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.

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!

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!

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!

Living in Italy

Alexandra Bell, Bachelor of Design
Politecnico Di Milano, Italy (Semester 2, 2017)

Polimi, Polimi, Polimi… where to begin. Good facilities (not the most flexible opening hours), and lovely and warm people, but the university was significantly less organised (which I chalked up to cultural differences). Be prepared for your lecturers and fellow students to always be late, and don’t rush into the classroom while your lecturer is speaking because they definitely won’t appreciate it.

The facilities opening hours are 9am to around 9pm, however, for practical course-takers, the workshop rooms are from 9am to 6pm. Don’t forget the hour lunch break too! Lunch breaks apply to the whole country, with many shops, cafes, and businesses shutting their doors to eat and take a break – this can last multiple hours, so be prepared.

HIGHLIGHTS
Gosh – everything? I made excellent friends with my roommates and peers and got to experience and learn about their cultures. I even met a guy who stood through two hurricanes! I travelled so much – the cheapest website is goeuro.com and also look out for the blablacar car app. I am so grateful for my whole experience and can confidently say that my point of view of the world has become significantly more open to different pathways and values in life. And how could I not mention; the wine is so cheap my friends. Make use of it!

THINGS I DIDN’T EXPECT
All the professors will most likely revert to speaking Italian! For you to learn a little is a huge advantage as this also applies to grocery shopping. Also, the language is pretty fun to learn and everything is pronounced exactly as it is spelt (for example, they wouldn’t say the girl’s name is Selene as in ‘Seh-leen’ but as in ‘Seh-leh-neh’, capisci?)

ADVICE
Go ham on the food! The pizza there is the best thing I’ve ever tasted, and the gelato makes me want to cry. Try to say yes to every social event and opportunity (while taking your studies seriously enough). Be friendly and you will most likely make lots of friends with other exchange students (and a few Italians). The best website for looking for housing is uniplaces.com, but there are a lot more too! Finally, be organised, think big, and get excited!