As I begin this first blog post, I write to you from the Newark airport in New Jersey. With no knowledge of the place I will be in a matter of hours, all I can do is reflect on what my hopes are for my journey. I will be living in Milan, Italy for the next four months, studying one of my majors that I am quite passionate about, fashion. I currently sit at gate C132, I try to mentally prepare for what tomorrow will look like.
Many people have asked me how I am feeling now that today has finally come. The truth is, I don’t know how to feel when I don’t even know what to expect. I would say I am curious to see what amazing friends and people I meet during my travels. I am emotionally drained from saying goodbye to my amazing support system in America. I am nervous to be in a country I’ve never been to, where I know no one and barely speak the language. I am eager to expand my knowledge and become inspired about the fashion industry and my future career. Most of all, however, I am excited to see the ways in which this journey changes me as an individual.
Learn to cook a few traditional Italian meals
Familiarize myself with my temporary home and language
Absorb any and all information about fashion and styling
Take risks in meeting new people and putting myself out there
Expand my wardrobe!
Explore other areas in Europe (Paris, Amsterdam, and Switzerland are musts)
Live in the moment and embrace the uncertainty of it all
Eye-opening, challenging, invigorating, and inspiring is how I would describe the past 17 days I have spent in Italy. It feels like I have been here for a month already with the amount of activity I have packed in. During the past 17 days, I have visited the Duomo (center of Milano), explored my neighborhood of Navigli, met my roommate and classmates who became family, started university at NABA, visited Lake Como, and I am currently on my way to Venice. Add that last sentence to things I never imagined I would say.
Packing all this information into a singular blog post is a tricky but doable feat that I will now attempt. My first few days in Milan were spent with Luca, my ISA Milan Resident Director, who is responsible for helping me with any issues and getting me familiarized with the city. While I nearly had a panic attack leaving the airport, Luca immediately assuaged all my reservations and made me feel at home. He took me for many cappuccinos, lunches (once at Five Guys to make me feel at home), and showed me his favorite little bakery. We explored the city center and he told me all about Milan’s deep history, which made me realize how young of a country America truly is. I got settled into my cozy apartment and had the privilege of meeting my new roommate. We became very close after talking for hours over dinner at a lively restaurant across the street from our apartment. Just a few days in and Milan was already starting to feel like home.
Later that week, I met my classmates from all over the world: Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands, and Germany. We became fast friends and bonded over the uncertainty and excitement of our upcoming courses. I discovered my friend Maria and I have a mutual unbridled love for gelato, as we have eaten it about five times a week. We quickly made plans to explore Lake Como, one of the destinations on my (more extensive) travel bucket list.
Lake Como. Wow. Although we missed our train and had to catch a later one, it was worth every moment. The water was as blue as the sky, the colorful buildings like flamboyant sprinkles on the green mountainsides, and the cafes quaint and intimate. We spent our day frolicking around the lake, stopping for gelato of course, and soaking up every bit of culture that surrounded us.
Classes began the next morning. While the laborious three hours we spent in each course were mentally draining, the Thursdays and Fridays without classes made up for it. The courses were intriguing, not only due to the content pertaining to the fashion industry and fashion history, but because they were all in person. I missed the face-to-face aspect of university much more than I previously recognized. The week was filled with amazing pasta and gelato, some home-cooked meals, and becoming closer with one another as we navigated the waters of the new city together.
The next week was design week, a huge event in Milan that precedes Milan fashion week by two weeks. Architects, interior designers, and artists flock to Milano to show off their most recent creations and exhibitions. While Design Week was much smaller than in years past, it was nonetheless inspiring. We gallivanted through the streets and alleyways, discovering exhibits with unique doors, lights and reflections, a heated table, and even a swing. My favorite part of design week was definitely visiting Trienalle Milano, a local art museum. We saw the Les Citoyens exhibit, a temporary exhibit inhabiting sculptures, paintings, videography, photography, and poetry that was simultaneously unique and familiar, as it depicted images of families and loved ones, along with stories and films. Trienalle was the first, but hardly the last, Italian museum I had the privilege of visiting.
We decided to continue riding the wave of energy provided by the exhibit and booked a trip to Venice for the following day. I write to you now from the Verona Porta Nuova 10:22 train headed towards Venice. I cannot wait to see what these next weeks hold, as I try to take in every sight and smell around me. Two weeks in and I am already dreading the day I depart. Until next time, Ciao!
Lucia Sanchez is a college student at the University of Kentucky. She is an ISA Featured Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Milan, Italy.