New York Meets Milan

In sixth grade when everyone chose a language to take for the upcoming year, I excitedly ran home and told my mom that I signed up for Italian. She frowned disappointedly and said “why aren’t you taking Spanish? You’ll get more use out of it. No one we know speaks Italian.” And I responded “well I want to visit Italy one day, so I am going to take it.” Nine years later here I am, living my best Italian life!

Anyway, hello! My name is Ben, I’m from Long Island, New York, and I am currently studying abroad in Milan. The journey to Italy has been a roller coaster of emotions, fatiguing yet fulfilling.

First off, I do not know how to part with my clothes. I can justify keeping almost anything, so packing was a big struggle. I had such a hard time choosing what to leave and take, that even my mom grew frustrated from watching me. I knew I was in trouble, so I called in the big guns. My grandmother. She has travelled to Italy in the past, and knew exactly what I needed to bring and what needed to be left behind. Due to her prior knowledge and speedy quick folding, packing only took me one day. It also helps that she can be tough when necessary and once she started cracking the whip, packing became a breeze. I truly could not have done it without her.

My flight with Emirates to Milan was actually nice and I was pleasantly surprised at how cohesive everything went. It was my first time flying internationally and for someone who has acute plane anxiety I think I did very well. It does help that my friend from New Paltz, Gianna, is also studying in Milan too. Besides her, the only other thing getting me through was the fact that I could listen to music through the plane’s infotainment system. Rex Orange County was on full blast the whole time. The person next to me definitely thought I was going through something, because my music was insanely loud and I was gripping the arm rests for dear life. Yet, after a few hours I settled down and almost did not want to get off the plane. They were treating me too well! I had two meals, a snack, and some apple juice. In fact, Emirates is very considerate of people with dietary restrictions and allow passengers to request a special meal a few days before taking off. Since I am gluten free, I did seize this opportunity and request a gluten sensitive meal. The airline staff was very knowledgable about gluten intolerances and even brought out the special meals before the normal ones! Despite one of the meals being Codfish with gravy and mashed potatoes, everything else tasted good and was very filling. I guess the fish was a flop on their part, but I just ate around it.

After flying for eight hours, I finally landed in Milan. I stumbled off the plane very sweaty, jet lagged, and a little bit cranky. I knew I was looking for a representative from the housing service to transport me to my apartment, but I had no idea who I was looking for. It could have been anyone! I was giving some very intense looks to the people around me. But don’t worry, the feelings were mutual on the strangers’ behalf. When I finally hobbled outside, I saw a man holding a biker helmet in one hand, a freshly rolled cigarette in the other, along with a sign that said “MIL Service.” In that moment, I knew I was in the correct place.

The transport to the apartment went smoothly as well. I was chauffeured in style, with a blacked out Mercedes van and felt very important. Unfortunately this taste of luxury went straight to my head and I would not shut up about it for the rest of the day. In the van, there were other American students who are studying in Milan, and I immediately began talking with them. Since we were all in the same position I felt comfortable, and by the time we arrived at the apartment we all became friends. Then the concierge showed me to my room and that was it. I put down my things and, of course, sent my family an apartment tour. After that, I settled in and started to unwind from the trip. At this point I had technically been up for over thirty-six hours, and probably could have slept anywhere. But I pulled myself together, met up with Gianna, and walked to the grocery store. We bought some salami, mozzarella, and a bottle of Prosecco to celebrate the successful trek. It was the perfect way to close out such a stressful day.

Now, four days later, I am almost fully settled in and have made quite a few friends. I am beyond ecstatic to start this new chapter in my life and look forward to the four months ahead!

Below I attached some pictures from the airport, plane, and first day for reference. It helps to set the scene.

Until next time,

Ben 🙂

Heading to Milan

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