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!

With a little over a month of my Hong Kong exchange remaining…

My exchange experience in Hong Kong continues to be filled with valuable opportunities for development.

Last weekend, I competed in the Hong Kong Joint University Case Competition. We were given 48-hours to develop and deliver a solution on a business problem and we competed against 16 teams from Hong Kong’s top business schools, including Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Hong Kong University. My team progressed to the grand final and received 3rd place overall.

I participated in the Hong Kong Entrepreneurship Adventure Programme. Over two-days, we workshopped and guided by industry mentors developed our HealthTech Start-up idea. At the end of the programme, we had the opportunity to present a 5-minute pitch to programme participants and mentors.

I also attended the TEDx HKBU event. I was particularly impressed to hear Associate Professor and Convener of the Women’s Studies Research Centre at the Hong Kong University Faculty of Law, Dr. Kapai, discuss her research and social justice advocacy. She focuses on the rights of marginalised communities in relation to gender, race, religion, sexuality, using an intersectional framework.

CityU is constantly hosting interesting events covering a range of topics. For example, I attended the ‘Big Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence: Opportunities and Challenges’ event hosted by Professor Hong Yan. I also attended the ‘Unraveling Supply Chain Complexity in the Greater Bay Area: Challenges and Opportunities in embracing digital transformation’ event hosted by CityU MBA.

There are always live music gigs happening in Hong Kong. A few weeks ago, I saw 16-year old artist from Australia, Ruel, perform. His performance and the venue were both great.

Over the weekend, I attended the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens. The Hong Kong Sevens is considered the premier tournament on the World Rugby Sevens Series competition. The event is so much fun. Attendees get dressed up in outrageous costumes and the atmosphere is incredible!

With little over a month of my exchange program remaining, I will continue to seek out opportunities and gain insight in Hong Kong’s dynamic business and legal environment.

Click here for a 1-minute video snapshot of Hong Kong