Dominican Republic and Italy Study Abroad Program Spotlight: Julia Cavallaro
February 21, 2020
When Julia was looking at different schools, she heard about Virginia Tech’s Resort Management Program in Punta Cana and immediately knew that this was the program for her.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to do that.’ I love resorts, I want to go into resorts, and I travel a lot, so I just knew that I wanted to do this program.”
This particular study abroad program takes place over the span of two and a half weeks during the winter break — which conveniently does not conflict with courses throughout the regular academic year.
“All of the courses transfer back easily, and you don’t have to figure out what classes to take and what fits into your major.”
This program will also help her secure a job in the long run.
“The resort program would tune in on my major and help guide my understanding of resorts — making me more marketable to recruiters when searching for a job.”
After participating in a short term program, Julia was ready to take on a more immersive experience and spend a semester abroad. Since Julia has always wanted to travel to Europe, she began looking into her options that would keep her on track for graduation.
Additionally, being a proud Italian (and of course, a lover of Italian food and all that is bread…) the decision was ultimately made to participate in the CIMBA program in Italy.
What started out as Julia’s biggest challenge, soon turned into one of her greatest feats.
“When I went over to Italy, I knew no one. There were only three students from Virginia Tech that went, and I didn’t know anyone. We were a group of 44 strangers, but the way the program was set up created a lot of opportunities for us to become very close.”
Although Julia learned a lot through her courses while abroad, some of her most rewarding experiences took place outside of the classroom.
“I think my favorite memory was one of our last weekends. We went to Siena in Tuscany and rented this huge villa on a winery, and we decided we were going to cook one big, last, family dinner. I went over there not knowing anyone, and I met my absolute best friends. They are my favorite people. Just sitting around and everyone cooking together and being together — those moments are the memories that last a lifetime. I would’ve never met these people if I didn’t just go for it. Now here we are. I’m with my best friends. It’s crazy and so special.”
When asked how studying abroad through Pamplin affected her experience at Virginia Tech and with her professional career, Julia’s response was priceless.
“It’s been the best experience ever. I think it’s taught me a lot about going into the world of business and hospitality, and it has also taught me that everywhere in the world is different. These programs have shown me the different aspects of culture. Going into my career after graduation, I can see how business doesn’t operate the same in every country, and it’s been really interesting to immerse myself in different cultures. Especially with Punta Cana, and seeing the resorts, and seeing how the labor runs, and how sales is different, and they run events differently — just based on the way their culture is. This has been really effective in helping me become more of a well-rounded person. I think it’s also made me more marketable to recruiters, because if you’re able to see that the world is not just what’s around you, and business works differently in different places, it gives you an advantage in the long run.”
Key Advice From Julia on Studying Abroad
“You can always make money, but you can’t make time. I tell people this all the time. If you’re going to do it, do it — and just go all out. There will never be a time in your life where you can just be in a place with people that are your closest friends, just have fun, and see new things as you travel. Go to different places. Try new things. You can always make money, but you can’t make this time. You can’t make this opportunity again, so just take advantage of it.”
After graduating, Julia will be moving to Indianapolis to work as a Sales Coordinator for White Lodging, a hotel management and ownership company, where she will assist with five of their Marriott hotels.
Written by Sandy Bass