I had always thought about studying abroad but had never really looked into it until my major, Interior Architecture, came out with their own study abroad trip. This is the reason I chose the trip and program that I did for my trip. My trip was to Milan, Italy but we also made visits to Venice and Lake Como with the group. The parts of Milan that we saw were very urban which makes sense because of how big of a city it is. This trip was one of the best experiences of my life with one of my favorite parts being able to connect with another culture.
The people I met in Italy definitely had a large impact on how amazing my trip was. This trip was my first time being on a plane or being in another country since I was 10 which was nerve wracking at first. But having other people that I knew with me made a big difference in helping us all to adjust. Milan is a very fashionable city, with stores at every corner you turn. There are streets lined with old and new architecture with varying styles making a home right next to each other. There were many design trends that I saw over there that I brought back home with me. I felt so much acceptance in Milan, with certain streets and restaurants being dedicated to LGBTQ+ for example. A lot of the people we met were genuine and open minded people which made making connections a lot easier. The food was delicious, with a lot of the restaurants we visited even growing their own fruits and vegetables at the restaurant. Everything tastes so fresh and it was very refreshing to be able to just walk everywhere. Walking and biking are common over there so not having to worry about driving was nice. For anyone thinking about studying abroad in Milan, I would highly suggest visiting the Duomo, Churchill Caffe, Ristorante de Oscars, and to do some shopping of course.
We took a couple of day trips while we were in Italy including Venice and Lake Como. But we also visited Vernazza and Alassio on our own for the weekends. Venice was beautiful with canals lining what felt like every corner. There was a bookstore that allowed stray cats to come and hang out with a staircase made out of books in the back. However, the gondola ride in the Grand Canal had to be my favorite part about Venice.
Lake Como was rainy on the day we went but somehow I think it made it more beautiful. We visited a textile factory that makes fabrics for brands such as Gucci. The textile factory was one of the coolest experiences I have had in terms of my major. Alassio and Vernazza are both beach towns that we visited. The beaches in Italy are beautiful with mountains surrounding them and cute shops and restaurants. The train stations to get to all of these places were easy to navigate as well. I really liked being able to travel by train and metro (subway) stations while I was there. A lot of the signs in the public transportation areas had everything in Italian and English which made navigating even easier.
Overall, Italy was an amazing place and I can picture myself actually living there someday. This trip was life changing and I will always remember the connections I made while I was abroad. I highly recommend studying abroad to everyone, even if it is not Italy that you would be visiting.
Blake Burba (BS Interior Architecture) spent Summer 2022 in Milan, Italy as part of a faculty-led trip linked with a UTC course. Blake had the following to say about study abroad, “Studying abroad was life changing for me. It was truly one of the best experiences of my whole life. My advice to anyone studying abroad would be to be open minded to the place you are visiting. Be open minded to the culture and the people and be willing to learn, it is how you will make the best connections with the people around you. I will never forget the connections I made and the people I met while I was abroad.”
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