Things I Wish I'd Known Before Moving to Milan | Top Universities

Things I Wish I'd Known Before Moving to Milan

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated March 15, 2021 Updated March 15, 2021

Sponsored by IULM

Originally from Turkey, I’ve always been drawn to Europe, especially Italy. Having picked up a bit of Spanish and English in high school, I moved to Milan four years ago, my International Baccalaureate in hand. I set myself the totally insane goal of learning to speak, understand and write Italian like a native Milanese in less than a year, and, believe it or not, I succeeded! I learned to read, write and carry out a conversation in Italian almost like a native speaker.  

A year later, I was enrolled at the Milanese university IULM to study a bachelor’s degree in Communications, Advertising and Media, all in Italian. And while my life in Milan so far couldn’t have been more exciting and rewarding, knowing a few things earlier definitely would have made my life a lot easier.

Learning Italian is a lot easier once you’re here


Now, you might not need to learn Italian to study in Italy because some universities, including IULM, offer master’s programs instructed in English. However, knowing the language makes your experience a lot more enjoyable, and it’s an easy language to learn.  

Thanks to a fairly intense year of language training, my classmates and I learned Italian fairly rapidly. My course at Scuola Leonardo da Vinci started in October 2014, and by June 2015, most of us mastered C1 Italian. Of course, what made it a lot easier for us is the immersion aspect. You’re constantly hearing and speaking Italian in shops, on the bus, in the street and when with friends, which trains your ear without almost any effort from your part.

Brace. Yourself. For. The. Paperwork


Like most expats living in Italy, the bureaucracy is my least favourite thing about living in Milan, but it’s nothing that can’t be defeated if you come prepared and ask for help. When you apply for a stay permit, fiscal code and health insurance, you have to make sure you bring all of the documents with you. In my experience, clerks tend to be very helpful, and I’ve had people from one department help me with administrative procedures in a completely different one.  

Don’t worry too much about applying for health insurance and a stay permit on your own though because your university’s International Students Guidance Office should be able to help you tackle bureaucratic issues. 

Carry an Italian language pocketbook on your person until you are fluent


While most people in big cities such as Milan will speak English, you  may find yourself in difficulty if you can’t speak the language and want to travel in the countryside (which you definitely should do by the way, it’s absolutely gorgeous). I once found myself stranded on the outskirts of Milan and no one could help me because they didn’t speak a word of English. Obviously this is a fairly extraordinary circumstance, so you’re unlikely to have exactly the same issue, but it’s worth remembering before going on any day trips.

Milan’s a buzzing cosmopolis with new stuff to do everyday


I love fashion, so much so that my claim to fame is that I once had lunch with a former designer for Prada. So, obviously I already suspected before moving here that Milan was going to be a fashionable place. What I didn’t expect was the broad range of things to do in the city every day, from art and culture to nights out, as well as the sheer number of work opportunities you can access through IULM.

Getting around Milan and the country will be easier than you think


One of my friends is interested in art, and she often visits different museums in Milan and other parts of the country on the weekend. Transportation in Italy is very convenient and affordable, so if you’re desperate to see a bit more of Italy than your university campus, I would definitely recommend that you get on a train and explore because your course will be over before you know it.

You won’t be left to fend for yourself in Milan 

Obviously, this will largely depend on the university itself. At IULM, I’ve found that I always had a safety net I could rely on, thanks in part to their international office open Monday to Friday, their big notice board with messages for international students, their internships and placement department, their bookshop, printing center, and their multimedia and audiovisuals room. In addition, all teachers have office hours so you can visit them outside of class if you have any personal issues you’d like to discuss with them privately.

Melis spoke to a member of the TopUniversities team for this sponsored article.

This article was originally published in January 2018 . It was last updated in March 2021

Want more content like this Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

+ 6 others
saved this article

+ 7 others saved this article


Get assisted by higher education experts

Our expert teams can help start your academic journey by guiding you through the application process.

Related Articles Last year

Most Shared Last year

Most Read Last year