Adapting to a New Italian Lifestlye

The first few weeks of my unforgettable Student Exchange Program semester at Bocconi University  in Milan Italy. 

When choosing to study abroad, the idea of adapting to a new country, school, and overall living environment can be extremely daunting. As I came into the semester knowing nobody else, I was truly entering an experience outside of my comfort zone. However, in just the first few weeks I was able to meet so many different people from around the world, become immersed in the language, and become more acquainted with the beautiful city.

After much consideration I decided to live in the dorms provided by Bocconi. I chose to live in Arcobaleno (the exchange student dorm), as I had heard from previous students that this was the best environment to meet new people. Although the dorms were just a little south of the city, everything was always very easily accessible via metro/tram. I met my closest friends in this dorm, for it provides such an easy way to meet people in the kitchens, common rooms and gym. The rooms were quite nice with a kitchenette, balcony, bathroom and individual bedrooms. My roommate is from London and it’s been great getting to know her as we navigate this semester together. Everyone in the dorm is open to meeting others, so I would highly recommend living in Arcobaleno if you don’t mind just a slightly longer commute. 

The campus of Bocconi is such a good representation of how Milan is, where traditional meets modern. Milan is considered the financial capital of Italy and this can easily be seen through the various financial districts throughout the city. Bocconi’s campus is extremely sleek and up to date, but take a step off campus and you’re immersed in the classic narrow Italian street ways with the amazing aroma of cannoli and pizza filling the air. It is truly the best of both worlds in terms in terms of European campuses. 

Before classes start, there is an optional Italian Crash Course offered to exchange students. This program lasts two weeks and gave me the opportunity to become a little more acquainted with the campus before classes started. Additionally, as a french minor and language lover, I was extremely excited for a chance to learn some Italian. This class has given me the opportunity to meet some other students, many of which I will end up having classes with. It’s great being able to test and improve my Italian while here and makes me excited to continue it in the future. Even though I’ve had a few awkward run-ins where I have to fiddle with Google translate, or where an Italian looks at me like I’m speaking jibberish –it’s all been a learning experience! My Italian teacher has said repeatedly through her lessons ‘There’s no better place to learn Italian than Italy itself!’ 

Going along with this new ‘authentic learning experience’ there has been a lot to be learned about the city itself. In the beginning it was super easy to find myself lost within the narrow streets or taking the wrong tram. I can’t even count on two hands the amount of times I’ve taken the #3 tram when I was supposed to take the #15, but through this I’ve been able to see parts of the city I would’ve never seen otherwise. I still haven’t quite gotten used to seeing the magnificent Duomo everyday just in passing, or how pizza, pasta and gelato are available at every store corner. However, I loved every minute adapting to these changes. As I’m constantly learning about all that Italy has to offer, I can’t help but get excited for travel within the country. It has been extremely fun to navigate Milan with my newly made friends from around the world. No matter the nationality, every abroad student I’ve encountered so far has been so kind and open-minded. It’s been such a cohesive environment for meeting new people, and I’ve been lucky to find people so soon that I know I will be friends with, long after this semester. From exploring campus to practicing our butchered Italian, it has all been such an adventure thus far.

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