Unexpected Friendships

From a campus network to a global network. Join Brad Schulze’s journey in Italy on the Student Exchange Program as he expands his circle of connections from OSU to the world!

Go Bucks Lake Como, Italy
Go Bucks                      Lake Como, Italy

Buongiorno! Come sta? Mi chiamo Brad e Io sono Americano. Adesso, Io abito in Milano. Io studio a la Universida Bocconi. Mi piace il cibo d’Italian. En il future Io vorrei un unomo di affair per mi lavoro. Mi italiano e no buona ma Io sono practicare.

Hope you enjoyed reading my awful Italian, but I am practicing and I hope I can spice things up a bit in my next post. Let me translate that for you: “Good day! How are you? My name is Brad and I am American. Now I am living in Milano. I am studying at the University of Bocconi. I like Italian food. In the future I hope to be a business man.” My Italian is awful but I am practicing.

A little more about myself, that I do not yet know how to say in Italian. My name is Brad Schulze.I am a fourth year Finance major at The Fisher College of Business with an anticipated graduation date of December 2016. I am a member of Pi Sigma Epsilon Business Fraternity and  a Freshman Basketball Coach. In my free time I enjoy rooting on my beloved Buckeyes and anything and everything sports. As far as choosing to do a Student Exchange Program; I have always loved to travel;  but I won’t lie to you, spending a whole semester abroad and missing out on a lot of Ohio State things was definitely a thought that crossed my mind. In the end I decided to go all in and take advantage of the opportunity that I was blessed to come across and have absolutely no regrets. If anything my Student Exchange experience has been better than anticipated and I really fret it coming to an end in December.

It has officially been one month since my arrival in Milan, Italy and looking back I think it is safe to say it has been one of the fastest months, if not the fastest of my life. It has been jam packed with so many fun things like staying with an Italian family, traveling, meeting new people, learning some Italian and taking classes that are really challenging me. To say it has all been good would be a lie, as some of the processes I had to do when first getting here really tested my patience, which I plan to touch on in a later post, but for now I want to keep everyone in high spirits.

Milan Derby
Milan Derby

So first, let me get it out of the way, and please the audience by telling everyone what they are expecting. Yes, the food is great and surprisingly, it’s not all pizza and pasta. I would have to say Milanese (a veal dish typical to Milan) is my favorite and the gelato has lived up to all expectations. I have traveled to Florence, Lake Como, Cinque Terre, and have Verona this coming weekend, Rome the weekend after and was also lucky enough to attend The Milan Derby. Every place has a unique, different feature and not one is exactly the same which is something that has really impressed me. But from the blogs that I have seen and read; most every one is about the traveling and I  can’t say that is the best part thus far of my study abroad experience. Rather, I want to touch on a hidden aspect of study abroad that I don’t think gets the recognition it should. That is the the amount of people I have met from all over the world and the networking connections that I have made for the rest of my life. I have met kids from all over the world and now know them on a personal scale. Though, I don’t know what will happen in the future I can only imagine these connections will pay dividends beyond what the classroom will; Professionally but more importantly on a personal basis, friendships that will last a lifetime.

To start, on August 24th I arrived in Milan (Milano as it’s called here) and was picked up and greeted my friend Davide at the airport where we then traveled to his home in a small town called Malnate, Italy. Davide was a friend of mine that I met when I traveled to Italy in 2011 for an international basketball tournament. Davide and I now message and talk daily and I know I always have a place to stay in Italy and the same to him in Ohio. His family was super welcoming and I got to experience Italian culture for a few days before moving to the dorms. Got to eat some awesome meals made by him and his mom, drink some special Italian wine and attempt to learn a little bit of Italian with him. To top off these first few days he was kind enough to show me around Florence and Lake Como, two of the top places to see in Italy. The 3 days flew by and by Thursday I had to move in the dorm but plan to visit him at his school hear in the near future.

Davide and I taking a selfie in Florence
Davide and I taking a selfie in Florence

So, now to the dorm. Where I have made the most connections by far.  Though the dorm is not the nicest and about 20 minutes from the University, I would not change the experience of living here for anything. I don’t know the exact numbers but I believe there are 6 continents (no Antarctica) and around 15 countries represented in this small five story dormitory. I basically have been around the world in 4 weeks. (Not Literally) I have met and become very good friends with three kids from Chile, one from Brazil, four from Canada, two from Australia, one from Netherlands, and the list goes on. I can’t really pin point the exact numbers but I would imagine that is a multiple thousand-mile network I have created and friends that I have for the rest of my life. On top of that, Bocconi itself has students across 50 different countries. In the dorms, almost every night we cook together, hang out together and just learn about so many different cultures. For example, if you ever hear an Australian say “Thanks Heaps” it means thanks a ton and if you ask a kid from Europe what his/her major is be ready to be stared at by a very confused face; because in Europe and elsewhere around the world it is simply “What do you study?” Every day a group of us play basketball outside the dorm, we all study together, travel together, etc. It really has opened so many gates and taught me so much that will be beneficial in my future, whatever I decide to do. It makes you leave your comfort zone, figuring out how to communicate with kids whose first language isn’t English, and gives you so many different views and aspects on the world that are second to none. Makes your tool kit that much bigger and experiences that much better.

I don’t want to dive into classes here too much since it only has been 3 weeks but I have already been lucky enough to have a very well known business man here in Italy speak to my class. My professor, who studied at Yale, knew him from work. His name was Gianluca Manca and he is The Head of Sustainability at Eurizon Capital. He went into a lot of depth about the issues in our environment and how it relates to investors and their decisions. It was a really cool talk and now I have an Italian connection for business who said if I can become fluent in the language he would be happy to give me connections and help me network here. My teacher has 3 or 4 more speakers scheduled through the semester so I will be sure to keep everyone updated on that.

Alright last thing I promise, I appreciate it if you have made it thus far, I will make it quick. I enrolled in a two week, 40 hour Italian language Crash Course in which we learned some very basic Italian Language. All I received was a certificate and will get no credit for it but I made a very good connection with the teacher which made it well worth it. We now exchange emails a few times a week in which I respond and talk to her in Italian, she corrects me and then responds in English and I do the same. Really has helped my Italian immensely and I now plan to take the follow up course through the semester and have an Exchange Language Partner that I will start meeting with regularly next week to practice my Italian and help her with her English. Again, a huge, huge tool that I can use and friends that will last a lifetime.

My Italian Language Teacher and I after my exam
My Italian Language Teacher and I after my exam

It really is awesome to see just how different parts of the world are. It really makes you appreciate the world more and even the USA. It has opened up a whole new perspective on everything for me and I wish everyone had the opportunity that I have been blessed with. The world is shrinking and the Student Exchange Program gives you a step ahead and helps you create an invaluable network. I think if I can become fluent in other languages (Italian and Spanish are the first two!) these friends I have made would be more than willing to help me out with jobs and the same for me to them. The classroom doesn’t give you this opportunity. I have created so many different friends through so many activities in only my first month here. I can’t wait to see what is in store for the rest of my time here.

Hope you enjoyed my post and I really hope you at least consider the possibility of going abroad. So much world out there and so many people to meet.

Chile, Ohio, Chile, Australia, UNC
Chile, Ohio (Me), Chile, Australia, UNC

About the Author: Brad Schulze, Senior, Finance, Student Exchange Program- Italy.