Ciao! As this semester abroad is coming to an end, I decided to reflect on my time. I realized that something I wish I had, was just a really long and detailed document with everything you could possibly have questions about...so I made one! Honestly—this is super long, but if you are studying in Milan, you will LOVE me for posting this!! (Even other locations some of this info could be helpful) :) Anyways, enjoy!
In this you will find information on:
- Best things I packed
- What I wish I packed
- What I bought in Milan
- Things I am leaving in Milan
- Websites/Apps I used most
- Public Transportation
- ATM cards, busses, metro, trams, tips and tricks to navigating
- Milan Airports and High Speed Trains
- Everything you’ll need to know about traveling
- Luggage must-knows
- Things I wish people told me!
- Guide to buy things/get things done
- Nail salon, hair salon, grocery stores, pharmacy, necessities, workout gear…
Things I bought in Italy that I am going to…
- Take home with me
- Blow dryer
- Curling iron
- Picnic blanket
- Donate/Leave in Italy - there are donation boxes in all of the housing placements, so anything you buy and dont want to take back doesnt have to go to waste!
- Fuzzy blankets
- Desk mirror
- Soap/Body wash
- Toilet paper
- Tupperware containers
- Shampoo and Conditioner
- Laundry basket/bag
Things I brought from home that I am so happy I brought
- Weekend duffle (LeSportsSac)
- Fanny pack (i love my lulu fanny pack. so easy for easy access of cards and stuff)
- 2 prong and 3 prong adapters (3 prong are Italy ONLY)
- Packing cubes - life savers
- OTC pain relievers
- Deodorant (just not as good as American deodorant)
- Travel chapped stick
- Books! (good luck finding a place to buy books in english)
- Pre-filled travel sized items—shampoo/conditioner/sunscreen/face lotion
- Cerave and Differin face wash
- Tampons (unless you enjoy using tampons with cardboard applicators, bring your own)
- Portable charger—buy 1, buy 10, buy 100...these are all you need
- My lululemon backpack with the strap on the back to attach to luggage
- Needlepoint lol- any art supplies to keep you busy
Things I wish I had brought that I made my parents bring
- Eye drops – If I am putting something in my eye, I was to make sure I know exactly what it is and I don’t want to buy the wrong thing (which I would) if its written in Italian.
- Vitamin C – I got sick a lot and I have no clue where to get vitamins
- Travel sized toothpaste
- GUM – I was shocked that there is not the American brands of gum. If you are a gum chewer and love your Extra or whatever, bring a lot!
Apps and Websites that saved me
- FreeNow – Uber but calling Taxi’s
- TrainLine – Booking the high speed trains
- RyanAir – budget airline app
- EasyJet – budget airline app
- TripAdvisor – always good to book fun activities where you go, and if not its helpful in giving ideas for things to do
- AirBnb – sometimes airbnb’s can be cheaper and easier and nicer than hostels. Always compare options
- HostelWorld – If you want to stay in hostels, this app is great for booking and reviews
- DeepL – great translator app. You can take pics of things and itll translate
- Omio – another booking website, helps find cheapest prices
- SkyScanner – website for finding cheapest flights
- Been – just a fun app that keeps track of what countries and US states you’ve been to
- Deliveroo – food delivery!
- WhatsApp – a lot of companies have text through this app, and most Europeans use it as their primary method of texting and calling
Random tips I wish someone told me
- When you are planning weekend trips, try not to get back to Milan late on Sunday. You are going to be ready to leave, and once you get back, you are going to be exhausted, hungry, and have school work to do. First few trips I got back so late and once I started getting back to Milan Sunday early afternoons, I was so much happier.
- First thing you should do is buy a giant bottle of water. PAY ATTENTION! Naturale=Still water, Frizzante=Fizzy water. They are in the same section.
- Diet Coke lovers- diet soda doesn’t exist here. They do Coke Zero, no diet.
- Really look at pricing. RyanAir may seem like the cheapest option, but with the hidden fees, it may not be. See if you want to bring a large carryon bag, how much that will cost, how much the check in/boarding pass will cost. Sometimes it will end up being upwards of 150 euro.
- Don’t sign up for the Friday IES Abroad trips…everyone sells them before and you don’t know if you’ll want to go or not.
- If your phone plan is not paid off yet and you can’t get it unlocked- just call them and explain you are going abroad and they can temporarily unlock your phone for the duration of the program so you can get an Italian sim card.
- I kept my phone number because I have T-Mobile international plan, it was nice not changing numbers but honestly kinda regret it.
- This might be obvious to everyone but me but for shoe sizing this is what I learned. 9 in the US=39 in Europe. 8=38, 7=37, etc…I’ve also realized it can be a size up too, so I am a 9 and always will ask for a 39 or 40 if I am buying shoes. (women’s sizing)
- Everything is super scary and intimidating at first but you do get used to it!! I remember my first week I was on the phone with my mom crying because I was so confused and now I think back and laugh at myself because now I feel so comfortable here and with traveling alone and interacting with locals.
- Spring forward (daylight savings in Spring) is a week later than America, fun fact.
- If you have USD and are looking to exchange into Euros, always say you are a student! There is a different rate
- Fashion week in Milan is obviously so cool, but keep in mind that everything is more crowded and expensive that week.
- 3 Milan airports (there are busses that take you between airports if needed)
- Malpensa (MXP)
- Malpensa is the “main” airport, you’ll most likely land at MXP when you get to Milan from America
- Most of the budget airlines (EasyJet, RyanAir, WizAir) are based out of MXP
- Its kinda far away so ubering can be upwards of 150 euro- I would recommend taking the train
- You can get there and back by taking the high speed train from the city. Just go on the TrainLine app and search Cadorna to MXP or Centrale to MXP and it’ll be like 11 euro and will take you directly to the aiport. Same with the return.
- Linate (LIN)
- Much closer to the city, I love flying into Linate because its so easy to get to. You can just hop on the bus from the duomo and it takes you directly to Linate and back.
- Bergamo (BGY)
- Probably the most inconvenient because its literally in Bergamo, not Milan
- Small airport
- There is an inexpensive coach bus from Centrale that take you to Bergamo, as well as from Bergamo to Centrale.
- If you’re not a bus person, you can uber to the Bergamo train station and take the high speed train to centrale.
- Malpensa (MXP)
- Personal hand luggage
- Backpack/Small bag that fits under the seat
- Large cabin bag
- This is an overhead bag that doesn’t fit under the seat. For reference, the size of the small Away, or a duffle would be a large cabin bag, and you DO have to pay for it.
- If you know you need it, buy it in advance because the budget airlines will “sell out” of large cabin bag space and you’ll have to check it.
- If you don’t buy the overhead bag and decide to risk it, they could check the sizing in the little sizer thing, and if you don’t have it paid for, you can be charged like 60 euro to bring it on board
- 15kg Hold Luggage
- ~33 lbs. Checked luggage (about 30 euro)
- 23kg Hold Luggage
- ~50 lbs. Checked luggage (about 45 euro)
- Personal hand luggage
- Flying to and from Italy
- When flying back to Italy, you need to fill out the EUdPLF. It’s online and they give you a QR code, and you may not need it, but every once in a while they’ll ask to see a confirmation that it’s been filled out
- Great resources for traveling to other countries is a website called reopeneu
- 2 Major highspeed train stations
- Milano Centrale
- Accessible by bus, tram, or M2 (yellow) & M3 (green) metro lines
- Most of the trains you’ll take around Italy will depart and return to/from Centrale station
- Be aware, they don’t usually post the train platform number until like 10 minutes before. It can be pretty hectic.
- Milano Cadorna
- Accessible by bus or the M1 (red) & M3 (green) metro lines
- Right by the IES Abroad center which is pretty convenient
- I mostly only use that stop to take the train to Malpensa
- Milano Centrale
- When you arrive, IES Abroad will provide you with your ATM card (the name of the public transport is ATM). DON’T LOSE IT! It is programmed for YOU. It has your photo and name on it, and it recognizes you are a student so you get the student discount. IES Abroad covered the first month, so we had the train card covered for all of January.
- No matter when you pay, it is valid from the first day to the last day of the month. For example, we arrived January 17th, IES Abroad paid the card for the month, but we only got it until the end of January
- The cost is 22 euro a month for the student pass. Insert your ATM card in the machines at any metro station, select “English,” select “monthly under 27 urban,” select the month you are paying for, and pay! You can also pay for any month in advance.
- Everything is pretty accurate with timing, and during popular hours, they run more frequently
- You must swipe in AND out
- Sometimes it says denied with a red light and won’t let you through, just go to a different entry machine, they are always messed up
- It is pretty simple to learn, read the signs!
- There are a bunch of lines, I think the most relevant ones to IES Abroad students are the M1 (red), M2 (yellow), and M3 (green).
- I prefer trams over busses because they are faster but it really is whatever you want and what is easiest for you
- You do not swipe in on the trams or busses! Even though you can just get on, keep your card on you anyways!!! ATM employees will sometimes surprise you by getting on the checking cards, if you do not have it, it is about a 40 euro fine.
- If you see the ATM employees at the bus/tram stop and don’t have your card, there is a good chance they will stop you if you get off and ask to see your card
- They usually check more at the beginning of the month and try to get you if you forget to pay for the new month
Where I did my shopping/services
- Nail salon
- Wow Nails
- they are a chain, theres a location right by IES and they are unreal I love it
- Semi-permanent = gel/no chip
- Regular mani is ~13 euro, gel is ~30
- Theres a hefty charge for gel/acrylic removal, so try and take it off before you go
- The location by the IES Abroad center—the technicians do not speak English so be ready to speak in Italian
- Wow Nails
- Conad City – I got my notebooks for class at Conad
- NaturaSi – way more of a Whole Foods vibe. If you like organic, vegan, whatever… this is more of the place to go
- Berfud – American "grocery store" LOL (not really, it is literally like a gas station in the US with tons of candy and things you can’t really get here). More expensive because of import costs but they have hot Cheetos, monster, twinkies…it’s ridiculous.
- Hair salon
- Brera13 – they have this awesome deal, 6 blowouts for 115 euro. Unreal to get your hair blown out before a weekend trip.
- Beauty supply/Necessities
- Workout gear
- Decathlon – they have so much it’s amazing. That is where I got my yoga mat, and other athletic equipment for cheap
This was a ton of information but I really hope it helped! I just wish I had something like this that I could reference during my time in Milan :)
If anyone has any questions about something I may have missed, need advice, are curious about Milan, feel free to reach out!
xox, IG- @gabriellegreenberg TikTok- @gabriellegreenberg
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<p>Hi! I’m Gabrielle, I go by Gabby and I am from downtown Chicago, IL and a junior at Indiana University Bloomington studying marketing. I have 3 dogs, I love chocolate, vlogging, and long walks on the beach (just kidding I really don’t like sand). XO <3</p>