Why you should arrive early on exchange – PART III
1st steps on the Italian territory and I am already lost… Where can I find the exit?? I cannot read these signs, they may as well be written en Chinese…
15mn later, after having gone up and down the terminal a few times, I am finally crossing the exit doors of the Airport, and looking for a taxi to take me to my Airbnb in Milan!
That’s the 2nd challenge:
- Buongiorno signorina, dovè vai?
- Ummm….What? hum yeah… euh… Let me check…
It took me a good minute to explain to him in english/French/Spanish where I was going, and from the ride I could tell that this chauffeur was not happy that I could not speak Italian and that I had spoken to him in every other language.
I will not lie to you, coming to Italy, it is a must to learn at least the basics of this beautiful language. Why? Well:
- Most of the people you will have to deal with on a daily basis (coffee, restaurants, supermarket, shops) will not be able to speak English, except if you are in the touristic areas.
- Italians are very attached to their language, they will love you for trying to speak it, but hate you if you inadvertently speak English or Spanish to them (lucky for me they are pretty ok and good at French).
- The Italian websites/app that you will have to deal with (e.g. Vodafone, Europcar) are not all the time translated in English.
Therefore, I say it again, it is a MUST that you take this opportunity to get to learn a bit of Italian on your year abroad.
Here are some tips on how to achieve it:
- Bocconi Italian CRASH course: 40 hours of Italian squeezed in a 2-week period right before the classes start. This is why you should come early in Italy. This is the perfect opportunity to kick start your Italian, as well as meeting your year-long buddies! Be prepared for an intense period with 8-hour long days of Italian, followed by parties until the end of the night with your new pals!
Honestly, it was one of the star moments of my experience here. So what? You arrive 10mn late every morning to class with the worst headache and the non-existent envy to work on your Italian? Well guess what? Everyone is in the same boat and we are stronger together! Ahah no but honestly, this is the best way to get to know people and bond over good parties that your teacher will ask you to tell in Italian in the morning. Ahah good luck with that.
- Bocconi Italian FOLLOW UP course: Yep the fun keeps on going! This course takes place during your semester, it’s basically evening classes from 6 till 8 two times a week. I did it, and will do it again, but I suggest that only the most motivated ones attend, because out of my 5 friends who decided to take the course with me, only 2 made it to the final exam in the end… But I still suggest it for those who are productive at late times of the day! And the icing on the cake? You get a beautiful diploma when you pass the exam, with a nice Bocconi logo on it!
- Local leisure activity – As a big amateur of ballet, I’ve looked for a ballet studio next to my place and ended up taking ballet lessons with 15 Italian girls and an Italian teacher! That was not easy at first I am not going to lie, but I have improved my listening and talking so much thanks to it! Italians love when internationals are making efforts to fit in their culture, therefore the girls dancing with me have been sweethearts, and have had several good chats with them. There is nothing better than real life practice to motivate you to learn the language even quicker!
- Watching Italian movies with Italian subtitles – This is for the most motivated people as well. I know how hard it is, after a long day of classes and some drinks out with friends, to be able to motivate yourself to watch a show/movie in a foreign language. But honestly, it’s also a key activity if you want to learn quickly. Just hearing the Italian speaking, you will also be able to get the accent and key pronunciations! One movie that was particularly funny and that I recommend is “3 uomini e una gamba” of Aldo Baglio!
- Duolingo – (An interactive learning application to know Italian & other languages for those who do not know) Yep that’s not a joke, it helps me a lot! I can practice all the tenses, the grammar, the vocabulary, and it only takes 2 min at any time of the day!
With all these efforts, after 3 months spent in Italy, I can now say that I am able to hold a conversation with the hairdresser down my block, during the entire haircutting time! Impressive right? (Thank god it was impossible to chat when she was blow drying my hair though, my brain was starting to fry….) .
Also, big achievement which I am proud of; I can finally order my coffee without the barista looking at me with this weird look (which I know does not mean that he thinks I am normal…). Yes, coffee here is sacred, and it is important that you order you coffee in the right way. So now I know how to order my extra hot double shot latte takeaway no sugar & little foam, finger in the nose! (french people will understand 😉 )
My plan for the next semester is to take the follow up course again at Bocconi, and probably find an Italian chat buddy to get talking even more. I am positive about being able to speak a good Italian by the end of the year!
At the moment it’s the revision period at Bocconi. Everyone here is studying really hard for their exams, and this is my procrastination time wisely spent!
I hope you enjoyed the article, I will get back to you really soon during the holidays to tell you all about Milan and my impressions on the 1rst semester I spent there! I cannot believe it’s already one half done!
Time flies in Italy….
Until next time,
Ci vediamo pronto mi amici,
And do not forget, any questions? Please fire:
Pauline Brclt (FB)
paulineuma (instragram & snapchat)