5 Month Milan Catch Up

5-Month Catch Up (1)

I guess it’s time to catch the world (and future me, who will inevitably look back at this blog/window to the past, heart heavy with saudades) up on the past 5 months of Milan.

WOAH what a roller coaster, raga! How the inferno is tomorrow the third month of 2018? Would someone please explain this to me in non-uhhh-because-time-works-that-way terms. I need to know who we pissed off to deserve this Time Flies When You’re Having the Time of Your Life curse.

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Milan’s crest

Teaching has been an experience full of revelations about myself and the world around me. Specifically, about American and Italian culture. Education is the foundation. No ifs, ands, or buts. The end. Full stop. How schools are managed is a pretty clear mirror of the country’s society and how it functions. But this is a topic for a whole different post, or five.

I’ve been teaching at an alberghiero (technical high school specializing in hospitality), a scientifico umanistico (high school specializing in humanities), and a convitto: primaria, media (state sponsored boarding school, elementary and middle schoolers). On the side, I have been giving private lessons to a broad range of clients, from age 5 to 65. Talk about challenging… I’ve really jumped into the teaching game ready* to experience everything. I go from an elite elementary/middle school in the historic center, to a trade school in Quarto Oggiaro — what has been dubbed the Bronx of Milan — to tutor a retired couple who call me Baby Teacher, and I finish my night as an au pair to two bambini. Like I said, roller coaster.

*I mean, I thought I was ready, but one never is ever really ready, are they?

Not only do I enjoy seeing the progress my students make, spreading inspiration (I hope, at least…) and gaining all the personal growth I get from all of this, I especially adore being able to travel around the city from appointment to appointment.

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II on a rare sunny day

At the end of the day, however, my favorite way to experience the city is still with my fellow Baby Teachers and our gorgeous, mix-and-match crew of Americans, Northern Irish, Baresi (from Bari) and even some — pause for dramatic effect — Milanesi. This has been arguably the most beautiful part of my experience so far. Ahhhh, good ol’ Italian work-life balance.

I’ve made many friends all’improvviso (spontaneously) while in Milan. This hasn’t really happened anywhere else during any of my study abroad experiences — or even at home in Philly — except for in Perugia. But the circumstances of Perugia make for a super friendly environment; there is a university, a university for foreigners, an art school, and a conservatory all concentrated on a little hilltop town. It’s a university town where everyone is genuinely curious to meet others. Milano? Definitely a different vibe.

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Brera with its bubbly Christmas lights

Sure, there are quite a few universities here, but it’s also the Big City of Italy, where all the work is, so the life here is fast paced, quasi NYC-esque (statement taken of course with a grain of salt). People are on the go, all the time, and the Milanesi aren’t really known for their friendly nature. So, the fact the girls and I have been able to make lots of friendships in cafés, airports, and tram stops, (and — this might be just me — in Piazza Duomo, alone, at night while contemplating life) is quite a lovely surprise. I think the fact Milan attracts many students and young people, especially foreigners and non-Milanese Italians, makes it easy to meet people all’improvviso.  

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Duomo

Milan as a city is spectacular. Milano’s energy is intoxicatingly vibrant… there’s always something going on, especially during the week. Everywhere there is art, music, food, culture. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss Rome’s jaw-dropping beauty. Milan, I’m sorry to say does not take my captivate me in that sense. With that said, the non-stop energy here makes up for the lack of breathtaking aesthetics. As my older sister describes it, Milan is big-and-small, so it’s truly the best of both worlds.

Ciao for now,

Isabela Arena

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This says it all…
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