7 Reasons to Learn Italian When Studying Abroad

Students chatting in front of bilingual signsSo, you’ve chosen Italy as your study abroad destination. You have your favorite travel guide and have read the latest blogs (including MilanoZine!) to find out more about your upcoming experience, where to travel, what to expect.

The only question you still have is a simple one: is it worth the time and effort to study Italian while you’re there? The language is really only spoken in Italy, a relatively small country, you think. You already speak English flawlessly. And, let’s face it, English is today’s #1 international language for business and travel. So why bother with a language that’s only spoken by around 85 million people around the world?

Because of these 7 excellent reasons, that’s why! Here are the top 7 reasons you absolutely have to study Italian while you’re in Italy.

    1. Become a prime candidate in industries of Italian excellence
      With an increasingly smaller world, speaking a foreign language is a great asset to have when looking for a job. And “Made in Italy” brands, especially fashion & design, food & beverage and the automotive industry, will really value your Italian language skills. Your CV will immediately stand out to prospective employers if you can boast a good level of Italian, unlike some of your peers.
    2. Become a master of other important skills
      There are lots of studies that look at the advantages of being bilingual. The idea is that learning (and regularly using) a foreign language can help develop other parts of the brain. Studies have shown that bilinguals are better at using their executive control system, more creative and better at making decisions. That means speaking more than one language can make you even smarter in other areas.
    3. Become a truly global citizen
      Polyglots are said to make up about half the world’s population, whether they speak more than one language and/or dialect. Learning Italian will open your eyes to the way Italy sees and interprets the world an make the world seem just a little bit smaller. In general, it’s easier to get exposed to and appreciate new and different points of view. So you can join the world’s other multilinguals and understand them a bit better.
    4. Become a better person
      Learning a foreign language involves a healthy dose of personal growth. You will learn more about yourself and how you see the world, and how that may change in a new language. And don’t underestimate the personal growth that comes from being a beginning language learner: it’s not easy to express your very grown-up thoughts and feelings using the vocabulary of a toddler!
    5. Become a favorite with the locals
      If you know the local language, it will be a lot easier for you to mingle with people living in Italy. From the guy serving your morning espresso to the lady selling you a train ticket, to the fans sitting next you at a soccer game, you’ll be able to communicate much easier if you speak Italian. It will also be easier to meet friends from Milan and other parts of Italy. So use your language skills and be a social butterfly!
    6. Become an expert on art, music and food jargon
      Did you know that chiaroscuro literally means light and dark? Or that allegro means happy? What about the correct way to pronounce bruschetta (the “c” is hard, not like the English “ch” sound)? There are tons of Italian loanwords in English, lots of which relate to art – the Renaissance had a pretty big influence – music – Verdi, opera, etc. were also pretty important – and of course food – the whole world truly does love Italian cuisine. So as you learn Italian, you’ll also learn more about all this vocab that’s already found in English. And you can show off your skills to all your friends back home who don’t speak the language.
    7. Become a speaker of Dante’s language
      And Petrarch’s, and Manzoni’s, and Levi’s and Eco’s. Italian literature is full of great writers, and if you know the language, you can read them in the original. From “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita / mi ritrovai per una selva oscura” (the first line of Dante’s Inferno) to “Quel ramo del lago di Como…” (the opening line of Manzoni’s I Promessi Sposi), you can get a better understanding of what these great writers have said, thus getting a better grasp of Italian culture and history.

These 7 reasons should be more than enough for you to get motivated… so, what are you waiting for? Check out a few of the schools offering Italian language courses in Milan or, if you’re a Bocconi student, get in touch with the Language Center for extracurricular classes. Buono studio!

Calling All Startups!

Groups of students working  looking at computer

Innovation. Scalability. Fast growth. These are all important when describing that special kind of new business, the startup. With tech use and skills now more widespread than ever, these kinds of companies seem to be everywhere. But there’s a lot more behind startups than just having an interesting and innovative idea. Business and management know-how is essential, not to mention funds and capital.

If all this seems overwhelming, don’t worry because a solution is at hand: Bocconi Startup Day!

This one-day event features a workshop on startups, entrepreneurship and innovation, to be held on 24 November. Anyone can participate in the workshop, but teams and businesses need to apply to be a part of two side activities: a Marketplace and a Startup Day Award.

The Marketplace is only open to any startup team that’s looking to develop their business idea or is already in the planning or launch stage and that includes a Bocconi student or alum. Eligible teams can apply to participate and, if selected, will have the chance to meet with venture capitalists, angel investors and private equity practitioners and present their ideas. They will also receive training taught by Bocconi faculty, venture capital practitioners, entrepreneurs and managers. What a great experience!

The Startup Day Award is open to already-established business in Italy that were founded in or after 2010. So if you have a business that is innovative, scalable, competitive and potentially an excellent employer, check out the rules and regulations for all the details.

Participation in the workshop is free, but registration is required. The event is still a few months away, so you have time to prepare. Just keep in mind that the deadline for registering is 7 September.

For all the latest info on Bocconi Startup Day, just check out their website.

Happy startupping!

#FoodSavingBEC Initiative for Undergraduate Students

Calling all undergraduate students! Are you interested in spending 1 week in Milan with 199 other students from around the world, to come up with innovative and creative ideas on how to decrease food waste?

With Expo Milan 2015 starting in a few months (the international fair will begin on 1 May of next year), the city is gearing up with a bunch of related events and initiatives, including the Short Food Movie competition, which was discussed in a previous post.

Another competition is #FoodSavingBEC, open to students enrolled in any undergraduate program at any university around the world.

Students participating in the week-long event will attend lectures with Bocconi faculty members and experts from partners of the initiative. They will also be divided into teams to find creative and innovative solutions to the problem of food waste and then vote for the top five ideas. The top teams will compete on the final day of the competition at the EXPO 2015 Italy Pavilion in front of a qualified panel of judges.

To apply for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, all you need to do is fill out the online application, upload a few documents like your transcripts, and submit a video introducing yourself and explaining why you should be a part of the competition, in English.

The 10 students with the most votes online will automatically be chosen to participate, while the other 190 students will be evaluated based on their entire application. And the top 5 students with the most votes who are from outside Italy will be offered round-trip airfare to Milan! All participants will be given lunch vouchers during the week-long program and students attending universities outside Milan will be hosted at a local residence hall.

What an opportunity! What are you waiting for? Go to the #FoodSavingBEC website to get more information and to apply. And for a quick intro on what it’s all about, watch the video below:

April Fools!

Starbucks on Bocconi campusSorry, readers, but there are actually no plans for a new Starbucks at Bocconi in the near future. It’s just a little joke we came up with to fool you! No Venti Lattes or Frappuccinos for all of you living in Milano, just regular Italian espresso and cappuccino. Which, some people argue, is the best coffee in the world!

Today we’re celebrating April Fools’ Day, or pesce d’aprile in Italian, which literally means “April fish.” This kind of holiday dates back to Roman times and Italian traditions include taping a paper fish on the backs of unsuspecting victims. So why not join in on the fun and make some paper fish for your friends?

Espresso cup and coffee maker

If you want even more craziness for the first day in April, here’s a video that was shot right here on the Bocconi campus:

Finding a Flat in Milano

From an early age many people, particularly males, are taught that men “don’t need anyone” in order to succeed, and that a real man can make it on his own without any help from anybody. Taking this belief as a gospel truth, the youth is taking the plunge to find their new home abroad where they usually come to get a university degree.  However, Milan is not the place where one can find the accommodation easily without having friends living there or spending late nights in front of computer screens while doing a research about all ins and outs of the housing in Milan. Therefore, if you think that you’re smart enough to find the room by yourself, believe me, you’re wrong! That’s because finding the right place in Milan depends on 30% luck, 20% patience and 50% information. So just let me give you some advices that, I hope, will make your hunting for a room less painful!

I step: Where can I find offers?

The websites where you can find apartments and rooms rented by locals or agencies are already provided here.

II step: What should I ask the landlord?

That’s the first thing I found myself thinking about when I called to the owner of the apartment that I found on ‘Bakeca’. If it is the first time you are searching for an accommodation in Milan, the following questions might be helpful to you!

  • Does the cost of the room/apartment include spese condominiali ? (service charges that usually includes heating and water)
  • Does the cost of the room/apartment include heating ( it. Riscaldamento)
  • Does the cost of the room/apartment include other utilities such as gas, electricity, internet, trash? (it. Bolletta della luce, gas, internet)
  • What is a security deposit for a room/apartment? (it. Caparra/ deposito/ cauzione)
  • What is the method of paying for a room/apartment? (sometimes you can come across with a word trimensile while looking through the offers. It means that you have to pay the rent every 3 months.)
  • Is there any possibility to sign the contract? ( If you need to sign a contract, it’s better to ask for a standard one which basically means that you’ll sign the contract for 4 years with a possibility to end it giving 3 months notice)
  • Who is living in the other rooms? ( in case you’re looking for a room)
  • Which intercom button should I press? (it.‘citofono’; in case you’d like to come to see the room/apartment)

After asking all of those questions, you should ask when it would be possible for you to come to see the apartment or just thank the person for his time and keep looking for other offers.

III step: what should I ask during the meeting?

  • Don’t forget to double check the information about the costs, deposit, contract.
  • How much notice you are obliged to give before leaving the room/apartment? ( usually it’s 3 months notice)
  • How much do the flat mates usually pay for gas, electricity, internet?
  • When you will be able to move in?
  • Is the furniture included in the rent? (there are some rooms without furniture so you may buy it by yourself or you could buy it from the person that was living in the room before you)

IV step: First come, first served

If you really liked the room/apartment after seeing it, don’t wait for too long! Say your final answer as soon as possible and ask the owner when you could sign the contract! Remember that it is extremely important to sign the contract as fast as you can since otherwise the room might be given to another person even though you said that you’re taking it! You know what they say – money speaks louder than words! So make sure you’re going to be served first.

Keep calm and happy hunting!
Looking for some more information? Check this out!

No Plans for the Weekend? Join the XXI Spring FAI Day!

XXI Spring Day PosterOn March 23rd and 24th 2013 FAI, the Italian Environment Fund, will open the doors of most of its treasures to the public and will attract a great amount of people throughout Italy for this event.

It will be an occasion to discover and rediscover Italian cultural heritage, to enjoy it but also to become more aware of what Italy offers in terms of art, history, culture and beauty. In past editions the event has involved more than 6.5 million people every year.
FAI is a national foundation that protects and restores historic buildings, art works and landscapes with the purpose of opening them to public once back to good conditions.

Villa scene
The Gardens of Villa Del Balbianello, Lenno (Como)

This year you will have the opportunity to choose among 700 places, and in some of them you will also find tourist guides (without set fees) that will help you discover the places. Churches, castles, historical buildings and archaeological areas, villas, courts, gardens, universities and much more are waiting for you for a special weekend to spend with your friends!

What can you visit in Lombardy?
Our region offers multiple sites to visit, spread on all the territories of the provinces. Have a look at the FAI website to discover what the provinces of Bergamo, Brescia, Como, Cremona, Lecco, Lodi, Mantova, Milano, Monza and Brianza, Pavia, Sondrio and Varese offer you.

Building at night
Palazzo Serbelloni, Milano

A weekend in Milan, plenty of places to choose from!
If you planned to stay in Milan for the weekend, there’s no better way to welcome spring than choosing among the places FAI opens for you. You can choose among multiple places spread through all the city: for some of them you don’t need a subscription to FAI to enter, while for some others you’ll be required to register to the foundation first.

Have a look at the FAI website to explore all the possibilities Milan offers you for this weekend.
Some of the most attractive places in the city are waiting for you, such as Palazzo Serbelloni, Chiesa di San Fedele, Sinagoga Maggiore, La Cavallerizza, Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi, Gallerie d’Italia and many others.

Bocconi building
Roentgen Building, Università Bocconi, Milano

Did you know that the Bocconi Roentgen building participates in the Spring Fai Day?
Roentgen Building, Università Bocconi, Milano
On Saturday March 23rd and Sunday March 24th from 10:00 to 17:00 the University opens the Roentgen building to visitors. There is also the possibility to join the guided tour in English, that leaves the Bocconi Campus at noon.

For more information, check out the Bocconi website and ViaSarfatti25.it.

Have a Great Idea and Business Plan? Apply to the Speed MI Up Incubator!

Reddit, Facebook, Google. Before becoming innovative startups and eventually successful companies, these household names were once just ideas being discussed by college classmates. Campuses around the world are breeding grounds for new business ideas, and leading universities around the world are responding to this trend by setting up business and entrepreneur incubators. And now there’s one right here in Milano!

Speed MI Up is a workshop for companies and professionals that provides training, tutoring and business development to new firms and young professionals. Inidivuals and companies meeting the requirements (see below) can submit their business idea to be considered for participation. The only catch is that candidates will have to set up their strategic headquarters in or around Milan. The incubator’s first competition will accept applications through 29 March, for ideas focusing on either communications or company services. After all applications have been evaluated, five firms and ten professionals will be chosen to particpate.

The incubator is promoted jointly by Università Bocconi, the Milan Chamber of Commerce and the Milan City Council. Participant benefits will include business development services, organizational spaces, a wide range of support, access to funding and internationalization resources.

Drawing depicting business developmentPrerequisites include:

  • an innovative and solid business idea
  • localization of the company either in the City of Milan or the Province of Milan
  • firms need to be newly-created and have an international outlook
  • professionals must under 35 years old and have a college degree

So, if you’d like to join other Bocconi students with innovative startup ideas like Lucia, Federico, Leopoldo and Andrea, Tobia, Giovanni, and Paolo, submit an application!

Get more information on the incubator at these links:
Article published on ViaSarfatti25.eu
Speed MI Up website

Bocconi Student Interview of the Day

Today I’d like to talk you about life in Milan from the point of view of an international, non-European student who’s attending the BIEMF (Bachelor of International Economics, Management and Finance) at Università Bocconi. His name is Takin and he comes from Tehran, the capital of Iran. I met Takin a couple of weeks ago and started talking with him about his past and the time he has been spending in Milano, since he came here in July 2011. Read carefully, most of the time the best help can lay low daily life!

How long have you been living in Milan?
I’ve been here since July 2011. I’m attending the first year of BIEMF at Università Bocconi. I came here two months earlier since I was taking part in a language course at Scuola Leonardo da Vinci, where I was learning Italian – and I still have to improve it. The institution had a really friendly vibe. 15 to 20 students formed each class and they all had international background. For me it was more of getting acquainted with different people while learning the basics of Italian language. I would suggest to those students who have the possibility of arriving in Milan few months prior to the start of their university course to attend an Italian language school.

What is the procedure for applying for this institution?
I found Scuola Leonardo da Vinci online, and I submitted my application online too. This Institution provides accommodation for prospective student upon their request and they also organize various cultural events and there are numerous occasions for socializing.

Did you find it difficult to learn Italian and to adapt to Italian culture and lifestyle? What would you suggest to the forthcoming international students?
Since most of the international students attend courses that are held in English they will not encounter any problem in particular. Add on to that, in Bocconi’s environment everyone speaks English sufficiently good as to not let the language barrier be a source of inconvenience for you. I must however say that, this barrier to communication will eventually prevent you from socializing outside the circle of your international friends.

Do you mean out of the academic world?
I would say out of BIEMF course. Even though most of the students at Bocconi do speak English, they lag behind once the content of conversation entails a mediocre understanding of English.
Outside the university environment, for an international student dealing with daily routine works it does not necessitate a previous knowledge of Italian in my opinion.

What did you do before leaving your country?
I finished my high school in Tehran and thereafter I traveled abroad, mainly to improve my English. I spent few months preparing for Toefl and SAT after I was convinced to take the latter instead of Bocconi’s entrance exam since they did not provide a comprehensive guideline for it. Besides, SAT is a globally recognized certificate with numerous publishers providing instructions and preparations for its tests. With having SAT certificate and a high GPA, you would ensure your place at Bocconi.

If you owned a Time Machine, would you change anything in what you did?
I don’t think I would! I made many mistakes and I had my regrets in life, but I rely on those experiences as my personal mentor. They influence you, teach you and build your personality more than anything else, I believe. Yet If I knew I would have difficulties with finding an apartment, I would have been more careful in my choice.

When did you start looking for an accommodation?
I had already found an apartment prior to my arrival. But things didn’t go well, and in September I had to move. You can imagine looking for a place in September is not always easy. I had to look for one or two apartments each day after lectures since my contract was ending. Eventually I found a place in one of Bocconi residences and I am still residing there. This waste of time for me preceded other problems too.

Is there any tip you want to give to students looking for accommodations from abroad?
I just have to mention to those who are looking for accommodation online, they have to be ensured about the nature of housing websites. With those like craigslist you have to be more cautious and knowing that there are many scams! I would suggest the housing websites that are available in Università Bocconi’s website that you can find in house haunting section. I also found easystanza.it and Immobiliare.it useful.

… While once you are here?
Announcements for renting are almost ubiquitous around university. From Notices pinned to trees outside to others on the boards inside the buildings you can find numerous rooms, apartments, and lofts to rent.
Of course, real estate agencies are always available however they charge a commission fee if using their service.

What are the steps to follow to come to Italy as a Non-European citizen?
This – Takin shows me a detailed sheet – is something they gave me in Bocconi: “Relocation in Milan”.
Within 8 working days of arrival, NON-EU citizens who hold a valid student visa for Italy must apply for a permit of stay for study purposes (Permesso di soggiorno per motivi di studio) that is issued by the local Police Department ( Questura – Ufficio Stranieri ).

To be identified as an individual person in the Italian state when dealing with public offices and administrations a Fiscal Code (Codice Fiscale) must be requested and obtained from “ Agenzia delle Entrate”.

In Italy, national healthcare is provided by a public healthcare service (SSN: National Healthcare Service) and only foreign nationals with a valid permit of stay can apply for the service.
Opening an Italian bank account also requires having a Permit of stay and a Fiscal Code.

About softer topics… Let’s talk about cuisine, do you miss Iranian dishes?
Of course I do miss them and nothing would replace Iranian dishes for me. But it comes without saying that if you are in Italy you will above all relish their delectable cuisine. You don’t have to be a chef to prepare a delicious meal because it is easy to make using Italian ingredients.

And what about the habits you had while living in your homeland that you cannot do here?
I cannot recall a particular habit, but studying abroad in general is different than living with your family in your hometown. The spread spectrum and the variety of choices you have in a cosmopolitan city like Milano is not comparable to my hometown.

What’s your attitude towards Milano? Are there any special places in the city you would suggest to go to?
After I strolled around the city center for the first time, one thing that really stood out for me was the most stunning piece of architecture, the gothic cathedral of Milan, Duomo. Milan is a wealthy city of glamorous people, full of stylish boutiques, marvelous restaurants and on-trend nightlife. On Friday and Saturday nights Colonne di San Lorenzo is packed with people of every kind. It is a great place to get to know new people and socialize. I would like to mention that Blue Note is my favorite place. This venue is known for hosting top-notch jazz in a classy atmosphere. Since the ticket prices are a bit steep, a student life will not allow you to be a frequent visitor. If you appreciate jazz music, I would most certainly suggest visiting Blue Note. From nightclubs like Alcatraz with its retro nights and 60s, 80s style, to commercial clubs like Old Fashion and Just Cavalli, you have everything to make your nightlife enjoyable in Milan.

Interview with a Bocconi Student

In order to get more Bocconi students involved in MilanoZine, we have decided to start a monthly feature on the website with interviews from international students in Bocconi detailing their experiences in Milan.

PROFILE: Burcu Demiral, 2nd year Master of Science student from Turkey

 

MZ: How long have you been living in Milan?
I have been living in Milano since September 2009, so since my master has started.

MZ: What were your first impressions of the city?
The first time that I came to Milano was five years ago with my friends for a few days to visit the city. At the time I came, I had no idea that I was going to live here sometime in the future. The first impression of the city is not as other historic Italian cities, that you love it at the first sight. But you start to like it after you spend some time here.

MZ: What do you think about the city now that you have lived here longer?
In general I enjoy living here. It is a bit of a small city that after a while you realize that there aren’t many varied places to go. But still you can find plenty of museums, exhibitions to go. On the other hand, it is a very colorful fashion city that attracts you a lot.

MZ: How easy was it for you to live here without knowing Italian?
At the university it is not a problem, because most of the people speak English. However when you get out of the university funny part of life starts. I came here without knowing any Italian. And although I didn’t have much enthusiasm to learn at the beginning, but since I came for two years, I realized that I should learn it, so that I started having Italian classes. In the meanwhile I pretty much improved my skills to describe the stuff to a non English speaker.

MZ: Why did you choose to study in Italy?
Actually at the beginning of my search for master programs, I was more focused on going to England. And I wasn’t really thinking about Italy. Then during my search period I found out about Bocconi University, and started to think that it can be also a very good idea to live in Italy. Mainly because of its culture, people, etc.

MZ: Describe your experiences studying at Bocconi University?
First of all the workload of the course is quite higher than my bachelor. We have done so many group projects and class presentations so far. It is a very competitive university, which itself makes you ambitious.

MZ: Is Bocconi an international university?
Bocconi tries to be an international university but it is still lack of at some points. In my opinion one of its main boundaries is the language. Since it has master programs in English, and that it doesn’t ask for a pre Italian knowledge, all the sub services of the university should be held in English as well. For example In-company trainings or most of the seminars are done in Italian, which are very key points while you are studying at university.