As part of my full-time MBA, I decided to take the opportunity to study overseas via the student exchange program at Universita Bocconi in Milan, Italy. It was the experience of a lifetime and for six months I lived, studied, traveled, ate and shopped like an Italian!
I had wanted to study overseas for some time and experience the student lifestyle in another part of the world. Having some family in Italy (although on the other side of the country to Milan), the exchange program seemed like a unique opportunity to immerse myself in the culture and brush-up on my dusty language skills.
Before starting my studies, I took a language course that was offered by the University. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by people from all over Europe who spoke at least two languages and were well on their way to picking up a third!
Spending six months in a completely different part of the world also provided me with a different perspective on my studies, to see first-hand the European business environment and the unique challenges facing the region.
Universita Bocconi is a highly regarded institution and, while perhaps not as charming or well-organised as UWA, it is considered the leading business school in Italy. The courses have quite a practical grounding, with many of them offered in English and featuring guest speakers from leading global organisations such as Unilever, BCG, eBay and McKinsey. Furthermore, there are plenty of opportunities to ‘let down you hair' and party like a European, with the Student Exchange Network organising countless weekends away and functions at Milan's many clubs and bars.
However, it was not all ‘la dolce vita' - Italian bureaucracy can be crazy and frustrating, the locals can be unwelcoming and suspicious of foreigners, and the food can be terrible! But if you really make the effort to get organised, adapt to the culture and live like a local, the whole adventure will be well worth the effort!
Catriona Della Martina