, in both the classroom and through real world situations.

I currently do not know much Italian and have never studied it in school. I am anticipating learning a good amount during my semester abroad. I am hoping my long history with Spanish, books and language applications, and my friends who speak Italian will help me learn a good amount by the end of my months in Milan. I expect by the end to be able to read menus and street signs with ease, know some conversations phrases, and understand some key business words and terms in Italian.

I know a little about Italian culture, but not much. I don’t have any Italian relatives, but did spend two weeks in Italy when I was in middle school. I also have read some books and articles about Italy. So, I have some first-hand experience, but will definitely need some time to get used to the culture and better understand it. I know it will be a very different experience for me at first, but I hope to learn and quickly get settled in and comfortable.

I don’t really have many stereotypes or preconceived notions about Italy. I only can use my experience there, along with my experience in other European countries to inference what my semester abroad will be like. My biggest preconceived notion about Italy is that the food there will be amazing. Although a little intimidating, I think it is good that I don’t have a lot of opinions about Italy before going abroad. This way I will go into my semester with an open mind, and be learning along the way.

After my semester abroad in Milan, I hope to be different in many ways. I hope to have a better global perspective, both in business and overall. I hope to be more willing to step out of my comfort zone and try new and unique experiences. I hope to have a better understanding of where I want my career path to take me. I hope to have made friends from all over the world, and have learned from their individual experiences. Finally, I hope to be a better person in every aspect of my life. I am incredibly excited for my semester in Milan and can’t wait to start my adventure!


Matthew Klausner

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