I was sitting in my last lecture ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation,’ reflecting on what I had achieved in the past year and for a few moments, felt sad that my year was coming to an end. I wanted more time in Milan to enjoy the Italian culture and lifestyle. My thoughts were interrupted as my lecturer summed up the module, quoting Benjamin Disraeli: “The secret to life is to be ready for the opportunity when it comes”. I thought to myself, have I truly made the most of this opportunity? I had wanted a challenge; to do something different, providing me with fun, excitement and exhilaration, enabling me to develop as a person, expand my critical thinking, and extend my global outlook. This is exactly what I achieved and more.
For my exchange year I was placed at Bocconi University. Studying in Milan was an incredible experience, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which really inspired me. I enjoyed every moment, especially speaking the language, mixing with Italian students, the nightlife and travelling around Europe.
I was able to engross myself in a different culture in every conceivable way; physically and emotionally. My eyes were opened to the wonders of Italy, reaffirming the decision I made to study there. I mixed with Italian students and citizens who taught me a lot about their culture and lifestyle. I gained a better understanding of the important aspects of Italian life such as elegant clothing, exquisite food, historical charm and family orientation. My aspiration was to learn the language. I started by attending a crash course in Italian at Bocconi University with fellow students. I tried my hardest in every situation to speak the language. I often used to go to a Patisserie where I met Argentina, the lovely woman who owned the shop. She knew no English so from the first day until the last we would converse in Italian. As time went by my Italian became more fluent; I was able to overcome the language barrier and as a result communicate better. This was a great achievement for me and something that I am very proud of.
I gained an understanding of different cultures and acquired an international perspective. I was able to meet people from all over the world and gain an understanding of their culture. I began to understand their values and beliefs and what they cherish as being most important. I became more open-minded in my thinking and adaptable to different situations I encountered. I travelled around mainland Europe and visited some extraordinary places, including Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, Rome, Florence and Venice. One particularly memorable trip was a road-trip I took with a friend around Tuscany. We travelled all the way from Milan down through Bologna to Florence to Siena and around South Tuscany, and then back from Pisa to Milan. In three days we drove 1000km along some of the most famous roads with the most picturesque views.
One of my preferences when studying abroad was to maintain my level of religious observance. I am a practicing Jew and needed to be within a city that enabled me to maintain my Jewish identity. Milan has a relatively small community compared to Manchester; however I still had the facilities and community to continue practicing. I lived near to a Lebanese synagogue which was a fantastic experience. It truly opened my eyes and helped me to understand Italian Jewry and their way of living.
Being in Milan I experienced at first hand a deep understanding and knowledge of the business world on an international scale. Studying fascinating subjects helped enhance my business knowledge and outlook for the future. It has helped me decide what I would like to pursue in the future as a career and provided me with the drive and inspiration to achieve great things in life. I look forward to using the knowledge and skills I gained for my final year and future career.
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