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!

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!

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.