Wider Horizons

For 16 action-packed days this spring, new Business grad Mia Cartwright and her classmates got to learn aboutInmotion Whirlwind global business practices in the best setting possible – from business owners and leaders in France, Italy and Spain. The students were part of an annual international study tour that helps students improve their awareness of these cultures and gain a greater knowledge of international business in the global marketplace. Cartwright, who grew up in Calgary, kept a journal during her time on the road and agreed to share the stories of what she saw during this innovative class experience.

April 25: Departure Day!

I feel like it’s finally acceptable for me to be excited about this. Having exams, graduation, and moving back to Calgary all within a week has been extremely stressful. I can’t wait to see the Eiffel Tower. I can’t wait to see Versailles. I can’t wait to go full tourist on Europe. I could hold off on the long plane ride though… It’s time to board! Ah, I am so excited. Bon voyage!!

April 26: Arrival in Paris, Versailles, and the Eiffel Tower                     

Today was absolutely incredible. After we got off the plane, we hopped on a bus and went straight to Versailles. I have never seen such amazing architecture and art in my life. Each room in Versailles was filled with colors of gold and silver, and themed to fit the royal who stayed there at that time. It took over two hours for all of us to get through it. After Versailles (since our jet lag had kicked in) we made our way to our hotel and got an hour to ourselves… MUCH NEEDED! But before we had a chance to fall asleep, we headed to a cute side street restaurant for dinner and wine. We chatted about our day so far as well went over our itinerary for the rest of our days in Paris! Little did we know this restaurant was situated a few streets over from the Eiffel Tower, and so after a great meal we began moseying around only to look up and see this gigantic tower above us! Seriously, I knew it was big, but it is so big a plane can fit its wingspan under it. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and just stood staring at the city in awe. Paris has so much history and with an amazing start to our trip, I can’t wait to see what Paris has in store for us tomorrow.

April 27: Paris

This morning we went to the Canadian Embassy. It was great being able to apply my teachings from my International Business classes to the conversation. The culture in France is very different from Canada, which made the meeting quite intriguing. Going to the Embassy was very beneficial as a business student. I got to see a side of France, as well a side of Canada. After the meeting at the embassy was finished, we got to tour the Louvre! Lucky for us, a fellow classmates from the college met up with us and helped us tour around, as he is visiting is grandparents who live in Paris. He knew the ins and outs of the museum which was extremely helpful when getting from place to place. We saw the Mona Lisa, which is extremely small and is even smaller because tourists surround it. After the Louvre, we went to the Arc de Triumph, and then the Sacred Heart Church which looks over all of Paris. Today was a great day and I am very thankful that JV (the Lethbridge College student) was there to help us tour around or else we probably would have gotten quite lost! Steph, Shelby, and I did end up taking the Paris Metro back to the hotel alone though, and if that wasn’t the most stressful thing I’ve ever done, I don’t know what was.

April 29: Depart Paris, winery, arrive in Lyon

Today we took what seemed like a 20-hour bus ride from Paris to Lyon! Before we got to Lyon, we stopped at Mannon’s family winery. (Mannon is a student who attended the Lethbridge College exchange program). This stop has by far been the highlight of my trip so far! The tour of the inside of the winery was short and sweet. We got walked through the production of the wine, where it gets bottled, as well as where it gets sold. Then it got to the fun part… wine tasting! Domaine Joel Remy Wine is made in Sainte-Maire-la-Blanche, France. It is distributed many places in Europe, and is absolutely delicious! We spent the majority of our day at the winery, and then got back on the bus and continued on our way to finish our trek to beautiful Lyon. Once we arrived in Lyon, we ran our bags upstairs and met up with Greg, who is a former Lethbridge College student and current University of Lethbridge student and is attending university in Lyon on exchange. Greg brought us out for dinner to an all you can eat pizza place in downtown Lyon, which was exactly what we all needed after a long bus ride. By the time the pizza was done and the bill was paid, it was almost midnight and we made our way back to our hotel. It was a busy, yet successful first night in Lyon. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store.

April 30: Lyon

This morning was the first morning I wanted to play hooky and stay in bed. Is it possible that jet lag is hitting me after five days? After getting a simple European continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, we got a tour of Old Town Lyon from a tour guide (she was also an instructor at the university). Cobblestone roads, old churches, arch way tunnels. It was like we crossed the road from the city of Lyon into an episode of The Game of Thrones. We walked through the streets of the Old Town and got to this church. Now, we have probably been to at least 10 churches at this point in our trip so far, so my expectations are just to walk in, see some murals, see Jesus, walk out. THIS CHURCH. The wall art was made with small pieces of tile, and I mean so small that it looked like sand. This church was the first that I walked in that actually smelled like a church and not like a tourist attraction. It was the most beautiful one I have been in. I can’t use words to describe it! The second part of our day was really fun. We took the metro to the university where we sat in on a class and critiqued their final projects. It was really fun being in a classroom full of students our age and hanging out with them for an afternoon. Props to our instructors for setting that up!

May 1: High speed train to Barcelona

Today we took the high-speed train to Barcelona!! I am absolutely terrified of being pick pocketed. We don’t have anything planned for today because we are getting here so late! Hopefully get some sangria and maybe have a night out on the town!

May 2: Barcelona

Today I woke up sweating and stuck to the bed because we didn’t know we had an A/C and Barcelona is hot as heck. After a terrible Spanish continental breakfast of hot dogs and under cooked eggs, we walked all the way to the Sagrada Familia Basilica. In the Basilica, we got a guided tour with our Aussie guide who was great! He answered so many questions for us. Fun fact – The entire church is funded through donations and ticket purchases, which is why it is taking so long for it to be built. The church is projected to be done in the year 2025. After the tour, we had free time to do whatever we wanted! Beach time!! John forgot to tell us the beach was a little further then just “around the corner” and so after about 35 minutes of walking we finally made it to the beach. Once we got there I saw speedos and naked ladies – welcome to Europe everyone!! It was so hot out I ran and put my feet in the Mediterranean Sea for the very first time and cooled off quite quickly after that. It was shortly after 6 p.m. when we headed back to the hotel because we had a business meeting with the owner of the hotel we were staying at. A lot of the information I had known due to class, but I did learn that the hotel is actually the second oldest one on the strip! We get on the cruise ship tomorrow. So exciting.

May 3: Boarding the Norwegian Epic!

This morning we came to the Barcelona port and got aboard the Norwegian Epic cruise ship! Everything here is so fancy! First steps on the ship and there is music playing, they are passing out drinks, taking photos, everyone is so friendly… it is a really great atmosphere! The level we boarded was the casino level. I’ve never been on a cruise ship so this was crazy to me, a casino on a boat? What? We made our way to our outrageously tiny rooms, cried a little on the inside, and then decided we needed to go to the top deck pool to get some food and some sun! It was nice to hang out all together as a group on the deck for a few hours before our dinner reservations in the Manhattan Room aboard the ship. The restaurant was a New York style restaurant and is probably the atmosphere I envision a romantic date to be in. After dinner, a few of us students explored more of the boat and ended up at the Dueling Pianos show, and then later made our way to the Bliss Lounge Night Club. I swear, if you can think of a place you want this cruise ship to have, it will have it. I can’t believe tomorrow we are at sea all day and then we will be in Italy in two days!

May 5: Naples, Pompeii, and Sorrento

Today we woke up at the crack of dawn (after going to bed at 3am) and disembarked the ship in Naples, Italy! First impression of Naples was that it was a little worn down. I thought that since this was a cruise port, the city would at least put a little money into making the area a little more appealing to the tourists, but no. We took a minute train ride to Pompeii, and after a tiny bit of tour guide confusion, finally got through the gates and began our tour from an old Italian man. The man was very knowledgeable of trees, coastlines, and when asked about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, he told us to YouTube it. The tour itself was quite interesting. My favorite part was seeing what was left behind and covered in ash. There was pottery, chairs, a man praying, a baby, and a dog. After Pompeii, we took the metro to Sorrento! We unfortunately only had one hour in Sorrento so we had to make the best of it… shopping!! The streets of Sorrento reminded me of a scene from a movie. There were bright flowers everywhere. Shops with their doors wide-open, gelato stands, street merchants hollering at you as you walk by “hey beautiful lady, I have a deal for you.” After I bought three wallets, we got back on the metro and made our way back to the cruise port. It was an extremely eventful day! Tomorrow we are going to Rome!

May 6: Rome

Today was very quick and very stressful. We started our day off by taking a shuttle to a train to actually get to Rome. When we got off the train, we walked out of the station and the Coliseum was directly in front of us. I always envisioned it being in an old town type of location, not in the middle of a huge city. But I guess now that I am here, it obviously makes sense. We met up with our tour guide outside the Coliseum, got our tickets, stood in line, and eventually climbed up these generously wide steps to the inner portion of the Coliseum! It was so much bigger than I expected! It was really hard to hear the tour guide once we were on the inside because almost everyone there was getting a tour as well, but from what I did hear I would say the most interesting part would be in regards to the Gladiators and how they were actually of a lower social status. I would have always thought that they would be considered famous if they were fighters, but they were almost slaves to the royals. After this tour we continued on to learn of the Roman Forum and its importance to the financial center of Rome. By the time we finished this part of the tour it was so hot out, we were all desperately in need of a lunch break. Did someone say Italian Pizza? To date that was the BEST pizza I have had in my entire life. I just pointed to something that looked good on the menu and it was a delight. After our 45-minute break we made our way to the Trevi Fountain only to find out that it is under construction! Not only do nine out of 10 girls on the trip now have shattered hearts because they will now never find true love, but the pictures just aren’t the same with a bunch of fat Italian men eating lunch on cranes. We carried on to the Spanish Steps that are surrounded by the most sophisticated stores I have seen in my whole life (as well as the sweatiest group of Lethbridge College students). Today was quick. I feel like I snapped my fingers and it was done. I don’t know if I soaked up the scenery or the potential that Rome had. I am hoping tomorrow we have more time to breathe in Florence.

May 7: Florence

BEST day of the trip so far. We got to Florence around 10 a.m. and found the bike shop where we were getting our tour. My first thought of Florence is that I am going to die on the bike. Italian drivers are INSANE! When we arrived at the shop, we got our bikes and earpieces, and began on our way! We toured through tiny alleys, and across quant bridges. We skipped the busy streets, but did still get a feel for the traffic. Florence is gorgeous. Everything is so clean and bright; everyone is so nice and accommodating. The view from everywhere we went was so beautiful. We did a fair bit of shopping here as well. I got three new purses (all genuine leather). After the tour we went back to the ship and everyone got in their fancy clothes for dinner. The mood was great, and the company was even better. Today was a great day.

May 8: Cannes

This morning was a morning I was looking forward to for a while because it was a relaxing day in Cannes! Our shuttle was at 9:15 a.m. We got off the shuttle and all around were yachts, green grass, unbelievably fit joggers, ice cream stands (that are open at 9 a.m.), and film festival advertisements as far as the eye could see. This place was the classiest of classy. Cannes is known for wealth (as I quickly realized). As it was a holiday here, many of the stores were closed, so we wandered around the streets just to get a feel for a city as much as we could. We did find a tiny side street with vendors and a fresh food market that was open and so we enjoyed that for a few hours! Around 1 p.m. we made our way back to the cruise ship and lay on deck until we disembarked. It’s really hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day on this trip. Time has flown by. It feels like yesterday that I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time. We are heading down to the Manhattan Room for dinner. Until tomorrow…

May 9: Palma Majorca

Today we met with the cruise director as a business portion of our trip. He let us know of his job title, as well answer questions we had prepared for him. I asked him what countries brought in the most tourism for the Epic – USA and Canada. I wish he were able to answer more questions regarding marketing and advertising of the ship. I find it interesting aboard that there are so many young people yet, I see no advertising anywhere I go for this specific company. I always thought cruise lines were targeting seniors. The cruise director was the best speaker we have had this trip. I found he came the most prepared and had the most factual information. After the meeting, we had a “scenic” tour of Palma Majorca through the cruise line. It was so great to have time to chill out of the beaches of Spain with my classmates for one last time. The water in Palma Majorca was so warm compared to Barcelona, the sand was white as snow, and the sun was blazing hot. It was an absolutely perfect last day of the trip.

Conclusion

I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks! It feels like yesterday we were standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower looking down over Paris. I hope I can come back and do this all over again with more time. This trip has been so amazing to come to with classmates, and leave with friends! I wouldn’t change any of it.

 

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To learn more about the spring 2016 international study tour, email j.russell@lethbridgecollege.ca.

Wider Horizons
Mia Cartwright
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