Classes at Bocconi are over for me here in Milan.  For the last week I’ve been scrabbling through notes and questions, filling in a plethora of exit documentation and evaluations that the university requires from exchange students and studying for two exams I have tomorrow. Inbetween I enjoyed memorable birthday celebrations with my Danish Milan Plan Fam member Linette and my Swedish Milan Plan Fam member Cajsa.

After a post big-night-out brunch Linette and I decided to half shop, half walk and talk all the way home to our apartments as a minor study delay tactic. As the oldest member of the crew Linette asked me if I’d yet experienced an age crises at any point in my 35 years.  I told her about the last year of my twenties and how you realise during your Saturn Return how some dreams you had as a child might never happen.  In my case I have too much cellulite to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel, too little math ability to be an engineer and too little self-discipline or interest to become a parent. I also told her how you tend to shed some of your closest and most long-lasting friendships around that time in your life.  Some of those losses are ones that you induce and some of them are ones you suffer as a victim of.

As I was talking to her I realised something quite special. You are never too old to make new friends, and more importantly, to create deep and meaningful connections with new people.

My friend Sivan warned me that when I came to Milan there might be barriers to my ability to make true friends.  This concept of ‘home’ that we all cling to is not a geography, it’s a space where our brains are bathed in the familiar environment of comfort and knowable quantity, where our friends know their roles and places in our lives and we await their birthdays to remind them of that.

My Milan experience, quite unexpectedly, has readily and easily brought me a group of fantastic new friends who I did not earn or expect to make.   All of them are several years younger than me.  My American friend Ben (just featured on My People) is almost 15 years younger than me.  And yet this doesn’t seem to affect any of them.  They value my advice, they are happy to offer theirs when I ask for it, they are smart, they work hard and they have dreams and fears…just like all of us.

Celebrating Milan Plan birthdays has an even deeper level of appreciation.  New friends that are far from Facebook deep!