Home Sweet Home

Well, I haven’t gone home yet, so I guess one could say that I’ve officially made it! The first couple of days here were filled with a sense of urgency. I immediately felt the impulse to set up my apartment, meet as many friends as possible, and try every restaurant within the a few kilometer radius. As one could imagine, I burnt out quickly. But all I needed was one day to rebound and the story continues!

I will say, I absolutely love where I’m staying! I live in a two year-old apartment building in Milan, fully equipped with a laundry room, elevator, front gate, concierge service, and AIR CONDITIONING. To say the least, I live like a king! In Italy, air conditioned spaces are few and far between. Now whenever I walk into a cool place, I tend to stay lot longer than I normally would. While there are a plethora of benefits to living here, not everything is as glamorous as it sounds. The concierge service is a nice perk, but I am finding that most Italian services and stores have a loose interpretation of what business hours are. It is almost like when one operates on vacation time, without actually being on vacation. This definitely adds a certain level of spontaneity to my day, but at times can become quite frustrating. Thankfully, I have not required much assistance yet and will report back if I do. Perhaps I need to loosen up more and adjust to this lifestyle, as this is experienced country-wide.

Although, I really cannot complain because everything else is wonderful. I feel very secure coming home at night, walking through a safe neighborhood and punching in a code at the front gate. Also having the nicest room amongst all my friends is an added bonus, but I could be biased. In all honesty, New Paltz pulled through when negotiating my housing contract. I live in a three bedroom, two bathroom apartment with a full kitchen, living room, and dining room. Specifically, my room contains a full size bed, a giant wardrobe, and two double windows. Most of my other friends that live in this building also have a full kitchen, living room, and dining room, but only have one bathroom and one bedroom which they share with someone else. Also instead of having one full size bed, they all have two twin size beds, one double window, and I believe, a shared wardrobe. Whatever the reason may be, I am very fortunate for what I have. So thank you New Paltz!

Prior to living in Milan, I could not conceptualize its size and am now learning that it is a massive city. To travel most places, public transportation is necessary. The commutes from my building to either school or the city center are about thirty-five minutes. While I do wish I was more centrally located, other students that live closer to school have compromised the quality of their housing. Consequently, the closer one gets to the center, the older and more outdated the buildings become. Thus, finding housing with air conditioning, large windows, and full size kitchens becomes increasingly difficult. Besides, many people in cities commute and I am no exception. I would rather take a thirty-five minute commute over a cramped, un-air-conditioned, and old apartment any day of the week! It is never good to compare your situation to others, so I will simply turn a blind eye and continue doing me.

Interestingly enough, even though I am from New York State, I had never used the subway system prior to my arrival in Milan. Leave it to me to use public transportation for the first time in a foreign country. In the past I assumed that navigating through Italian metro and train stations would be challenging. However, all the signs are colored coded which makes traveling more accessible for those who cannot read Italian. Good thing I’m color blind and cannot tell the difference between the green and yellow lines. Needless to say my first time transferring between stations was an adventure! Luckily I can follow the arrows displayed next to the signs and find my way just fine. Without them I would be late to everything, making pitstops in all the wrong places. Who knows, this might be a great way to tour the city! All joking aside, maneuvering through the stations are incredibly straightforward and going in the wrong direction is harder than going in the correct one.

Now that I am a metro pro, traveling has never been easier and I can visit just about anywhere! In the coming weeks, I hope to begin traveling to nearby destinations and learn all about Italy’s cultural diversity.

Updates to follow,

Ben 🙂

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