I’m now about two weeks into my internship abroad program in Milan. Regardless of where, being in a new country is always something that takes time to get used to. However, adjusting to the Italian lifestyle, especially in Milan is an experience on its own. First thing to know is that life in Italy is at a much slower pace than life in America. I’ve noticed this especially when eating out with friends. After our meal, we’d often sit and wait extended periods of time for our check. It was weird to us to not be somewhat rushed out of the restaurant by the waiters. We only got our check if we were to ask for it. It’s actually really nice to be able to just sit and enjoy delicious food with friends.
Milan is different from other cities in Italy because it’s not a tourist hub. My friends and I visited Florence and Pisa this past weekend and were shocked at the differences we saw. For example, Milan is known as the fashion capital of the world. Walking around this beautiful city every day and seeing the outfits people wear can often feel as if you’re watching a fashion show. During one of our orientation sessions with IES Abroad, the speaker gave us a quick rundown of fashion in Milan. Flip flops are only worn at the beach and sweatpants are not part of the daily wardrobe. Even though it gets very hot here, you’ll see people in jeans and slacks, not shorts. What is considered casual in Milan and casual in America are extremely different. However in Florence and Pisa, there are lots of tourists so we saw a lot of people wearing flip flops, shorts, and sweatpants.
Italy’s culture is rooted in tradition, and Italians are very protective of that tradition. One tradition that took time for me to get used to was the dinner time. In Milan, it’s normal to eat dinner around 8 every day. A traditional Italian breakfast is also very different from a traditional American breakfast. Here, people will have a croissant and a cup of coffee. I was so surprised this was what was eaten for breakfast given the extended period of time between meals! Personally, one of my favorite traditions is the love and appreciation of food. The concept of fast food is almost nonexistent here. You won’t see people walking or driving around here trying to quickly eat on their way to work or school. Food is to be enjoyed at a table surrounded by people you care about.
I look forward to discovering and indulging in all that Milan has to offer! Until next time, arrivederci!