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Helpful tips from mainly US students that we interviewed, would have wanted to know, before arriving to Milan.
I’d say the first thing, and this was some advice that I got before I came, and it was to learn a bit of Italian, as much as you can before you come. Even if you can’t learn enough to carry on any sort of conversation, like me, I had no foundation whatsoever, it’s good to learn the very basics because it’s a good way to make an impression on somebody, a first impression.
If it’s at a shop, or a restaurant, or really anywhere, I think people are a lot more willing to help you out, and use their English with you, if you first make an effort to use your Italian with them.
I think that it would be better to know at least some basic Italian words before coming or at least when you arrive here to take intensive Italian language course that the school offers, I recommend to arrive here in Milan little bit earlier, than the school starts, to make the course, and to settle in.
also cause I have some friends who are studying here and they all are native Italians, I thought it would be best for me to learn something. That is a good idea to learn at least a little bit before you get here. But also if you’re an exchange student at Bocconi, they do offer an Italian intensive course before classes start.
I know that it’s really tempting in the two weeks to go to Barcelona or to go to Copenhagen, but I would take the class cause it really, really helps. And even though you sit in a class for four hours a day, you do learn enough Italian to be able to get around Milan.
While most people do speak a little bit of English, especially in the tourist areas like Duomo, around here, especially where this apartment is, around Bocconi, it is better to speak a little bit of Italian ’cause things get a lot easier. And as far as my experience, people appreciate when you try to speak the language. The course is definitely recommended.
Another student experiences: Definitely learn Italian! I didn’t know any Italian when I came here and it was a little bit difficult. But as I’ve been here, I’ve been watching all of my movies in Italian.
I’ve been going also online trying to learn Italian, and I took the Italian crash course that Bocconi offers, that’s been really helpful, but definitely try to learn a bit. Cause a few people here in Italy can speak English and sos they appreciate a lot when you make some little effort also to say just a few basic words in Italian.
I guess, make sure when you pick classes at Bocconi, you get easy classes because, like I said before, you’re definitely gonna be traveling around Europe and if you have really difficult classes you don’t wanna be focusing too much on school instead of traveling, so definitely pick easier classes. Already these easier classes are quite hard, Bocconi’s already a difficult school.
In the American way you usually have class works, homeworks exams, middle terms. Here, you practically will have only exams and some class works. But pretty much, you will have time to study because the exams will be at the end of the semester. And the first month, you can visit, travel maybe until second month, and then you will need to really, really get to study.
Another student experience: I’m Argentinian, but I study my bachelor degree in Brazil. And the system works very differently because exams are regularly happening every one month, maybe one month-and-a-half. Here in Milan, it’s not.
so you have to keep the studying on your own. Nobody is going to be trying to test you all the time. And I would definitely recommend reading of the information that Politecnico, if you’re coming to Politecnico provides and explaining how the exam sessions work, because it’s quite confusing for people who haven’t been in this kind of system.4
So I know in the US, our parents often send us care packages with shampoo, or food, or anything that we might want. One of the problems is, if you have anything sensitive in the box such as a medication, it can take three weeks or four weeks to go through customs and then you have to pay an import tax on it when you receive it.
I’d say, if you wanna get something from your parents, maybe a letter or something really small that won’t go through customs, and then send it to an Amazon locker or something like that. Otherwise if you have anything sensitive like medication, as I was saying earlier, just try to bring it before you come here.
One thing that I wish I’d known before coming to Italy is that it sometimes takes longer than you might expect to do something due to the bureaucratic nature of things here in Italy. So maybe if you’re thinking about doing something, make sure you’re proactive and go and take care of whatever it is, whether it’s permit of stay or something at school, before you think you’ll have to because it may take longer than you expect.
but there was some issues. You know, in Italy, the bureaucratic procedures can be a bit complicated. So if you’re going to open a bank account, make sure you bring a SIDA certificate from your home town. Also, it will take time, at least three weeks or more. If you prefer, make sure to bring some credit cards that will work here in Europe, like Visa, Mastercard, or any others. And that would be it.
so one alternative that I wish I knew about was car sharing. So there are companies like car2go (now fused with DriveNow) and Enjoy (there is also Ubeeqo, that you can also rent out by our or by day)a which allow you to go on an app and book a car that’s nearby and then drive it around Milan (charged by minute).
So it sounds complicated but after going on the DMV website, it’s possible to apply and get it within less than a month. As long as you have a valid California ID, for example, for me, it’s really easy to get. You don’t have to take a test or anything, you just go in and apply for it and they’ll send it you, and then it’ll be valid here for you to drive in Milan.
which I know is not common for us in the United States, but there is one app specifically that is all automatic cars, so that makes it really easy. But that definitely requires the international driver’s license.
Another student experience: In Milan theres lots of useful things that you can do to make it easier here for example theres vehicle sharing opportunities like share&go so if you have an international license for more than a year you can drive a lot of other ones, I use car to go and its about 25 cents a minute so it does work out quite cheap.