India- Bahrain- Rome- Milan

Astha Dave headshot
Astha Dave
January 31, 2024

India- Bahrain- Rome- Milan

I was home over winter break, after spending more than a year in the U.S., in the middle of nowhere Ohio. As much as I was ready to leave to study abroad, I knew I would miss hanging out with my friends till we fell asleep, and just the idea of all of us being on literally three different continents of the world. Going home to India for a month helped me process and believe that I’m finally going to Milan. My Instagram was full of reels from Europe, and I was already planning trips with friends. I study at Denison University, and the minute I heard about the study abroad program, I was ready to book my next flight. I was debating between studying abroad for two semesters instead of one, but with my double major, I could only fit in one semester. 


I love traveling alone, and just exploring the city by myself, so I knew Milan would be the place for me. With my love for fashion, and staring at cute shops around, what else could I have asked for? I didn’t know anybody entering the program but I was familiar that four kids from my school were also going to be in Milan. 


The morning I got here, I bumped into this Indian girl at the airport who I chatted with while waiting for my bags, she ended up giving me her number in case I needed something. People who help you out feel so comforting in a new city. After walking out the door, I immediately saw two girls wearing an IES Abroad Milan shirt and I was guided back to my apartment. The taxi driver barely spoke English, but he left me right on the steps of Sabotino 16. My fingers clutched my bag tighter as he drove fast in the tiny streets of Milan while I was taking in the beauty of Milan. Coffee shops with outdoor seating, beautiful architectural buildings, a city with no skyscrapers, trams running on the same road as cars, delivery guys on scooters, and people walking in long coats and sunglasses. I was ready to be one of them walking. 


My first week here was just digesting being in Milan, understanding the cultural norms, and meeting new people. Our orientation presentation was helpful. I came here only with excitement because I have already been studying abroad in The United States and unfamiliarity has become an old friend. Italy is similar to India in a lot of ways, people wouldn’t smile at each other but would help you out if you ask a question. We don’t tip in South Asia, and people don’t expect to get tipped here either. Public transport is the best way to go around, and a cup of coffee is like “chai.” You drink coffee standing at the bar, instead of it being a sit-down place. 


The first week should include you walking around Milan, especially during the daytime and just familiarizing yourself. I went to Duomo, a guided tour to Castle Sforzesco with IES Abroad which was super interesting, must recommend it! And Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, as well as a visit to Starbucks Reserve. I went to restaurants around my building in my first week and was surprised to see how they don’t serve pizza in slices, but you have to cut it. I would say get a croissant, gelato, pasta, pizza, and Aperol Spritz in your first week! 


Some tips from me would be to use the public transport! It’s okay to get off at the wrong station, but Google Maps is super helpful and you will figure your way out, that’s how you will become confident navigating the routes. Metros run slower or stop after midnight, but the buses still work. Use metros and trams during the daytime to get used to it. Taxis are more common than Uber here, and less expensive too! Hold onto your belongings in tourist spots and clubs specifically. People get pickpocketed easily, so be smart. My friend carries a fanny pack and ties it underneath his hoodie, might be a good trick! 

A picture of Duomo Di Milano captured during my first week here

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Astha Dave

Hi there! I'm Astha Dave, from Denison University majoring in Psychology and Journalism. If you ever need a dance partner, don't hesitate to reach out to me, I love hip-hop, salsa, and bollywood dance :)

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