I had never given much thought to living abroad, however, when the idea was presented to me during my first year at De Montfort University, it was rather appealing. The idea that I was going to be studying and living abroad did not dawn on me until arriving back home from holiday. I then realised two weeks later I would be back in the air, flying to Milan rather than on a first capital connect train to Leicester. The race was on, frantically packing everything and anything not made easy by Easy Jet’s 20kg suitcase limit. Packing was concluded the night before flying. With no expectations and an open mind I believed I was ready.

The first picture I took in Milan. Yes, I Instagrammed it...

The first picture I took in Milan. Yes, I Instagrammed it…

N.b Duomo di Milano is the 5th largest cathedral in the world and was completed in 1965.

My residence was located in Southern Milan, 25 minutes on the tram from Duomo and my university. I’d met one of my roommates who was a mature student originally from Turkey but now lived in Milan. He constantly provided me with useful tips, which made the daunting prospect of adjusting to life in Milan seem no longer hard. It was three days before the University welcome day which was when I would be meeting Erasmus students from all over the world.

To ease the travelling students into the Milanese way of life students had been assigned a ‘buddy’, a Student who was typically a few years older and from Milan who would act as our older brother/sister, and each ‘buddy’ was shared amongst 3 students. My ‘buddy’, Francesco, had organised and evening of Pizza for me and 2 others.When he arrived, we headed to a restaurant run by a family from Napoli, which meant it was going to be the ‘best pizza ever’ as Francesco bluntly put it. It was night where laughs, numbers and names were exchanged and the transition into life abroad became easier with every passing day.

Cue the welcome day; a day where the aim was to make friends and ultimately end up so intoxicated you would forget all of them by the next morning. We all proceeded into the room where the Erasmus staff welcomed us, showing us a presentation that included a video on how Italian life differed from the rest of Europe. At first glance it seemed the video had been exaggerated for humorous effect, but after several months in Milan I can safely say the video is spot on. Below Is the link to the video, which should give a small insight into the adjustments required to survive in Milan.

I was the youngest on the Erasmus programme by at least 3 years and therefore adopted the nickname ‘baby,’ which had its benefits as everyone felt the need the too look after me but in a patronising sense. It wasn’t long before everyone broke into song and dance, there was a special Erasmus song that basically stated ‘water is bad, alcohol is the best’ and something along the lines that we were here to invade Milan. This song would become our anthem and had to be sung at every Erasmus event. With the ‘apertivo’ finished it was onto the Kings Pub that rested along a canal, one of the many hotspots for students. The drinks were now flowing in full force and before long we were on our way to the club, the alcoholic fuelled adventure continued into the early hours of the morning, and it’s safe to say every night out from then on whether it be with friends or with the university ended exceptionally.

I can honestly say the six months spent in Milan were amazing and I’d recommend travelling abroad to everyone. Milan acted as a platform, giving me the chance to travel to places all over Europe where many of the people I befriended originally reside.

Family Portrait. I am in there somewhere!

Family Portrait. I am in there somewhere!

On the welcome day there was phrase written on the board in the amphitheatre and was often repeated by the staff. It was, ‘this is going to be the best year of your life!’ I’m not sure if I’d go that far, but without a doubt the time spent in Milan has been the best time of my life so far….


Tim Hines