Profile: Abby Grinberg '18
Major/minor: Economics and International and Global Studies major, Business minor
Study abroad program: IES/ Milan: Business Studies (Academic Year 2016-2017)
Reason you chose this program: Before deciding on the place I would study abroad; I knew for sure that I wanted to go somewhere that spoke a language I didn’t know. I also knew I wanted to be in Europe so I would have the opportunity to easily explore the continent. When narrowing it down, I ended up choosing Italy because my parents lived there for awhile on their way to America after leaving the Soviet Union. Having a personal connection with the country made it an easy decision. I specifically chose Milan because of the the prominent culture of business, fashion and design.
Favorite class: My favorite IES class was an art history course on Leonardo da Vinci. Even though Leonardo lived in Milan many years ago, his presence can still be found all over the city. I loved taking this class because we had the chance to do a lot of field studies and actually go visit the places we learned about in class. The best field trip was going to see The Last Supper. I was also dual enrolled in a partner university in Milan, Bocconi, which is an international business and economics school. My favorite class that I took there was a course on behavioral economics. Although it was challenging, I learned so much. I also loved the diversity of the class; in my group projects, each member was from a different country! It was a great way to meet people from all over the world.
Housing situation: I lived in the Collegio di Milano, an Italian dormitory for students studying at universities all over Milan. I had a single bedroom with my own bathroom. I enjoyed living there because it gave me the opportunity to really immerse myself in the Italian college experience, practice the language and make international friends.
Best memory: During my spring semester in Milan, I participated in the Stramilano, my first half-marathon. Running through the streets of a city I loved was motivating and gave me a new appreciation for the place I had made my home. 13.1 miles is a lot of ground to cover so I even got to see areas of Milan that I had never been to before. It was also exhilarating to be cheered on (in Italian) during the course of the race. Training also added a unique dynamic to traveling because running in new places gave me a change to see so much more of the cities I went to from a different perspective. And by incorporating my passion for running into my daily life, it made the adjustment to a new place easier by having something familiar and consistent to keep me sane when the craziness of living abroad got to be overwhelming.
Greatest challenge: My greatest challenge was trying not to spend all my money on gelato. But on a serious note, living abroad comes with an endless amount of challenges. Keeping a positive attitude is key to making the most out of the experience.
What you know now that you didn't know before: If you need an ATM, look for a “Bancomat”. If you ask for an ATM, you will be sent straight to the metro since that is what they call the public transport system (Azienda Trasporti Milanesi). No one carries refillable water bottles. You will be stared at. Also, don’t expect anything to start on time. The pace of life is much, much slower. That being said, expect to spend a lot of time at a restaurant when going out to eat, and really when trying to do anything. Patience is a virtue!
Fact about Italy that you think people would be surprised to learn: I’ll use this as an opportunity to break the myth about two “Italian” foods that you actually won’t find on a menu at any restaurant in Italy. Spaghetti and meatballs and fettuccine alfredo. That’s right, these two dishes are actually completely American. Of course they have Italian roots, but I won’t go into that long story now.