Vivere una vita bella

An Italian phrase which translates to ‘live a beautiful life’, I have to say that I’m on track for creating a fantastic experience abroad. I must admit, the lead up to embarking on this adventure was nerve-wracking and emotionally charged, with stress and anxiety levels reaching an all time high. The fear of the unknown, all the ‘what ifs?’ and leaving the security blanket of familiarity was hard to overcome, but now that I’m here, all of those worries have completely dissipated.

It has been 6 weeks since leaving Sydney, and I’ve been fortunate to travel through some amazing countries such as Spain, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia. As a solo traveller, it was a little intimidating to experience this alone, but I can honestly say that I have not felt lonely at all. I have made countless friends from all over the world on my travels; people I know that I will stay in contact with for years. The joy in sharing magical experiences such as swimming under majestic waterfalls or something as simple as drinking wine while being captivated by a glorious sunset are binding moments. Memories really do last a lifetime… and Facebook also does a pretty good job at reminding you of these too 🙂

Almost 2 weeks has almost passed since arriving in Milano and I feel so at ease in this city. The city is extremely cosmopolitan, people are so friendly and always willing to help, despite communication difficulties. To counter this, I am enrolled in an Intensive Italian Language Course with Bocconi University and while it has been challenging so far, I know the end result will be worthwhile. I’m finding that I’m able to pick up certain words and phrases whilst eavesdropping on conversations and I’m eager to put these new skills into practice, much to the amusement (and patience) of my local barista and the owner of the photocopy store near uni.

The semester has only just commenced and Bocconi has a whopping 904 international students enrolled in this semester. The variety of accents that you hear on campus is astounding and it’s been such an awesome way to learn about different cultures, customs, languages and slang.

To cap off, I want to share a few things I have learned so far:

  • Milky coffees are reserved for breakfast only, and after that, espressos are the only way to go. Ordering a cappuccino after midday is considered a big no no.
  • Aperitivo is probably the best thing ever for budget conscious uni students. For the price of one drink (around 10 euros), you are granted unlimited access to a buffet spread of pasta, pizza, salads, cheese, cold cuts, pastries and even desserts.  Aperitivo come from the Latin word ‘to open’ and is essentially a time to wind down with a drink and graze on a smorgasboard of food, before dinner approaches. My experiences so far has been rolling out of bars, filled to the brim, and wondering how the Milanese can even fit a proper dinner after aperitivo.
  • You will definitely be judged for wearing thongs on the street – although on the plus side, it’s been a great reason to invest in new shoes. Also, activewear is not considered proper attire in Milan – unlike Sydney, you would be hard pressed to find someone wearing tights and a tank top carrying out their day to day activities.
  • The Milanese are effortlessly stylish – every morning I see immaculately dressed women riding bicycles in gorgeous leather shoes, perfect outfits and toting designer handbags with not a strand of hair out of place. Oh, and while they’re cycling down busy city streets in peak hour, they’re also text messaging. I seriously don’t know why they don’t wear helmets here. Fashion takes priority, I guess?
  • At the supermarket, you must wear a glove before handling fruit and vegetables.
  • And last but not least, nothing is common sense in Italy. In fact, I would go as far as saying, that you should unlearn everything you know about life and how society operates. For example, the post offices don’t sell stamps; rather postage stamps are sold at the tobacconist. It completely baffles me but that’s the Italian way of life and I will embrace it for what it is!

I can’t wait to see how the rest of this year unfolds.

Grace Houw

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One thought on “Vivere una vita bella

  1. Lovely post! I moved abroad (across the Atlantic) 2 years ago. It has been a life-changing and incredible experience. I feel like you learn so much about yourself and your potential when you go abroad for extended periods of time. I was in Milan in July. I absolutely loved it – especially aperitivo. Have you had the chance to explore Lake Como? It’s stunning.

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