The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

An Eagle Experience: UMW student explores Milan, finds pizza

3 min read
By ALEX SPENCE For months, I have been planning my semester abroad. From endless paperwork and signing documents to photo copying everything I own, I thought I was prepared for anything. Guess again. Three weeks ago I landed in Milan and started my four month-long semester here in Italy.

Alex Spence


For months, I have been planning my semester abroad. From endless paperwork and signing documents to photo copying everything I own, I thought I was prepared for anything. Guess again. Three weeks ago I landed in Milan and started my four month-long semester here in Italy.

I was prepared for the language barrier, commuting to school and, of course, missing my niece and nephew back home, as well as my newsroom savior whom I could not live without (shout out to Della, my desk buddy and fellow music lover).

The shift from living in a small town to living in the second largest city in Italy has been quite an adjustment, but I was even prepared for that.

What I was not prepared for was the pizza. I was not prepared for the gelato, the friendly people or the amazing adventures I have already experienced.

Before going abroad everyone warned me about the struggles. They warned me about pick-pocketing and the dangers of traveling alone, about how I will spend all my money and how I will even reach the point where I just want to come back home to America.

But what I was left to find out on my own was the most crucial part of all. I found out that the pizza here really is better, and that getting lost in Italy is not terrifying, but actually exciting. I realized that blowing my money is not necessarily a bad thing and that even on the rough days, this experience will still be worth it.

With a video camera permanently strapped to my hand, I’ve been exploring Milan, Venice, Padova and most recently, Lake Como. Needless to say, the sights are breathtaking and I shamelessly take on the role of a tourist as I photograph everything including my meals. I know, #basic.

On my first night here, my roommates and I went exploring. It was dark and misty and I was cold and tired. I had not eaten, so of course food was the only thing on my mind, until I saw the Duomo.

The famous cathedral that had taken up so many pages in my art history books was right in front of me. That was the first moment I felt like I was in Italy. Of course I had a repeat moment when I went to Carnevale in Venice, and when I stood on the shore of Lake Como, selfie stick in hand, of course.

But the times I feel most Italian? When I am eating. I eat pizza or pasta everyday, hand to God. Here in Italy everyone orders their own pizza and is expected to finish the whole thing.

I have yet to accomplish this goal but I am getting closer and closer each time. By the end of my time here I will be able to finish a whole pizza with room to spare for gelato, of course.

With all this amazing food I cannot exactly say I am missing the good ol’ dining hall in the University Center, except for the cereal.

I am a cereal fanatic, and while noteworthy, Italy’s attempt at an impressive cereal aisle is feeble in compare to back home.  So for those of you swiping in while reading this, grab a bowl of cereal for me because that is the one thing I miss.

I live in an apartment with four roommates all of whom are different: a liberal atheist, a party-crazed journalist, a preacher’s daughter and thankfully for me, my boyfriend.

We all come from different backgrounds, but it is incredible how fast you can bond with someone who is just as lost as you are.

The most important thing I have learned since arriving in Italy is to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity.

There will always be a voice telling you there is not enough money or there will be a better time, but do not listen. I want to take every chance I get to experience life here in Italy. They call it la dolce vita for a reason, and it is not just because of the gelato.

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