Before entering into my final year of a Bachelor of Commerce/Economics, I decided to take advantage of the exchange experiences UQ Abroad has to offer. And what better a place to study economics than in Italy? Despite the seeming incongruity of this decision, Bocconi University in Milan, although held in high esteem globally, had so much more to offer than just an educational experience. It offered the chance to learn another language, to explore a completely different culture, to eat incredible food, to flit with ease around Europe, and, of course, to discover one of the most renowned fashion scenes in the world.

Experiencing the Italian academic system quickly opened my eyes to the diversity of educational institutions across the world. Bocconi University didn’t conduct tutorials and the lecture class sizes were roughly a quarter of the size of those at UQ, enabling an intimate learning experience. The greatest shock, however, was encountered come exam time. There are no mobile phone detectors, no exam invigilators roaming the aisles and it would be a great surprise if the exam actually started on time…the laid-back Italian culture seemed to infiltrate all aspects of university life!

Delving into the Italian culture was definitely a highlight of my whole exchange experience. The language itself is playful and animated, and this certainly carries through to the people. I was able to befriend shop owners, café workers and taxi drivers alike, even with my limited proficiency in Italian. So I would strongly recommend to all those visiting Bocconi to take advantage of the crash course and follow up courses in Italian that the university offers.

Food, and a profound appreciation for it, is also a huge aspect of the Italian culture. My newfound friends and I embraced this wholly with almost weekly dinner parties at one of their apartments complete with home cooked meals and often a little too many bottles of wine. Inevitably, as a result of this I soon was carrying a little too much Italy around with me than I would have liked, and so took advantage of some of the fitness events running in Milan. In particular, a group of 6 of us girls participated in the Nike Womens “We Own the Night Run.” With an incredible route that traced its way through many different areas of Milan, it was the best 10km I have ever run.

The friendships forged are also one of the best outcomes of exchange. I now have friends all over America, in Canada, Germany, Italy and Brazil - just to name a few – and am already planning to visit them or host them here in Australia.

Exchange was definitely one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and although I’m sure it will take me the next 6 months left in the year to recover from the surreal fantasy life exchange offers, it was most certainly worth it!

5 Top Tips for Exchange in Milan

  • Take advantage of easy day trips out of Milan to explore Italy
  • Climb the Duomo at sunset
  • Go to a soccer match at San Siro stadium
  • Star spot outside a runway show venue during Milan Fashion Week
  • Get gelati from Cioccolati Italiani

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