As a Virgo, a Station Manager and a Joburger the expectation that logistics will not simply ‘work out’ is a reality I have always lived with. So it was an extremely welcome surprise to experience an entirely flawless arrival in Milano. More than 8 hours to Abu Dhabi (thanks for the 46kgs of luggage @etihadairways) and over 6 more hours to Milano brought me to Malpensa airport where a waiting taxi (at a heart-wrenching cost of 95 Euros – yes I know it’s expensive but what could I do with two suitcases, a laptop bag, wheely carry-on bag and my memory foam pillow?) got me to my apartment door in 45 minutes.
My apartment is just as it was described and photographed on @airbnb (wifi, dishwasher, coffee machine and sleeper couch for visiting friends – my personal checklist of necessities). But this is the point at which I realised that this would be the first time I would be living alone. First time EVER. I lived with my parents and god parents, I was in boarding school, I lived with friends in residence and in digs at university, I lived with Bevan and then we got married, I have never lived alone. The main thing I notice about living alone is the silence. It’s very quiet. So as I unpacked I streamed @5FM to fill my new place with the soundtrack of my life.
Speaking of unpacking, I shipped two containers of clothing and footwear to Milano before I left. I know it seems excessive but I had to admit to myself that there was just no way I was going to survive on two suitcases (including toiletries, @Herbalife gluten-free breakfast shakes and make-up) for five months in one of the fashion capitals of the world. Tomorrow it will be a week that I’ve been in Milano and I have yet to receive my trunks. PLEASE release my wardrobe @DHL.
I then headed off to register at my new daily purpose @BocconiUniversity. I can’t explain in words how incredible this first week has been due almost entirely to the stupendously amazing organisation, consideration and motivation towards student ease and enjoyment that this university puts together. 750 exchange students from across the world arrived this week to start the Spring Semester at Bocconi. I am, as far as I can tell from the mixing, speed exchanging, registering, campus touring, book buying, and Italian class enrolling, the ONLY South African…and quite possibly the only African person on the program. There is SO much to do and NOT in the tourist sense of the word. Bocconi organises tours, of Milano and other Italian cities, trips to football matches and galleries, parties and cocktail evenings and numerous other welcome activities fully run by Italian students of the university who are on-call (Seriously. They have business cards with their personal contact info that they hand out when you go to events) 24 hours a day to help anyone with anything. I couldn’t have asked for a more special and well-put together introduction to a new city.
I started the Italian Crash Course for beginners on Friday last week. It involves sessions of between 2 and 5 hours of Italian for almost three weeks daily including Saturdays – intense but a great experience. My class consists of Americans and Swedish people all of whom have never learnt Italian before. We are all getting to know each other well as we try to follow our teacher who speaks exclusively in Italian. My motivation towards fluency is embodied in the many Japanese restaurants I’ve explored already in my area. If these restauranteurs can speak Japanese to each other and in their kitchens and serve their customers in perfect Italian then I can learn to hold a conversation with an Italian person…as long as it’s not about politics or religion.
The student card is gold. There are so many discounts and offers you can secure. I’ve booked two tours of Milan (one historic and one fashion-centric) in the coming weeks through the university for 5 Euros each and paid a fee of 35 Euros for a month-long transport card that gets me as many rides as I want on any bus, train or tram in the city. Even by SA’s weak ZAR standards that’s a bargain.
The pic attached to this post is the sensational Duomo in the middle of the city. Right alongside it is Prada. I checked how much a Prada bag costs and…let’s just say that’s the one place a student card can’t help you in Milano.