Health and Safety
Submitted by Alicia - Binghamton University | October 21, 2012
In my opinion, Milan is one of the most underrated study-abroad locations -- as long as you're willing to do a little exploring. My main goals in studying abroad were to improve my Italian, to interact with locals, and to see historical and artistically rich sights. Most of the students in my program were there primarily for vacation-type activities, like the night life and the chance to jet off to a different country every weekend. Milan is fantastic for either, although it was unfortunate for me that the others in my program were there for different reasons than I was (I have no idea whether this is typical or not).
As I said above, I took mostly English-language classes focused on Italian history and culture, and I got a lot out of them. For the most part, the instructors are high-quality, and it was awesome how much they connected to the surrounding culture. I lived in an off-campus apartment with other Americans and could commute by bus or by train. Both MIL Service, which handled the administration of the apartment, and the staff of the academic program were very supportive.
Milan for me was the perfect city for a semester abroad because while it is international enough that you can fall back on English, it's also not touristy enough that you can (or should) use English exclusively. There are awesome sights like da Vinci's Last Supper and the Duomo, but there are also lots of hidden gems as well as the chance to meet locals living authentically.
Overall, this was an excellent program that provided me with a great experience, and I would definitely recommend it.
Other than my Italian language class, I took all my classes in English -- one at Cattolica and one through the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), which is next door to Cattolica and which Albany allows cross-registration with. The instructors were all good, reasonable-to-better-than-reasonable graders, and interested in their subjects. Also, all the classes I took gave me substantial insight into Italian/Milanese culture, so I really felt enriched by my classes.
It's hard for me to be objective about this because I had a very negative experience with my roommates (all Americans), which was just bad luck and not really the fault of the program. Trying to put that aside, I would say that MIL Service, the agency I used, provides decent furnished apartments that in some cases are sort of far from the university and the center of the city. It's very convenient, though, that their office is inside Cattolica's international hallway, and they respond quickly and well to problems.
If you take classes in English, you will be with other international students (primarily Americans), so you will have to seek out opportunities for immersion on your own. Fortunately, there are plenty of such opportunities,
Everyone was very helpful and kind. Francesca is really sweet!