Amany - Bocconi University

B. Commerce / Economics
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

Having a reputation for being amongst best business schools in Europe, and also educating some of the most powerful and influential people in Italy, studying finance at Bocconi was an enriching experience. Classes took place in a smaller and more intimate format than what I was used to at UQ and were dotted with numerous guest speakers in each course. A highlight was hearing Claudia Dwek, the Chairman of Contemporary Art for the European arm of Sotheby’s, speak about art as an alternative investment strategy. 

As I took my classes in English, the majority of my classmates were also Exchange Students. This wealth of diversity only added to the dynamic discussions fuelled by the colourful nature of events unfolding around the world (the aftermath of Brexit, the U.S. elections, the Italian Constitutional Referendum and the resulting controversial state bailout of Monte de Paschi).

Being able to study finance from a more European-centric perspective provided an interesting context for my studies. With Milan being not only a financial centre but on of design and fashion added a unique dimension to this experience. 

On a more logistical note, the five subjects required for an equivalent UQ load seemed like a lot but realistically I was able to travel most weekends and found that as long as you were consistent with the work you generally kept up okay. Lectures are not recorded but with only three contact hours a week per course in more of a tutorial/lecture hybrid format I didn’t find getting to class was an issue. 

Additionally, the assessment structuring is very different, with a lot of the group assignments and mid-semester examinations being optional. A lot of exchange students use this flexibility to maximise their travels which is a plus, however, the trade off is having to sit a final that has more weight e.g. 100% finals. I chose to do most of the assessment throughout the term just to make things less stressful in the final exam period.

Personal experience

Being one of nearly 800 exchange students at Bocconi was a great opportunity to make friends with people from around the world. 

Although I left Milan with pretty abysmal Italian skills, I would recommend doing the Italian Crash Course to meet other exchange students and also have a bit of a go at the language and gain a brief initiation into the Italian and Milanese culture. 

Unless you’re taking subjects in Italian probably don’t expect to make that many Italian friends as the majority of your classmates will be Exchange Students.

I did a lot of travel throughout Europe during my exchange but the nature of Italy's regional railways makes it super efficient and easy to tick off the usual suspects or Rome, Florence and Venice on weekends. Would definitely recommend seeing Portofino and Santa Margherita which are along the coast west of Milan. 


Prior to going on Exchange, I had heard that Accommodation was something that was a bit difficult but fortunately I was able to get in touch with a few other people from UQ who were attending Bocconi and we organised an Airbnb for the duration of our exchange. 

I would recommend living off-campus as the multiple dorms that Bocconi offers are of varying age, comfort and also distance from the University and exchange students usually get placed in the Arcobaleno dorm which is the furthest from Bocconi and also quite far from the centre of town.

The location of our apartment was within the old city walls (equivalent to the inner-city) of Milan and within walking distance to Bocconi as well as the main shopping areas of Brera and Via Montenapoleone, the Duomo and also Milano Cadorna Train Station which provided easy transport to Malpensa Airport. 

Also living in a very Milanese condominium complex with a very Italian landlady and neighbours was certainly an interesting and immersive experience. Note that recycling is not to be taken lightly. Kudos must also be given to the various body corporates of Milan’s apartment blocks that construct the most elaborate and intricate nativity scenes overnight complete with water features and motorised elements.

Professional development and employability

Even if only for a short period of time, my experience in Milan as a part of the UQ Exchange program and studying in a cohort with such wide-ranging backgrounds highlighted how important it is to be a global citizen in the world we live in today. There is definitely something to be said for an experience which gives you the opportunity to appreciate the breadth of perspective diversity whilst simultaneously making the world a smaller place.


Forget gelato, pasta and pesto; what the Milanese do best is the fine cultural institution that is Aperitivo. The act of pairing a drink post-work drink with a variety of snacks that can be, but is not limited to - the basic potato chips and focaccia offered by the local Pasticcheria, to the elaborate and somewhat culinarily confusing buffets that line the Navigli or the creme de la creme gourmet experience offered at Ceresio 7 paired with skylines and Basquiats - is something the Milanese have perfected. 

Aperitivo was what got you through late lectures with even the lecturer sometimes recognising that it was where we’d all rather be and sparing us the remaining 20 minutes of class.

Top tips

  • Eat everything.