Philip - Bocconi University

B. Engineering and Commerce
Semester 2, 2015

Academic experience

While undertaking my semester abroad, I studied towards the finance component of my undergraduate program. It was a great chance to further my knowledge in an academic setting different to that I am used to. My learning tended to be self-directed, with classes usually aimed more at giving examples of how the theory is applied in industry. To this extent, several guest speakers replaced the usual professors during semester. Bocconi has strong connections with many institutions, including both firms local to Italy and international organisations that span the globe, and these guest lectures were an amazing opportunity to hear from their representatives.

Personal experience

I made some fantastic friends from around the world and much enjoyed my time overseas. Exchange allowed me to encounter new, challenging situations and through those build character. It was an amazing experience that I will treasure for my lifetime, and I highly recommend that if at all possible you undertake a semester abroad! 

Close to base in Milan – Como, Genova, Cinque Terre, Torino, Verona, Bergamo, Venice and Rome were all amazing to visit. I would particularly recommend visiting the smaller towns during the Christmas season as the markets, decorations and atmosphere is wonderful. 

I also had the chance to visit many other countries around Europe, including Spain, France, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, England, Belgium and the Netherlands. It was a great to experience the diverse cultures, visit the huge array of historical landmarks and enjoy the stunning natural scenery.


I chose to stay in one of the university residences and was allocated to Arcobaleno, which is primarily reserved for international students. This made it easy to meet people who shared my desire to discover both northern Italy and Europe. 

The rooms were apartment style (shared between two people) – individual bedroom and common kitchen/bathroom. It was quite spacious and the heating system was particularly welcome in winter. Access to university and central Milan was simple via tram with a travel time around twenty to thirty minutes, and a large supermarket was within easy walking distance.


With the exception of accommodation in Milan, everything was generally less expensive than the Brisbane equivalent – even with the exchange rate fluctuating unfavourably during the middle of the semester. Food, in particular, was usually less costly, and eating out allowed a combination of delicious and high-quality Italian food with a price lower than that of a typical Australian fast-food meal.

Professional development and employability


The emphasis at Bocconi on understanding how theoretical principles link into the wider world (in a practical sense) allowed me to build an appreciation of how financial markets facilitate economic development. In particular, it allowed me to gain perspective from the side of financial institutions on how they evaluate projects and firms when deciding on investment of funds. This will prove relevant in my engineering career when I have to justify and support my case for why my proposed ideas should be supported.


In its entirety, the exchange experience was absolutely amazing. The chance to meet new people, discover beautiful places and interact with vibrant cultures was one I made the most of. One of my highlights was a day trip to Bergamo towards the end of my exchange with two close friends I had made that semester. It brought together some of best parts of Italy for one final outing.

Top tips

- Make the most of low-cost airlines operating out of Malpensa and Bergamo airports, as well as the plentiful bus and train connections to closer destinations, to undertake weekend trips. Transit times are short and most places in both Italy and Europe have a multitude of things to see and to do! 

- Try not to treat exchange as a checklist of items you are ‘meant’ to do, and take time to do the activities that appeal to you personally. That said, also try new experiences outside your norm and use exchange as an opportunity to discover what you enjoy most!

Philip - Bocconi University