My First Days in Milano
It's been a while since I've updated the blog, but I'm finally sharing what I have been up to lately (better late than never). After an academically challenging semester at Madison, I spent the holiday season recharging at home with family and friends along with preparing for my semester abroad. I've known I would be spending my spring semester in Milan since last year, but it truly didn't feel real until I boarded my flight.
Though I have traveled before, I had never navigated airports completely on my own. Among my friends, I am notorious for having a bad sense of direction, so I was especially grateful that every connection went as planned. My itinerary included two connecting flights (ORD, JFK CDG, MXP), and for the most part, every gate was easy to find. I arrived in Milan around noon Italian time, ordered a private car to my residence, and tried desperately to stay awake until a reasonable time. I ended up passing out at 7:30 pm and waking up at midnight. Needless to say, my sleep schedule is still pretty off. I don't have any definite trips planned yet, but I'm hoping to visit London, Paris, Barcelona, Greece, and Amsterdam, to name a few, in addition to traveling throughout Italy.
The day after my arrival, I ventured down to Bocconi's campus to get to know the area. Since I live outside of the city, I use public transportation to get to most destinations, though navigating has been pretty simple so far. Thank goodness for Google Maps! While Bocconi's campus is much smaller than Madison's, the location is utterly charming, the classrooms are modern, and the design is clean and bright. I'm looking forward to adopting a routine and attending classes in the weeks to come!
Central Milan by the Duomo di Milano is one of the most inspiring places I've ever been! The vivacious central business district embraces modernity while maintaining its sense of history and romance at its core. The central square is a great place to shop, go out to eat, and take pictures. On the other hand, the Duomo is a huge tourist attraction, so I've been warned to be aware of pickpockets and scams. For the most part, I've felt very safe in Milan and take precautions as I would in any urban city.
Without a doubt, the street style here is unlike anything I have ever experienced! When reading about cultural differences in Italy and Europe in general, I learned that Europeans put more emphasis on presentation than we do in the United States. Therefore, it seems that almost everyone here has an elevated sense of style regardless of their interest in fashion. Some failproof staples embraced by young and stylish Italians include:
- Faux fur- this is everywhere (to my delight!)
- Neutral colors- when in doubt, wear black
- Wool coats- commonly black, camel, or gray
- Leather jackets- Zara is a go-to
- Denim- either skinny or mom jean style
- Skirts with tights- think 90s grunge
- Hoop earrings
- Chunky black boots- the return of the combat boot
- Chic, simple, and always on the go- stilettos will not fare well on cobblestone streets
- Sneakers- Adidas Superstars, Stan Smiths, or hightop Vans
- A more natural approach to beauty- ditch the curling iron!
- Designer handbags- endless Louis Vuitton Neverfull totes
One of my goals for the semester is to embrace European fashion trends and take advantage of living in the fashion capital of the world! In Madison, I used to stand out. In Milan, I am honored to fit in- at least style-wise. So far, I have made a few fun purchases at Zara, since Milan is currently having its Black Friday equivalent, but I am hoping to save up for one big designer purchase as a remembrance of my time here. At the moment I'm considering a designer handbag or Gucci loafer mules, but I want to get a better feel for the European vibe and think things through before making a rash decision. Fashion-wise, I am feeling more inspired than ever, and living here, even for this short time, has validated my desire to move to an urban and creative city after graduation.
I am no foodie, but shocker- Italian food in Italy is amazing. So far, I have mostly eaten bread, pasta, and pizza at restaurants, but I can also walk to the local supermarket to get fresh produce and quick meals to eat at home. I'm really hoping all the walking I'm doing will cancel out the carbs and gelato (I'm mostly kidding- mostly).
Since I am participating in an exchange program, many other students are in the same boat; we are new to the area and starting fresh as far as friendships. I have met many exchange students at welcome events and parties at clubs, in addition to hanging out around campus. So far, I have spent every day with different people, and I am trying to keep an open mind and be patient in forming lasting friendships. Overall, most everyone has been friendly and sociable, and I am hoping to solidify those relationships as the semester progresses. I am quite the introvert, so one of my goals is to say yes more often and put myself out there- less recharging, more experiencing.
I absolutely love Milan so far, but I've experienced a couple of challenges.
- I don't speak Italian- I'm proficient in Spanish which has some similarities, but language barriers are always a struggle
- Public transportation is fairly easy to use, but I am reliant on technology to get where I'm going
- Since I've been attending various university-sponsored parties, I've been staying out until early hours of the morning and sleeping until noon- definitely not an option once classes start
- Finding photographer friends- asking people to take pictures who don't want to is not ideal, but you'll only regret the pictures you didn't take!
- Contacting friends and family back home- the time difference (seven hours from WI time) will take some getting used to, but technology makes it easy to stay in touch
Thank you to those of you that made it through this post! I'm hoping to update at least every other week with my travels and fashion musings from Milano. I'm feeling incredibly grateful for this experience and the inspiration I have gained from living here during this short time. Cheers to a wonderful semester in Italy!
P.S. If you have any travel recommendations in Italy or Europe, do not hesitate to reach out!