Studying in Milan AKA the fashion capital of the world

My semester at the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi located in Milan, Italy, was one of the most difficult, yet life-changing, semesters of my university career thus far. I arrived in Milan a few days prior to the start of classes and was immediately thrown into an exciting week of meeting other exchange students and learning my way around the campus. Bocconi’s International Student Desk was immensely helpful at this time, providing tours and networking events throughout the first two weeks. Also, during this time, I engaged in a two-week, Italian language course. I would thoroughly recommend this course to future exchange students at Bocconi. Not only was it helpful in receiving an introduction to the Italian language, but it also allowed me to meet a class full of other exchange students who were keen to make friends. The friends I made during the language course have become some of my greatest friends and, despite all being from different countries, I am confident I will continue to treasure these friendships for the rest of my life.

The Bocconi Erasmus Club was also incredibly helpful at the beginning of my time in Milan, as well as throughout the entire semester. From group dinners to nights out and even sporting competitions, the Erasmus club was an amazing way to make friends and feel fully immersed in the exchange experience. The events hosted by the Erasmus group during my exchange were definitely some of the highlights of my time abroad.

My biggest surprise after first arriving in Milan was how expensive the city was compared to Brisbane, particularly with regards to rent. As one of the most expensive cities to live in Europe, my bank account was in for a shock. I would highly advise future exchange students to do a thorough budget for their time abroad before arriving at their host city.

When classes began at Bocconi I learnt very quickly that academic life would be far more demanding than what I was used to at QUT. Lessons were structured very differently, and far more traditionally, at Bocconi with very little online content and no tutorial style classes. On top of this, majority of students in my classes were Italian and, despite the classes being taught in English, would talk together or clarify information in Italian.

A highlight of my time in Italy was certainly Milan Fashion Week, when the city really came alive with so much to do and see during that time. I was even lucky enough to attend a number of fashion shows, including some at Bocconi University.

My biggest piece of advice for future exchange students is to remember that exchange isn’t going to be amazing all the time and it’s not meant to be. There will be times where you will miss having your family and friends close by or struggle with academics. I can say for certain you will have several near misses when crossing the road on your way to class because Italian drivers are absolutely crazy. There will be days when you just want a cup of coffee without half your order getting lost in translation. I promise you that the times where you think “why on earth am I doing this” are going to be the moments you look back on as the most important and valued times on your exchange.

I cannot put into words how incredible, fun and life-changing my time on exchange was. I believe without a doubt every student should consider an overseas exchange during their time at university. I am so grateful to QUT and Bocconi University for such an invaluable opportunity.

Chance Encounters in Milan!

Michael C., Bachelor of Science / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
Universita Commerciale Luigi Bocconi, Italy (Semester 2, 2017)

My exchange started with a chance encounter which would later be incredibly beneficial. I had only been in Milan for three days and the apartment I was supposed to move into cancelled my booking. So here I was knowing one person in my building, who had a room for rent but not until the following month and nowhere to sleep in four days.  So after I managed to sort out accommodation, which was incredibly stressful I then began to focus on my studies and travel.

Milan was a fantastic place to go on exchange. The university had a very well organised social club, which for the first two weeks organised a night out every night for the first 2 weeks before class started. It was a fantastic way to meet people and make new friends. I also made some great friends in the language course, because it was full of other exchange students from around the world.

Making friends was terrifying but worth the effort. The friends I made became a big part of my exchange experience. We would study together, go out to dinner, go out for drinks and travel together. One of my favourite stories was where a friend I made in the first week, asked if I would like to go with her to a concert in Prague in November. I had never heard of this band before, but I am so glad I said yes. It was a fantastic concert. I had so much fun, and now this is one of my favourite bands. It just goes to show that you never know what is going to happen on exchange.

Travel as much as possible. An exchange in Europe in not complete without travel. I had so much fun booking flights on a Thursday, flying out on Friday and coming back Sunday night. One of my favourite trips was London. I met a girl in a bar in my first week in Europe, who as it turns out is a huge Harry Potter fan. When she was looking for people to go to the Warner Bros studio in London I eagerly said yes. Brittany became one of my best friends and we had so much fun in the studio. It was one day I will never forget.

My exchange was more fun than I expected. For anyone planning to go on exchange my advice is this; meet as many people as you can and be very organised, because time flies.  Make sure you have the funds to support your exchange because it is expensive and don’t miss home too much because before you know it you’ll be back and wishing the exchange wasn’t over.

Rome: Refugee Clinic, Research and Risotto

Seamus O., Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
The Clinic of Immigration Law and Citizenship of the Faculty of Law at the Roma Tre University (January 2019)

During January of 2019 I was fortunate enough to participate in the Clinic of Immigration and Citizenship at the Rome Tre University located in Rome, Italy.

The streets of Italy

Whilst my time at the Clinic was short lived, the amount of technical, cultural and social knowledge I gained will last a life time. In a nut shell, the Clinic assists migrants and asylum seekers in knowing their rights and enhancing their protection by offering them qualified assistance whilst also being an advocate for refugees in Italy. My experience can be broken down to three main parts: Exploring Rome, researching and assisting refugees in the Clinic.

The Clinic

Once or twice a week the team of law students and lawyers would open the doors to the clinic (a class room). Here is where the students and lawyers meet with current refugees and assist them with the migration and legal process. It was incredibly interesting and at times quite confronting to see what these people had gone through back in their respective countries, and then what they were having to go through once they arrived in Italy. Given recent change to the refugee policy in Italy, I couldn’t help but empathise with the refugees and share the frustration of the students and lawyers working in the Clinic.

The Colosseum

My Research

As the Clinic only opened one or two days a week, I was given a research task to assist the Clinic in their Country of Origin Information (COI) program. The COI program involved a group of one professor/lawyer and 5 students working with the Court of Italy in preparing COI reports on various countries/areas. The Court recently requested a report on the persecution of Chinese Christians in China. Given the Report was to be written in Italian, I was given the task to gather as many reports/articles/accounts on the topic and summarise the findings for the team. Whilst at times it felt I was researching too much and not eating enough Pizza, it was incredible to work on a project which had a great impact on future refugees in Italy and the Italian justice system.

Of course, when in Rome do as the Romans do. It was incredible to live in a city full of ancient history, art, a rich culture and of course, delectable food. There are endless sights to see in Rome and a relic around every corner, a real treat for any research break or day off. I would like to thank all QUT and Rome Tre staff for assisting me with this experience all steps of the way.

And of course… Italian food!

Leave your diet at home!

Claudia, R. Bachelor of Business/Law
Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi, Italy (Semester 1, 2018)

A semester exchange was something I always wanted to pursue, but it was far too easy in my busy Law/Business double degree to postpone any action. After four years of pushing it aside, I finally took the plunge and applied for the Semester 1 2018 intake. I remember being incredibly set on going to Bocconi in Milan, Italy. I am half Italian and have only visited as a child, and my family’s hometown is roughly one hour north of Milan! I wanted to take this chance to get in touch with my heritage, my family and identity, and learn Italian once and for all (my dad never taught me). Getting accepted into my program was devastatingly exciting – I was both bouncing off the walls and on the verge of a mental breakdown.

Arco Della Pace

I stayed at Residenza Arcobaleno, the cheapest of Bocconi’s student accommodation options and composed of roughly 95% other exchange students. Arco was 15 minutes by tram to Bocconi, and about 30 minutes to the centre and the beautiful Duomo. I had friends that stayed at Residenza Isonzo which could’ve been a good option, which was a 5 minute walk to Bocconi and an easy 15 minute walk into the centre. I remember choosing Arco because I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet other exchange students who were in the same boat – and I wasn’t wrong! The people at Arco were all lovely, however, I found the environment was always very rowdy and social (not necessarily a bad thing but not suited for an introvert like me!). It also wasn’t the best environment for someone wanting to befriend Italian students and practice your language-other-than-English skills. In hindsight and based off my personal needs, I would’ve taken the extra time and searched for an apartment rental or student accommodation closer to Bocconi.

Duomo di Milano

Bocconi has a top business school equipped with amazing professors and learning opportunities. Class registration was pretty straight-forward, I found that I had to have lots of back-up options just in case units filled out quickly. I had to take 5 units to achieve a full-time study load, and they were all conducted in a lectorial format. I definitely found a lot of striking differences with Australian university – for example, absolutely NO guidance or task sheet/CRA for any assessment! Exams were always weighted heavily, with mine ranging from 70%-100% of the unit mark. This was initially quite daunting for me as I am used to essay writing and no more than 60% exams, however it was super manageable provided I stayed on top of my readings. The Bocconi campus is in downtown Milan and honestly isn’t the most stunning architecture you’ll see in your life – but that’s what the Milan Duomo is for.

Glass Ceiling of Piazza Duomo

My hot tips to anyone thinking of going on exchange to Bocconi, Milan or Italy are as follows:

  1. Prepare to balance your work, life and sleep – Bocconi’s pass/fail mark is 18/30 (60%) so you definitely need to set aside some study time in your busy social schedules.
  2. Plan your travel – Milan and Italy are in the centre of Europe so an international day trip or weekend holiday is absolutely not out of the question, and flights are usually cheaper than trains.
  3. Leave your diet at home – you absolutely can’t let yourself turn down any pizza, pasta or aperitivo opportunities!

Exchange is something I wish I could do multiple times over, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone considering it or seeking a little excitement in their lives. I’ve made life-long friends and unforgettable memories, and feel assured knowing that I can call a place on the other side of the world my home.

Terrifying, amazing. Difficult, worth-while.

Jordy K., Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Bachelor of IT
Politencnico di Milano, Italy (Semester 1 2018)

Europe in general is so different to Australia, and then Milan in Italy is so different to the rest of Europe.

When I arrived I was shocked by the landscape, architecture, people, and weather. Milan is a flat city and, I know it sounds like a small detail, but it’s odd to see straight streets go on forever. The people feel less caring, and more cool. Things are open at seemingly odd hours and that’s just how it is. It’s weird but nonetheless, Milan is probably the best student city in Italy. It’s overall just a cool place once you get to know it, and I recommend it for an Italian exchange. Rent is expensive but living costs are cheap. Roughly 600 euros a month for rent and 60 euros a week for living quite comfortably.

Host University

The uni I studied at was Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi), because it’s largely a non-English speaking institution make sure you do the easiest subjects you can and prepare for the teaching style to essentially be lectures only with a big exam or project at the end. The campus itself is cool because it’s old. Overall I’d say PoliMi is ok, decent it if you want to study in Italy, which is more the worthwhile experience.

Things I Didn’t Expect

One thing I didn’t expect was that, 90% of the time you have no idea what people are saying or what the writing around you means! The first month living in a foreign language country (especially if you’re there by yourself) feels like living on an alien planet. It’s so weird. Eventually though you get used to it and I ended up enjoying it as like a simple ambient noise. You become entirely comfortable being clueless.

What’s more in Italy, expect things to happen slowwwwly. Especially with big institutions or government. This can be annoying and sometimes feels like everything is of lesser quality because of it. You eventually get used to these slightly chaotic long waits when dealing with these things though.

Highlights

I still highly recommend exchange for everyone! Why? Travelling to new countries and gaining new perspectives simply outweighs all the downsides. Experiencing the highs and lows that this world has to offer is a phenomenal personal growth experience for anyone. Studying in Europe is awesome too because it’s so cheap and easy to fly to so many different countries and cultures. It’s this sort of stuff that really changes your perspective on everything forever, I know it has for me, and that’s why I highly recommend doing it!

Ciao Italy!

Andrew P., Master of Business Process Management
Politecnico Di Milano, Italy (Semester 1, 2016,)

Host University

I went on exchange at Politecnico di Milano (Polimi) in Semester 1, 2016 at the Leonardo campus. It is a widely respected university in Europe with a rich history in engineering.

Note in Europe, their semesters are reversed which means our 1st semester is their 2nd. Polimi semesters start around 3 weeks after the QUT equivalent so you might (will) miss the first few weeks of your next semester when you return.

Most units will consist of two 2hr lectures and one final exam during the exam period. You get 2 attempts to pass the exam. This all-or-nothing final examination approach threw me off compared to how it’s done in QUT so you’ll need to self-manage your own studies from day one (my lectures were not recorded). If you are going in your first semester (QUT), try extending your stay to include their September exam session which will allow you to have 2 extra attempts to pass the exam as a precaution.

I found an apartment before arriving using a website called Uniplaces. They provide an intermediary in case you find the apartment not to your liking. I paid for a single room in a 2-bedroom apartment which cost me 500euro per month. This is average price you should expect to pay. Luckily, I’ve had no problems with my accommodation (and I’ve heard stories).

Host Country

I enjoyed my time in Italy and you can survive speaking only English but I would definitely recommend learning Italian before and during exchange. It definitely makes the experience so much more rewarding. I had a lot of fun interacting with my fellow international students via Polimi’s free language classes.

Milan is an expensive city to live in, compared to Brisbane. Try and buy whatever you need at the street markets scattered throughout the city.

Highlights

  • I’m a football fan and it was great to watch (and attend) quality games within normal hours!
  • The sun doesn’t set until 9pm which allows you to make the most of the day. It’s definitely something I immediately miss upon returning.
  • Joining the ERASMUS group and making new friends. They do plenty of trips and social events. Great fun!
  • Italians have a tradition called Aperitivo. By purchasing a beverage, you have full access to the buffet they set out in the afternoon. It’s a social and financial lifeline for students!

Tips

Before Leaving

  • If you’re planning on taking a credit card (recommended) try getting one that gives you complementary travel insurance if you use the card to pay for your flights or accommodation. I knew a few students who went travelling after the study period.
  • Don’t forget your stationary
  • Pack light, you’ll be bringing back more than you can imagine.
  • A laptop is essential.
  • Try to get as many transfer units as possible. There may be circumstances in which you won’t be able to do some of the units that you applied for. Be prepared to have overlapping units.
  • I used a Citibank Plus account for cash withdrawals and a 28 Degrees account for credit card purchases and highly recommend both.

During Exchange

  • Apply for an ATM Transport Card. Renew every month for 22euro at the Metro Stations.
  • I signed on to Vodafone prepaid plan as it also allows cheap data roaming in other countries (5euro per day). The other big telecoms Wind and TIM do not provide this.
  • Applying for a Permesso di Sogiorno (Permit to stay) is a very daunting experience. I actually got my card a couple of weeks before I was set to leave!

Campus inside a Castle?

Bridget McNab, Bachelor of Architecture
Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy (Semester 1, 2016)

“Wow, what a great choice for your degree!” and, “the location!” and, “the food!” and, “you are essentially a genius!” (that one was a lie), was what a lot of people said to me when I told them that I’d be studying Architecture in Italy.

Confession: my decision to go to Italy had nothing to do with the assumed romantic ideals. My dream had been to go to France, as I have a meaningful appreciation for soft cheese, wine towns, and the accent. As much as my five years of high-school French may have scraped me through Architecture taught in French, I decided to go with the next best (and taught in English) thing – Italy. Plus, the city I chose, Turin, was in a great location, situated a little bit South of Switzerland, a little bit East of France, and in the very centre of wine towns. I specifically chose Turin because the idea of a smaller city, to me, meant potentially more authenticity. Therefore, the cost of living was less (than Milan anyway). The north of Italy is a little cheaper than Australia, which was good – cheaper (and 157% better) public transport, extremely cheap markets, relatively cheap rent, and cheap pizzas. This allowed for me to save for further travels afterwards, score!

I lived in the medieval square from the time of the Savoy family. Sounds epic?! It was! The location was exceptional. The actual accommodation was okay – it was student apartments where we had a very uncomfortable single bed in an admittedly large room; a tiny, shared kitchen and dining room; and a single bathroom between four (no living room).

As my student apartment was strangely restored from an older building with a much more exciting previous purpose, so was my campus. I studied at Politecnico di Torino, which catered for mostly thousands of strands of Engineering that I didn’t even know existed, and Architecture. When I told people I studied Architecture at Politecnico they gasped in wonder, as the Politecnico Architecture building is Actually. A. Castle. However, (and probably due to some cruel strike of fate), my classes ended up in the furthest campus, that no one really knew where it was, and it wasn’t Actually. A. Castle. It was, however, the original ex-Fiat factory where they’d test the cars on the roof like total rebels: a justifiable alternative, I guess.

Essentially, I studied two subjects (equal to about 3.5 QUT subjects) in the rebel campus – Restoration and Architecture and Urban Economics. These were Masters subjects as well, and as I’m still a Bachelor student, it proved very challenging at times. The logistics of the course were similarly challenging – mostly verbal briefs and no criteria. However, once my friends and I did some detective work and understood their expectations, the assignments ended up being rewarding.

My University experience taught me a lot about patience, flexibility and the importance of excellently minded friends. As well as that, generally living in another country, as far as I found, teaches you a lot about self-reliance, independence, confidence and open-mindedness. Even if you face homesickness, stress, unfamiliarity, and missing out on Actually. A. Castle, you grow. You grow into a person that is largely a result of your experiences. So, if you’re reading this, and wondering whether to do exchange, I say, risk it – travel completely by yourself, go to that party, ski with a stranger, eat gelato daily, … and grow!

Making Memories in Milan

Andrew Q. Master of Business
Politecnico Di Milano, Italy (Semester 1, 2016)

Host University

I went on exchange at Politecnico di Milano (Polimi) in Semester 1, 2016 at the Leonardo campus. It is a widely respected university in Europe with a rich history in engineering.

Note in Europe, their semesters are reversed which means our 1st semester is their 2nd. Polimi semesters start around 3 weeks after the QUT equivalent so you might (will) miss the first few weeks of your next semester when you return.

Most units will consist of two 2hr lectures and one final exam during the exam period. You get 2 attempts to pass the exam. This all or nothing final examination approach threw me off compared to how it’s done in QUT, so you’ll need to self-manage your own studies from day one (my lectures were not recorded). If you are going in your first semester (QUT), try extending your stay to include their September exam session which will allow you to have 2 extra attempts to pass the exam as a precaution.

I found an apartment before arriving using a website called Uniplaces. They provide an intermediary in case you find the apartment not to your liking. I paid for a single room in a 2-bedroom apartment which cost me 500euro per month. This is average price you should expect to pay. Luckily, I’ve had no problems with my accommodation (and I’ve heard stories).

Host Country

I enjoyed my time in Italy and you can survive speaking only English but I would definitely recommend learning Italian before and during exchange. It definitely makes the experience so much more rewarding. I had a lot of fun interacting with my fellow international students via Polimi’s free language classes.

Milan is an expensive city to live in compared to Brisbane. Try and buy whatever you need at the street markets scattered throughout the city.

Highlights

  • I’m a football fan and it was great to watch (and attend) quality games within normal hours!
  • The sun doesn’t set until 9pm which allows you to make the most of the day. It’s definitely something I immediately miss upon returning.
  • Joining the ERASMUS group and making new friends. They do plenty of trips and social events. Great fun!
  • Italians have a tradition called Aperitivo. By purchasing a beverage, you have full access to the buffet they set out in the afternoon. It’s a social and financial lifeline for students!

Tips

Before Leaving

  • Apply for a ‘codice fiscale’ (Personal Code) along with your VISA application. You’ll need it as soon as you arrive (for your accommodation contract, phone plan and transport pass).
  • If you’re planning on taking a credit card (recommended) try getting one that gives you complimentary travel insurance if you use the card to pay for your flights or accommodation. I knew a few students who went travelling after the study period.
  • Don’t forget your stationery
  • Pack light, you’ll be bringing back more than you can imagine.
  • A laptop is essential.
  • Try to get as many transfer units as possible. There may be circumstances in which you won’t be able to do some of the units that you applied for. Be prepared to have overlapping units.
  • I used for a Citibank Plus account for cash withdrawals and a 28 Degrees account for credit card purchases and highly recommend both.

During Exchange

  • Apply for an ATM Transport Card. Renew every month for 22euro at the Metro Stations.
  • I signed on to Vodafone prepaid plan as it also allows cheap data roaming in other countries (5euro per day). The other big telecoms Wind and TIM do not provide this.
  • Applying for a Permesso di Sogiorno (Permit to stay) is a very daunting experience. I actually got my card a couple of weeks before I was set to leave!

Exploring the Architecture of Italy

Audrey Wong, Bachelor of Design

Short-term program: AIM Overseas ‘Rome Architectural Sketchbook’

Italy (June/July 2018)

I found my program through QUT short term program website, and it was organized by AIM Overseas, called Rome Architectural Sketchbook. Our program duration was 3 weeks in Rome, but I’d say the highlight of the program was the after-school life in Italy! On the first weekend, we went to Capri Island and Sorrento, in Southern Italy, and Florence and Pisa on the second. Most of us from the program didn’t know each other beforehand, so the weekend trips were organized only after we met in Rome, and even the train tickets were bought right before the night we go! Apart from the short trips, we also had lots of fun! Our program was about sketching in Rome, so we literally set down on the street and started drawing every day. However, despite such opportunity, there’s just too much to be covered in Rome! For example, the Vatican City, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Pantheon were not included in the school schedule. So, we had to squeeze our time to pay them a visit. Another after-school activity we all love is to go grocery shopping! Despite the unforgiving heat condition, we always wanted to go shop at the grocery because the food is cheap and very fresh with lots of varieties. And of course, gelato every day!

GELATO EVERYDAY – you’ll be shocked by the variety of flavour I guarantee.

1st weekend trip to Capri Island and Sorrento

Our Italian tutor (lady with red hair and sun glasses) is the most passionate and enthusiastic lovely lady we’ve ever met!

Touching the columns that was carved in one monolithic one in the Vatican City! Stunned by the architecture there (actually should be stunned by the architecture everywhere in Europe)!

To be honest, this would all sound overwhelming to me before I joined the program. I had quite low self-esteem and self-confidence especially towards socializing. So, I will have to admit that it was quite uneasy to meet new people and make friends at first, but once you’re there in that situation, you realize you actually only have two choices, go and learn to enjoy, or don’t go and regret. So, this was how I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. And I ended up am really proud of myself and really glad that I have met every one of them.

2 Florence and Pisa 2nd weekend trip

Had to go to the Trevi Fountain at 8am coz class starts at 9!

Last day! A group photo finally!

Link to the videos we made for the assignment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5RR-NLt-To

Link to the assignment I presented: https://spark.adobe.com/page/2IYI6rRiKydqA/

Viva L’Italia!

Giulia Marrama, Bachelor of Laws
Universita Luigi Bocconi, Italy (Semester 1, 2018)

In Semester 1 2018, I travelled to Milan for a six-month exchange at Universita Luigi Bocconi. Milan is an incredible, vibrant city filled with history, amazing food, people, and fashion. Milan has the benefit of being a modern, metropolitan city while maintaining the classical Italian-styled architecture. The transport both within Milan and around Italy is very efficient and you can travel almost anywhere with the tram and train. I would recommend taking a tour with the Erasmus Student Network Body (ESN) at the beginning of semester, as this will allow you to connect with other exchange students and create strong friendships from the start.

When it comes to accommodation I decided to stay in an apartment with other Italian students. I had been accepted into the university’s Arcobaleno dorm but had been advised by previous students to try and find alternative accommodation. I was able to get an apartment with other Italian students in the suburb of Porta Romana. If you are thinking of getting an apartment I would highly recommend looking for one around this area. It was a perfect location that was only a 20-minute walk to the university and a 20-minute to the city centre. It was full of restaurants, bars, metro station, markets and everything you would need within a short walking distance.

Some of the tips that I would give include:

  1. Get involved in the events that ESN/University offers
  2. Be prepared to adapt to the Italian culture and lifestyle
  3. Keep in mind that the University does not alter their examination or course structures for exchange students and pass/fail is 60%
  4. Have fun and enjoy the remarkable ride that you have embarked on!