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Unexpected Espressos

My pasticceria had just put out some fresh brioche, knowing I had to grab one on the way to school. The pastry chef spoke not a lick of English, but we chatted away while I had my morning espresso, rushing out at the last moment with my usual chocolate croissant in hand. “Ciao, ciao! Buona giornata, a domani!”

I have always been a fan of routine and finding one in Italy took little to no time. I had arrived later than my peers since I opted out of the two-week Italian crash course prior to the start of school, meaning I had to give myself orientation. Thankfully, my Italian friends made sure I was settled in and took me on a personalized walking tour of Milan just days after my arrival. Bocconi has a small, but beautifully-constructed campus and the university is catered towards international students, so getting academically situated was a breeze. Dealing with the Italian bureaucracy on the other hand: hair-pulling. In any case, my quaint apartment situates me about a fifteen-minute walk from school next to hipster barber shops, knowledgeable tailors and an adorable fruit stand.zhangespresso

After lunch at a Brazilian sushi joint on Navigli (the river and prime nightlife area for students) one Tuesday, the waitress came by to ask if anybody wanted caffè (espresso) to end the meal. I shook my head no, which prompted a surprised response from Marco, “No caffè? You have to! Caffè after a meal is the most Italian thing to do!” And from thereon after, I found myself popping in and out of cafes while running errands, between classes, after meals, you name it. I recalled my first espresso at a famous bar in Rome with my father a few years ago. Truthfully, I couldn’t finish it due to its strong taste (but that was before I started drinking Pike’s Place and sans cream or sugar at that). Now, after the last few years of two black coffees daily, caffès became a breeze. No, a necessity. I had expected midnight gelato runs, plenty of (whole) pizzas, and enough pasta to drown in, but never would I have thought to take the most joy out of walking into a cafe, euro in hand, chatting up the barista and enjoying a minute of aromatic Illy or Lavazza.

Perhaps an unexpected amore, or perhaps we were always meant to be, daily caffè, you make my heart (rate) smile like no other.

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