As the first semester comes to an end, so does the study abroad experience for a lot of the friends I’ve made. This included the entire group of my American friends who now go home for Christmas and not return to Milan.
The last week we had together was a big one. We had to spend as much time as possible with each other, which was both euphoric and emotional. Even though it was late into the semester I met this crazy bunch of people, I relish all the memories we made together.
My first semester in Italy was great. But it wasn’t all “sunshine and rainbows” as they say. There were some things we had to tackle. First was the journey to the apartment (see “Preperoni” for the whole story). But another challenge I had to face was the Italian education system. It is COMPLETELY different to the British one.
Although it may be good that we get to choose our classes, everything that relates specifically to my primary course (Photography, or even art/media) clashes with each other, which really limits what I can do. I chose a module that was a sort of combination of Geography and art. The first few weeks I understood nothing but thought “Hey, you’ll get into it eventually”, four months in and still, I have no clue what was going on.
However, my core module is all about Italian Media and publishing, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I learned a lot and thankfully passed all my assessments.
Secondly, is our apartment. Within the four months we’ve lived here; our electricity has gone off numerous times, our hot water and heating has knocked off for DAYS meaning I had to heat water in a saucepan and wash myself down with a flannel to clean myself and our cooking hobs stopped working, which meant we only had the oven to cook with. I honestly don’t know which is more stressful, studying a university module that I have no idea about or living in the Italian Fawlty Towers.
But I suppose all these problems can act as sort of “life lessons” on what can go wrong when living in the real world, so I’m looking at it as a learning curve.
But all of that aside, I love living in Milan. I have got myself a little weekly job helping 9-year-old Raphael with his English homework (but also playing a bit of FIFA!) and I’ve become one of the first members of the University’s photographic club, covering their events. Although it is expensive to live in Milan, it has taught me how to budget my money much better than I already was.
Living in another country also means immersing yourself into their culture and way of living. Which I really haven’t found so bad. It’s quite a slow paced way of life here in Italy, which means that my frequent lateness isn’t so frowned upon. But of course there are certain things I miss from the UK. Chocolate, British tea, my family and friends but the biggest one of all has got to be the cheap but nice food and drink from Wetherspoons. God I miss that place…
Overall this semester has been great. I have had some great experiences and I’ve met some amazing people. I hate having to say goodbye to some of the greatest people I’ve met, but I’m sure this won’t be the end.
As for the rest of my Erasmus experience, see you in January for round two!