I spent the best four months of my life in Milan, Italy this past semester. I wish I could go back every day. I miss the coffee, food, music, art and people. I arrived in the middle of January and immediately began orientation. The first week or so was spent exploring the city and learning more about how our schedules were going to work. I felt like I was getting tons of attention and was constantly being checked upon, so that made the whole first week a breeze. IES offers trips throughout the semester and I went on the Venice/Verona/Padua trip and got to see some of Italy's finest art. We travelled by train. I found the transit system in Italy to be straightforward as long as you could read signs you could get anywhere. I really enjoyed using the metro system in Milan. I lived about 15 minutes away from the IES center where all the classes were taught and the location couldn't have been better. The city center and Duomo (cathedral) are located about a 10-minute walk from the center. We began Italian courses after two weeks of arriving. It was an intensive so the information being taught was dense and somewhat familiar. I would recommend taking some Italian before visiting Italy. I had one semester and have been singing in it for years so I had a basic understanding of how everyday language was used. I enjoyed Signora Francalanza's Italian lessons. About a month in is when we got to select classes. I was in the music program and I had great options. I ended up going with History of Italian Opera, voice lessons, and an art history course on Leonardo Da Vinci. I thoroughly enjoyed each of these and really loved studying with the voice teacher: Patrizia Zanardi. I would go back again just to study with her. She was absolutely incredible and if you are serious about studying voice while abroad, she is the teacher for you. I sang several arias throughout the semester and got to sing at the place where Verdi is buried in Milan. UNREAL. Also, the art history Professor Regonelli was an absolute joy to be around. For that class we got to go see the Last Supper at the end of the semester. It was incredible being able to learn about a masterpiece and then walk literally 5 minutes to see it in person. I will never forget her class. Throughout the semester, I traveled a decent amount. I visited Ibiza, Florence, Venice, Lugano (Switzerland), Rome, Athens, Paris, Frankfurt. There are so many opportunities to do so because many times there are three-day weekends. As a music major, I was able to go see 4 different shows at La Scala (one of the world's finest opera houses) all thanks to a professor who was able to get us free tickets. The director of the program is extremely personable and was so happy and eager to listen and help whenever. I asked if it would be possible to join a local choir during the semester and he put me in touch with the local Jazz School. I worked with 20 local singers and Maestro Giorgio Ubaldi and performed in several concerts throughout the semester. With the group I sang at an expo for healthy living and in one of Milan's premier auditoriums as an opener for a famous Italian singer. It was absolutely one of the highlights of my semester and I made 20 new friends and colleagues along the way. There is so much that can be said about Milan, and I am so incredibly blessed to have lived here for a semester. I will be back someday. It is home to me. There's nothing better than being able to immerse yourself in a different culture and soak up all the beauty that this world has to offer. I still keep in touch with my IES friends, both from the states and from Italy. I can't thank the IES staff enough for making it the best experience of my life so far!!!
How can this program be improved?
I would recommend coming with a friend. It was a beautiful experience to come from my university alone, but having someone you know will make travelling and making new friends way easier. The program really is spectacular.
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would