Rohana - Politecnico di Milano

Masters of Architecture
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

Over the course of the semester at Politecnico I completed 5 courses plus a language course. These courses were a final year masters design studio, and 4 other research/ practice electives; a research elective about China’s architectural history and planning (Architecture and Town in China); a research subject investigating interior spaces and furniture (Italian Domestic Interiors); a critical research subject about contemporary landscape architecture (Landscape Architecture); and a practical course about cost estimates (Economic Evaluation of Projects). 

The registration process for courses was completed after the semester has commenced. This meant you were able to attend classes in the first week and check if they were what you were interested in. 

The academic system and courses were vastly different to UQ's in terms of contact hours, content and course delivery. Initially the heavy contact hours was challenging, however as the semester progressed the extra hours spent with design tutors was really excellent. In hindsight I would be more mindful about the courses that I chose. At the start of the semester, the workload, course contact hours can be overwhelming when managing five subjects especially when it gets to exam period. Choosing courses with larger ECT points would be better. 
 
Additionally, although the courses are taught in English the professors often speak in Italian. Most of the assignments are described verbally, rather than on task sheets or online, so if you're not fluent in Italian it is helpful making friends with students who are so you can understand what the requirements are.

Personal experience

Wonderful friendships with students from all over the world, learning about the similarity and differences about their life experiences all whilst living and experiencing an amazing city. The Italian lifestyle; aperitivo, delicious food, wine and gelato is also fantastic.

Accommodation

I lived off campus, however finding accommodation was the most complicated and stressful part of my exchange. There is very little assistance from the university and communication to potential housemates/ landlord is made more difficult through language barriers. My advice would be try and organise accommodation prior to arriving, this can be done through the Erasmus network online (generally these places are more expensive), or arrive early enough to have time to find accommodation (it took me 6 weeks to find accommodation whilst at Uni) however it was significantly cheaper and in a great location. In the end I rented a flat with one other person. The green metro line to Politecnico makes getting between the city and Uni easy.

Costs

I budgeted 15k AUD for the 5/6 month trip and that included a 1 month holiday at the end of the trip. Rent was about 450 euros for a month, significantly cheaper than most accommodation that friends were staying in (550-650 euros a month), this included internet, electricity etc. Food and drinks are a lot cheaper than in Australia and shopping at local markets saved me a significant amount of money. There are good deals for students with both the city transport system as well as regional trains.

Professional Development

The exchange experience allowed me to grow into a more resilient, adaptable and ambitious person. Additionally, exchange allows you the opportunity to network internationally with professors and students.

Highlight

- Italian food and wine
- Being able to explore all different regions of Italy, Milano, Verona, Roma, Amalfi, Modena, Bolonga, Siena, etc. 

Top tips

- Attempt to learn the language before you depart for your trip overseas. Not only will it enrich your experience both at Uni and socially. Learning a language allows you to truly engage with the culture. 

- Make time to explore the whole of Italy. The regions are so diverse and offer different cultural and culinary experience. If you get a chance, get out of the larger cities to the regional areas, the people are wonderful and the food is amazing!