Milano. If there is one city very close to my heart in Europe, it's definitely the charming Milano. Before I lived here, I always thought Duesseldorf is the most special for me and I cannot like any city more in Europe. But Milano proved it so wrong. I loved Duesseldorf, because it was really very beautiful, a picture perfect city. But Milano taught me, its not just the beauty of the city, but the people make it more special.
I went there to study MBA in SDA Bocconi School of Management. I still remember the first time I saw my school. I was checking it on the road view of Google Maps. I zoomed in at the address, but somehow could not locate the school building. It is only after I reached there, I realized the building I thought as a residential premise was our school. It was quite a disappointment for people like me who arrived with great expectations of some grand Italian architecture. Nevertheless, the MBA experience was incredible. More than 30 nationalities, professors with their strong Italian accent, teams, assignments, a super-fast and super-challenging year.
But the memories I want to cherish here are more of Milan, than of my MBA. Because my Milanese life was more outside than inside the school.
It feels so unbelievable that I hated this city initially so much. Leaving away from the family for the first time was a dreadful experience. That too in a country where I couldn't speak the language and rarely anyone spoke English. Even at Linate International Airport, people could only speak Italian. Then some series of events followed with finding an apartment, having to live alone, in an apartment of a scary (literally!!) landlady far away from the school. But it was only a month before I found another apartment right on the street of the school. This apartment on Via Balilla, ohh, I loved it so much. My small room with colorful and functional furniture, a pretty kitchen and to top it all, a cute Italian flatmate - Valentina. I couldn't have asked for more!!
If I have to choose one thing that I adored the most in Italy, it is the Italian accent. Nothing can match the way they speak, or in fact sing. They have a lovely tune to almost every word. Valentica would talk in her room in an Italian pitch, while I was stuyding. And it never disturbed me (which so unusual, because I am easily annoyed). In fact, it was like listening to some music while studying. The way she said "Mamma" or "Perche" (cannot unfortunately remember more words, because hardly understood any) was very melodious for me. The word that amused me the most was "Pratikamente". At least thousand times I checked for it's meaning and I forgot. Probably, my mind didn't want to remember the meaning, but only that tone "Pratikameeente". Foreign languages could actually be very musical (definitely no doubt about Italian!), because one understands nothing and it turns even normal words in to a sort of music. And it wasn't just my flatmate, but on weekends I could hear children playing around or someone playing a piano. Some signs of liveliness around, unlike elsewhere in Europe where I only experienced pin-drop silence at home.
But my two lifelines here were my two friends - Ashna and Aruna. There is no count to how much we loved, danced, quarreled, fought with each other. Our relationships kind of presented the level intensity of our studies. Funny to remember it all now.
The two places where I really met amazing people outside school was Goethe Institute, where I learnt German (yes, ironically I was learning German in Italy) and Banca Patrimoni, where I did my internship.
A tram would take me to the heart of Milan and then I would walk a bit along the magnificent Duomo. The city center of Milano flourishing with people, colorful people, stylish people, lively people. There there was a great sense of freedom in the air, color in the scene and music in the breeze. I would take a deep breath and keep walking. I would pass classy restaurants, hep shops, grand architectures, cobblestone streets, trying to consume as much energy as possible. In few minutes I would reach an elegant building (the kind of one I had imagined for my school) where the Goethe Institute was located. It was quite a surprise for the students (who were obviously all Italian) that an Indian girl is there to study German. It was because of me, they were kind of compelled to speak either English or German. In spare time they also tried teaching me some Italian. A very adorable person - Veronica, a stunning girl - Gloria, a dudette - Tamara, a courteous guy - Marco, they are all unforgettable friends. Once we went to a Bavarian style restaurant. As expected, there was almost nothing suitable for a vegetarian me, but being with them was lots of fun.
The most amazing of my Milanese experience was my internship. I wanted to do an internship in some other country, but luck by chance I ended up in a small Italian Bank - Banca Patrimoni. And then I actually experienced Milan, saw the Italian family life from very close and collected the greatest of my Milanese memories. But of course, one evening is simply too short to talk about it all. So more to come in my coming posts...