This is my last week in Milan and it’s safe to say the entirety of the program is feeling all sorts of emotions. First, we are stressed because on top of the need to pack and check off your final wish list in Milan, the last week just so happens to be finals week. Naturally, we are also sad because abroad is coming to an end and realistically we won’t be seeing most of the friends we made on the program for a very long time. However, some of the emotions are also happiness and excitement at the thought of reuniting with your family and your home for winter break.
For me, leaving also meant saying goodbye to my host family who had been nothing but generous with me over the last four months. It was really important to me to show them how grateful I was for all the efforts they had put in to better my experience, so I made sure we had one last family dinner together where I could properly thank them. It is no easy task to let a stranger in and share your privacy with them for months. Thankfully, my host family saw taking students in as an opportunity to learn about other cultures of the world, without needing to travel.
For the final night, the IES Abroad program also organized a farewell dinner for all students, teachers, and host families. I like this idea because it gives us a chance to reunite one more time and no one has to worry about finding each other to say goodbye throughout the week as we know we will all be attending the farewell dinner. The student council also put it extra work to make the night enjoyable by adding elements like superlatives, and slideshows of pictures from students’ adventures abroad. I think this night will be very special and a great close to the program.
Overall, IES Abroad Milan was incredible. Throughout the four months, there are only two relatively minor things about the program that I wish had been different. First, IES Abroad has a strict policy that students on the program are forbidden from sleeping over at other IES Abroad apartments. The issue with this rule is that public transportation closes at 12:30 in Milan, and while most of us lived in the center of the city, a good number of students lived on the outer parts of Milan and had to be responsible to pay for their rides home every time an activity went a little late. Not only that, but this also meant that those students had split up from their friend groups and find their way home alone every time. While I understand the safety concerns for not allowing any stranger to sleep in the IES Abroad apartments, I think the program should trust their own students more, and allow them to accommodate for whatever situation is easiest on a given night. It would really make life easier. The other flaw was simply that finals week should not be on the last week of the program! Some students had a final every day of the week until the day of the farewell dinner, and then left the following day. No one wants to spend their last day abroad taking a final! Ideally, I think finals week should start earlier and IES Abroad should add a few days of break or orientation at the very end of the program to allow students the time to live it up and say goodbye properly to their abroad experience.
Apart from these two aspects, the program was incredibly generous, helpful to all its students, and full of incredibly qualified teachers. Their intention was clearly to make students have the best experience possible, while keeping the minimum amount of restrictions needed to keep everything safe. We were all given so much freedom and trust by the program and I think the majority of us did not take this for granted. I think IES Abroad Milan is a program that can make anyone happy and I would recommend it anyday.
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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>