Inbound students Study Abroad and Exchange at the University of Melbourne
Exchange in Semester 1, 2009
Masters of Applied Commerce (Marketing)
Milan in the middle of winter on a Sunday is not exactly the most welcoming of experiences. Deserted streets and icy cold winds was not what I was expecting when I signed on for the 'chic and stylish' Milan but as I learned from this experience, Milan is one of those cities that you learn to love. Don't expect the architecture and history of Rome or the beauty of Venice, but believe me, by the end of six months you will have a soft spot for the creative and crazy Milan.
I had always wanted to go on exchange but unfortunately it was never possible until I started my second degree at University of Melbourne. Being solely an English speaker I assumed I would have to settle for an exchange to either the UK or US, but to my surprise I came across Universita Commerciale Luigi Bocconi. Not only did they offer subjects in English, but it also provided me the perfect opportunity to finally learn some Italian and live in beautiful Italy. The University pulls students from all around the world, creating an extremely international learning environment and the opportunity to create a huge network of international friends. Because of this, Luigi Bocconi has great services for international students, providing you with ample support when looking for accommodation, arranging permits of stay, getting to understand the education system and most importantly meeting other exchange and local students.
Many exchange students choose to arrive in Milan a few weeks before class begins, which I highly recommend! This provides you with the opportunity to join in the pre-semester Italian language course, settle into their accommodation and join in on the various student run social activities. The University has two main student groups for exchange students, both of which put on a range of activities such as aperitivo nights (to be explained later), cheap entry to nightclubs, wine tasting sessions and day trips. I was lucky enough to join the trip to Carnevale in Venice which was absolutely amazing and the only time it is acceptable to paint your face or wear a crazy mask and wander by the canals of Venice.
Now to the educational side of things. Luigi Bocconi offers largely business related subjects, with some combining a focus on management of creative industries, an area I was keen to explore. The University has great links with industry so it wasn't uncommon to have a guest lecturer from Valentino or the UN. Classes are the perfect opportunity to meet local students, which always comes in handy when you need to know the best local watering hole, and I found that lecturers are always very keen to help. The administration system was perhaps not as efficient as we would experience at home. You tend, however, to get used to the 'Italian way of doing things' which becomes apparent in all aspects of everyday life.
Milan, thecity, has so many things to offer, you just need to be willing to take the time to explore. The beautiful Duomo is a highlight for tourists but I also recommend the Navigli canals and of course the shopping and a trip to a soccer match at San Siro, if you can. I chose to find my own apartment over university accommodation, which I highly recommend if you want a more authentic living experience. Italian public transport can often leave you stranded at the most inconvenient of times so either get a bike or build some calve muscles as they will both come in handy! Milanese nightlife can rival any other city in the world, particularly with its famous aperitivo. Most bars and cafes in Milan have a nightly happy hour, known as aperitivo, whereby you can not only purchase cheap drinks but you will also gain unlimited access to a buffet of pastas, pizzas and antipasto. Being budget stricken students, we often relied on aperitivo for many good nights out. One thing no-one warns you about is the crazy weather in Milan. Winter is gloomy with occasional patches of snow (invest in gumboots) and summer can get incredibly hot and humid. I spent many a night getting attacked by mosquitoes due to my lack of air-conditioning.
The most obvious benefit of exchange in Europe is all the amazing travel you get to do. Carriers often have cheap flights across Europe and the train is very handy for travel across Italy. Milan is also very close to Lake Como which is a beautiful day trip and the amazing Cinque Terre is only a few hours away if you are keen to explore some coastal views.
Overall, exchange to Milan has probably been the best experience of my life. I have met people from all around the world and built friendships for which I am very grateful. Exchange is the perfect opportunity to develop some independence, experience a new learning environment and of course, see the world. As mentioned, Milan does not always put its best face forward but once you get to know the city you will realise it has so much to offer and there will be many a time you crave the good ol' days in Milan. My top tips to anyone going on exchange to Luigi Bocconi would be the following:
1. Do the Italian Language Crash Course or at least learn some basic Italian to get around, the Milanese are much more friendly when you attempt the language.
2. Take advantage of subjects that aren't offered back home.
3. Join Facebook groups for International students as it is the perfect way to find non-university provided accommodation.
4. Include aperitivo as a staple in your life.
5. Develop your fake fashion media title in order to score tickets to the fashion shows.
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