London, Venice and More Oh My!

While studying abroad, I have been fortunate to do a ton of traveling- both in and out of Italy!

My first trip was to Cinque Terre. It was my birthday weekend; my friends and I visited each of the towns in one day! Each offered a different experience but they all had one thing in common- an amazing view. Cinque Terre was only a 2 hour train ride from Milan, making it a super accessible but fun trip!

After that, I flew to Prague and London! My sister had planned to travel to Prague coincidentally during the time that I’d be in Italy, so we thought it was a perfect weekend to meet up. My sister is 6 years older than me and lives in another state, so seeing her had made me so happy- who knew we’d be in Prague, TOGETHER?! It truly made my heart full.

London has to be one of my favorite cities I have ever visited! It was so metropolitan, and nostalgic. Everywhere I went felt sophisticated and chic. There, I visited shops and pubs, walking along townhouses in Notting Hill, while stopping to drink tea or eat falafel pockets (which were SO yummy). Being in London made me SO happy. I definitely will go back to visit one day.

And lastly, my most recent trip that I did happened to be with my dad! At my university, we just had our mid-semester break and my dad was lucky enough to get some days off so, he flew all the way to Milan and we took a “road trip” of Italy. We went to Lake Como, Venice, and Florence. All of the places were so different from one another; it is mind-boggling to me how you can be in the same country yet certain parts are so vastly different from each other! All were beautiful in their own unique way. Visiting all 3 places were truly enriching, especially with my dad by my side.

Academics

Now that midterms are over, I finally feel like I can give you all a clear view into what I think about the courses I am taking here!

At SUNY New Paltz, I am quite ahead of course requirements. Because of this, my advisor gave me the freedom to take what I please and of what piqued my interest. So, here at Cattolica in Milan I am taking four courses: A Mafia Story: Its Representation in Literature, Cinema, and TelevisionFashion Images and the City of Milan: A Sociological Perspective on Modern Italian FashionCitizenship and Religion in a Multicultural Society: A New Clash of Identities in Italy and Europe? and The Female Character in Italian Contemporary Literature and Culture. All are vastly different from each other, and don’t necessarily have a correlation with my major and minor at home (which is Sociology with a Human Services concentration, and a minor in Deaf Studies), however, I do really enjoy them.

A Mafia Story: Its Representation in Literature, Cinema, and Television would have to be my favorite. In my Sophomore Year of high school (5 years ago) I was introduced to American mobster movies: Casino, Goodfellas, A Bronx Tale… you get the idea. I was always fascinated on the topic, but only got my information about the mafia solely through these movies- I had no other outlets. In this course, I learn about the history of the ‘mafiosi’; how it originated, where it originated and how it is represented in both Italian and American media platforms. I even watched The Godfather for the first time as one of my homework assignments! This class has truly opened my eyes into a huge and important part of Italy’s history: specifically in Sicily. My professor is knowledgable and passionate about this subject, and it truly has rubbed off onto me.

Fashion Images and the City of Milan: A Sociological Perspective on Modern Italian Fashion is the only class that I’m taking that will give me credit towards my major (elective). Since becoming a sociology major, I can’t help but think of everything from a sociological perspective… its in my nature. However this class does more than that- it has taught me about important fashion designers, and how moments in history really affect the world of fashion. When I was little, I dreamed of being a fashion designer. I never really knew why but this class brings me back to that dream, but in a different way. I would never really consider myself stylish, but now I find myself wanting to express in the form of fashion and style, and help others too. It really is enthralling.

Citizenship and Religion in a Multicultural Society: A New Clash of Identities in Italy and Europe? is a class that took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to take it, and to be honest, it was sort of a last minute resort. I didn’t know what I was going into but it has been a pleasant surprise. In this course we look at the history of citizens and societies within Italy and Europe from a philosophical and anthropological perspective, and how these factors have changed over time with modernization. Its very complex, and I often fumble with my words, so I’ll spare you the details 😉

And lastly, The Female Character in Italian Contemporary Literature and Culture. I am lowkey, a literature nerd. I took two AP English courses in my high school, and a few at SUNY New Paltz- including The Novel and Women in Literature (which I highly recommend). The Female Character in Italian Contemporary Literature and Culture is another course I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to. We analyze female characters in books, operas, and movies written by both male and female Italian creators. Like I said, I love literature, and since I’ve taken a Women in Lit course at New Paltz, this class has been nothing but fun for me. I’ve found so many books outside of American and British literature that I now want to read.

Not only are the classes intriguing, but the professors are all super sweet and compassionate. I express my worries to them, or even my curiosities, and they are always there to help and engage.

Overall, I appreciate Cattolica for providing us international students with interesting courses I could never take elsewhere, and for sparking a newfound curiosity within me.

Window to the World

This evening the sky is shades of orange, and of purple and blue. I can’t help but think about all the time I wish I spent with you. In my mind, collecting the things I want to say. Wait a lil while longer and you’ll hear on the 53rd Sunday.

Since coming to Milan, I’ve grown an attachment to windows and the sky, specifically to the colors the sky makes when the sun is rising and setting. This fixation on color and windows and the sky has followed me to wherever I go.

When I visited Prague, my accommodation had a beautiful window that I would sit next to at night and listen to the chatter out on the streets.

When I visited London, I visited a bakery which was strictly decorated in pastel colors: pinks and blues and greens and purples! It was visually stunning and gave me a sense of joy (not to mention the food was delicious.

 

When I’m in Milan, my favorite time of day is when the sun is setting; I am making myself dinner while the windows are spread open. I hear the sounds of garlic sautéing, families and children playing, or nothing at all. The sky turns into hues of orange and pink and purple and sometimes blue. That is when I’m happiest. That is when I am at peace.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During this time, I sit and reflect on a lot- the universe; my life; the people I hold dear to my heart; the world and how many people inhabit it, who have their own thoughts, dreams and aspirations; how there is so much this world has to offer. This is something that I will forever cherish and will use to ground me wherever I go. The feeling inside of me when I get to see such a sky, or such a vast amount of color, or an excellent unfurled window, is truly unexplainable. It makes my heart warm and sometimes like my heart is going to burst- that’s how intense it can get. Some people don’t understand why I feel this way, and some people do; the optimal thing I have realized from this is that not everyone needs to understand- if it makes me feel good and content, then I don’t need to prove it to anyone else.

Ciao Milano!

I landed in Milan bright and early on a September morning. It was chilly and sunny, which is the perfect weather for me. It had blown my mind that just 8 hours before, I was in NYC, in my home, with my parents and my pets, all of whom I hold close to my heart. I was excited, yet super nervous to start this journey, especially without my parents, siblings or even best friend to hold my hand through it all- literally.

When I stepped off the plane and into the airport, everything felt normal. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary or different; people in the airport spoke English, and there were other Americans in close proximity considering we had just gotten off of a plane that departed from JFK- my main concern was getting from the airport to my apartment which was an hour away. I made it to a train called the ‘Malpensa Express’ which connects you from the airport to the central train station in Milan. My 5 foot 3, 135 pound self trucked my 80 pounds worth of bags and luggage across towns, transferring from the airport, to the Malpensa Express, to the metro. What an experience! I was so determined and focused on getting from one point to the next that I couldn’t even think about anything else.

However, when I got to my apartment, that is when reality set in. I am here. IN MILAN. WHERE I WILL BE LIVING FOR 3 MONTHS. Is this real life? I couldn’t believe it. I felt so overwhelmed with emotion, I couldn’t help but cry. I knew that these next couple of months would bring intense change for my life, and although I knew that it was necessary for this change to occur at this point in my life, I wasn’t exactly ready to step out of my comfort zone and accept that it was going to occur starting now.

Arrivederci NYC!

Since my summer began, all that had been on my mind was my countdown until I would be in Milan, Italy. The range of my emotions were quite extreme- I was excited yet nervous, curious yet anxious. I had no idea what I would be flying into, considering the farthest I’ve been from home is to Hawaii- and that still is part of the United States! I’ve always had a desire to travel elsewhere, out of the United States and dive into cultures where I could only daydream what they were like. Yet here I was, about to travel to Europe for the first time, and completely immerse myself in Italian culture.

When choosing where to study abroad, Italy was on the top of my list; the Italian diets consists mainly of carbs and fish (both of which happen to be my faves), the Italian culture is so rich with history, and the university I will be studying at had courses that both sparked my curiosity while fulfilling my major requirements here at New Paltz. Day and night I would think about Italy- what I would eat there, who I would meet there and what I would learn there! Questions started to arise in my mind: Would I come back fluent in Italian? Would living in Milan make me more fashionable and push me to experiment with my style? How much pasta can I eat that is humanly possible? It all felt so surreal that I was going to actually be living there for an extended period of time.

As my summer dwindled to an end, and saying my farewells to family and friends, I couldn’t help but be ecstatic to embark on a new journey that would hopefully be a transformative one. Saying goodbye was definitely hard and tears were shed, but I knew what is to come will surely be amazing.

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

Swan Song

Okay so although I still have a few weeks abroad in Europe, I do indeed leave the love of my life, Milan, in one short week.  To be honest, this kind of makes me wanna vomit.  To think that I arrived here almost four months ago, truly is something I cannot fathom.  Milan has been my home, and pretty soon I will have to say goodbye.

As I have mentioned in past posts, I really am a big believer in everything happens for a reason.  So to think that I almost let fear hold me back from coming to this amazing country is insanity at this point.  I am so glad that I left my inhibitions in the United States to come to this magical place.  Milan will forever be in my heart.

To think back to my first day where I cried like a baby when my adapters wouldn’t plug into the wall, I received the wrong keys to my apartment, my phone wouldn’t work, I was alone, and I ate one of the worst meals of my life, FINALLY I can think back and laugh.  Sure this experience has not been perfect.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.  I just feel so different (in a good way).  I have grown up so much here.

Lucky for me this experience isn’t over yet.  Although I do leave Milan in one week from tomorrow, I still have a couple weeks where I will be traveling around Europe.  So I have a lot to look forward to.

Am I ready to return to the United States?  I’m not really sure.  I mean I kind of have no say in the matter.  I have finished college, and now I must get a job, an apartment, and enter a new phase in my life.  Would I stay longer if I could?  Absolutely!  But regardless my time here will never be forgotten.  There was no better way to leave the University life.  For those who are unsure of spending their final semester abroad, or studying abroad at all for that matter, I must encourage each and every college student to look into it.

Leaving our mark in Barcelona

Leaving our mark in Barcelona

The people I have met through this program are some of the greatest people I have met in my life.  Milan holds a special place in my heart, but I know a big reason behind that is the amazing people here.  However, I must give a special shoutout to one special lady Kara Buzzeo.  New Paltz is small.  And yet there are always those people you do not know.  Kara and I both attended New Paltz, lived in the same hall, ate in the same places, worked out in the same gym, and yet it took coming abroad to Milan, Italy for us to meet.  I now consider Kara one of my true gems that I will take away from the Paltz.  My experience would not have been the same without her.  Yes, I will not be continuing on with her in the fall, in New Paltz, but I know she is destined for great things.

Maybe I will write another post abroad, maybe I won’t.  I just wanted to write this one now, to make sure I did it before leaving for the rest of Europe.

For now I will be galavanting around Milan, attempting to complete the things that I wish I had been doing all semester, but have neglected to leave to the last minute.  Also if anyone would like to help me pack, feel free.  Time to study for finals!

Till next time readers, continue to reach for the stars,

Tamara

End of the year celebration with my housemates: Bethany, and Allison

End of the year celebration with my housemates: Bethany, and Allison!

Ready For My Closeup

On the set of Pomeriggio Cinque!

On the set of Pomeriggio Cinque!

The opportunities I have in Milan are truly mind-blowing.  This past Monday I was able to take part in the recording of a television show, as a member of the studio audience.  This is indeed something I have done before in the United States, so it was an interesting contrast to see what it was like in Italy.  The even cooler part was that this was for one of my classes.  Yes, this was a field trip for my Television, Advertising, Music: The Italian Approach to the Media class.

A screen grab from the episode itself

A screen grab from the episode itself

We were in the studio audience for the show Pomeriggio Cinque on Canale Cinque.  The show is hosted by Barbara d’Urso.  This really was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us.  Here is a link to the show if anyone would like to watch the episode:  http://www.video.mediaset.it/video/pomeriggio_5/full/lunedi-23-marzo_524295.html

Yes, the whole show was in Italian so I couldn’t really follow too much of it.  But just by chance I got really great screen time, so that was pretty surreal.  I kept gazing through the bright lights to the monitors, to see me looking back.  I especially appreciated this considering I had not made the cut for screen time when I was in the studio audience for the Rachael Ray show (one of my idols).

IMG_1992The preparation for the show was MUCH more relaxed than for US television.  The wardrobe requirements were simpler, and the seating was random.  I was also exhausted because I flew in that morning from Barcelona.  I went straight from Barcelona to class to the tv show.  But I made sure to keep my eyes open as much as I could.

I would not be opposed to doing something like this again.  I’m just excited to see what my next class trip looks like!  Till next time, thanks for reading!

Tamara

P.S.  No autographs please =P

My class with the host Barbara d'Urso

My class with the host Barbara d’Urso

 

Benvenuto a Milano!

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Found this on the wall of my room in Milan, I knew it was where I was meant to be

I was so excited to get to Milan!  I got off the airplane and there were so many other people waiting to be picked up by the housing service to be taken to our individual apartments.  I met a lot of other girls from SUNY Albany!  It was cool that even across the world, I still had some fellow SUNY sisters.  We were divided up into cars, and taken to our apartments.  I was supposed to be the first drop off, however, they had the wrong keys for me.  I did panic internally a little, especially because I was the first person to arrive to my apartment, but I was calm knowing my housing service didn’t leave me alone.  Everyone else was dropped off, and then I finally got in my home.  Later that day though, my roommate Ashley from Buffalo State came home, so I was no longer alone.  We napped, thus messing up our sleep schedule, but eventually we got the hang of the new time difference.

My school id card!

My school id card!

Right away the next day we had to go to school for Orientation.  I had no idea how fast paced everything was, and how much we had to get done within our first week in Milan.  We got the hang of the metro very quickly considering how we constantly had to run obscure errands all over Milano.  We met so many people, in such a short amount of time!

Fellow SUNY sister Sarah and myself at orientation

Fellow SUNY sister Sarah and myself at orientation

The first week was jampacked, and our first weekend was that way as well.  But I was so happy to finally be home =)

Welcome to Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore!

Welcome to Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore!

Exploring snowy Milan with my roommate Ashley, and housemate Bethany

Exploring snowy Milan with my roommate Ashley, and housemate Bethany