This week, my Session 3 Strategic Leadership class took our classroom out of Copenhagen and into Florence, Italy. We ate great food, learned from incredibly influential Italian companies and explored the culture of Italy from the perspective of aspiring leaders.
Any chance to experience Italy is a great one but the chance to experience Italy for five days with guided tours, planned excursions, transportation and carefully orchestrated meals is a near dream. The DIS Study Tours are about more than just classwork. While the academic aspects of study tours are important these trips are also about making connections and immersing ourselves in the culture of another country.
Our hotel in Florence was about 2 blocks from the Duomo, Florence’s most iconic landmark and the center of Italian history. Being able to stay so centrally located allowed us to experience the most authentic week of culture and exploration alongside five days of academic visits to companies such as The Florentine Newspaper and Paneri Watches.
One of the most amazing parts of going on a Study Tour is the connections you make with your classmates. Going into the tour, you’ve spent less than a week getting to know the people in your class when all of a sudden you’re thrown into full-blown travel with them. You live with them, travel with them, and study with them. These once strangers become best friends in the blink of an eye. One of my favorite moments from my time in Italy was the night my friends and I decided to hike to the Piazzale Michelangelo lookout point and enjoy the sunset as a group. This is just one example of the amazing memories we created throughout the week.
Some of our scheduled events throughout the week included a four-hour food tour through the city and a visit to The Florentine Newspaper to learn about the strategy of the media industry in Italy. During academic visits like this one, we met with the leaders of prominent brands to discuss their companies strategy and what sets them apart from other iconic brands. Through these visits, we learned about the history of business in Florence and how companies in Italy differ from those in the U.S. The cultural food tour educated us on the best foods of Florence, how to properly order in Italian and how to recognize the seals of well-made and authentic Italian food products.
My study tour to Italy was one of the most educational and culturally stimulating trips I have ever taken. I met new friends, made connections with foreign leaders and was able to apply a new way of business thinking to my goals in my intended field. The memories from Florence will stick with me for a lifetime. There truly is no better place to explore and learn; not to mention that my cheeks hurt from smiling most of the week.
As great as Italy was, there truly was no better feeling than being back home in Copenhagen. As I look forward to the last two weeks of my trip, I’m trying to figure out how I’ll ever say goodbye to this wonderful place.