My favorite part about being abroad was staying with my host family. La mia mamma, il mio papa, e la mia sorella. They were wonderful! Even now, back at school, I find my mind wondering about their actions. Oh, I bet papa is cleaning about the house right now, and mamma is worrying over another lost object, while mia sorella is singing the tunes from Moulin Rouge...I was a part of a family, a sister, daughter, and a friend.
When things didn't go my way (travel plans), my mamma would tell me 'we must change fate!" and suggest to me other places to visit, help me purchase my tickets and send me off with a smile. When I missed my family, they made me dinners inspired by my family's traditional meals, gave me sweets to 'sweeten' my life. We sang songs around the dinner table, worked on my Italian as I helped with their english-- As they attended my performances, I attended the 50th anniversary part for i nonni. I was home.
Even now, at my American home, I still think and miss my Italian home and family.
I often shared stories with the other homestay students and we had come to one conclusion: IES offers amazing homestays and kind families. In Italy, I found a family, friends, and a cat (the Family Cat, Tigro). In Italy I had found a purpose and the continuation of my childhood dream.
If you long for a feeling of home, to learn more than you have ever imagined, then I highly suggest being a homestay student in Milano.
As for the courses, if you are looking to experience culture, to live in the center of history, and to be surrounded by music, then this Milan program is for you. The classes within this music program offer an excellent insight into Italian culture and history through the use of music.
I chose this program due to it's courses. As a music student, my fellow students raved of the Viennese musical program for it's musical courses. However, I am not just a musician, I am an artist and a performer. I had found that the classes offered in Vienna, Austria were not tailored to the musical artist, simply musicians. And that is great for those who wish to pursue a life in the orchestra or musical education. However, if you are like me-- a musical artist, someone people don't understand often due to your artistic tendencies (i.e. painting instead of essay writing, performing instead of simply reading) than this program is for you. Unlike the Viennese program, this program in Milan offers courses tailored to the artist. Simply because, that's just how the Italians are. Free to do as they please and free to live. This 'artistic' mindsets lives within every professor and is met within every course. You don't just study a subject, you live it.
My favorite course, and example of this thought, would be Professor Mellace's course: Verdi and Italian Identity. In the course, we did not simply study Giuseppe Verdi's music and his influence over Italian politics and history-- we lived it. Our fingers were able to touch Verdi's original opera libretti, we were able to cast our eyes upon a spectacular performance of Verdi's opera Falstaff at il Teatro alla Scala-- we walked the very steps Verdi had walked from his home in Milan to La Scala.
In Italy, you're not just a student-- you're an artist. It was my favorite part about that country and Milan. If I told someone I was an opera singer, people were amazed-- compared to if I told people I'm an opera singer back in the states, I get questions like: "why?" Well, why not? And that is the Italian way.
If you are looking for more than music-- more than just a cultural experience, better than wonderful--- Milan is for you.