A few days ago, I left Milan and flew back to North Carolina to spend winter break with my family. For me, this was the end of a seven months’ adventure abroad, so I knew coming back would be a strange feeling and require some getting used to. Leaving Milan was sad. I had to say goodbye to the city, everyone I had met and spent time with in the past 4 months, and my host family. But, for every downside of leaving, there was an upside of going home. For example, the idea of going back to an American college campus that inevitably locks you up in a bubble was not appealing after so much time spent going to class in the heart of a city. Or, leaving my new friends was difficult, but I also knew I was flying back to my best friends at home, and at school which was something I really looked forward to. And of course, as much as I liked my host family, going back to my real family was probably the biggest upside of coming back to America.
For a lot of American students, the end of abroad had a stronger meaning because for some, this had been the first time out of the country, and even for those who had traveled before, extended time in Europe remained an exceptional event which they did not see happening again soon. For me, the end of abroad was the end of a period of my life that I knew would never happen again. I will never be in Milan with the same people, classes, or housing. But, Paris being my home, going to Europe is a normal part of my life and I plan on discovering more of it in the coming years. Regardless of where your home base is, I strongly believe that Americans should be less set on viewing traveling out of the country as an exotic adventure that is only for special occasions. A flight from North Carolina to California is 6 hours, which is only a little bit shorter than a flight to London. Yet, for some reason, most Americans would feel more comfortable taking the flight to California, and would see it as less of a hassle than adventuring “all the way” to London. I think keeping an open mind about the world is extremely important because traveling is eye opening and necessary in order to gain knowledge and life experience.
The last night in Milan, our program organized a beautiful farewell dinner for all students, teachers, and host families. We had one final chance to enjoy the delicious Italian cuisine and wine, while witnessing slideshows of everyone’s adventures over the past 4 months. Our student body even organized a superlative contest, so awards were given out to our classmates throughout dinner. We got an opportunity to thank our teachers one final time, and then all went our separate ways with our respective friends for the final night in Milan. My last blog post already highlighted my favorite parts of the IES Abroad program as well as its flaws, but after this dinner, I wanted to stress the generosity of the IES Abroad Milan program and the tremendous efforts they put into making study abroad the best experience students could hope for. If you are looking to discover a real Italian city with minimal tourism and high quality classes, choose Milan. Arrivederci!
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<p style="margin-bottom:12.0pt">Hi! My name is Lily and I am a junior at Northwestern University studying voice performance (opera) and French. I was born in Paris and grew up in France before moving to America with my parents and my older brother. I have always liked traveling, specifically throughout Africa and Europe and now I’m really looking forward to discovering Milan! I think that as a European, I think I can offer a different perspective of the IES Milan program than an American student.<span style="text-autospace:none"><span style="font-size:16.0pt"><span style="font-family:"Times",serif"> </span></span></span></p>