Eye-opening, challenging, invigorating and inspiring is how I would describe the past 17 days I have spent in Italy. It feels like I have been here for a month already with the amount of activity I have packed in. During the past 17 days, I have visited the Duomo (center of Milano), explored my neighborhood of Navigli, met my roommate and classmates who became family, started university at NABA, visited Lake Como, taught my new family how to properly celebrate a Caturday, explored Design Week and went to an art museum, and I am currently on my way to Venice. Add that last sentence to things I never imagined I would say.
Packing all this information into a singular blog post is a tricky but doable feat that I will now attempt. My first few days in Milan were spent with Lucca, my ISA advisor who is responsible for helping me with any issues and getting me familiarized with the city. While I nearly had a panic attack leaving the airport, Lucca immediately assuaged all my reservations and made me feel at home. He took me for many cappuccinos, lunches (once at Five Guys to make me feel at home), and showed me his favorite little bakery. We explored the city center and he told me all about Milan’s deep history, which made me realize how young of a country America truly is. I got settled into my cozy apartment and had the privilege of meeting my new roommate, Christina. Christina is from Munich, Germany, and we became very close after talking for hours over dinner and Prosecco (realizing that we are both Geminis may have had something to do with this). Just a few days in and Milan was already starting to feel like home.
Later that week, I met my classmates from all over the world: Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands and Germany. We became fast friends and bonded over the uncertainty and excitement of our upcoming courses. I discovered my friend Maria and I have a mutual unbridled love for gelato, as we have eaten it about five times a week. I met my friend Eline’s parents and they took us to a breathtaking four-course meal that truly blew my mind. After dinner, we befriended some Germans on holiday and ended up inviting them to Lake Como with us.
Lake Como. Wow. Although we missed our train and had to catch a later one, it was worth every moment. The water was as blue as the sky, the colorful buildings like flamboyant sprinkles on the green mountainsides and the cafes quaint and intimate. We spent our day frolicking around the lake, stopping for gelato of course, and soaking up every bit of culture that surrounded us. As we arrived home from our day trip, the bright light of a local kebab shop shone bright like the gates of heaven. I can say without a doubt that late-night kebab was angelic.
Classes began the next morning. While the laborious three hours we spent in each course were mentally draining, the Thursdays and Fridays without classes made up for it. The courses were intriguing, not only due to the content pertaining to the fashion industry and fashion history, but because they were all in person. I missed the face-to-face aspect of university much more than I previously recognized. The week was filled with amazing pasta and gelato, some home-cooked meals and becoming closer with one another as we navigated the waters of the new city together.
Then came the most important day of the week: Caturday. We all know the enthusiasm and school pride that game day elicits, so it was only right that I taught my new friends how to celebrate accordingly. I had them all dress in UK blue, explained American football, watched the game with them and even taught them the C-A-T-S chant. They loved it and entertained my antics, as they knew it made me feel closer to home. I felt slightly melancholy as I thought of all my friends on campus celebrating together, but was grateful for the chance to share the celebration with new friends.
The next week was Design Week, a huge event in Milan that precedes Milan fashion week by two weeks. Architects, interior designers, and artists flock to Milano to show off their most recent creations and exhibitions. While Design Week was much smaller than years past, it was nonetheless inspiring. We gallivanted through the streets and alleyways, discovering exhibits with unique doors, lights and reflections, a heated table and even a swing. My favorite part of Design Week was definitely visiting Trienalle Milano, a local art museum. We saw the Les Citoyens exhibit, a temporary exhibit inhabiting sculptures, paintings, videography, photography and poetry that was simultaneously unique and familiar, as it depicted images of families and loved ones, along with stories and films. Trienalle was the first - but hardly the last - Italian museum I had the privilege of visiting.
We decided to continue riding the wave of energy provided by the exhibit and booked a trip to Venice for the following day. I write to you now from the Verona Porta Nuova 10:22 train headed towards Venice. I cannot wait to see what these next two weeks hold, as I try to take in every sight and smell around me. Two weeks in and I am already dreading the day I depart. Until next time, Ciao!