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Lauren Tindal, Bocconi Exchance, Fall 2012

Study abroad, for me, was kind of like jumping into a pool. You wait and wait and wait, toes on the edge of the concrete. Then you go, and there’s that one moment of release, when you jump, eyes closed and nose plugged, hovering midair for the faintest second before plunging into the water.

Well. As I’ve dived into my pool of abroad, I can say that the discomfort of waiting and the dissonance of uncertainty are most definitely worth it.

The only way to describe my past two weeks is this: a whirlwind of sensory overload. Everyday I have bounced along, meeting new people, riding on trams whose destinations I didn’t understand, absorbing the graffiti amongst the Italian architecture. Things just kept coming: Fashion Night Out, pizza dinners, welcome cocktails, a 40 hour crash course in Italian, a trip to Lake Como. Here is a very short surface overview of Milan that’ll give some context for now:

Milan is an urban city, and my dorm is around 20 minutes away from Bocconi University, where I am attending school, and around 30/40 minutes away from the center of the city. The city is centered around the Duomo, the beautiful, tall, and iconic church in all the postcards. Surrounding it are strands and strands of shops, panini restaurants, and gelato oases. The cobble stone streets are clogged with people, sitting outside under umbrellas at cafes, or toting shopping bags from designer stores.

Though the Duomo is the hub of all congestion, the vitality of the city reverberates for miles. At night, most gather for apiritivo, a sort of Happy Hour that provides a drink and an all you can eat buffet for under 10 euro (!!!). Apiritivos can be found at almost every restaurant, dotted along the Navigli district (the canal area you’ll see if you google Milan) or around the Colonne, where people congregate in clumps for cheap drinks and gelato afterward.

The past two weeks have been an intense, fun, vacation-like experience, but now, as classes start on more than the syllabus and the days fall into a rhythm, I have to start organizing my life here. I’ve felt lightweight here so far, just kind of floating with the events, taking things as they come. It’s been lovely and I couldn’t ask for better, but I am ready to start living here and taking on a more active role in my daily life. If the past two weeks are any indication, I have much more to look forward to.

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