It’s been just over two weeks since arriving in Milano and I have transformed from a jet- lagged tourist missing the train by a minute to a comfortable resident. It’s been a fast-paced learning curve and it has been a very exciting experience.
Here are a few things that surprised me thus far:
Jet Lag is Real. When traveling to Milano, I planned to sleep 8 hours on the flight from New York and wake up after a normal night’s sleep. To my surprise, I woke up at 3 PM the first few days, when my body told me it was 8 AM and I was hungry around midnight, my normal dinner time in the US. School will be underway soon, and I look forward to having a scheduled routine.
People are quiet & keep to themselves. Different from some parts of Italy, Milano locals are very nice and always willing to help, but they don’t go out of their way to say hi to strangers. On my commute in Madison, I often chat on the phone; here, on the trains you can hear a pin drop, no one talks! Voices are softer and relaxed here, it’s comforting.
Everything is clean! Compared to the US cities I am familiar with (NYC, Chicago,Milwaukee) Milano is very clean. Metro stations are almost spotless, littered trash is minimal, trash cans are plentiful, and people clean up. There are no rats in the subway,and it’s awesome.
Recycling is huge; they separate trash into plastics, cardboard, papers, glass, metal, compost, miscellaneous. It took some getting used to, but it’s great.
Graffiti is everywhere. Bright colored murals cover walls, metros, fences, etc. Businesses have metal "garage doors" to cover their storefronts at night which rise up during the day to protect their spotless glass windows.
The districts of Milano are all unique. The Duomo (city center) is booming and industrial; near the university, Bocconi, it feels like a college town, and Brera, an older art district feels upscale and lively at night. I live in an apartment in the Navigli district, off of the Navigli Grande canal and it’s a perfect location near wonderful cafes, shops, restaurants & a running path.
Although I have much to learn, I have become comfortable. I will continue to celebrate little wins like being asked for help with directions and knowing the way! I will continue to read as much as I can about the city, because I really want to feel like I lived here when I leave. Four months is going to fly by, but I am so excited for every step of the way.