Living in Milan as a Student
Living in Milan Italy as a Student Tips
Useful tips from mainly US students, that we interviewed, who mostly studied in Bocconi University. Usually it’s their first time they are in Milan and stay for many months for full semester, some for full year and few also for full 3 years.
Living in Milan Italy, good to know
Everything is closed on Sunday. There’s only a few things open.
And then there are also still weird hours on Mondays. Some things aren’t open in the mornings. Some restaurants aren’t open at night. That was one thing that they ran into.
Also usually you can’t find anything easily to eat from around 14:30 – 18:30 that restaurants are closed, but luckily some of them are still open. You can always use delivery apps like Deliveroo, Glovo and Uber Eats to let them to bring your lunch (or dinner) for just a little extra costs.
The whole concept of tipping at restaurants.
In the United States, we tip around 20% usually on the bill, but here it’s included ’cause there’s a service fee just for sitting down at restaurants “coperta”, which was very different for us.
And also, it would sometimes take a while to get the check at the end of a meal, you just need to ask “il conto per favore“, but that was okay. You got used to it. Milao is quite different from our country, especially for these two aspects.
Another interesting habit of people living in Milan Italy is to have an “aperitivo” that is quite also useful for students. So aperitivo is… It takes place around happy hour, and basically what it is is it’s kind of a special that almost every restaurant puts on, or every bar, where you go, buy a drink, and with that drink you get an assortment of the restaurant’s appetizers. So it could be anything from breads and olives, to lasagna and pizza, or chips, anything, and it’s really good, quite cheap, and they just keep bringing you the food while you stay there and enjoy your drink.
When you want to travel from Milan
It’s easy to get in some other European cities or abroad because it is a really good travel hub, it’s actually super well-connected. So if you want to go anywhere here in Italy or in the countries that are nearby, you can get there by train or by flight, because of its 3 airports near the city (and it’s not expensive at all), that are:
the biggest airport, also easyJet base (that we recommend, Terminal 2), 1 hour bus ride € 7/ 30-40 minutes train trip from main train stations every 30 minutes (Cadorna FN, Garibaldi and Stazione Centrale) € 13. (€ 20 two ways when you manage to buy ticked online but its not easy), you can also reach Malpensa with the bus from Stazione Centrale,
nearest of the airports, 30 minutes trip with Bus nr. 73 from Duomo (center) every 30 minutes and in near future also directly with the new metro line, nearest to the city but from there you can easily get to many cities in Europe. But to get there, it’s not so easy, so it would be useful to tell it to others,
Ryanair base (that we don’t recommend, you need to pay extra for the luggage and seat, so the price that at first look seems very cheap, adds up after all the extra charges, neither carry on luggage is included in the price, just very small bag, is a joke!), busses from Central Station for € 13, euros every 20 minutes.
As an alternative to transfer to airports is taxi
specially if you have lot of luggages, there is an app called “”mytaxi which is essentially like Uber and allows you to pay for the cabs with credit card. Most of the cabs, if you’re just hailing them on the side of the road, you’ll have to pay in cash.
But for example, if transportation is not running at 5 a.m. in the morning but you need to be at the airport for a flight somewhere, you can call a mytaxi the night before and order it, say, I want it to come at 5:00 AM, and then you can pay directly on the app when you get to your destination. So that’s the easiest.
Malpensa is fixed price € 95 euros, 1 hour trip. Bergamo can be little bit more, also around € 120-130 euros and Linate € 20-30, depending from the traffic. They don’t have UberPop in Italy, only UberBlack, so its was more expensive, but its worthwhile to check the price, when you need a transport example early in the morning (not rush hour), can be much cheaper. There is also an alternative app, something in the middle of taxi and Uber, that is called Heetch.
It’s really convenient to travel from Milan just cause the flights are much cheaper out of Milan (easyJet and Ryanair, they’re some low-cost airlines that are only in Europe, to my knowledge, and you can fly for like € 20- 30 if you book at the right time). It’s really easy to travel ;), is what we found.
But the airports are far away and it just makes for a much longer travel day than we’re used to, I guess, for the length of the flight, ’cause usually they’re pretty short. But, I mean, it’s a process, but it’s still cheap and you still get there, it’s just definitely longer than we thought, so you just have to commit more time than you think.
Its still something positive about Milan that you couldn’t expect, that traveling, it’s quite easy. Because Italy is very small, and Milan even smaller. Milan is a great place to travel. I’m very happy I chose to study in Milan because there’s three airports makes international travel very easy. I’ve been to Greece, Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague.
Within Italy, Milan is really connected, so I went to Venice, Florence and I was able to go to Rome for a few days, just taking the train. It was very easy and straightforward to use. I was also able to go up to Switzerland from Milan, also on a train, which once again was very easy and straightforward to do. So I highly recommend staying in Milan. I enjoyed living in Milan Italy, it was great. I’m not happy I’m gonna be leaving so soon!
Theres lots of bike sharing, one called BikeMi (there are also ofo and other plus electric scooter one, miMoto, actually there is an app where you an search all transportation options nearby, that is called Urbi) and that is about 50 cents for half an hour so it is really good value. Also Glovo when it comes to food deliveries or just anything from anywhere. Deliveroo is just for food.
It’s actually a friendly city. You can move around easily. You will find trams, subway, buses everywhere. And naturally, if you would like to walk, it’s a city that it’s easy to do so. So I would recommend everyone that loves fashion or that are into friendly Italian cities to come to living in Milan Italy.
Quick tips on the transportation in Milan
so when you just arrived, and you need to use the metro, tram or the bus, you need to buy a ticket in a Tobacco shop or at a kiosk: “Un biglietto per favore”
One time ticked (valid for 90 minutes) € 1,50 (will be € 2,00 soon because of the new metro line costs that the city is building).
And then when you buy your ticket, you just need to validate it. You can validate it at the machines (red color) when already on board, just metro as gates, then you can enter just one time, still possible to change metro with the same ticket, so you can get around the whole Milan with just one ticket.
There are also 1 day tickets € 4,50 “Giornaliero per favore” and 10 times tickets “Carnet per favore” € 13,80 available .
And also, when you will have an Italian number already, it may be easier for you to buy your ticket by sending an SMS.
Then you just need to send an sms to nr. 48444 with text “atm” and ticket arrives in few seconds with the same cost of € 1,50.
Just works with Italian number tough.
Weird things to expect when heading to Milan as an American (cons)
Living in Milan as an American Student has been an amazing experience, but there are some things you need to watch out for before you live in Milan or anywhere in Italy.
Firstly is going to be the language barrier, it is rare to find people that speak English even at the airports and places where you would think people would be able to. Even though it feels nice speaking an Italian, it makes everything ridiculously hard even the simplest of tasks. If you are able to learn some Italian beforehand please do not make the same mistake as I and many others have and learn as much as you can even if it is only phrases.
Coming from someone in a major city in the states, there are always times where you feel really close to someone when in an elevator, in Italy and the rest of Europe they don’t really mind being that close to someone and it can get very uncomfortable. Not much to prevent this but just be mindful that people here show emotion physically a lot more here then in the States.
Living in Milan public transportation system is nice but depending what part of the states you are from it could take a bit to get used to, especially when its not in your language. The public transport here is not all that complicated and you can use apps like Moovit to help you with what lines to catch and how to get to your destinations. I personally like Moovit because it gives a notification when you are a stop away.
This one isn’t too much of a con but people in Italy DESPISE being cold its insane. If you’re not in multiple layers a nonna will look at you like you are crazy. This goes along with wearing shorts or even leaving the house in wet hair will result in many looks from people.
Want to grab a bite to eat after work? Good luck with that as most restaurants from 2-6pm are closed and it has to be one of the weirder things on this list, this is referred to as Riposo and is taken very seriously. Also similarly to this you will see that almost everything closes at about 2pm on Sunday.
This one isn’t too bad but it is something to keep in mind, living in Milan Italy they don’t really use card that much and most transactions are done in cash and even if you do use cash take smaller bills out because a lot of restaurants just straight up wont except anything above a 20. In the tourist spots of Milan though you should be fine when dining.
If you are expecting to eat a ridiculous amount of pasta while you’re here have fun with that, although there are many places where you can eat it; its not treating as a main meal but rather the beginning of what feels like a marathon of food for dinner. While you will be having it often if that is what you want, it won’t be the quantity that you were thinking of.
Be prepared to occasionally pay for public restrooms, always have change on you. This is for the greater good of cleaner bathrooms and im 100% for this.
Dont put those yoga pants in that suitcase; wearing workout clothes in a non gym setting is the number one sign to show that you are American. I didn’t believe it until I wore basketball shorts and got the craziest stares of my life, even coming from a city like Philadelphia. Just put effort in to what you’re wearing especially in a fashion capital like Milan.
This one takes a lot of time to get used to in my personal experience but the waiter not checking up on you while you’re sitting down at a restaurant does not mean he is being rude, in fact the exact opposite. Waiters here don’t get tips so they aren’t trying to rush you out of the restaurant and instead want you to enjoy your time and not bother you.
Pros living in Milan Italy as an American Student
As you would expect the food here is phenomenal, although it isn’t like the Italian American dishes you have at home they are still recognisable and amazing. If you see a place that has translations for many different areas, more often then not it is a tourist trap so just be aware because they may charge you more for food that shouldn’t cost the price they are selling it at.
Especially if it is your first time one Europe you will be amazed by the scenery in Milan because of the fact that there are buildings that are really old and then you can see parts of the city that were repaired after the bombing here.
Something amazing you will experience living in Milan are aperitivos. An aperitivo is when you can order a drink and it comes with free finger food and snacks, usually this is held before dinner time to make the time going out to eat more of a casual meeting and you don’t have to go anywhere as most places that have aperitivos have dinner or legit one minute away from really good dinner spots especially when at Navigli.
Milan is in the perfect spot its amazing, it doesn’t get too hot or too cold and you are 2 hours away from a beach and 2 hours away from mountains as well; along with perfect weather it is the perfect travel hub as it is very cheap to go to different places in Europe or even places like Egypt if you choose to go there. Having all these countries close by you should take advantage of seeing them because each one is so different and unique. When living in the US even though each state is slightly different it is nowhere near the degree of how different each European country is with each one having its own culture.
Depending which part of the United States you are coming from you will see that living in Milan is not as expensive as New York or California or any of the major spots and is comparable to a place like Philadelphia where there will be only a few tourist traps but for the most part will be relatively cheap when eating out.
Seeing so many people put effort into how they dress is such a nice feeling and with the incredibly social nightlife, you will always see people dressed for what looks like an important event even though they are only just hanging out with friends.
Being able to move around the city without being in a car 24/7 is such a great feeling. Being able to have public transport that takes you almost everywhere and it is safe to walk in even at night in some areas which is nice to hear.
Few extra tips from Rental Milan:
Some Useful infos when you have already arrived
In the city of Milan, as probably it’s your city too, we have to separate carefully he garbage, if you don’t want to incur expensive fines.
Here you are the “instructions” how to separate the waste:
You should separate the “leftover” food too, or in general what is organic, the “compost”, we call it also “humid” (umido).
For it, you should please use some special recycling begs – not made by plastic! – you can buy them in every supermarket and put them in the small brown bin you have at home.
In Milan there are a lot of supermarkets, with more or less the same products and prices.
The only ones where you could save some money, are the “discounts”. The main are LIDL, LD and iN’s.
Even if they usually don’t have the most famous Italian brands (probably you don’t need them ;)) and fresh fish, they have quite good quality and a large selection of products.
You can always use the credit card and the bancomat, excepted for some discounts where you can use just the bancomat (debit card, not credit card).
On products labels, sometimes there is just the Italian text.
While you buy not packaged fruits and vegetables, you should put the plastic glove and bags you find near these products.
At the same time you fill the bag with the fruits/vegetables, close it with a knot, put it on the scale, push the number on the scale you can find on the label on the basket with the name of the product, get the sticker with the price and apply it on the plastic bag.
When you are paying at the check-out, if you didn’t put a sticker on the plastic bag with some fruits/vegetables, you have to come back to put it on the scale… but you could hamper the other people after you at the check-out, so at the end you don’t take anymore those products ;(
How to get local cell nr.?
We reccommend Vodafone Shop, they are used with english speaking clients!
And Vodafone has best 4G / 4.5G coverage.
Corso San Gottardo, 5 – 20136 Milano (they have lunch break)
You just bring your passport!
Ask for rechargeable SIM, normally just €5 and you need to add some credit, like € 15 (that is also the monthly price that you need to make sure to have credit for), you don’t need any contract. You’ll be able to use your SIM card right the next day!
Paying / Withdrawing whit your debit or credit card
Only American Express might have problems in some places.
Local Bank Cards
I suggest Prepayd card with UniCredit or Intesa Sanpaolo, biggest banks here in Italy. For under 30 years old it should be free and you can get them in an instant. Just banks in Italy are open or public in the morning.
Local Bank Account
FINECO, just online bank but they have few offices near Bocconi (part of UniCredit). You just need to have your “permesso di soggiorno” before. There is no extra cost to open a bank account but it takes up to 3 weeks (15 business days).