After 3 and a half months abroad, my semester has come to an end. As sad as it was to leave Milan where I called home for a little over 3 months, it is nice to be home. I wouldn’t have changed my study abroad experience for the world but to be home and see my friends and family is priceless. Now that I have been back in the states for a few days and have had a little time to digest my semester, I’d like to share my overall experience living in Milan, Italy.
The best part of my semester was by far the people I met. I was fortunate enough to room with 4 guys from all over the US as well as a community assistant who all made my abroad experience incredible. Saying goodbye to my roommates was the hardest thing I had to do while leaving Italy. All my traveling adventures, cultural adaptations, and late-night shenanigans were all done with my roommates. I am so thankful I got to experience Italy with new people who I will now call friends for the rest of my life.
As for Italy, the country is filled with amazing sights, beautiful landscapes, coastlines, monuments, and more. Traveling around Italy allowed my roommates and me to experience lots of what the country had to offer and it did not disappoint. From Lake Como to Rome to Tuscany to Venice, Italy is filled with beauty. I was fortunate enough to travel all around Europe but Italy has some of the best places to visit in the world. So being able to study there lent easy access to many of those sights.
The culture in Milan is one of the biggest differences from the US that I recognized and had to get used to. Aside from not being able to speak fluent Italian, there are lots of cultural norms that took some time to adapt to. For example, Italians take much more time to enjoy their meals than Americans do. There is no such thing as a quick bite to eat for lunch in Italy. If you are going to eat at a restaurant, most Italians spend at least a couple of hours to do so and likely more. Another major difference in culture between Italians and Americans is how open Italians are to talk about things Americans may be timid to do so. Whether it be politics, your love life, your daily habits, or other personal information, Italians are very curious and have no problem asking you questions. I found this somewhat refreshing due to how stressful it can be in the US to avoid these topics rather than being open to them. There are lots of other little differences in culture like not wanting to use the air conditioner because it may give you a cold or using lots of hand gestures while talking. But, for the most part, food habits and personal privacy were two big differences I noticed. There are lots of ways in which Italians think Americans are weird and there are lots of ways in which Americans think Italians are weird. Either way, learning a new culture was exciting and eye-opening.
There are a few more differences I had to get used to while abroad that had to do less with the culture of Italy but more with logistics. For example, walking and public transportation became my primary form of commuting, which I had never been used to before. Due to how densely populated Italy is, not only do most people walk places, but living areas and other buildings like restaurants and stores are much smaller than in the US. This means that personal space is also much smaller in Italy. These logistical differences were some of the things that made me appreciate home. There is no doubt there are positive aspects to some of these circumstances in Italy. However, being able to drive in my own car and enjoy more personal space were a few of the things I appreciate about home.
Overall, my study abroad experience was very positive. Italy provided a place for me to see some incredible, world-famous sights, enjoy amazing food and wine, and experience a different way of life. Italy also showed me things I took for granted at home and what I appreciate about the United States. I am very glad I took the opportunity to study abroad and doing so in Milan provided an amazing experience.
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<p>I am a collegiate rugby player for Claremont McKenna College and I enjoy the outdoors and physical activities. I like to spend most of my free time playing sports or exploring the outdoors but aside of athletics I like to woodwork and craft objects like jewelry boxes, wooden puzzles and other small projects.</p>