I’ve just arrived back in Australia following my three weeks studying abroad in Milan. I participated on the AIM Overseas short course called “Patterns of Change and Resilience in Middle Eastern Politics” taught at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC). As I reflect on this simply amazing experience and write this blog, the first thing that comes to mind is the incredible life-long friends that were made. Although there were only eight of us on the program, we all became very close and all of us are already looking forward to meeting up in our home towns around Australia.

The program, Patterns of Change and Resilience in Middle Eastern Politics was incredibly engaging. I learnt so much about historical and contemporary Middle Eastern Politics and it was amazing to see it from a different perspective. Our lecturer, Alessandro, was incredibly engaging and innovative with the creation of our assessments which made the program very memorable and unique

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Milan was a beautiful city to be able to study in for 3 weeks. As you can imagine, the food in Italy was incredible! The architecture was also amazing and Italian culture and religion are so different to anything I’ve experienced at home. From exploring churches and viewing the Last Supper painting, Milan was really able to keep us busy! Being the fashion capital of the world, studying in Milan gave us the opportunity to explore the high-end retailers in the city centre. To clarify nothing was purchased- we were simply window shopping! Watching an Inter Milan football game was really a once in a lifetime experience, as were the cocktails we drank on the rooftop overlooking the city.

I think I’m really going to really miss walking to and from university in the snow, past frozen water fountains now that I’m back in Brisbane in 30+ degree heat! I remember how shocked we were realising that storing our food in the window would keep things cold much better than the fridge we didn’t have in our rooms!

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Most of all, studying in Milan allowed me to travel further around Italy. We had weekends off, so my newfound friends and I embarked on trips to Florence and Pisa. We visited wineries, explored thermal springs, tried a range of local Tuscan foods as well as looking at all the sites the region had to offer including climbing the Duomo and Clock Tower to holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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At the end of the program, most of us took the opportunity to explore Italy a little further! I visited Lake Como for the day, in an attempt to check out George Clooney’s villa! Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in locating it! A further trip to Venice was a great opportunity to compare the cultural differences within Italy. Venice was a city totally different to Milan, solely reliant on the ocean and the canals! I took the opportunity to take a Gondola to further explore the canals of Venice.

My time in Italy involved a few too many bottles of red wine and falling more and more in love with pizza and pasta. I am so thankful to AIM Overseas for the opportunity to study overseas. It was such an amazing experience that not only helped me academically but also allowed me to grow as an individual. 

Applications for Understanding the Middle East: Regional and International Identities, Interests, and Strategies are now open for the upcoming January 2018 holidays! Click here for more information

Other AIM Overseas programs taught by UCSC in Italy:

1. Italian Cinema, Storytelling & Film

2. Food & Wine: Trends and Innovations

Blog written by Ellyse Anderson (University of Queensland, Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws Honours)