A message from Anastasia Cook to future student who are considering a semester abroad on the Student Exchange Program: Go, Experience, Live! She shares her heart filling memories and the reasons why you should go abroad to Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Italy.
GO. If you are considering it, but not sure if you will feel home sick, if you will make friends, you won’t like the location, or whatever reason: YOU WILL BE FINE! Exchange was seriously the BEST 5 months of my entire life. I never wanted it to end. No, this is not because I choose a blow off course load, and just partied the whole time. I went to “the Harvard of Europe” AKA Bocconi, a program only available through Fisher. This was so much better than a regular program because it was useful classes, and the professors are world recognized lecturers whom have a deep passion for their subject.
I decided to take Corporate Finance, even though it is a known “difficult” class even for full time Bocconi Students. After about a week, I found myself reading the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times in my free time, not only because it helped me during our open discussions in class, but also because I was shocked that I could actually fully understand what the articles were saying. Not only this, but we were given two case studies throughout the semester that were from Harvard and Stanford. These studies also brought real life situations into the classroom, thus showing us the applicability of finance in everyday business life. Some classes were harder than others, but now this is a school I am going to apply to, for my MBA; pretty cool.
Besides the school, THE PEOPLE. All I can say is: my best friends are Swedish, Norwegian, German, and Italian after this short time period. I have already booked a flight back to Europe during the summer to visit my friends that I have made. When you combine many people from all over the world, its not a lonely feeling. People are so keen on meeting as many people as they can, and genuinely want to get to know you. We started out attending international student events that Italian students held, to throwing our own events that the Italians then came to. It was so cool to see how you find your “group”. Trust me, you will never be alone.
I have to mention the Erasmus student group here, because they truly got me out of my shell. I went to speed dating, social nights, and weekend trips to Tuscany with this group. From this, I ended up planning a 2 week long spring break in the South of Italy with some of the people I had meet through this group. My favorite memory that I had from one of my trips was going to Morocco, four wheeling in the Sahara Desert and then spending the night at a desert camp.
If you couldn’t tell already, I studied in Italy. Milan to be exact. Many people at first were shocked that this was not “so quaint” and filled with cobble stone streets, but it was SO MUCH MORE. One of the least touristy cities in Italy, thus filled with actual Italian culture, and hidden secrets that one would only know of if they actually went to school there. I HIGHLY recommend this city and this program. I took friends from home around to some of my new favorite places and although it was not the Colosseum, I swear they liked it way better than the tourist traps.
I am tearing up writing this, because I would give anything in the world to go back even just for one more week. GO, EXPERIENCE, LIVE!!! It goes by so fast, so really try to soak up every single moment…. You’ll never get a chance like this again.
As Jayna Wolfe ends her semester abroad on the Student Exchange Program in Italy, she leaves you with some of her final thoughts about studying abroad and why you should go global from a personal and professional standpoint.
As the semester draws to a close I would like to devote my final blog post to address what I have learned over the last four months of my life and express why I think a semester abroad is a valuable experience for a Fisher College of Business student.
I find myself with a nagging question in the back of my mind, “did you see everything you wanted to see, do everything you wanted to do, and take advantage of the opportunity to its fullest extent?” These questions of reflection appear in my mind when new experiences come to an end, and looking back on my time as an exchange student I can honestly say that I have done what I came here to do.
Study abroad is what you make of it. My friends and I have oftentimes wondered when we return to our homes over the next few weeks, if our loved ones and friends will notice any changes. Maybe it won’t be anything blatantly obvious, but I think seeing the world changes a person. Adult life and its responsibilities are right around the corner and during the college years our thoughts and opinions are still heavily influenced by new experiences. I recently read an article about the importance of traveling when you are young. I couldn’t agree more and I believe that traveling alone/without family at this age has the ability to alter many different aspects of a person’s life.
My first and only experience abroad before Italy was the summer of 2014. I spent about five days working at a trade show in Harrogate, England and then two weeks at the international branch of the company I was interning for in Huddersfield, England. In just 20 days I returned home with a major perspective change on just how massive the world really is, a new sense of independence, and the realization that the horizon of opportunities ahead was even broader than I had originally anticipated. Making connections abroad gave me access to new and very different resources and perspectives. The desire to explore employment options with international opportunities along with the realization that it could actually become a reality were turning points in my perspective on the future. My 20 days in the UK amplified my aspiration to study abroad and seize the opportunity to explore other countries and learn more about myself.
I’ve always thought of myself as an independent person, but this entire experience was independence on a new level for me. When I felt alone, I felt very alone and when I saw a new place it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in my short twenty-one years. I felt a greater need to stay in touch with what was going on back home and developed a new appreciation for the news. I cleaned out my friend list and restored my Facebook news feed to give me relevant updates on business, politics, and world events since I was constantly using the social media site for communication with other exchange students. I started paying closer attention to non-U.S. news sources in order to have a different and less biased view on European news and outside opinions on the drama of U.S. politics. I cared less about buying clothing and material items and more about eating amazing food. I scoured guidebooks and Wikipedia pages for further information about historical sights and the places I was visiting. I developed a newfound interest in a subject I loathed in high school, history. I’m very detail oriented and found myself having a big role in planning trips and leading the way with a map close at hand to make sure we saw the sights. I discovered how to get by with the Italian language. Overall I have learned so much from Italy, Bocconi University, and my time spent traveling that I am confident I have become more well rounded as a person.
I hope that the Fisher Student Exchange program grows. Other universities have 5-10 students attending Bocconi each semester while we typically can only reserve 1-2 spots depending on the interest Bocconi students have in coming to Ohio State University. Bocconi’s exchange network is massive with over 800 exchange students this fall from an impressively diverse list of foreign partner institutions from every continent (except Antarctica). If nothing else, researching the program and attending an information session can help students learn something about a foreign institution or a different country, and shed some light on the program’s feasibility.
I never thought of study abroad as something that I could afford. Growing up my family never took trips outside of the U.S., I didn’t know what it meant to be a true tourist, and I’ve always had different jobs during the academic year and internships in the summers to help out with paying for tuition and rent. The exchange program, Fisher College of Business, and Ohio State University offer some excellent scholarships to assist students with funding an invaluable semester abroad. During the program students pay a normal OSU semester of tuition and can utilize the federal loans they might receive during a standard semester of school. The most daunting of expenses are the plane ticket to Europe and rent. With some strategic planning and insight on appropriate dates to travel I believe that it is possible to find flights that are reasonable in price. My rent payment for a dorm that was cleaned on a weekly basis and had all the essentials (including a private bedroom) cost no more than a mid-budget off-campus housing option in Columbus. Drafting a budget and forecasting expenses is an excellent exercise that helped me understand where I stood financially before I left the U.S. and what I’ll need in order to get by when I return to Ohio State in January. As with living anywhere there are ways to live frugally and cut costs while abroad so that saving for some amazing travel experiences is easy.
Taking a college student out of their natural environment for four months reveals a lot about a person and presents an opportunity for that person to face a completely new list of daily struggles and triumphs. Simple activities like riding public transport to school every morning, visiting the grocery store, or ordering a coffee when the bartender doesn’t speak English, and big things like how to budget and travel without hindering academic progress are part of the daily routine. Staying organized both in preparing for the time abroad and in everyday life once abroad can help to avoid silly mistakes that will save money and prevent students from finding themselves in dangerous situations. I have heard countless stories about getting fined on the trains, having items stolen, losing keys, getting excess charges for booking with the wrong companies, and just in general getting taken advantage of. As a student traveling around Europe with friends it is easy to lose the feeling of being a tourist and become overly confident. Staying alert and aware while also having a good time can save traveling students from headaches and unwanted expenses.
Time is something I’ve thought about a lot in the last few weeks. I have already looked through my photo library multiple times to keep reminding myself of the four months I have had in Milan and the amazing experiences I’ve had traveling this semester. Since arriving in August I have visited Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Verona, Corfu (Greece), Florence/Tuscany, Barcelona (Spain), Genoa, Amsterdam (Netherlands), Marrakech (Morocco), Parma, and Rome. I have taken pictures that I will cherish for years to come. I never could have imagined that I would be camping in the Sahara Desert on Thanksgiving Day, jumping off cliffs in the Mediterranean Sea, or laying eyes on some of the greatest artistic works of the Renaissance era. Italy has been very good to me, and I am promising myself that I will return.
No matter where the opportunity might present itself I highly recommend that students do everything in their power to study abroad. I firmly believe that I will return home with a lot more to offer and that through their own unique set of experiences this is true for every student.
Please feel free to contact me with questions you might have about my experience or studying abroad in general. I am happy to share what I have learned and love meeting new people with a similar passion for learning more about the global environment we live in.
With the very best regards,
Jayna Wolfe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
About the Author: Jayna Wolfe, Senior, Logistics Management, Student Exchange Program- Italy, first time traveler to Europe. Planned graduation in SP 2016.
Brad Schulze reflects back on the wonderful four months in Italy on the Students Exchange Program. It was challenging, inspiring, eye-opening, adventurous, but a life changing experience that he learned more about himself then ever before.
They say time flies when your having fun and that couldn’t be more true than this past semester. Here I am, sitting in the Baltimore airport, eating Chipotle for the first time in quite some time, waiting for one more connecting flight to head home. Finals are over, the packing is done but it still hasn’t hit me that it has come to an end. It is weird to think that exactly four months ago I sat in the same airport but headed in the opposite direction with a sense of uncertainty on what to expect. What would Italy be like? Would I make new friends? Would I have fun? Well now I can say I sit here with nothing but certainty. Certainty that I had the best four months of my life. Certainty that I have made friends for life. Certainty I learned more about myself in four months than in 21 years of life and certainty that Italy and Europe treated me well and that I certainly will be back.
If you had asked me about a year ago from today where I saw myself in a year; the answer would have been finishing up finals at OSU and headed home for the holidays. Instead, in reality I was headed home from an experience of a lifetime. I had spent four months in a foreign continent traveling and experiencing different cultures, gaining worldwide friends, learning from teachers across the globe and learning more about myself than ever before.
How many 21 years old are lucky enough to experience the things that I did? I got to bike across the Netherlands countryside, biked through Barcelona, ate Belgian waffles in Brussels, sipped on a few Guinesse’s and listened to live local bands in Dublin, took a trip back to the Roman Empire and visited the colleseum, visited two of the worlds most famous churches, La Sagrada Familia and Milan Duomo and of enjoy a nice Roman sunset. During the week I got to go to dinner and hang out with kids from around the world. Learn some deutch, spanish and italian. Plan a thanksgiving potluck for 30 people and have a Turkey Bowl. I got to pick up a job tutoring two young Italian kids in English and grab coffee once a week with my italian language partner. The list goes on and on and on.
An experience like this really put things in perspective and teaches you so much. Really makes you realize just how big the world is and just how many awesome places and awesome people there are. Makes you realize just how small, in reality, Ohio State is. Made me realize that while living in a foreign country is a scary thought, it is quite possible. Hard to describe but being alone in a country, planning classes, studying for exams, requesting Airbnb’s and just being on your own really is an accomplished feeling. Makes other daunting tasks not seem so hard. Really just teaches you that the world is big and the opportunities are out there, and with some motivation, are very doable.
It felt like a blink of an eye and was very hard to say good bye to my “temporary” life in Milan and hard to say good bye to all the great people I met. So many thanks to go around to so many people for such a great four months. To all my friends; especially my parents for all their support and of course The Fisher Student Exchange Program. Studying abroad had to be the best experience of my life up until this point and I hope an opportunity to return presents itself in the very near future. I never would have thought the experience would have been this great. It fullfilled and surpassed every expectation I had. From traveling to making new friends and learning a new language it was an A++. Made friendships that will last a lifetime and a part of me will always be in Milan, Italy. To a great four months and until next time.
Thanks Europe for the time of my life.
About the Author: Brad Schulze, Senior, Finance, Student Exchange Program- Italy
Let Brad Schulze help you navigate the educational system in Italy and share his tips of being a successful student at Bocconi University, as he spends his semester on the Student Exchange Program.
Imagine having a class scheduled for an entire semester at a certain place and a certain time; for example, at 10 am on Thursdays. Now imagine having another class that is canceled and rescheduled to the exact same time as your 10 am Thursday class and you have to miss the rescheduled class BUT are unable to get the absence excused by your teacher or by the university. Welcome to Italy. Welcome to Milan; and welcome to Bocconi Univeristy. A complete 360 from what you are used to; but an experience of a lifetime.
Just a quick background on the university in which I am spending my semester. It’s called Bocconi University and is highly regarded as one of the top business and overall university’s in Italy and in all of Europe. It consists of 2 main classroom buildings, 3 or 4 other buildings, a cafeteria, a gym, dorms and a bank. THAT IS IT. It is small, no question. It was a complete 360 from Ohio State and where I had spent the last 2 years of my college career studying. There are three huge differences that I can see and those are university lifestyle, classroom and school structure and self-study and self preparation for exams. Understanding the 3 and how to adapt has been crucial for me to succeed in my classes.
First, the university lifestyle. I hate to break it to you Buckeyes but there is no college football and in that case any college sports at the universities here in Italy. You won’t see your fellow Bocconian’s traveling down the street on a Friday afternoon repping their gear for Saturday’s big game. Just won’t find it. There aren’t nearly as many clubs and organizations to get involved in and you most certainly won’t see hundreds of your classmates tossing the Frisbee or lying out studying on your way to class; as I mentioned above there really is no campus quad, etc. I definitely was not anticipating the usual US college lifestyle when preparing to attend Bocconi but I can definitely say I was very shocked at just how different the two are. Of course I am bias and believe the Buckeyes and campus lifestyle at Ohio State trumps that of Bocconi but it most certainly has not taken away from the experience at Bocconi. Here you get to work and learn with kids from all over the world; more so than Ohio State. Instead of paying $7 for lunch on high street their are many local pizzerias where you can snag lunch for less than $3. Completely different and un-comparable. A different experience to say the least.
Moving on from the lifestyle, imagine yourself sitting in a lecture on Portfolio Management; with a professor who you may not find the most interesting for three hours every Friday morning with only one five-minute break that is denote as “the smoke break”. If you have never been blessed with this experience, I am here to tell you; you are not missing out. This is quite common at Bocconi. They only offer classes in either blocks of 1.5 hours, in which you have class twice a week, and 3 hour in which you have class once a week. Aside from that each class, from my knowledge, is only offered around 3 or 4 times a week so there is very little flexibility in creating your “ideal schedule.” Finally, as far as structure goes, and what I wish I had been a little better prepared for, is the idea that your grade completely falls on the shoulders of your final exam. Most classes here have very little, if any, homework and there is no such thing as participation points. With the different structure and all the traveling I wanted to do, I really had to adapt my studying and learning habits in order to succeed here at Bocconi. There was a learning curve but I think I have finally come up with my studying techniques (which I share at the end of this post) that will help me do well on my finals coming up in November.
The first thing I learned is that buying the textbook is a must. Unlike Ohio State where for a majority of the classes the textbook is a recommended learning material; it is the learning material. Being proactive and reading the chapters and doing some practice problems ahead of class is a huge advantage. The teachers here don’t take the time to make sure you understand the material and go at a very fast pace. The fast pace also makes office hours a must but the only problem is there are very few and they change a lot. I have learned it is much better to just send the teacher an email and set up a meeting. This way you know he/she will be there and won’t waste valuable time. Lastly, and maybe the most important is just to be kind and patient with the teacher. It is a different culture here and if you show an understanding of that and are patient they are way more willing to work with you through any problems you may have.
Looking back on this; it makes me realize that had I known all this before my semester begun it would have been way smoother; but to be honest I am glad I didn’t. It really has pushed me to academic levels I would have never thought possible. It has been one of the best parts of studying abroad and as I sit here describing my experiences and giving my advice it will be different for everyone and the best advice I can give is just be ready for change. There is no right or wrong answer or right or wrong way of doing certain things; you just need to figure out what works for you. And I believe if you can do the following things you will have a great and successful semester, academically and culturally, abroad even through the highs and lows.
Be patient. You won’t have the answer for every problem on Day 1. It takes some time.
Be adaptable. The way things are done here will cause some differences in what you are use to on a day to day basis. Be ready to adapt to those in order to make the most out of your abroad experience.
Take Initiative. Even more so than back home. Be on top of things. Office hours are not encouraged as much and most teachers only have them on an appointment basis. It is up to you to take advantage of these things.
Stay on Top of Things and Find a Balance. This may be the most important tip I can give. Yes, you are a student first but studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience. You will want to travel to all the top places on your bucket list, hang out with all your new worldwide friends and enjoy events hosted by your university. To be able to do all these awesome things it is very important that you do not fall behind. Create a schedule and find the right balance for you.
So even though, 2 months later, I still have not been able to get that 10 am Thursday Class absence excused; I am still here and still a student at Bocconi. Even though there are fewer office hours and teachers are less involved I am still doing just fine in all of my classes. Just because something is different doesn’t make it easier or harder or right or wrong. It just requires a little change. If studying abroad is something that interests you but the differences scare you; I promise that if you can be patient, be adaptable, take some initiative and find your balance, you will be just fine and better for it.
About the Author: Brad Schulze, Senior, Finance, Student Exchange Program- Italy.
Senior year Student Exchange participant, Jayna Wolfe, jumps into an Italian Career Fair to gain a better understanding of what the career competition is like in Italy at one of Europe’s top business schools, Bocconi University.
This past week I had the unique opportunity to attend the Bocconi & Jobs Career Fair Event that is hosted by Bocconi University once every semester. Excited for the incredibly relevant opportunity to see for myself what an Italian career fair might be like I dug the high heel shoes I have been neglecting and the fancy blazer out from the back of my closet.
The event runs from 10AM-5PM and is an exclusive occasion during which major Italian and international employers meet with students, graduates, and Specialized Master holders from the University. About 90 companies attended this year’s event and 40 of those companies were featured in 30 minute presentations during which recruiters described their company profile, organization, available internship and placement opportunities, and the selection processes. Most of the presentations were offered in English and some in Italian, another reminder of how lucky we are that English is the “international language.” A majority of the companies who attend the career fair require their employees to have sufficient proficiency in the English language. I was fortunate to have availability in my schedule to sit in on three of the company presentations- KIKO Milano, Procter & Gamble, and BlackRock, Inc.
KIKO Milano is a leading Italian cosmetics retailer currently operating in 12 markets across the world. KIKO is one of Antonio Percassi’s mono-brand retailers and currently operates over 700 stores worldwide. After its foundation in 1997 and almost a decade of brand establishment, KIKO opened its first retail store in Italy in 2005. The KIKO representatives began the information session by focusing on the brand and growth of the company over the last decade. The second half of the session was devoted to providing information about corporate job opportunities at KIKO’s headquarters in Bergamo, a city about 40 kilometers northeast of Milan. As a company focused on expanding their global presence and constantly looking for other growth opportunities, KIKO recruits in two main directions, retail and corporate staffing. I found it interesting that despite their rapid expansion there are only about 350 employees at the corporate headquarters in Bergamo, a promising sign for Bocconi students interested in career opportunities with KIKO Milano.
Overall, it was great to hear about an Italian company and the types of candidates the company is seeking. KIKO requires an initial interview, meeting with the line director of the position you are interested in, online assessment, and an English test. English fluency is a requirement in all departments except accounting. The ideal candidate is dynamic, with a great attitude and fashion sense, and an international mindset. Definitely a great opportunity for someone looking to work in an industry heavily involved with international markets.
I was particularly excited to hear the Proctor & Gamble presentation because the company has such a strong presence on OSU’s campus and I have previously had the opportunity to participate in P&G information sessions with some of the student organizations I am involved with. The four recruiters that presented during the P&G session based the thirty minutes around one central question “Are you ready to be the next P&G top manager?” After touching on why P&G is the place to be and identifying their ideal candidate the “Top Manager” event was explained to the group. Basically a fast track to growth opportunities, the “Top Manager” event and “P&G Group Case Competition” give students the chance to show off their talents and improve the likelihood of earning a job offer. Very interesting and reminiscent of case competitions at Ohio State.
BlackRock, Inc. was one of the final presentations of the day and I wanted to give myself a chance to hear what a financial company had to say, as finance is something I’m newly exposed to in my Corporate Finance course this semester. BlackRock is a multinational investment management corporation based in New York City and the company is the world’s largest asset manager. The presenter was fabulously British and instead of speaking specifically about BlackRock, used her time as a skills session on interviews and assessment centers. The focus was on the do’s and don’ts of interviewing and CV’s (AKA resumes, for some reason all of Europe and the UK uses this term) and how to nail an interview. The moral of my 30 minutes- Prep yourself before you wreck yourself.
General Observations About the Career Fair:
The students were not dressed in “business professional” (surprising for a university of primarily business students and Europe’s top business school). Recruiters at the career fair were dressed in their normal professional attire, but it seemed to me that only a handful of the students who might have been interviewing were truly dressed in suits. I believe this might have something to do with the culture and the nature of professionalism required at the Bocconi career fair. Maybe these students not dressed up were simply interested in preparing themselves for future opportunities rather than seriously dropping off resumes and hoping for interviews.
At Fisher you would not be permitted to enter in jeans and a hoody carrying your backpack.
Company information sessions took place during the career fair
Usually these take place as independent events organized by career services, or are hosted by Fisher student organizations during weekly meetings
Students as well as alumni are permitted to attend the career fair up to 3 years after graduating from Bocconi
Fisher students must be enrolled to attend the career fair
Almost as if hosting an on-campus event some of the companies were handing out goody bags of sample items
I’ve never received more than a fancy pen with the company’s name on it from a career fair at Fisher (maybe I just haven’t talked to the right people)
Overall, I believe the career fair was fairly similar to those I have attended at Ohio State. It was definitely smaller in scale, but similar in the way that students were approaching stands of companies they were interested in with hopes of dropping resumes with the recruiters. The approach to recruiting also seems to be similar with interviews, resumes, and general communication between recruiters and students. However, in general the opportunities presented at the career fair span far beyond the borders of Italy. Students at a Bocconi career fair are much more likely to encounter job offers in other parts of Europe and the UK depending on the companies they approach. Although companies that recruit in the U.S. offer some opportunities abroad they do not typically start new employees at international locations (at least from my experience). This is definitely the result of the way in which European countries operate as a whole with a standardized currency and similar employment laws.
Much like back home, students at Bocconi are constantly looking for ways to get ahead in their future business careers. Despite the competitive environment I was surprised that more of my peers in the exchange program were not determined to suit up, attend the company presentations, and get face-time with international recruiters. I think it is easy to get caught up in the allure of traveling while you are an exchange student, and although I have loved every second of exploring new places with my friends, I think it is also important to remember why we are here. We are here because we are competitive business students who have the desire to explore the world in which we live beyond the borders of our home country. We are here because we had the drive and motivation to apply for a competitive program that we believe will open the doors to opportunities beyond an undergraduate degree. I am absolutely proud and blessed to be here.
As a fourth year student planning to graduate in the spring I am beginning to struggle with the idea that I will be making a decision about full-time employment in the coming months. On one side of the spectrum there are people who tell you to work hard, always keep your eye out for the next opportunity, and never be afraid to try new things. On the other side there is encouragement to relax, after all, you’ll only ever be 21 in Europe with the world at your fingertips once. Ohio State and Fisher College of Business have taught me to work hard, always. I am not the type of person who is pleased with doing average, and can sometimes be too critical of myself. I am excited to return to OSU and figure out what my next steps after graduation will be, but for now I think the best advice I can give myself, or anyone else who might be in a similar situation would be- use this precious time to make memories and have experiences that will build you up when you sit down to write a cover letter, perfect your resume, and prepare for an interview. Not everyone is ok with leaving their home country for 4 months, and not everyone will get the chance– recognize the opportunities you have here and now and take advantage of them.
Until next time!
About the Author: Jayna Wolfe, Senior, Logistics Management. Student Exchange Program- Italy.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
About the Author: Brad Schulze, Senior, Finance, Student Exchange Program- Italy.
Jayna Wolfe shares her excitement being exposed to an array of people and opportunity being on the Student Exchange Program at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Hear about her experience of her first few weeks in Europe and the small adventures she has on a daily basis living in a different country.
Ciao from Milano! My name is Jayna Wolfe and I am a fourth year logistics management student currently studying at Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in Milan, Italy. I have now been in Milan for about three weeks and am settling back into a more normal balance of academia and fun. My first week and a half in Milan was filled with welcome events including things such as “Speed Exchange” (a mock speed date for exchange students), orientation meetings, campus tours, visits to the Duomo and lots of socializing.
A large portion of the 850 exchange students at Bocconi participated in an Italian language “crash course” and quickly started meeting each other and forming travel groups. I chose not to participate in the crash course, but have found that the excitement of being on exchange is similar to being a freshman at your college university—everyone is a little unsure about how life will be and is therefore willing to extend their hand and introduce themselves if you are willing to do the same.
Bocconi exchange students hail from North America, Latin America, Oceania, Africa and the Middle East. I can honestly say that when first becoming interested in Bocconi I had no idea that I would be meeting students from such a wide range of universities and different cultural backgrounds. The diversity in my peers has made my experiences in the classroom very different from those at Fisher College of Business. I am currently enrolled in a corporate finance class and although the course is taught in English and utilizes dollars in practice problems, our professor encourages input from every student on similarities and differences between the American financial system and the system of the country the students hail from. When asked in my entrepreneurship course to formulate ideas for innovative products and processes we will develop throughout the span of the course my classmates considered problems they face in their own countries. I was intrigued by my group member’s idea to create a system for displaced refugees to integrate into society. The refugee crisis is something we hear about on the news in the United States, but has never been something I consider on a day-to-day basis because of influxes in the number of migrants moving to the states. My group members are from Germany and Australia where these issues are prominent.
When asked where I am from I cannot simply say “the state of Ohio” because those unfamiliar with the geography of the US are only familiar with California, Florida, and New York City. Participating in the classic first day of school ice breaker where each student states their name, country of origin, and home university I was in awe- Australia, Egypt, Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, Brazil, Turkey, and so on. Bocconi is truly a global institution and I am confident that I will walk away from this experience with a broader way of thinking, thanks to my peers. Each education system instills in its students’ different behaviors and methods of participating in the classroom. In just one and a half short weeks of class I have been enlightened by my classmate’s different ways of thinking and participating. Some students are incredibly comfortable with shouting out to the professors as though they are having a one-on-one discussion while most of the American student have learned that in a classroom you always raise your hand unless told otherwise.
The wide variety of courses offered to exchange students that coincide with Ohio State course credit is a huge benefit of coming to Bocconi. This semester I am enrolled in Leadership Skills, Corporate Finance, Organizing Entrepreneurship, and New Product Development and Open Innovation. Some of these courses are similar to topics covered in leadership and development courses I have already taken, but the professors have accents from around the globe, are impressively decorated with research distinctions, and have been visiting professors at universities all over the world. These distinctions and scopes of experience make for interesting class periods and excellent networking contacts for students.
I feel incredibly blessed to have the chance to participate in this program and to be able to say that at this very moment I am a Bocconi student, and I am in Europe. The ability to travel on the weekends, see amazing places and meet such wonderful people gives you a different sense of freedom than being in your home country. Every tram ride, trip to the grocery store, and visit to the Galleria is a new adventure without the feeling that you are a tourist. My weekly trips to the grocery store that started as one of the most confusing life processes have become routinized as the layout is now clear. Clerks speak broken English if any at all, and navigating around a sea of shoppers (the grocery is crowded at every hour of the day) you are constantly yelling “scusa!” (sorry, or excuse me). I finally know how to respond when the clerks ask “sacchetto?” (bag?) or “carta?” (card?). Each learning experience no matter how big or small helps with becoming more and more confident in your ability to navigate the unknown.
Here’s a brief travel update of what’s to come:
Cinque Terre, Italy
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Arriverderci! (See you later)
About the Author: Jayna Wolfe, Senior, Logistics Management, Student Exchange Program- Italy, first time traveler to Europe.
Natale a Milano (or “Christmas in Milan” for those not versed in Italian) is a very beautiful and busy time of year. Being the fashion capital of the world, Milan is known for its high-end stores and extravagant shopping experience. During the holiday season, this is especially noticeable from the crowds of people from all over Italy and the world.
Since I had already finished most of my shopping for gifts/souvenirs throughout the semester, I was able to enjoy the surroundings and decorations without the stress of checking things off my list. The city-center has a very large and well-decorated tree that looks beautiful next to the Duomo, and all the stores are festively decorated with trees and lights as well. There is also a Christmas market in the main square that’s full of fresh chocolates, nuts, fruits, and Christmas-themed gifts and trinkets from local producers in Milan. Thankfully it is not too cold here to keep people inside, because the large crowds and outdoor environment was a very nice experience for me 🙂
It is hard to believe that my four and a half months in Italy has come to a close. While there were many ups and downs this past semester has been an incredible experience. I will never forget the people I have met, the friends I have made, the things I have learned or the places I have visited. As I think back on this experience it amazes me all I was able to do and experience in such a short period of time. I have done things I have only dreamed about doing and its hard to bring that experience to a close. Italy brought me some amazing memories and helped me to develop a new perspective. I traveled to some amazing cities and learned so much about so many different cultures.
I cannot believe I have just wrapped up my finals and have concluded my fall semester of studies. Schooling was very different in Milan than it is here in the states and that was something that was hard to get used to! My classes in particular had no homeowrk assignments, no quizes or tests and many of them came down to a final and a project at the end of the year. This made preparing for my finals very difficult, but I am happy I got through them!
While I have learned there is no place like home I know I am going to miss Milan and all my friends there so much. This experience gave me the opportunity to meet and make friends from all over the world includeing places like Colombia and Chile. I am so thankful for these opportunities. Saying goodbye last week to an incredible city and incredible friends was much harder than I expected. However, I am happy to be home and this isnt goodbye, it’s until next time Italy! Ciao!!
One of the great things about attending a prestigious business school is the opportunity to hear from prominent figures in the world. This extends beyond the typical C-suite faces, and today at Bocconi we had the privilege to welcome renowned director Spike Lee. He spoke first about his work in sports documentaries, and how sports can transcend boundaries in the classroom, community, and various cultures. Sporting events form a common bond for people who otherwise would have none, and their influence on our lives goes beyond the stadium or TV screen.
Lee also went on to discuss some of the prominent events in the United States right now revolving racial issues. His insight on these topics most importantly focused on the actions of young people, and the struggles and determination we have to resolve these issues. He said how inspired he is by the youth of America, and his words really seemed to move the crowd, particularly those unaware of some of the realities we are facing right now in the United States and how important our actions will be on the future of the country. Truly an inspirational and moving experience.