There are a lot of different ways you could spend a day in Milan. With it being a city housing around 1.3 million people, there’s always something going on somewhere. Here is what a normal weekday looks like for me as a student at the University of Milan.
6:30 a.m.: I roll over to turn off my alarm and prepare to crawl out of bed. I’m a morning person and enjoy being up early, but the first 5 minutes are torture for me. I finally pry my eyes open and zombie-walk to the kitchen to fix a cup of warm tea and maybe a bowl of fruit for breakfast. While waiting for my water to heat, I aimlessly scroll on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. This isn’t much different from my morning routine in West Virginia; however, with it being 6 hours ahead here, I have way more to catch up on in the morning.
7:30 a.m.: By this time I am (hopefully) doing my hair and makeup and am picking out my outfit for the day. It takes me longer than normal to get dressed, because…well… Milan is the fashion capital of the world. I struggle to find a cross between fashionable-yet-comfortable for walking to and from the metro in the small selection of clothing I brought on my adventure here.
8:00 a.m.: I’m headed to the metro for my morning commute. I chose to live farther away from campus in a tourist area with a lot of shops. For this reason, my commute takes about 30 minutes but it doesn’t bother me (thank goodness for Spotify and good books). I squeeze my way onto the packed metro and hold on to the nearest pole so I don’t awkwardly fall into the people around me. It makes me feel like I’m on the PRT again, except it hasn’t broke down… yet.
8:30 a.m.: I arrive at my research lab and get my computer set up for the day. I’m a very organized person, so making a to-do list for the day is essential. While I’m at the University of Milan, I am completing an internship and writing my senior thesis paper. I am a subject in a study for one of the Ph.D. students, as well as running a study with one of the professors. At this time I check my email and calendar for the day, schedule new subjects for our research study and work on analyzing data.
10:00 a.m.: We (the Ph.D./masters students and myself) decide it’s time for a coffee break. We gather our wallets and walk to our favorite coffee bar, which is called Coffee and Dreams. Here we’re greeted by the barista (I’m not sure of his name, even though I’ve been visiting him religiously for the past 2 months) and we order our espressos. Here, a normal “coffee” is an espresso shot that only costs €1! You can also order cappuccinos, iced coffees and “American coffees.” As enticing as a big, Dunkin Donuts-style coffee sounded to me, I quickly learned in my first few weeks that this is not what they consider an American coffee. Most of the time, an American coffee is made by taking an espresso shot and just adding water… yuck. They also serve the best, fresh croissants here. My favorite ones are stuffed with white Italian cream.
11:00 a.m.: We’ve made it back to the lab by this time and sit back down at our desks to continue our work. During the second half of my morning, I try to dedicate to my thesis by finding research papers and writing my draft.
1:30 p.m.: We take a break for lunch at this time. We often go to a local pizza shop owned by a very nice Egyptian family. Other days, we make the extra couple minute walk to a Chinese/Italian restaurant that makes Chinese food from fresh Italian pasta or bring our own food from home. On our walk back to the lab, we usually stop back by the coffee bar and get our second dose of espresso for the day. Italians love their espresso.
2:30 p.m.: I usually leave the lab after lunch to enjoy the day out. Some days I head to Duomo, the center of the city, where there are tons of places to shop. Other days, I head to the Navilgi, which is the area close to my apartment full of beautiful buildings to look at and places to shop. (You’re probably noticing a trend here… I love to shop). Mostly I just enjoy being outside and exploring. There are so many little boutiques and cafes that there’s always something new to find.
6:00 p.m.: Depending on what time my roommates finish classes at their university, we meet up for dinner or cook something together. They’re from Mexico, so not only do I get a taste of fresh Italian dishes, but I also have learned about their common meals. We talk about our classes and what new places we’ve heard of. They are fashion and design majors so it’s interesting for me to hear what they do in class. We spend the rest of the evening out exploring, taste-testing different flavors of gelato, or (on our busy days) finishing up homework.
10:00 p.m.: Everyone is usually getting ready for bed and Facetiming their friends and family back home. Technology is a wonderful thing.
Weekends are a little more exciting. I try to make the most of those days off by seeing places farther away, including trips to Rome, Florence, Venice and even visiting the mountains. There are just not enough hours in the day to see everything the beautiful country of Italy has to offer.
All photos by Emily McCoy. Visit her personal blog here.