The Ways a City Can Change You

Annika Rader
August 4, 2022
milan skyline and wine glass

As I was in the cab, taking me to my fate of leaving Milan after over two months of being there, I was hit with one resounding feeling. I felt like I was mourning the loss of Milan and who I felt as though I became there. While obviously, who I’ve grown into this summer will be coming home with me, it’s different than if I were to remain in Milan. I was sad that I would be leaving the city that contributed to making me who I am now.

One aspect of being abroad I feel like I never anticipated, before or throughout my journey, is how irrevocably changed I feel now afterwards. I came and left with the same suitcase, the same hair, the same clothing, and yet I feel transformed in so many ways. It’s amazing the way your life can change in just two months.

A main way I feel changed is just this sense of calmness and peace I feel. For a majority of my life, I’ve been a fairly Type A person. I like things a certain way, I like plans, and I am certainly not a “go with the flow” type of gal. Now, after over 2 months abroad, I feel much more relaxed, “go with the flow”, and there are so many things I used to stress about that I don’t even care about anymore. Even my mom mentioned to me that I seem much more chill and at peace with myself than she’s ever seen me. 

I attribute a lot of that to the Italian lifestyle and also the circumstances of being abroad. First of all, Italians are very go with the flow and “plan” is not generally a word in their vocabulary. This means you either need to be the same or spend a lot of time stressed out about “plans” that no one else cares about or listens to. Also, while abroad, planning weekend trips is often a last-minute type of decision which makes in-depth planning a bit complicated. It’s much easier to decide the big things you want to do and then “go with the flow” once you get there. I am very thankful to my circumstances for giving me this mentality, because I honestly feel so much more relaxed than I’ve ever felt.

Another big change in my life is my confidence. While I’ve always been a fairly confident person, I have never been thrown into a situation where I had no clue what to do and had to figure it out. I feel like after spending the whole summer basically doing just that, I am confident that I can handle pretty much any situation that is thrown my way. If I can navigate the Athens railway system which is entirely in Greek (a language I don’t speak), then I feel like I can figure just about anything out.

Now that I’m home, I really miss the city that helped me grow into myself. Milan has become home, my safe place, and a place I feel I can truly be myself in. I even got a tattoo dedicated to the city! Hopefully on your experience abroad, your city can help you grow into who you’ve always wanted to be like Milan did for me.

Annika Rader

<p>Ciao! My name is Annika Rader (aw-nih-kuh if you're wondering how to say it) and I am a junior at University of Missouri Columbia. I study Textile and Apparel Management major (which is just a fancy way to say fashion) with a Business minor. I am a writing intensive TA for my department, which tells you my love for writing, and I also work in my university's historical clothing collection. I love to learn, I'm an avid reader, and I've never met a thrift shop I didn't like. I can't wait to merge my vintage and thrifted style into the chicness of Milan and document my experience through writing. I want to share the good, the bad, and the (hopefully very little) ugly of my time abroad and maybe inspire others to experience it too. Milan here I come!</p>

2022 Summer 1, 2022 Summer 2
Home university:
University of Missouri - Columbia
Cedar Rapids, IA
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