The Denial Phase

One week from today at this time, I will be a half hour into my journey back to the United States. Hence, the denial phase. Where did the semester go? It feels like just yesterday that I was seeing the Duomo for the first time and attending my first week of classes. I simply do not know how to feel. It will, of course, be exciting to be reunited with my family and home friends, but I have no idea how I will say goodbye to this beautiful country and the many memories it has given me over this past few months. I have made some great friends during my time here–some from the U.S. and some in a completely different time zone from mine. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that this enriching experience is almost over. When I first arrived in Milan, three and a half months seemed like an eternity. Clearly, everyone back home was right when they told me to make the most of my time here since it would go by in the blink of an eye.

Fortunately, I am extremely satisfied with my overall study abroad experience. I did not make it to all the places on my list, but I saw some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life and nothing will ever compare to this past semester. In addition to all of this, I myself have grown in many ways. I never thought I would be navigating a foreign city all by myself, but I have become much more mature and independent while living in Italy and was able to find my way (with a few wrong turns here and there). Now that I have friends all over the world, it seems my traveling has just begun! I am leaving Italy with invites to Chicago, Australia, and France to name a few and I will definitely be making these trips as soon as my bank account recovers from my European adventures.

During the last two weeks, I was able to squeeze in a few more trips before I travel back home. While my mom and sister were here, we visited Verona and, of course, Bergamo! I also got to show them around Milan and find a few more gems in this amazing city. Yesterday, I returned from Dublin with two of my friends, which was a great way to end my time abroad. Dublin was one of the cutest cities I have visited and this a great time to go since they take their Christmas decorations very seriously. Every bar and restaurant was decked out in strands of lights and garland and we were greeted with a “Happy Christmas” almost everywhere we went. We took a quick tour of two other cities while we were there, Malahide and Howth, just to get a feel of Ireland outside the city center. One of my favorite parts of the trip was finding my family’s coat of arms. Several shops had little knick knacks with family names and their coat of arms illustrated on them, and sure enough, “Galvin” was there waiting for me to find it. I felt an instant connection to the city and my family’s history. I also had the chance to meet up with one of my sorority sisters while in Dublin! She is currently studying there for a year and met up with my friends and me before we had to leave this precious city. It was so nice to see a friendly New Paltz face after being away for so long.

Now that I have returned to my apartment, the reality has sunken in. The only trip I have left is the final one back home. All I can do now is spend these last few days visiting my favorite places one last time and saying goodbye to the people who made my study abroad experience so enjoyable. Oh, and studying for finals. I should do that too since, after all, I am here to “study”!

Until next time…

xxoo

Milan and Finals

It is now November.

 

Which means I survived Midterms and what is next is of course Finals the most wonderful time of the semester. No mater where you are in the world Finals are Finals. This is the time where you really have to show what you have learned this semester as a student regardless if you are in NY our comfy home in New Paltz, or in Milan!

 

What I learned from Midterms in Milan was that it truly wasn’t that bad. The tests were really a straightforward summary of most of the lessons of the semester. I am currently taking five classes here and to some that may seem a lot especially while studying abroad.

 

But you learn how to delegate your time, your assignments, and your studying time.

 

My Midterm grades came out fantastically. I was and still am so proud of myself especially because this is my first experience abroad this could have been a really trying time for myself EXCEPT it was not.

During my Midterms some fellow new paltz study abroad students NICK ENDERLE AND GAM LAFRANCE came to visit me. Oh boy, some may think how was I able to focus during this time especially when my two best pals were here!?

Well guess what? I did it. Because rightly so when my friends came I was overjoyed to finally have a piece of comfort with me. I know first and foremost I am a student! This is my right!

 

I made sure to devote time at night to really review my material. But honestly, the whole time prior to my friends arrival I have been spot on in class and quite aware of whats been going on in classes. Maybe my friends gave me a boost of luck and renewed purpose.

 

To sum it up, classes in Milan are doable especially if you are the kind of student to engage in class and do work outside of class. If you are not you will be overly stressed. Basically, if I could do it so can you!

 

Picture below is Gam and Nick at Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan. My great pals!

 

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My roots

The reason I am here is ultimately because if I were to study abroad it HAD to be Italy. My Grandparents left Italy in the 60’s to come to America to start a new life. They along with multiple other family members began their new life in NYC. They took all their knowledge of living in southern Italy as farmers in the mountains and took that to the Bronx.

Years later here I am. A senior in college going back to Italy to get in touch with my roots. Although Milan and Selvacava the town in which my family came from are 7 hours apart. Similar culture values are found here in Milan. I have been easily able to recognize food and language relations as my family has.

I really am lucky to say that my italian language skills have purely strengthened since I have arrived. I cannot say I am fluent but I am very conversational and I can understand very well.

The food is incredible. Everything is so fresh and so flavorful. Any restaurant or pizza place you go to you know you’re getting a good deal. Most meals are between 10-15 euros which means you will get a big full plate that will leave you quite full.

There is something special here called Aperitivo where you get a drink which can be non-alcoholic for about 5-10 euros and you have access to a full buffet of fantastic Italian cuisine. This is something I will miss extremely when I go back to the U.S.

But here I am..Una Ragazza Italiana.

 

 

La Città Alta

Buongiorno tutti! I have been meaning to post for awhile now, but these last few weeks have been crazy and unexpected! Long story short, don’t get injured while abroad–you’ll end up spending precious travel time in the dreaded emergency room or in bed with Netflix. Not fun!

Anyway, I finally had some visitors from my side of the globe last week. My brother, Matt and his friend, Dan, booked a trip to Milan, giving me the opportunity to show them all of my favorite nooks and crannies of this beautiful city. It reminded me why I am going to have a hard time leaving this place in a month. Yes, a month. Time sure does fly when you’re living the life in Italy.

I showed them some of the main tourist attractions, though I am certainly not a tourist here. I finally went inside the Duomo, which was absolutely amazing and worth the wait. We had some of the best hot chocolate afterwards since “cioccolata calda” is basically a cup of warm melted chocolate. I’m not sure I can ever drink hot chocolate again in the States, but that just means I have yet another reason to come back and visit my city.

We also took a day trip to one of my favorite places I have been to since I came to Italy, a city called Bergamo. It only takes an hour to get there from Milan by train and is one of the most beautiful and magical cities I have visited. Once you step off the train and exit the station, you walk straight for about twenty minutes and pass all of the touristy restaurants and shops and come to the “Funicolare” which is basically a lift that takes you to the older part of the city, Città Alta. Its name, “tall city”, comes from the fact that it sits above the rest of the city and offers a spectacular view of everything beneath it. As you ascend on the lift, you can look out the window and watch as the path you just followed becomes tinier and tinier. Città Alta, in comparison to Milan, is small, quiet, and quaint. There is no hustle and bustle, no loud sirens, and no one bumping into you as they rush to get wherever it is they are going. It is a calm and serene city with winding, narrow streets and the most adorable eateries, cafés and shops. We began by exploring and walking around, grabbing cappuccinos, and popping in and out of stores and pasticcerias. The further we walked, the better the view became of everything beneath us. We followed narrow pathways that were probably private and meant only for locals, but who was stopping us? We were able to capture the sun setting over the land beneath us and stood in awe as the city became dark and lights began turning on one by one.

We could have stayed there for a week and even joked about moving there. Finally, as it started to get dark and closer to the time we had to catch our train, we began our search for a dinner spot. Most restaurants in Italy do not open for dinner until around 6:30-7, but it was 5:00 p.m. and we were ready to eat. We stumbled upon a tiny restaurant that had only five or six tables, but luckily we beat the dinner rush. I had one of the best pasta dishes since I have been in Italy. It was meat ravioli with a sage and butter sauce and certainly hit the spot after a long day of walking. My brother and I both got the tiramisu, which was better than any tiramisu I have had before.

We tried to stall a few times when it was time to take the funicolare back down and walk to the train station. We were not ready to leave Bergamo behind. Matt and Dan were just as pleased with the day trip as I was, and we all decided we would have to come back again. I already decided I want to take my mom and sister there when they come next week, and I highly recommend it to anyone else in the area!

Ciao tutti!

Arrivederci NY, Ciao Italia!

Summer 2016 was a season of different feelings. The reason for this is because you are living in a world where soon you will be leaving to experience something new. Even though your physical body is here in the present, your mind is already gone into your new adventure. Your head becomes solely dedicated to the future and all that will and can happen. You begin to have ideas of what could be. Your new adventure becomes a fantasy.

I have never left the country before and so taking this opportunity my senior to study abroad I had to. I chose Italy because of my strong Italian heritage and values. I wanted to strengthen my language skills as well. Milan is a city that is really center to many other European countries too so it will give me the culture experience I need.

This was my first time ever flying. So of course my worries were mostly surrounded with the experience of being on a plane for the first time. I was less worried about the feeling of being in Italy only because I have Italian blood in me and I grew up with a strong Italian culture in my household. I was ready for Italy but maybe not the plane.

The initial take off was emotional. All that was in my head was saying good bye to my parents. Thinking of how they are feeling seeing their first-born first child to ever leave the country. I was saying goodbye to NYC my state of NY. I was finally lifting off.

I remember meeting Jenn, the other student from New Paltz in my program at the airport; and within a couple hours I woke up on the plane walked a few seats over to her and said “WOW, Jenn I just cried when I saw France”. It was a funny moment because I just met her and I am revealing how emotional I am.

I couldn’t have prepared for this trip anymore than I did. I think since it is a life experience you just have to be ready for anything to happen. This experience came to me at the time in my life when I knew it was ready to grow up and get real with my life.

Checking In


Buonanotte tutti! Or, I suppose it’s still the afternoon for my friends and family back home. The past two weeks have been filled with so much exploration and adventure and I am not complaining.

Last weekend I went on one of the most amazing trips of my life to Amsterdam. This city is so perfectly picturesque and even though all 165 canals look generally the same, I snapped a picture of every single one we passed. Despite the chilly weather, I immediately fell in love with Amsterdam. Every bridge and side street is filled with tons of bikes, as they are one of the most popular forms of transportation there. The people there were also extremely friendly and were always looking to lend a helping hand to a seemingly lost group of American girls. Though we were only there for a few days, we were able to see so many things. We visited the Van Gogh Museum and the infamous “I (Am)sterdam” sign because we obviously had to take the cheesy pictures in front of it. Afterwards, we took a tour of the Anne Frank house which left us feeling a bit emotional and uneasy, but it was an unbelievable place to see. We traveled about the city via tram and absorbed all of the beauty before us and tried to explore as much as we could in just a single weekend.

Today I returned from an equally as beautiful city, Firenze. Florence has been at the top of my list of places to travel to for a very long time and it did not disappoint me in any way. Unfortunately, the first night we arrived it rained. Hard. The entire night. After getting settled in our apartment and purchasing some umbrellas, we decided to make the best of it and braved the storm. We ended up at a great little bar/restaurant for most of the night recommended by my friend Erica who studied abroad in Florence last semester. It was a perfect place to spend a rainy night. The next day we signed up for an all day tour of Siena, Tuscany, San Gimignano, and Pisa! This was honestly a wonderful tour and I would highly recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area(Best of Tuscany Walkabout Tour). We took a coach bus to all of these places and were given time to explore each area after the tour. The tour also included a delicious lunch and wine tasting at the Chianti Wine Vineyards(pictured) which is an organic farm that makes wine, olive oil, and other Tuscan treasures. Before leaving for Milan this morning, I stopped at the Central Market and purchased a few of Florence’s finest genuine leather goods, which was a perfect end to my trip.

Until next time….arrivederci!

Venezia, tu é bellissima!

Last night I returned from one of my favorite trips so far-Venezia! The City of Love was as beautiful as all the pictures I have seen on Google images. My friends and I were able to book the trip just a few days before leaving since traveling within Italy is pretty simple. We took a train from Milano Centrale station Saturday morning and arrived in Venice in the early afternoon. As soon as we exited the station, we were met by a gorgeous view of the Grand Canal. The sun was shining so perfectly onto it that it glimmered as we all stared in awe. The whole weekend still feels like a dream.

We snapped a few photos and walked down one of the narrow, winding streets. We stumbled upon a cute little pizzeria and grabbed some food before exploring the city. Before we could even place our orders, the waiter gave us the WiFi password and said “I know…you have to put all of this on Instagram.” (He wasn’t wrong…) After lunch, we walked around a little and took a taxi to our Holiday Inn located about ten minutes from the main part of the city. Ironically, this was much less expensive than any of the hostels we could find, not that we were complaining! After freshening up a bit, we headed back to Venice and did what we were all daydreaming about since the day we left for Italy-a gondola ride! We did it at the perfect time since the sky was still somewhat bright. The ride was absolutely amazing and so peaceful. We floated down little “streets” passing by many homes and restaurants. We wanted it to last forever. Afterwards, we had dinner right along the canal.

The next day, we took a boat to San Marco, another breathtakingly beautiful part of Venice. We took so many pictures because the water looked extra blue and sparkly that day. In my opinion, the trip was way too short since there are so many parts of the city, each with their own unique characteristics.

Some of the other trips I have taken were to Cinque Terre, Brusson, Fort Bard, and Lake Como. I have yet to be disappointed by any of these places. I feel so lucky to have the ability to travel to so many places while I study here. Milan is a great location for traveling since it is close to many popular cities, as well as other European countries. In just two weeks I will be traveling to Amsterdam! Each place that I have traveled to has been more and more beautiful, but I have to say Fort Bard offered the best views I have seen so far(picture featured above). I still scroll through all of my pictures in amazement and cannot believe I was able to see it in person. I was able to take a tour of the fort itself and each successful level of the fort offered an even more incredible view than the previous one. I’m hoping to go back before I return to the U.S. just to experience it one more time.

Thanks for reading! Ciao!

Class…? What’s That?


It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon in Milan and I am officially finished with my first full week of classes here. Yes, that’s right…studying abroad in Italy is more than just traveling and eating pasta! I must say that my classes here are fantastic. I began my week with an elective course entitled “Television, Advertising, and Music: the Italian Approach to the Media” led by a professor who is in the music industry himself. I am also enrolled in a course for my major called “Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship” in which my professor has his own brewing company! My other courses are equally as good and are taught by people who currently work in the field about which they are teaching. In that respect, they act as resources and connections for all of their students. One of my professors, who teaches my Fashion Market elective, gave us the invite to several Fashion Week events, two of which I am attending today!

The courses themselves were structured similarly to my classes at New Paltz. My professors upload all of their lectures onto Blackboard so we can refer to them if we miss any notes in class. They strongly encourage participation and class discussion to further our understanding of the topics covered in class.The classes run for about the same time as my classes at New Paltz, if not a little longer. My professors are very engaging and display a strong passion for their jobs.

One of the coolest things about all of my classes this week was when the professor took attendance and I was reminded of how many different countries are being represented in each of my classes. We all went around introducing ourselves and saying where we are from. At New Paltz, I’m so used to hearing “Long Island, Queens, Long Island, Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey…” but in my classes here it is more like “Brazil, France, Germany, Hungary, U.S., Australia…” and so on. The list is endless. As we went around the room, each person responded with a different accent. It amazes me how so many places in the world are being represented at just one university in Milan. Luckily, I get to talk to all of them and hear about their life experiences in comparison to mine. I might even have a place to stay if I end up visiting these places in the future!

Being back in school definitely feels a little strange after being on one of the longest summer vacations of my life (close to 5 months) but it feels great. I have a very good feeling about my classes, my professors, and the things I will learn both in and out of the classroom.

Un bacione…xxoo

A Taste of Italy


Three weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye. At the same time, it feels like I have already been here for several months! I have met countless new people from countries all over the world, I’ve gone on three trips, and I have eaten a scary amount of carbs. Luckily, I am averaging seven miles a day à piedi (on foot).

The food is as good as I had hoped it would be, if not better. Every day I must restrain myself from stopping into one of the many gelatterias I pass during my travels. One of my favorite things to have here is “un cappuccino”. During my first two weeks here, I was enrolled in an intensive two-week Italian language course in a part of Milan called Buonarroti. On the first day of class, my roommate and I got off at the wrong metro stop, which just happened to bring me to one of my favorite spots, Cremeria Buonarroti. For the past two weeks I woke up early almost every morning just so I could stop here for my “cappucco e brioche”. The man who works there quickly began to recognize me and knew my order after just a few days. Each morning I was greeted by a warm and welcoming smile, putting me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

When I first moved into my apartment here, I tried to keep an open mind. It certainly was not what I expected but I tried to make the most of if for the first few days. Eventually my roommates and I agreed that it was a bit too far from campus as well as the other international students. After speaking with our housing service, we were moved into a new apartment! We were all quite pleased with our new accommodation. It is about a thirty minute commute via la metropolitanà and is located off of the stop “C’a Granda” on the lilac metro line. We immediately settled in and felt right at home. Until next time….arrivederci!

Una Settimana Dopo….


While grabbing “un cappuccino” with my roommate before class this morning we both realized that it had been exactly one week since our arrival in Milan. When I first arrived I was beyond excited to start a new chapter in my life. As I stepped off the plane, I tried to wrap my head around the fact that I was finally in Italy. The Malpensa airport, unlike JFK, was quiet, calm, and quite pleasant. I initially thought of how I would be considered a resident of another country for an entire semester and was overcome by joy and happiness.

When I saw my campus for the first time, I was speechless. It was absolutely beautiful. Google images did not do it justice whatsoever. I was surrounded by other international students from places all over the world who shared my excitement to be part of such a wonderful experience. Of course, in this last week I have had to make many adjustments and will continue to do so throughout the semester. My large iced coffee was replaced by a teeny tiny espresso and my breakfast now consists of “brioche con crema” (one of the many delicious pastries Italy has to offer).

During this last week I have had to become much more independent and open-minded. I now live in a bustling city that is quite different from my small suburban home town in New Jersey. I have already met people from counties all over the world and have formed relationships that will last me a lifetime.

One of the most breathtaking views in Milan is, of course, the Duomo (pictured). My jaw immediately dropped as I approached it for the first time. I had never seen a church so large and so beautiful. Luckily, it is only a ten minute walk from my campus and is surrounded by numerous stores, restaurants and gelatterias! I am certainly still adjusting to my new home, but I am so incredibly happy to be here in Milano! Ciao!