The culture shock began on the plane- much earlier than I expected. Though the flight attendants spoke fluent English, they first assumed that I was an Italian- something that became the theme of the day and has continued since. In the train station person after person asked me for directions in rapid, slurred Italian- much too advanced for my 101 level knowledge base. I responded with what I can only imagine was a deer-in-the-headlights facial expression and the words, “Uhh? No?”
Chaos. Utter chaos. These are the only words I have to describe my train station experience after leaving the Malpensa airport. Not only did we have to purchase train tickets from an Italian-only kiosk, but we then each had to wheel our two 75 plus lb. suitcases for what seemed like 200 miles (mom: you were right. I should have packed less). We couldn’t find an elevator so we had to take an escalator with the aforementioned lead-block suitcases downstairs to the train. As I straddled my suitcases in an extremely un-athletic squat to avoid falling forward on to them, my roommate dropped everything- and I mean EVERYTHING- on the escalator. People were leaping over us like gazelles, so agile and effortless with their luggage, as we quite literally tumbled over a bed of my roommate’s possessions (which actually ended up preventing injury from the escalator dismount).
But past the jarring airport/train station experience- Milan has been amazing. I’ve never seen an area more concentrated with beautiful people… and how are they so trim with such an abundance of delicious carbs? Though I’m walking an average of 8 miles per day (thanks FitBit!), I’m pretty sure I’ll have to be rolled off the plane back to the U.S. if I keep eating like this. I expected to be a little homesick, but how could I be in a place as architecturally beautiful and rich and history as this? (Sorry mom and dad- miss you, love you!) I took a walking tour centered around the Piazza del Duomo Milano and witnessed the city’s incredible juxtaposition of architecture from various eras: renaissance, baroque, neoclassical, and modern. This combination of innovation from different centuries provides a layered illustration of the city’s rich history and significance.
I’m beyond excited to be here and even more excited to see all the beautiful places on our agenda. Milan- you’re fantastic and you’re not going to be able to get rid of me.
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<p>I'm Madison Qualy- a swimmer at the University of Miami. Saint Louis bred me; Miami deals with me. I am a junior, double majoring in Ecosystem Science and Policy and Marine Affairs, and minoring in Spanish. I hope to attend law school and practice environmental law. I love sports, animals, and wine. Follow all the tomfoolery I get into in Milan via my posts!</p>