After graduating from a 2-year college, I wanted to have a semester abroad experience. I chose Milan because of my dad’s Italian heritage, I wanted to connect with my roots, and venture into fashion. What better place to do so than the Capital of Fashion? I got into a very recognized fashion school called Istituto Marangoni. I jumped up and down with happiness about my next step in life. I don’t believe in destiny, I believe in being the captain of my ship.
To preface the rest of the story, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, and yet I wouldn’t change a thing.
It all started with the student visa. The embassy denied me the visa. I already had my plane tickets, a home arrangement in Milan and the tuition paid. After a lot of going back and forth, I got the visa two days before my move-in date. Persistence remains key. Once at the airport about to board, ready to take on my new solo adventure, my flight got canceled because of a sudden storm. The airline sent me to a completely different airport in order to board another flight. I picked up my three very large suitcases and somehow managed to get to the Uber.
On the way to the other airport, my soon-to-be roommate called me to tell me that the landlord wouldn’t rent us the apartment anymore. On the plane rethinking everything, with nowhere to live. I basically became homeless one day before moving in.
At that point, I didn’t even want to go anymore.
Luckily, my family lives over there. No, not in Milan, but in a small town with no Ubers, an hour and a half away from Milan. My two-hour commute went like this: take a bus from my aunt’s place to go to the train station, take a train to get to Milan, take the metro then walk 10 minutes to get to class. All good, though, because it was temporary.
I hunted for a place to live in Milan, but it seemed impossible. Most of the places were already taken and the ones available were 40 minutes away or more expensive than my budget allowed. Since I lived so far away, the days with gaps between classes I visited trusty Five Guys and sat there by myself (Now that I think about it, why did I go to Five Guys when I was in Italy? Beats me). I eventually met some amazing friends, and like any 21-year-old, we wanted to go out in the city. Because of my housing situation, I got two options: go out and run to catch the last train at midnight like Cinderella or stay out until the first train at 7:00 a.m.
I often chose the latter.
After two months I finally found an Airbnb just 10 minutes away from my school. The host of the Airbnb, a single woman in her late 50s, had two rules: I couldn’t have any friends over and I couldn’t eat any animal products, not even milk or cheese. As a broke student, I was left with Spaghetti. I ate spaghetti for dinner 3 months straight (If you ever need tips on how to make a bomb spaghetti, call me). I’m aware of the plenty of vegan food options, let me rephrase that, plenty more expensive and time-consuming vegan food options, but frankly ain’t nobody got time or money for that.
Once settled in my new home, going out became effortless. One fateful night, I went out with my friends to a club that used to be an old church, and of course, I got my debit card and my phone stolen *facepalm*. While the chaos of becoming moneyless and phoneless unfolded, COVID case news spring up in Italy. In the span of 2 days, the virus canceled school, made all of my friends move back to their homes and put Milan on lockdown. I called my bank in the U.S., canceled my old card and requested a new one.
As the days passed by, I felt like Bella staring at her window in New Moon.
With no money, my spaghetti and toilet paper became scarce (thankfully Milan has bidets), my daily activities included watching Netflix, sleeping and drinking water. I watched almost every movie and TV show available (If you ever need movie or TV show recommendations, you know what to do). I went from Cinderella to Rapunzel trapped in my tower. After 10 long and painful days, my card finally arrived. I ate a full pizza by myself and then went back home, very hydrated, entertained, 10 pounds lighter and 3 months short of my semester abroad experience.