This is a question that comes up frequently. Are my friends and family at home sleeping or awake? When will I get used to subtracting 6 or 7 hours from the local time? From adjusting to a new time zone, to losing my luggage, my abroad adventure has officially begun.
It’s already been a little over a week since I’ve arrived in Milan, but it feels like I’ve been here for so much longer. The past few days have been packed with activities, similar to freshmen year orientation but in a foreign country. After arriving in the airport on Tuesday morning, the whole “roll with the punches” mentality became very important because as I was waiting for my luggage to show up...well it didn’t. A whole year worth of belongings was somewhere in the world that was unknown to me. Although it was incredibly frustrating, it also made it a lot easier to get from the airport to my housing since I didn’t have to drag everything with me. And it gave me an opportunity to have my first Italian shopping experience. All I can say is that if this ever happens to you, which I really hope it doesn't, don't panic. You'll be able to buy everything you need and the airline will compensate any purchases. It's not the most convenient of situations, but its definitely not the end of the world. I only had to wait 3 days till I was reunited with my suitcases once again!
During my year abroad, I am living at the Collegio di Milano which is equivalent to what we would think of as a campus in America, without the university attached. You also have to apply and be accepted to live here. Many Italian students live at home while studying at universities, so the Collegio gives students an opportunity to live among others and provides resources like study spaces, a cafeteria, gym, and extracurricular activities. The best part is that mostly Italians live here, meaning I have already been completely immersed in the culture and have no choice but to learn the language as fast as I can. Luckily, the first 3 weeks of the IES Abroad program are soley an Italian intensive, with 3 hours of Italian studies everyday. After only 7 days, I've begun to feel comfortable with the language so by the end of 9 months I should hopefully know a few more words.
This past weekend, IES Abroad took our group on the first trip of the semester. We traveled about 2 hours from Milan to Sirmione, where we stayed on Lake Garda for a night. We had the opportunity to explore the Scaliger Castle in the historical center, as well as discover the other hidden treasures the area holds. On the way back to Milan, we stopped at Parco Giardino Sigurta', the largest (and most beautiful) park in Italy. The best way to explore the park is by renting a bike, so along with a couple new friends, I got a bike and spent the afternoon admiring the natural beauty of the park. The weekend was the perfect start to what I know will be a semester full of exciting adventures.
As I sit on my balcony, looking out at the city and writing this post, I still can't believe that I'm actually here. For being thousands of miles away from home, it hasn't taken long for me to feel at home in this amazing city. Every day has been different and full of exploring all that Milan has to offer. I can't wait to see what will come next. Ciao for now!