Beautiful Italy – Milan Exchange

Catlin, B. Bachelor of Design (Fashion)

Politecnico di Milano (Italy) (Semester 1, 2017)

I completed my exchange semester in Milan at Politecnico di Milano, Bovisa Campus.  Politecnico have two campuses in Milan – Bovisa and Leonardo. In comparison to QUT Politecnico is very, very different.

Avoiding pigeons at Duomo di Milano

The Bovisa campus is considerably smaller with most classes being in one block only, where they have all the design labs; including but not limited to fashion, knitting, prototype, photography, etc.  I found the facilities were quite limited compared to QUT in most aspects, but they also had facilities that QUT does not have – such as a knitting lab.

 

The classes and how they are run is also extremely different to QUT, being very heavily centred around group work.  This may be due to the limited facilities and surplus of students, however I did not like the dynamic of the classes at all. That being said I also completed some masters subjects which were taught in English and they adopted a much more individual centred approach to the assignments. They are also very strict on attendance, it can sometimes be worth up to 30% of your final grade, which I find unnecessary and not conducive to productivity with some classes being up to 9 hours in length.  The general level of academics that was being taught I didn’t find challenged me at all, and was at a much lower standard to that of QUT.  In general I didn’t learn anything really from the actual classes and found them to be extremely easy – another reason I found the attendance rule so frustrating.

Sunrise from our apartment in Montalbino

Accomodation wise, I personally stayed in an AirBnB with another girl from my class at QUT; we originally weren’t going to stay for the whole trip, however, we were finding it very difficult being so far away and being able to find reliable and affordable accomodation so we decided to just book our apartment through AirBnB for the entirety of our semester.

 

This worked well for us but after meeting other exchange students from around Europe we realised we probably could’ve gotten a much better place through sites that they used such as Uniplaces, Easystanza or Erasmus. On the flip side of that, I have also heard that the Politecnico dorms are quite nice as well and they’re a great way to make friends and meet new people, just make sure you apply for them in advance as they do fill up!

Milan in general to live is again very different to Australia.

Lunch break at Polimi 1-2pm

The cost of living was mostly a bit cheaper; groceries, transport, etc were all cheaper (even considering the terrible exchange rate at the time which was 0.66c to our dollar) but rent in Milan can sometimes be quite pricey.  Milan has a great underground Metro system as well as many busses and trams to get you around.  The university will give you information about an ATM (Milan’s equivalent of Translink) travel card, which is like a go card however there is a reduced fee for students which is paid monthly and gets you unlimited travel with all of Milan’s transport systems.

 

The culture is also very different and I found the biggest culture shock for me was getting used to how Italians work – mostly very disorganised.

I also found that there seemed to be (especially at the university) a quite prominent language barrier – not because they couldn’t speak or understand english (because the vast majority of people all across Europe know English to some degree), but because there seemed to be a prejudice towards the exchange students as they did not speak fluent Italian.

Picnic with other exchange students in Parco Sempione

I knew some Italian going over, as did my friend, however a lot of the time we were treated like we didn’t know anything simply because we didn’t speak their language. It was quite a frustrating experience in that sense.

 

The main highlights from my exchange was obviously the ability I had to easily travel around Europe, but also the friends I made from all over the world. At first I was afraid I wouldn’t make any friends, but honestly they were what made it so worthwhile. Looking back there were a LOT of ups and downs but I’m happy that I did it because whilst the university wasn’t what I expected – I gained invaluable life skills, confidence, independence and a new perspective of the world.

My main tips (also known as – the things I wish someone had told me before I went) are these:

  • Italians are some of the most disorganised and frustrating people to deal with – the sooner you know that the better
  • Don’t expect everyone to be as openly friendly as Australians – a lot of the time people aren’t being rude they’re just not used to our vivaciousness

    Navigli canal

  • Don’t choose where you live based on the campus, chose a nice area as you will probably be spending more time at home than you think – places like Isola, Citta Studi, Porta Venezia or around Navigli, Cadorna or most places closer to the centre are pretty safe bets.
  • Speaking of Navilgli – make sure you pop by on the last Sunday of the month, there is an awesome flea market that runs down the whole canal
  • People are generally pretty nice in regards to the language barrier, but please try and give Italian a go – people appreciate the effort and the basics aren’t that hard.
  • Get an Italian SIM as soon as you can – google maps is your saviour
  • Coffee – order espresso, macchiato or cappuccino.  Their cappuccino is basically a latte and if you ask for “latte” you will get milk.
  • Most importantly:
  • Don’t pay more than three euro for a two scoop gelato!

Good luck!

Fashion-forward in Florence

Aimee R, Bachelor of Creative Industries

AIM Overseas: Media & Communication for the Fashion Industry (January 2017)

If you’re going to study Fashion somewhere, you might as well do it right – in one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world, Florence. AIM Overseas provided me (and around 20 other girls from around Australia), the opportunity to study Media and Communication for the Fashion Industry at the European Institute of Design (IED), in January 2017. The three week long program start in early January, meaning us Aussies had to rug up well for our first day.

I wouldn’t describe IED as a campus as much as just a building, camouflaged in the narrow cobble stone streets of Florence. In fact, a few girls walked right past it on their way there the first day. The first thing I noticed was that it was considerably smaller than QUT. A tour of the whole place took less than five minutes, and there definitely wasn’t hundreds of youths running around like you would find back home, in fact there wasn’t even a cafeteria or food court. Luckily enough, the university was situated right in the heart of Florence, about a 20 second walk from the famous Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, or as we will come to know it as “The Duomo”.  There’s pizza and pasta and panini’s on every corner and soon enough our diet consisted of 98% carbohydrates, but when in Florence, right? Because our program was only short, our uni schedules were a little full on, we were there basically all-day every day, cramming in as much information as we possibly could.

The highlight of the experience was definitely in the first week, where we were able to not only attend Pitti Uomo (Florence Men’s Fashion Week), but also work backstage at one of the fashion shows. For many of us, this was the first real hands on experience we had in the fashion industry. We worked for the show Concept Korea and spent the day dressing models, getting them ready for their catwalk. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and it was made possible by our course coordinator at IED. The rest of our days were spent learning about fashion blogging, styling, writing and the history of Italian fashion. The one thing that was a little bit hard to get used to were the fact that our classes were three hours long each! Most tutes at QUT for fashion are only one hour. Lucky for us, the content was interesting enough to help us through those long classes.

Another one of the great opportunities we had whilst at IED was styling and creating a concept for a fashion editorial. We worked in groups to work on a fashion photo shoot and were given models, a makeup artist and one of our teachers, a photographer, helped us photograph the shoot. It was super stressful to get everything to come together in such a short period of time, but it was one of the most rewarding experience and ultimately mirrored a real life situation we might find ourselves in working in the fashion industry in the future.

Florence is 100% one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities in all of Italy and our experience would not have been nearly as enjoyable without this amazing place serving as our backdrop. We spent our afternoons and weekends seeking out the best pizzerias and gelateria’s, hiking up to Piazzale di Michaelangelo for one of the best views of Florence and climbing up the Duomo and bell tower. There aren’t really any trains of easy uses of public transport in Florence but that didn’t matter since basically everywhere is in walking distance. When we weren’t admiring the Ponte Vecchio or walking along the river at sunset or shopping, we were eating. In a little restaurant over the bridge we found the most amazing baked gnocchi with four cheese and truffle oil! We must have gone there about four times in three weeks!

The cost of living on Florence isn’t exactly cheap. The hotel we stayed in didn’t have any kitchen facilities which meant we had to eat out every night and it would always cost us between 12 and 18 euros. Lucky for us, since most of our days were spent at uni, we didn’t really spend much money on anything besides eating. For anyone traveling to Italy or spending some time there studying, my best advice is don’t be afraid to eat pasta for every meal and gelato for dessert everyday. When you have a spare weekend, hop on a train to Milan or Rome or Verona and see the other amazing cities. A plane to Barcelona is only an hour and a half, so take advantage of your central location. And most importantly, learn to just go with the flow. Your lecturer might be 15 minutes late or they might change the class at a moments notice, they might go off topic for half an hour, instead of stressing, appreciate the relax-ness of your class, it’s not going to be the same when you return!

If you are interested in undertaking a short-term program during the QUT semester breaks, check out the QUT Global Portal.

Politechnico di Milao: A few fast facts

Krystel – Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy: Semester 1, 2016

Dreaming of an Italian Exchange? Why not head to Milano?

Fashion capital of Italy and gelato to-die-for. But that’s not all Milan has to offer; here is a list of interesting facts about Milan, from QUT student Krystel who spent 6 months studying in this beautiful city.

Piazza del Duomo (Milan Cathedral), Milan

Piazza del Duomo (Milan Cathedral), Milan

The first Politecnico university was established November 29, 1863, by Francesco Brioschi, a politician, mathematician and hydraulic engineer.

Initially, the university was specific to Civil and Industrial Engineering only.

It focused on scientific and technical teachings, and was based on the same model as German and Swiss polytechnic universities.

1865, architecture joined the school.

View from the Florence Duomo Bell-tower

View from the Florence Duomo Bell-tower

Students renamed the school ‘The Brioschi Asylum’ due to strict disciplinary provisions, and classes were held through from Monday to Saturday

In the first year, there were only 30 students and seven auditors, and the first graduates reduced to 25 students.

The first female student enrolled 1888, however, the first female to graduate was not until 1913.

Female student enrolment increased over the years, however, in the mid 1940s, out of approximately 9500 graduates, only just over 100 females graduated.

At the end of the 1990s, women accounted for over 50% of the students registered in Industrial Design.

If you want to hear more about Krystel’s Italian Exchange experience. Keep an eye out for the next part of her story on the QUT Gone Global Blog.

For more information on QUT Student Exchange Options visit our website.

Exchange in Bocconi, Italy: Part 2

I lived in an apartment around 5 minutes from Bocconi with six other guys. I found the apartment on a Facebook group for exchange students and the rent was around 850 dollars per month. It was a very modern and clean apartment and I got to live with guys from Italy, Germany, Mexico and the United States. The cost of living in Milan is around 25% cheaper than Brisbane. I would say that the rent is about the same, but groceries, public transportation and entertainment is a lot cheaper.

Since I am an international student, I get a fixed amount every semester from the Norwegian government. I decided to use my Norwegian bank account since I was only going to be there for one semester. If you are planning to go on exchange for a longer period, I would recommend getting an Italian bank account. It was pretty easy for me to adjust to Milan and Italy because I had been there several times before and since I lived with six other guys I could just ask them if I was wondering about something.

During my exchange my heart started to beat out of rhythm so I decided to go to the hospital. The facilities were a little bit old, but they treated me very well and were very professional. For travel tips I would recommend going to Cinque Terre (on the coast), Nice (in France) and Venice (two hours east).

Do as much travelling as you can afford. I feel that the exchange experience has changed me a lot as a person and also a student. Since Bocconi was a pretty prestigious university in Italy and Europe there was a lot of good students and teachers you can learn from. You also feel like a stronger person when you have lived in a country that does not speak your native language. Life feels a little bit easier when you return to your home country. I would strongly recommend Bocconi as an exchange university.

Exchange in Bocconi, Italy : Part 1

I am from Norway, and Bocconi was one of the universities I had considered before I chose to study at QUT. Bocconi is famous for being one of the best universities in Europe and has a strong focus on economics and finance.

It was hard to not speak Italian in Milan, but at Bocconi almost all students spoke English pretty well. Their teaching methods were a little bit different than on QUT. They like to get to the point as fast as possible. I would recommend all students considering going on exchange to Italy to at least learn some basic Italian. I believe that the more Italian you speak, the better your experience will be. There were also very few assignments and you had the option to the final exam two other times if you failed the first time.

There are three different Bocconi buildings and you will likely have classes or exams in at least two of them. All of the buildings are located in the city and are approximately five minutes apart from each other. To be honest I like the Gardens Point campus better because you have everything you need at one place and it feels more like a community then the Bocconi campus. When it comes to the city it is a very old and beautiful city.

They do have a big emphasis on fashion, so you might get some weird looks if you are wearing the “wrong” clothes. Soccer is the main sport and the two big teams are AC Milan and Inter Milan. They both share the same arena, San Siro, located in the western part of Milan. Bocconi is located south in Milan. In the centre you have the famous church Duomo and one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, La Galleria (Vittorio Emanuele II). A little bit north of the centre you have an old castle called Castello Sforzesco.