Why I Got Lost: Doing Business in Italy

Blogging Your Trip, Departments, Italy, Lost Boys, Websites and Blogs, Working Abroad — By on February 13, 2008 at 12:19 am

When New Yorker Chris Caruana, 23, wrote to tell us that he’d be leaving the city next month to get his MBA in Rome, we were psyched for him–and more than a little curious. What prompted this all-American guy to forgo the ivy-draped business school experience in the US to learn macroeconomics and sales strategy from the Italians?

As were relieved to find out in his reply, below, the reasons have nothing to do with bostering his resume, impressing recruiters or making himself look more attractive to future employers (actually, he did mention this one—but his other four reasons have nothing to do with working!). Check out this “Why I Got Lost,” then learn more about Chris’ educational adventure on his blog, RTD in Italia.


Chris: I had a game plan before touching down in Italy to begin my spring semester of junior year. As the theme has been throughout my life: live with no regrets. I promised never, not during a single moment, to shortchange myself during the next five months in Florence.

I lived in an apartment with five other students on Via del Terme in the heart of the city. Instead of walking past the dorms and repetitious architecture found on most college campuses, I strolled past the Duomo every day on my way to class. I relished the four-day weekends and engaged in the most eye-opening period in my life. When my plane touched down at JFK airport at the end of the term, I realized just how much I longed for it to continue along the runaway and make the return trip back to Italy. With me on it, of course.

Ever since that study abroad experience, I’ve been awaiting my chance to return–and a graduate program in business seemed an ideal opportunity. In June 2007, I scheduled my GMAT test, a necessary requirement for anyone looking to apply to graduate school for an MBA (Masters of Business Administration). The following month I started a blog to document the whole process of applying to grad schools abroad, and the potential move overseas. But I kept the whole thing a secret from family and friends until December 19th, when I got my acceptance letter to St. John University’s Rome Campus (plus a notice that’s I’d been given a scholarship). That’s when I finally shared the news that I’d be leaving.

The most repetitive question that’s been posed to me as “Why Italy? So (finally) I give you my five reasons for doing my MBA in the heart of Italy, Roma:

#1: The lifestyle. While Americans live to work Italians work to live. They put a premium on getting the most out of live and enjoying it with their loved ones. Nothing else matters as much as the joy of everyday life spent with your loved ones. NOTHING…

#2: Past experiences. Let me first say I’m not spiritual or religious at all. With that said, if I had never studied in Florence for a semester during my undergraduate, there’s no way I’d be heading back for my graduate degree. Living, traveling, studying abroad opened up my senses to a world outside of my own. It was in those five months that I realized there’s so much more to life, so much more to experience.

#3: Culture. This is different then my reasoning of the Italian lifestyle. Why? This is does not just include the lifestyle led (the crux) but it also incorporates the food, language, interaction, weather, architecture, people…you get the picture. I have friends, family, colleagues and complete strangers ask me about Italy. My simple response, “Embrace the culture and it will embrace you back more then you could ever believe.”

#4: The C.Q. I didn’t have a name for this reasoning until I read the topic in a newsletter. It’s called ‘Cultural Quotient’. We live in a global economy. Business is no longer done on a state or national level. It is carried out on an international stage. Even the smallest of decisions by your corner shop shape or can shape the global economy. Businesses are willing to overlook I.Q. in return for a higher C.Q. The ability to understand cultural differences and practices throughout the world is becoming an invaluable asset to anyone looking to work for a multi-national firm. Studying abroad is a great way to skyrocket that value.

#5: No regrets. This is a personal decision. As aforementioned I’ve lived my life and will continue to live it without any regrets. I’ve made mistakes and even followed through on decisions detrimental to so much in my life, both mentally and physically. I do not regret one of those actions, for they have shaped and molded me into the person I am today. The opportunity for me to further my education studying in a place where I get the most enjoyment out of life could not be passed up.

Could I have studied anywhere in the U.S. and been happy? I’m sure I could have. I’ve seen much of the U.S. and North America, but I’m ready for more. Studying abroad is not for everyone but I challenge every student to at least attempt it. It stretches you both mentally and physically, and expands you as a person. Not only do you walk away with an understanding of another culture and those who live daily in that culture, but you find out more about yourself in the process. Whether you’re willing to take that leap is up to you.

In the meantime, if you’re ever in ‘bel paese’ drop me a line. Depending on what day of the week you can either find me studying in the eternal city or traveling. Ciao…

Christopher Caruana: christopher_caruana@yahoo.com

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  • Girl ReRouted says:

    CQ– brilliant idea. In fact, I think there should be a whole portion of your resume dedicated to it: Work Experience and Life Experience!

  • lost says:

    qkqivisiten mi blog: http://desaparecidos-lost.blogspot.com/
    ahi pueden bajar los capitulos nuevos de la cuarta temporada. gracias

  • Soultravelers3 says:

    Great site, fun post! I lived a year in Italy in my early 20’s and it changed my life. Now we are 18 months into an open ended, multi-year trip around the world as a family!! Best decision we ever made and a direct result from that time living abroad. Travel can and will change your life.

  • kristian says:

    Really diggin your quote, “Embrace the culture and it will embrace you back more then you could ever believe.” That is so true! Good luck with your studies and travels.