Sarah - Politecnico di Milano

B Architecture
Semester 2, 2018
The most amazing experience that I would take again in a heartbeat, and the greatest kick-start to my twenties.

Academic experience

I studied Architectural Design, Building Physics, History of Art and Architectural Typology. All of the courses were definitely interesting and had some content relating to what I had been learning at UQ, and also lots more in the course that was new (especially in detail about of that relating to Italy, and in learning about architecture, it was incredibly intriguing). I was lucky enough to have all my courses in English, although the the Italian courses offer course material in English as well. Before the year starts, Polimi has an orientation period where they give lectures in detail about enrolling and registration (also on residence permit processes).

Personal experience

One of the best things about this experience was being able to meet and interact with so many people of different backgrounds. I learnt bits of languages through these experiences, and basic Italian from just living in the city, although I do wish I had taken up the Italian lessons the university offers at the start of the semester. Living in Milan, I was able to explore most places around Italy, mainly experiences the history, architecture and art of the country. And also made the most of living in Europe and visited a few other countries around Italy (with wishful thinking of coming back one day to visit the rest). And naturally, living by myself I had to cook and clean for myself and learnt to live with other people.

Accommodation

Although I had wanted to live on-campus, it was not available to me as there are limited spaces available and they are only offered to existing students first and others, and then lastly to exchange students. I lived with 4 other flatmates about a 20 minute walk from uni, which I chose to take every time I went, although there is a bus that runs. It was also close a train station and trams and buses that go around the city and to the center and shopping districts. After living here, I believe it would have been better to try and find accommodation closer to a metro station or closer to the city, although they tend to be more expensive and limited. After 3 months, it is required to have a residence permit, which the university provided the papers for and guided the process in the orientation period.

Costs

Living in Milan is comparable to living in Brisbane, in terms of rent and groceries. Eating out can be from of 8-20 euro at most Italian pizzerias and restaurants. One downside is that there are not many eateries that are not Italian, and of good quality and reasonable price. As a part of the exchange/Erasmus organisation, I was able to receive some discounts on entertainment in Milan, and traveling outside the city. Traveling inside the city can be done by renting a bike, car and most commonly through public transport which is approximately 20 euro a month for unlimited travel in the city.

Challenge

One of the greatest challenges for me was developing the courage and skill of interacting and making good friends with the people I meet. This I believe just developed with experience and time, and turned out to be a great highlight of my trip. There were also many moments when I missed my friends back home, especially when travelling to new places, however I was able to overcome this by still keeping in regular touch with them, but also trying to live more in the moment (and not be constantly texting them, which probably would have made me more homesick).

Professional Development

As a second year student going abroad, I had to join a third year design course due to the scheduling. It was interesting to work in groups for design (as it is not largely done in the UQ Architecture Design course), which is important to actual work as an architect. Also, after being around so many different types of people, grew in the sense of being more aware of the world around me and the people that live on it.

Highlight

The greatest highlight was being able to go to all the places around Europe and experience the lifestyles there. I was able to see the artwork and architecture of places I had only seen in pictures and read about whilst taking an interest in architecture.

Top tips

My greatest advice would be to take the opportunity to take the Italian language course (it costs approx. 100 euro per semester); to take and make as many opportunities as possible to travel around Italy and Europe (as it is all so much closer for a change compared to living in Australia); to consider living close to a metro station and/or somewhere close to the university, and to (smartly) really live in the moment!