Hello family and friends,

If you are reading this, then it means that I thought you would be at least remotely interested in my study abroad adventures! I’ll be sending out updates periodically with how my semester in Milan is going. If you’d like to be removed from the list, just let me know, and I will try my best to not be offended.

I arrived in Milan on Tuesday morning, so I’ve been here almost a week. My first impression of the city was that it is surprising how similar many things are to the US. I’ve never been to Europe, and everywhere I’ve traveled to before has had a culture that I could immediately feel was very different. There’s little bartering for prices here, people often use Uber to get around, and I haven’t been unable to find any products that I’ve needed.

Over the first few days, I did notice some differences. A small but entertaining one is that people are obsessed with change. You will get a glare if you don’t have exact change, and if you don’t, the cashier calculates exactly what you should pay to minimize the change you will get back. I usually just display all the coins that I have and let the cashier pick the ones out of my palm. It’s kind of a trust exercise since I’m still mastering the values of the different coins.

In an effort to experience the culture of Milan, I went to see a professional soccer game on Thursday (AC Milan vs. Terino). The tickets were ten bucks, and the game was really entertaining. We were up 1-0 the entire first half. Well, I thought we were up 1-0. I found out at the start of the second half that I had mixed up the teams and had been rooting for the away team for 45 minutes. Fortunately, we came back and ended up winning 2-1.

I’m living in an apartment that’s right in the heart of Milan. I’m living with five other students that are studying here too, and one “community assistant” (CA) who helps acclimate us to the city and hangs out with us. We really lucked out with our apartment - it’s very nice and is in a great location. Because we have a lot of space, we hosted a couple dinner parties with other students on the program. We made a pumpkin risotto for the first one, and linguini with octopus last night for our second one. I’m learning a bit about cooking from our CA which has been cool, and maybe I’ll be able to teach him some of my skills, like how to masterfully cook a cup of instant Ramen noodles (the trick is to not add too much salt).

Tomorrow I’m starting my classes. For the first three weeks, we are just learning Italian (3 hours a day), which is much needed because I completely helpless when it comes to conversing in Italian. Since I’ve come, I tripled my Italian vocabulary: now, instead of just “ciao”, I know “scusami” and “buona notte”. We haven’t registered for most of our other classes yet, but I did sign up for one- it’s a service learning seminar and I’ll be spending 5 hours a week at a nearby center to work with migrants who have recently come to Italy. Like much of Europe, Italy has seen a large influx of immigration, and is in need of people to help ease their transition. In some cases, they don’t speak Italian well or at all, so as an English speaker I may be helpful for communicating. I’m very excited to start the program and I hope that I’ll be able to make a difference.

Now that I’m mostly settled in, I’m starting to think about traveling in Europe. I signed up for a skiing trip in the Italian Alps in a few weeks. It’s been a while since I’ve skied, so I’m glad I have extensive training to fall back on (“french fries to go, pizza to stop”). We are also planning a trip as an apartment, but we haven’t decided on a city yet. I’m hoping to visit a lot of different places over the next few months, and if you have any suggestions, feel free to throw them my way. And if you find yourself in the Milan area, let me know!

Thanks for reading this essay. Ciao!