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!