Ciao! My name is Elaine Ta and I’m currently doing a semester exchange at Bocconi in Milan, Italy! During the short period of time I’ve been here, I’ve noticed so many differences between life in Italy and life in the US and between Bocconi and A&M. 

Moving to Italy made me realize all the small and large luxuries I have as an American. Life is very convenient at home because you can drive anywhere you want whenever you want, buy things in bulk or in massive sizes, dry your clothes quickly using a dryer, and use the restroom for free. While simple in Texas, those things are like luxuries here in Italy. People mostly get around by either walking or taking public transportation, they buy very small portions of items (meaning they make trips to the grocery store very frequently because you can only carry home so much at a time), they air dry their clothes, and pay a euro to use the restroom when they’re out. This is the longest period of time I’ve ever spent in another country without my family, so adjusting to this minimalistic life here has been rough but quite rewarding knowing I’m learning to adapt to situations quicker each day. Thankfully, to help us get situated faster, Bocconi organizes many events for all the exchange students to meet each other. Because all the other international students are going through the same situation as I am, it’s been a lot more manageable to make friends quickly because everyone is very open and welcoming to you. All the exchange students I’ve met thus far have been incredibly sweet, smart, friendly, and open-minded and I’m looking forward to the memories we’ll make together in the coming months. 

The biggest difference between classes at A&M and at Bocconi is that your grades at Bocconi are usually only determined by a single exam (the final) and sometimes an additional project. You have to be much more disciplined and organized with your studying to ensure you aren’t cramming a semester’s worth of information the day before the exam or falling behind; however, the advantage of this grading structure is that it leaves a lot of room for flexibility for students throughout the semester because you don’t have an assignment due every few days. After this semester ends, I hope to have learned how to live minimalistic, how to manage my time and finances better and to have explored various countries and cultures across Europe with my new friends. Ciao for now 🙂

Categories: 2023, Italy

My name is Elijah Esteves and I am studying abroad for a semester in Milan, Italy. When I got here about 2 weeks ago, I was afraid that I was going to get pickpocketed, get lost, and miss a train. Luckily, none of those things have happened so far. I have learned that the people here will help you out if you ask them for it. The helpfulness of people has eased my fears about living abroad because I know I can always ask for help and they will do their best to point me in the right direction.

I went to an orientation meeting at my school and all of the other international students I met were very friendly and helpful so it got me more excited for school to start. The school itself is very nice with a lot of new buildings and it’s easy to get to by bus for me. It’s about a 10 minute walk to the bus stop and then a 10 minute bus ride to get to school.

So far in Milan, I have been to the Duomo, saw the Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci, went to an Inter Milan soccer game, and saw Sforza’s Castle. I have also traveled to Lake Como where I got on a boat and visited some small towns on the lake. In addition, I have been to Venice where I went to St. Mark’s Basilica, Rialto Bridge, and the Doge’s Palace.

Some big differences I’ve noticed between Italian and American culture:

  • It’s easy to get around the city by foot and with public transportation
  • The post offices in Italy do a lot more than just deliver mail
  • Not a lot of people speak English
  • There’s not a lot of options for fast food besides McDonalds and KFC
  • Grocery stores in Italy are a lot smaller and have very limited options for cereal

Categories: 2023, Italy

Ciao!

 

My first few days in Milan have been filled with meeting new people, learning new things, and experiencing different cultures. The first things I noticed upon my arrival to Italy were the buildings. Everything has so much character and it was surreal to walk through the streets that Olive Garden tries to imitate. Milan itself is different than I expected, but not in a bad way. Being up north, the stereotypical rolling hills and small cottages are not present, but instead, Milan is a modern city bustling with people. The Duomo in the center of town is the most beautiful building I have seen, and almost every other building is unique in some way. I haven’t been able to explore much more of Italy yet, but something I’ve appreciated is how easy their public transport system is to use.

I began classes at Bocconi last week and have been very impressed so far. Located close to the center of town, the campus is a mixture of cool old buildings and sleek, modern cylinders. The classrooms are nice, and the professors have done a great job of getting us used to how things are done over here.

From a cultural point of view. Italy is definitely different from the United States in some ways. One of the most obvious ones is that people are more relaxed and less obsessed with profits/work/getting ahead. The other A&M students and I encountered this first hand when we tried to get some food on one of our first days. Our residence is pretty far from the more touristy city center, so when we went walking around looking for food in the middle of the afternoon, every place we passed was closed. After figuring this out, we’ve become much more in tune with the schedules here, but it was definitely a shock!

I’m excited to continue my journey over here and immerse myself deeper into the Italian way of life!

Categories: Italy

115 days full of interesting people, amazing experiences, and knowledge in Europe. Saying bye was difficult, but the aspiration to be back in Milan, and to see all my international friends again, made that sadness go away. 6 countries and 12 cities, during these past 115 days I learned so much about the world, society, and business.

We have heard dozens of times how business is different around the world. From the US to Brazil to France to China to Australia, each country has its own customs in conducting business. As I took time to collect my thoughts on conducting business in Italy (and with the people I met during my exchange), 2 trends kept popping up in my head: People love to talk about themselves, and people value when you are interested in learning about their culture.

My International Friends and I before Christmas (10 nationalities)

People love talking about themselves, and it gets them to be comfortable with one, as the human tendency to be accepted by another person helps in relationship building. It is within our capabilities to listen actively to others, and when conducting business, being a good listener will prove its worth.

People appreciate when you are curious about their culture, as they tend to jump on the role of being ambassadors of their culture and showing you what it is like. Not only that, one gets to learn many things and gets the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

(Brussels, Belgium) Visiting cities around with people from different backgrounds opens your heart and eye

Of course, business is still conducted differently all around the world, but who conducts that business? People!! I think if we are able to listen, be curious, and be open-minded, our interpersonal skills will allow us to conduct business with any nationality, background, and mindset.

I believe Italians are as friendly as Texans. Very welcoming and affectionate, the people of Milan made me feel loved. Italians are known to be laid back and very social, and during my exchange, I was able to observe that. Not only that, but they are also driven, and even though they may take breaks more often than others, they are able to get to work and deliver results. A smile goes a long way and trying to speak Italian (in this case the host country’s language) helped in navigating the city and talking to strangers.

I now understand that even though we may have different flags, at the end of the day we are all people who probably have more in common than not. Not only that, I learned that we all tend to be more good than evil. Being abroad has expanded my horizon on how I see the world and how it is connected. I am now more understanding of various cultures that I had never been exposed to (like the ones from Ghana, Cost D’ Ivoire, France, Japan, Chile, China, and Thailand), and I am more tolerant of differences, as I see a learning opportunity in them and a chance to let my curiosity run free.

Being abroad made me a better person, businessman, and leader. It opened my eyes, expanded my dreams, and grew my passion for learning about the world and its beautiful landscapes, cities, and cultures.

Categories: 2021, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

My time abroad has come to an end. I could speak for hours about the places I traveled to, the people I met, and the memories I made. Looking back at my time in Europe, I learned relatively late the importance of fully embracing the culture of the locals. When I attempted to embrace the Italian culture and language, the locals were more willing to engage with me. Networking and building relationships became effortless when I introduced myself to others with an open mind and with the intention of learning more about their way of life. Without a doubt, my time abroad has changed my perspective on Italy. My initial interactions with Italians made me assume that Italians did not like to speak to foreigners. I no longer find that assumption accurate. I now believe Italians do not mind to speak to foreigners as long as they can see them putting in effort in learning about their culture. I also came to Italy thinking their restaurant timings are similar to the ones in the USA. That is not true! Besides the international restaurants, dining places are usually closed between 3PM to 7PM. This is usually their break/rest time. I also assumed I would only find Italian food in Milan. I was ready to eat pizza and pasta for 4 months straight! To my surprise, Milan is very culturally diverse. There were many poke places, all-you-can-eat sushi places, and Indian restaurants. In the end, I never expected to enjoy my time abroad as much as I did. It was a memorable experience that I will forever cherish.

Universitá Bocconi

My last day eating at Bao Bing. Bao Bing was my favorite Asian restaurant in Milan. It was a 5-minute walk from Bocconi.

Milan in the winter 🙂

Prada Museum with my roommate (who is also from Texas A&M)!

Categories: 2021, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

As expected, Bocconi is incomparable to Texas A&M University, College Station. Bocconi’s campus is much smaller and all my classes are in the same 1 building. This has made the first week of classes much less stressful for me. Furthermore, I love how welcoming the individuals at Bocconi and Milan are. A lot of people here surprisingly do not speak English; however, they still try to help. There are a lot of differences I have noticed between Italian and U.S. culture. Public transportation is used far more here, students are usually more dressed up, and almost everything is closed in Italy on Sundays. As of now, I am loving the Milan weather. I never sweat and it hardly rains. I definitely am not missing the College Station humidity but I do miss wearing t-shirts and shorts to class every day.

Categories: 2021, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

Whenever I told my friends and colleagues that I was going to do a study abroad in Venice, Italy in the fall, the most popular reaction I was responded with was that it is a touristy destination, the canals and streets would be nasty, and after a while there wouldn’t be much to do on the island. As the summer went on, I was starting to get influenced by these ideas and was not as excited to come here anymore. However, class registration at A&M was closed and there was no turning back considering other logistics had been planned as well. To my pleasant surprise, upon arrival, I was warmly welcomed by our Airbnb host who is the kindest person ever. In addition to the friendly people, we met within the first few days, the island itself is like dream land.

 

I arrived in Venice 10 days before school started and had some time to explore the city and a couple other countries in Europe. Venice is a small island, but there are multiple islands around that can be accessed by “vaporettos” or water buses. Everything over here is aesthetically pleasing to look at and the architecture and roads have so much detail, making the walks to class exciting (it’s a 30-minute walk from San Marco).  Being here for the past three weeks has made me realize, contrary to my prior notions, that there is a lot to do once you integrate with the local community and make friends. I joined the ESN network which is an organization for all international students doing semester exchanges or EU students doing their Erasmus. They host multiple events every week and it allows students to get to know their peers that are going through similar culture shocks. I’ve met a lot of students from other countries in Europe that I hang out with and have had a chance to explore some other cities in Italy with them as well.

 

Some of the biggest differences from the U.S are the fact that we drink cappuccinos and espresso after every meal with no added sugar. It has been hard getting used to drinking coffee so late in the day, but my body is starting to adjust. The classes I am taking here are all master’s level classes, but they seem much easier that the bachelor level courses at A&M. I would highly recommend finding a “buddy” from the list that the university here sends and asking them to help you register for classes, as the university logistics are probably the most complicated thing I have encountered. It’s weird trying to figure out the system as everything is in Italian and they do not send over instructions on how to register for classes. At one point I found myself sitting in class, listening to an Italian lecture even though the syllabus said that it was taught in English. At the bottom of the page there was a little side note saying that they no longer offer it in English, so I would read the fine print before registering for a class. So far, my time in Venice has been nothing short of amazing! The Italians really do know how to have a good time and do not take life vey seriously.

Categories: 2021, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

Howdy!

I’m currently attending Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, Italy, for the fall semester of 2021. I have been attending classes for a few weeks now, and my first impression of Ca’ Foscari is that it has a highly welcoming atmosphere. All the people I have met so far have been very helpful and accommodating to me as a foreign exchange student, which has made it a lot easier for me to adjust to a new country. The professors here are all very knowledgeable and seem to care about their students genuinely. There are many similarities between classes here and at Texas A&M, but there is a different grading system and one exam in most courses. For instance, I must choose to be either an attending student or a non-attending student in class, and my grade will count differently for each. Some courses require group projects, which has been an excellent opportunity to meet other students from different backgrounds.

The city of Venice is like no other. Since living in Venice, the biggest shock I’ve experienced is that public transportation consists entirely of water taxis. The Vaporetto (a boat) is the primary means of getting around Venice and is the sole alternative to walking through the streets. This city also has no shortage of delicious places to eat. When people say all there is to eat here is pizza and pasta, they aren’t lying! However, I’m not complaining because Italian food is one of my favorites! During my first few weeks of studying abroad, I discovered that getting lost on the island is very easy. But I’ve slowly gotten used to the layout of the island, and I’m hoping by the end of the semester, I will know my way around! One of my favorite things to do here is going to watch the sunset while sitting on a dock. This is not only a great way to relax, but it gives me a chance to take in the beautiful island!

Studying abroad in a beautiful city like Venice is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I have enjoyed every moment of it so far!

Jessica Johnson

The Grand Canal!

The BEST gelato!

Sunsets on the dock!

Categories: 2021, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

Today marks over 3 weeks since I have been living in Venice, Italy! Before I arrived in Venice, I was filled with a lot of anxiety about how this trip would go, and how I would be able to adjust to a place that is so foreign to me and that I know nothing about! But let me tell you, ever since I have been here I have felt so comfortable and have felt so at home! From the second that I stepped foot onto this island, I fell in love with it. I find that the Italian culture is so welcoming, even to someone who doesn’t speak any italian like me! The language barrier can definitely be a problem sometimes, but I find that even just learning a few common phrases can help you go a long way here in Venice.

The biggest differences that I have noticed so far between here and the U.S. is in efficiency. I find that here in Italy, the Italians are not worried about being efficient with their time, with their food, or with their infrastructure. For example, Italians like to take their days very slow, and are usually not on time for anything like how we are in America! They show up 15-30 mins late to things, take hours to eat dinner(no kidding), and have a lot of down time to rest during the day. The way they prepare their food is also very different here than in America. Here, everything is made on the spot, fresh and from scratch, and is served in small quantities. In America, food is usually pre-made in large portions in order to serve the customer more quickly and efficiently! Also, the schooling system here is very different than America. Professors often do not provide a complete syllabus, expecting you to remember/keep up with the due dates for classwork. Also, here at Ca’ Foscari, usually around 80-100% of our overall course grade is based on the final exam in the class, which can be very stressful. But other than that, I have really enjoyed getting to sit in a classroom with people from all over the world, hearing their perspectives on things and how they differ from my perspective.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here in Venice, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds!

Ciao!

 

Categories: 2021, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange

The fashion capital of Europe, perhaps of the world as well. The financial powerhouse of Italy, hosting a controversial stock exchange with a peculiar piece of art in front of it. A city hosting a top European business institution, Milan is more than beautiful.

Located in Italy, Milan is a city full of culture, interesting people and places, and history. My initial impressions of the business program were a mix of excitement and fear, as I expected for the class environment and teaching styles to be completely different, but there are many similarities between classes in the US and Italy. I started my classes on September 6th, and the process was smooth and simple. The business program here is great. Professors are ready, have many credentials, and are super well connected. The business program at Bocconi is said to be among the best in Europe, and starting classes, I could see why. The professors and students are bright and are aiming to reach greatness and their personal goals, and that has created an environment where people motivate and help each other out.

Milan is beautiful. It is a very colorful city that has a wide range of food variety. Not only that, it has many spots to visit. It is a busy city, but not as busy as New York City. People are friendly and relaxed, and it is appreciated if you try to speak Italian to the locals. People love soccer, and the divide between who to support, Inter or AC Milan, is always present.

Italy is amazing. As you may know, it has many beautiful cities and sites. I have only visited Lake Cuomo as of right now, but in my next vlog I will update you on the other Italian cities I visited!

There are many differences between Italy and the US culture. For one, they are more relaxed. Life seems to be moving slow here, and no one seems to be in a hurry. They are also more social, and it is very common to see groups of people hanging out at every hour of the day. Not only that, but Italians walk a lot. In the US, and in our university, we walk. But here in Italy they WALK. The public transportation system is great as well.

I have been enjoying my time in Milan, and I look forward to the days that are coming up ahead. Until then!

Categories: 2021, Italy, Reciprocal Exchange