Nam Kyu - Politecnico di Milano

B Architectural Design
Semester 2, 2019
I truly enjoyed my time in Milan and my personal experience studying abroad taught me so much about myself.

Academic experience

At Politecnico di Milano, I studied 4 subjects: Building Physics. Elements of Architectural Typologies, History of Art and Landscape and Infrastructure Design Studio. All classes were taught in English, however there also classes available in Italian. Studying these subjects were very intriguing as they were very different to the subjects at UQ. Having the opportunity to participate in a Postgraduate design studio exposed me to a higher level of design strategies and allowed me to work with more experienced colleagues. The other undergraduate 2nd year subjects were also very engaging and introduced me to many interesting theories and philosophies regarding architecture whilst providing a better understanding of European history. It is important to note that the academic system is much more lenient in comparison to UQ in terms of organisation. Overall, I would say that it is important to attend all lectures as they are not recorded and the workload is manageable if completed consistently throughout the semester.

Personal experience

I truly enjoyed my time in Milan and my personal experience studying abroad taught me so much about myself. My personal experience on exchange in Milan was eye-opening and very rewarding and marks a great turning point in my life in terms of personal growth. It was my first time travelling alone, visiting Europe, and living independently, therefore going on exchange was a challenge in it of itself and placed me outside of my comfort zone. As an introverted person, I was initially concerned about making friends, however, this exchange experience allowed for me to meet so many different people from different backgrounds and make connections all over the world. It made me realise that there are so many others in the same situation as myself who are open to meeting new people. Money cannot buy the wonderful memories that I made with the people I grew close with. My exchange experience taught me the comfort of living at home and made me appreciate home and family even more. It also taught me the significance of one’s time and that it should never be taken for granted, especially in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to study and live in the amazing city that is Milan. After completing a semester abroad, I feel like I have become more self-confident and organised for the future.


Searching for accommodation can be very stressful so I would strongly recommend to do plenty of research and familiarise yourself with different kinds of accommodation available in Milan in the early stages of preparation. Most places are usually advertised on accommodation websites, renting agency websites and facebook advertisements. Based on my observations, an affordable shared room rent costs around 300-500euros and a private room 500-650euros. Rooms close to the university and city centre do tend to be higher in demand as well as more expensive. For convenience, I would strongly recommend getting accommodation in close proximity to any metro station. 

For accommodation, I was lucky enough to live in a private room with a private bathroom in a share apartment three minute walking distance from Lambrate station, which is one stop away from Piola station (Politecnico di Milano), for the entire duration of my exchange. Common spaces such as the kitchen, living and dining rooms were shared with 8 other tenants who were either students or young workers. I had a positive experience living with my housemates as they were very kind and respectful.


Milan can be quite expensive however, with the right budgeting, costs can be affordable. The most money spent monthly will be rent. Public transport costs 22euros per month with Milan’s ATM public transport card, which allows unlimited monthly access to the metro, buses and trams for under students 26 years. This should be acquired as soon as possible. Eating at restaurants can range from 6 ~ 15euros, not including the coperto (table service tax) and water (usually 1~2euros). Groceries can vary in costs depending on which supermarket you go to. I spent around 25~30euros weekly on groceries and I mostly cooked at home and packed lunch for uni. For travelling, intercity trains, buses and Ryanair plane tickets can fluctuate depending on the season and when you buy the ticket. 

UQ recommends budgeting a total of 12,000~15,000AUD for studying abroad (including flight fares, holidays) and I can agree that that is an appropriate amount. Obviously, the more money you bring on exchange, the more comfortable you will be in terms of costs.


Having never lived in an environment where a language barrier is an issue, not being able to speak or understand Italian was an initial challenge. Although most people were able to speak english, I overcame this challenge by taking time to learn basic phrases to communicate with people and expanding my vocabulary by teaching myself and learning from locals. By the end of my exchange, I was able to pick up some basic Italian. 

For the design studio, all of the work is completed and graded as a group and unlike UQ there is no peer review. It is important to note that students in the Landscape and Infrastructure Design studio come from different backgrounds and hence have different skillsets which means that proficiency and experience in CAD and Adobe software varied among the students. Working in groups  challenged me to refine my communication skills and general organisation as I tried my best to be an equal contributor to the group. Also, as the design studio was postgraduate level, I had to invest more time to complete projects.

Professional Development

The new skills I acquired from my experience on exchange will inevitably play an important role in my professional development. Working in groups taught me the importance of teamwork, communication skills, organisation skills and working in a fast paced environment. It also simulated the working environment in the industry.


My highlight of my exchange program would be travelling to different cities with friends I met whilst studying in Milan. It was such an incredible and polarising experience to be able to visit places that were only mentioned in textbooks and readings, and having the chance to immerse yourself into the richness of Italian history and culture.

Top tips

Some top tips would be:

  • Be prepared for the online class sign on date. It is important to be organised to get into the classes that you want to be enrolled in, as many of them are in high demand. 
  • Learn some basic Italian before you depart. Having some kind of knowledge of the language will be helpful. 
  • Travel as much as you can. Milan is a major city that connects many other European countries as well as other Italian cities, so travelling is very easy.
  • Explore Milan. There is plenty to see in Milan whether it be tourist attractions, historic monuments or even smaller local areas. You will miss the city when you return home.
  • Be open-minded. Do not limit yourself. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it is important to put yourself out there and experience things you may not experience back home. Do not let minor inconveniences affect you as everything will all work out fine in the end.