James - Politecnico di Milano

B Architectural Design
Semester 2, 2022


My motivation primarily came from the fact that I have never been to Europe. I also heard amazing things about Polimi for Architecture and thought it a great opportunity to learn a different perspective of architecture outside just UQ. I also heard amazing things about Milan so thought it would be the best location.

Personal development

After coming back to Australia, I have realised how much I have changed since going. The people I met along the way were truly life-changing, I love meeting new people, and now having a new family somewhere else in the world. Being able to be independent in a different country did at first seem daunting, but making friends made my life over there a breeze. Being able to easily travel and explore became no thought, and assimilating into the Milanese lifestyle was a breeze because of the friends I made.

Academic development

The workload was very different compared to UQ. The structure of the classes and the intensity of the courses were all different. The students at this university were definitely very committed to the degree, something that was a little different than in Australia. I would say the workload was lighter (which was definitely apart of the fact that I did a reduced study load), however, each class was more intense than a UQ counterpart. The language in these courses was never an issue, and in fact that the class was so multicultural improved the quality as the Architecture courses were built around students being from different cultures.

Professional development

Besides the fact that doing an exchange at Polimi is great for future employability. I believe the more technical approach of architecture compared to UQ was a big push for my academic and professional development. The people I met were great for networking, as everyone at the university was within a similar degree. However, I think the biggest contribution was that it gives a keen insight into if you were wanting to work abroad in Europe, how the work culture, and people's perception of architecture would provide insight into what you would be doing.


I budgeted prior for about 6 months, alongside an OS-loan. Overall from the beginning with flights, accommodation and everything ended up being approx. $30,000. Rent and flights to Europe was the most costly by far. Rent gouging is serious there, especially for what you get, as Uni accommodation is basically next to nothing over there. The cost of living however is cheap compared to Brisbane. Transport was just 21 Euros a month for a ATM transport card, groceries were about 90 Euros, travel was definitely expensive besides the flights, and eating and drinking out was quite cheap, however, conditional on where you go. I budgeted by setting a weekly and daily budget, and recording everything I bought. I made sure not to go over the limit of what I was meant to spend.


The funding of the OS-Loan was crucial for my experience. I used my funding to go towards my rent, because of the steep prices it cost.


Accommodation to put lightly was a nightmare to find. I did find a place before leaving, which some did not. My living arrangements were mediocre, I was in a sketchy neighbourhood, which I didn't know about. However, most neighbourhoods, especially around the uni, are pretty good. I had 4 roommates, 3 workers, 1 uni student as well. Some pros were that the utilities were included in the rent and that I had my own room, with a lock. Some cons were the safety I felt, the price, and no hot water for a month. I didn't really get any assistance, besides that, I found it on Spotahome. Some advice I would give (even though it seems hard to), is to try an not to rent through Dovevivo, the biggest landlord in the city. Getting things fixed took way too long.


The people, the travel, the Milanese lifestyle. Something about getting up in the morning, having no plans, and knowing you'll just walk around the city, meet up with friends and do something fun was always such a highlight.

Advice/Top tips

Be quick to find a place. Double check the class descriptions, I got stung with somehow getting myself into a 3rd year Architecture/engineering course, that I had no preliminary knowledge. The name of the courses can be deceiving, so thorough examination of the course description is necessary.