Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Roman Holiday

I’m going to be taking my own advice and taking a break from work and blogging for a while.

We’re off to Italy to visit our daughter, who is in Rome studying abroad.

Interesting way for an Irish guy to celebrate to celebrate St. Patrick's day, right?
We also have a 25 year anniversary coming up, so we figured we would use that as an excuse to as well. Mrs. Great Leadership has always wanted to ride a gondola in Venice.

I’ve got a couple guest posts scheduled, and will still be able to publish comments and respond to a few emails remotely (as long as my iPhone doesn’t fail me).

How about if we all take a little break from leadership development for just this one post.

Here are a few questions for you – please comment and I’ll read and publish from afar:

Any tips or advice from you world travelers? Favorite Italian experiences? Favorite food?

What’s your opinion on study aboard programs? Rich development experience or a glorified vacation? Did you do one in collage, and how was it for you?

How about vacations and work? Do you completely disengage, or keep up with emails?

Best and worst international travel experience?



Evil HR Lady said...

I did not do study abroad in college and it's my biggest college regret. Now that I live in Switzerland, I see how valuable it is to experience another culture. (Hey, Italy borders Switzerland, pop on up!)

And the culture here is that vacations are for vacationing and people go for weeks at a time and leave their laptops at home. So different from American culture.

Have fun in Italy.

Noel R said...

Studying abroad, or working abroad, or just traveling abroad are all once-in-a-lifetime experiences worth their weight in gold. I wasn't able to study abroad in college and even though I wish I had, I'm still glad I took the chance to travel abroad every chance I got. There's something about traveling to a foreign country, where you don't know the language or the customs, that really pushes your limits as a human being and forces you to see the world through new eyes. My tips to anyone traveling abroad: spend time in a major city, spend time in the countryside, ask the locals where they go for dinner, get off the beaten path, and absolutely learn a little bit of the language before you leave. Even if you only spend seven days away, those seven days will give you skills and ideas and ways of thinking about the world that you'll take with you in your career and beyond.

Bret Simmons said...

Study abroad is great! I am teaching in two different study abroad programs this summer, one in Spain and the other in London. Yes, they are less rigorous than a course at my home U, but the that's ok with me. Students should spend their time with the local people and learning the local culture instead of stuck in front of a book all night. They will forget the subject matter of the class over time, but they will never forget the rich experiences and new friendships formed by interacting with people from other countries and cultures. I highly recommend study abroad!

Best advice for traveling abroad is be very flexible. Relax and be open to new things. As much as possible, eat what the locals eat. Learn some of the language - that's always a sign of respect.

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

After you've visited with your daughter in Rome, and it's just you and your wife, then try to get several days in Venice - it's for couples. I don't know if it's your style, but I say go 4-star and stay at the Westin Europa e Regina. They treated us extremely well. Then, you can walk around the whole city, do the gondola thing, etc.

If you have time to visit Tuscany and want to try something different, make your home base a farm house at Castellina in Chianti and then visit Sienna, San Gimignano, etc. from there.

Have a safe and fun trip!


Lisa A Rosendahl said...

I did not study abroad but after I lived in Germany for 4 years, I've decided that my daughter will study abroad - whether she likes it or not! Enjoy yourself Dan and happy anniversary.

Jess said...

Definitely do the Gondola Ride- it's amazing and photos you will treasure.

Wigarse said...

While in Venice, take a trip to near by Murano. I'm sure some fabulous Murano glass jewelry will make an excellent 25th anniversary gift/

I'm in Japan for the next year or so, getting to grips with that culture, but I really miss my home turf and Italy is one of my favourite places. I'm jealous.

Heath Davis Havlick said...

Have fun! My advice is: eat a lot of gelato, DON'T drive in Rome, and see the sunflower fields of Tuscany. I found Venice very smelly and labyrinthine and much preferred The Eternal City. The Forum is a must-see. I am green with envy!

Andy said...

Hi Dan,

Lots of questions there, I'll just focus on studying abroad.

As someone who reaped HUGE benefits and have seen significant life changes from a semester abroad, I can't deny that it's undoubtedly part glorified vacation. (At least your conventional study abroad experience.) It's fair to say that I took a few more liberties than I would have back in the US!

That said, it's more importantly an incredibly rich development experience! I came to Sydney in 2002 for my semester, and even though there are many destinations across the world that would have provided a significantly different cultural experience from the US (Australia imports American pop culture by the ton), I found it to be a truly invaluable experience. In response to one of Art Petty's blogs the other day, I commented how insanely insular American society is. So even for the college student who goes abroad with the intention of taking this "glorified vacation", they're invariably still going to run into some significant lessons about the world outside of the US. And that can only be a good thing, especially as businesses continues to embrace the global economy.

As for me, five years after my semester in Sydney, I came back and have been living here ever since! Can't argue with that, right?


Anonymous said...

Venice is cold this time of year. Take hats, gloves, and jackets. This is the off-season and the city can feel deserted away from the main tourist attractions.

The Doge's palace and St. Mark's are worthwhile. Chiesa dei Frari is very interesting. Also the Arsenal, which was manufacturing galleys with one-piece flow in the 16th century.

There's a good pasta place at the north end of Campo Si Polo. For lunch, inexpensive good pizza is at a gelato shop around the corner from Chiesa dei Frari. Be careful picking restaurants that face the Grand Canal.

We stayed at Loconda Santagostin, a tiny hotel off the beaten track. More 3 star than 4 star but we liked it.

Chuck Norris dubbed in Italian is funnier than it sounds.

Dan McCarthy said...

Good to hear from you. I hope all is well in Switzerland. Well, I did leave the laptop – but took the iPhone. For the most part, though, we were able to immerse ourselves in the experience and leave home behind.

Noel –
Thanks. Good advice – we did all of those things.

Bret –
Thanks, I actually quoted you with my daughter and her roommate. They seem to be following your advice.

Mark –
Thanks. We spent time with our daughter in Rome, and enjoyed Venice by ourselves.

Lisa –
Funny! Well, some seem to need a little nudge, but I’ll bet you won’t have to.

Jess –
Right, we did, and it surpassed my expectations.

Wigarse –
Yes, we did Murano, very nice. Wow, Japan for a year – what a challenge! I wish you all the best.

Heath –
Thanks. We almost rented a car in Rome, and I’m glad we didn’t. I found Venice beautiful, and not smelly at all – although I hear it can be in the summer.

Andy –
Thanks, makes a lot of sense. We’ve already seen growth in our daughter.

Anon –
We must have gotten lucky – it was Spring-like in Venice, 60s and sunny. We liked the lack of crowds too. Good tip on the canal-facing restaurants – tourist-trap rip-offs!