I always wanted to go to Europe, especially to Italy, because I wanted to have the cultural experience. For a long time I have been looking to work or study in Milan.
Why did you choose IES Internships?
I chose this program because it was offered in Milan, one of the cities, where I have always wanted to either study or work. I liked that the program was focused on the leadership seminar, plus I would have the experience of an internship.
What was your favorite part about Milan?
I enjoyed everything, but probably the field trips with the program.
What made your experience abroad unique?
Honestly having the right mindset, having an open mind and be ready to experience everything. Surrounding myself with good people and being open to building relationships with locals and people from the program helped as well.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The local staff was always attentive to any questions or concerns I had. It was very helpful to have them around.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
A typical day would consist of going to class in the morning, then I would go to eat lunch and afterwards I would go to work during the evening. Then go back home cook some dinner, spend some time with my roommates, do some homework and then go out at night to local bars or events.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I barely had free time, but depending on my energy levels I liked walking around the city, exploring places and restaurants, or I would talk to family or friends back home, and when I was tired I would rest, because even though it's important to make good use of time abroad it's also necessary to get some sleep to keep going the following days.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
My apartment was located in the heart of Milan, right next to the Fashion District. It was a very neat, spacious, and nice apartment. I loved my room because it was big and had good light. The kitchen was also cute and nice with a balcony.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
You definitely need to go with an open mind and be ready to learn from anything and anyone. This program is definitely about the cultural experience, learning how to be independent and adapt in a foreign country. Plus it’s about learning soft skills, and meeting all kinds of people, with the perks of gaining working experience and a reference letter for your resume and career interests.
Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Milan?
Definitely do not pack as much as you think you should. That was something I regret, I packed so much and I didn't really need or used that many clothes. You can always go shopping!
What was the hardest part about doing an internship abroad?
Being able to communicate in a different language and trying to be part of their team. Also being able to show to my colleagues that I was trustworthy and able to follow up with the work.
How difficult was it to communicate with locals?
For me it wasn't difficult because I had taken two semesters of Italian and I also speak Spanish. It was just a matter of feeling comfortable and trusting that I could do it. For sure, it was hard at first.
What surprised you most about Milan?
How multicultural and diverse is, also that is not as unsafe or dangerous as I had heard and been told before going. You have to be aware of your surroundings, but it's just like any other city in the world, except it has beautiful architecture and so much to discover.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before interning abroad in Italy?
Honestly, I went fully aware of what would happen and had an idea of the expectations I should have regarding to an internship. I was open minded and was ready for anything.
If you could intern abroad again, where would you go?
I would like to intern in Australia.
What do you feel the biggest benefit of doing an internship abroad is?
Getting a sense of culture diversity, being able to adapt to different work and life environments, and putting yourself out there ready to live life.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
It changed my vision and defined more my career goals.
After interning abroad I have a better sense of myself and the things I want in life, and it made me grew as a person.
Would you recommend IES Internships to others? Why?
I would definitely recommend the program because it was well organized. It provided me with important knowledge and encouragement about leadership. It was a lot of fun having the field trips with the program, and it also gave me a good cultural insight about Milan.
Lourdes Diaz-Gonzalez, or simply Lulu, grew up in Mexico City. She is a senior at UNC Chapel Hill, majoring in interpersonal and organizational communications with a minor in arts studio. Lulu is also a makeup artist and a dancer with a Salsa Dance Company in the Triangle Area. She has worked as a freelancer and with David’s Bridal for the past three years. She has traveled to Switzerland and Germany for dance.