When I decided to study abroad, I knew it would be in Italy because I am learning to speak the language. I just didn’t have any idea where in Italy. Did I want a smaller town in Emilia-Romagna, for full cultural immersion and the ability to walk wherever I needed to go and only speak Italian?
Did I want to be in a large program in the Eternal City, Rome, where all the antiquity and art I could ever want would be right at my fingertips, along with crowds and crowds of English speaking tourists?
Milan inched onto my radar because of my sweet Italian professoressa back at SMU< Teresa. She is from Milan, and speaks of it all the time, with nothing but wonderful things to say about the Italian North, its people, and its accessibility to the rest of Europe. With three airports serving the city, and its surrounding zones, Milan would be prime for a student attempting to travel nearly every weekend. But I didn’t just want things to be easy. I wanted a challenge. Though I live in a large city back home, in Dallas, things are a little different. Everything is so spread out and affordable, everyone drives cars for lack of a better option. Only small populations use the buses and trains; and heaven forbid, no one walks unless they have a death wish to slowly blister in the 105-degree weather. So, a compact winding city like Milan where I would be taking public transport every day would be a wonderful challenge for me.
Furthermore, though Milan does get some tourists, it’s truly nothing in comparison to Rome and Venice. Thus, most Milanese seem to not speak English- I converse with nearly everyone in Milan in Italian. Yet another box to tick!
Ultimately this city was a balance of accessible location, and personal challenge. Though there are days where I dread the smell of gasoline outside or am late for my metro, I know that I chose a great new home for myself.