Ciao! It has been almost 2 weeks since I arrived in Milan, Italy and I am so excited to be studying in the fashion capital of the world! I will be here until January for the Fall 2018 semester and I am ready to take on any opportunities and challenges that arise. Since my major is International Business with an emphasis in Italian/Western Europe, I am required to take all my classes in Italian at Università Bocconi. I have taken Italian for a few semesters at my home university in San Diego, but it is difficult to learn the language fluently until you are immersed in that country. I took an intensive language crash course a couple weeks before heading out to Italy, but I still have a long way to go before I am fully comfortable.
Classes started last week on September 5 and it was a bit nerve-wrecking walking in to my classes being one of the few foreign students in a class full of Italians. I was a little nervous because I am not yet fluent in Italian (more like intermediate) so there are still a lot of words that I need to learn. I can understand mostly everything with the context, but I found myself writing down a lot of words during class to look up later in the dictionary. Knowing Spanish definitely helps with understanding more words, but I have a long way to go. The first few weeks will be a challenge because I need to brushen up my Italian to fully grasp everything going on in class. I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but I know that it will pay off in the end because I hope to be fluent by the time this semester is over.
Moreover, let me talk about my initial experiences when arriving in Italy. I realized that Italians love to go on vacation and work as minimal as possible. I noticed this because I kept trying to get food around 3-4 pm for a few days and most places would be closed. I then figured out that most restaurants close from 3-7 pm. I asked my other European friends if this is how it is in their countries but they said that only Italy does this. I was also told that they basically take the whole month of August off to vacation and come back to their home city in September. A lot of businesses are closed during their vacation time.
In addition, I was surprised that they charge for water in every restaurant- and it’s expensive. I am so used to getting water for free when I go out to eat in the United States. They also have aperitivo which is like happy hour but it goes from about 7-10 pm and it is a time for Italians to socialize and eat/drink together- it is really fun. Furthermore, they party until like 6 am as opposed to 2 am in California. The thing that shocked me the most when arriving to Milan was how dirty I found my apartment when moving in. The previous tenants did not care to clean it and there was trash and dust everywhere. After informing the renting agency about it, they said they would send someone over to clean and they never did.
My friend and I spent the whole day cleaning the apartment ourselves. After talking to other people about it, I guess it is pretty common for that to happen in Italy…Italians are careless sometimes. Other than that, Milan is amazing so far and Italians are super nice! I am looking forward to what the semester brings. This experience will help me be a more open-minded and wiser person.