So… I did it! I finally arrived in Milan! But let’s get to the nitty gritty: how did travel go when flying internationally in fall of 2021?? AKA pandemic central??
Well, I’m glad you asked. For me, travel actually went so seamlessly even in the midst of COVID! I did of course have to wear a mask at every moment in the airport and on the plane, but other than that everything was pretty basic! Back at JFK in New York all I had to do was show my passport, my vaccination card, and my passenger locator form. Then I just went through security like normal and was on my way!
Once at MXP Airport in Milan, all I had to do was show my passport/visa and vaccination card (which only took a couple of minutes) and then grab my luggage at baggage claim! IES Abroad made it super easy to check in after baggage claim with a staff member, who then directed us to where we could either take a taxi or tram+train to our housing location, for which I opted for the former (and much more expensive option I might add) but ONLY because I had three large suitcases, a duffle, and a carryon with me. Yes, I did say that correctly. I packed a LOT, but rest assured I’ll make a post at the end of my journey to reflect on how much I packed and whether I think it was worth it or not.
...Moving on! While my travel experience was seamless, I met plenty of people on my first day here that had a very different experience than me, unfortunately. As it turned out, a lot of people flying from California and the Midwest had to take connecting flights at JFK, where their airline then spontaneously required a negative COVID-19 test result in order to board, whether vaccinated or not. With no prior notice of this, students were of course scrambling all around to quickly find a rapid test in order to board the plane, but many didn’t make it and actually had to arrive a day late. Luckily, IES Abroad was in constant contact with these students and seemed to do an amazing job with getting them to Milan the very next day (they actually only arrived about 30 minutes late to our first Orientation Session - not ideal, but not bad!)
Still, I can’t imagine the stress that must have been going through these students’ minds! About to take off for your study abroad experience is nerve wracking enough, so when things don’t go according to plan like this it can become really stressful. I was able to get all of the details on the issue because I met two girls here from Indiana University on my first day as they live at Collegio di Milano with me, and they happened to be on the same flight and actually got a test on time and made it. Unfortunately for them, however, the flight attendants were told to start removing the luggage of anyone who didn’t have a negative test result from the plane, so by the time these two girls did eventually board with their negative results, a couple of their bags had already been removed and they were without half of their luggage on their first day in Milan…yikes!
Again, as someone who extremelyyy overpacked, I can’t imagine the stress of losing any of your stuff travelling to a foreign country for 3+ months, but luckily the airline was very prompt and responsive and they received their suitcases the very next day right to our campus at Collegio.
The only other hiccup I heard of was that one student on that connecting flight actually did test positive for COVID-19 when they finally took their test to board, and therefore are currently in quarantine before being able to come to the program here in Milan.
Obviously, other than my own (and many other students’) seamless travel experiences, these above experiences are much less than ideal, but they’re real! It’s important to hear about them and reflect on them because, yes, while it’s scary to think about everything that could go wrong when travelling internationally (especially in a pandemic), it’s very important to stay prepared and brace yourself for the worst. Maybe taking that extra COVID test before you get to the airport is worth it even if you’re vaccinated and even if your flight tells you that you won’t need it. Above all else though, it’s important to stay calm and know that everything will turn out okay! All of the people who experienced these hiccups turned out completely fine and will still enjoy their time here in Milan! While there will definitely be stressful moments, it’s just important to remember that you’ll get through them just as you’ve gotten through life thus far: one step at a time with a whole lot of friends and supporters (shoutout IES Abroad Staff) by your side!
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<p>I'm Tori and I'm from North Bennington, Vermont USA. I'm currently a third-year student at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts studying Finance with minors in Spanish and Information Design and Corporate Communication. At Bentley, I'm treasurer of the Ski and Snowboard Club, Scholarship Chair of Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority, and a member of the Women's Leadership Program, Bentley Literary Society, and Habitat for Humanity. After graduating Bentley I hope to work in corporate finance or investor relations for a few years before eventually following my life-long passion of starting my own fashion brand! I'm therefore so excited to study abroad with IES Abroad in Milan through their Business Studies and Internship program because I'll not only be able to grow as an individual, meet so many new people, and experience an entirely new culture/see new places, but I'll also be able to have hands-on experience in this huge financial district and fashion capital of the world! In my free time I love to alpine ski, read & write, explore new restaurants and visit Boston, have fun with friends, and of course, shop!</p>