Viktor Kozma: My CEMS exchange semester in Milan
As far as I can remember, Italy has always been my favourite country. I first visited it as a kid, when I had a wonderful holiday with my grandparents there. Ever since then, I could not forget about it, so I kept coming back for short holidays. Then, when it was time to select my preferred exchange school in CEMS, Milan came as a natural first choice, because I was ready to savour living in Italy for a longer period of time, not just coming for holidays.
Apart from the Italian lifestyle, I was also looking for a good and acknowledged university, with challenging courses and world-class professors, and by talking to former CEMSies who spent their time there before, I made sure the Financial Times ranking was right. I also expected a good CEMS student community in Milan with many foreign students, and I was not mistaken.
Well, I think I was well prepared about the advantages of Milan, but I wasn’t ready for housing there. Let me state it nice and clear, you have to start the process early on, if you want to get a good deal. One of the main reasons for this is that the students’ residence for exchange students is basically located outside the city (far from the campus) and is quite expensive, so it is not a compelling choice. So if you don’t want to stay there, you have to find an apartment to share with others somewhere, which is difficult, because most landlords are looking for only girl tenants staying for at least one whole academic year and being able to pay a monthly rent of around 600 euros or more. Also, there are many scammers, who advertise fake apartments to get you to send a reservation fee and then disappear with it. So – as I didn’t want to lose money this way – I came to Milan without having reserved an accommodation, and decided to look for options in person. I stayed 2 nights at a temporary accommodation, and then found a nice room in an apartment near the city centre, but to be honest I was lucky with that. So looking back, I would not recommend my method, because you can never be sure how quickly you are going to find a suitable place.
After moving into my new room in the apartment I share with 3 other young people, I had a couple of things to do, such as buying my Italian SIM card, acquiring my student card for public transportation, checking in at the university and going for a quick sightseeing of course.
(Visiting Piazza Duomo on the day I arrived)
Then my Block seminar on the topic of Innovation and Consulting in the public sector started. During the seminar, we learned a lot about this field through lectures, workshops and sessions with guests from various players of this market. I found particularly interesting the part about how consulting in this sector is different from that in the private sector. Class-room activities ended around 5 pm every day, and we usually had some leisure activities after that. Undoubtedly, the best of these activities was our visit to the Expo Milano 2015, where we experienced a guided tour of the area, followed by an aperitivo (Italian standing dinner of snacks and drinks) at the terrace of the Birra Moretti bar, specially reserved for us. Overall, the whole week was a great experience, and I got to know many great people during it.
I have put a lot of thought into choosing my courses, because I wanted to study something different than what we have at Corvinus. I took 5 classes, which can be demanding sometimes at Bocconi, but I enjoy them a lot. I have all my classes in English, because – despite the fact that many courses are also available in Italian – my language skills are not enough for taking those yet. Undoubtedly, my favourite course is Management Consulting by far. This course is about how the consulting industry works, and what the difference between the business models of different firms in the sector is. On the other hand we also have two group-based project works during the semester, namely: writing a consulting proposal and doing a research project in a given topic. I would definitely recommend taking this course if someone is interested in joining a consulting firm later on. Next up, we have the compulsory course of Global Strategic Management, which I consider a very good strategy course. In the first 2 weeks of the semester we had to complete an e-learning exercise specially developed by our professor for the course to make us all catch up with the knowledge that we will build on during the semester. This way in class, we already apply the knowledge, not only study it. Apart from these courses, I chose Entrepreneurship (all semester long start-up project in groups), Mergers & Acquisitions (case-based learning about deals) and Real estate finance (valuation and financing of real estate deals through case studies in groups). These are the ones I took, but I think the Bocconi course offering is very broad, so everyone can find his or her preferred courses.
We all know that the exchange semester is not only about studying, and it is not any different in Bocconi. First of all, we have an aperitivo dinner organized by the local CEMS Club almost every week, which is a great opportunity to get to know each other better and talk with each other on a regular basis. Then, the CEMS office is also organizing some amazing events for us, such as the cooking night, when we had the opportunity to cook some true Italian Gnocchi together as the CEMS class (see the photo below).
Sometimes we also go playing bowling or pool with friends or just have random dinners. Once, we went to cheer the local basketball team EA7 Milano on an important match of the Basketball Euroleague, while we play football with CEMS guys almost every week in the University sports centre. As Milan is the fashion capital of the world, we took part in the Vogue Fashion Night Out in September, strolling around the posh shops during the night, enjoying events and promotions. Party life is also crazy in Milan, with clubs as Just Cavalli or Gattopardo (basically a former church transformed into a party place) throwing special nights.
(CEMS Night Out at Gattopardo)
All in all, Milan is a great city for going out, as it has many opportunities for socializing, and the local CEMS office and CEMS Club have put a lot of effort into making our stay awesome.
Milan may not be the typical Italian city in terms of touristic landmarks, but it is well-positioned for travelling around northern Italy. Using Milan as a starting point, I visited many beautiful parts to which I haven’t been before. I attended two trips organized by ESN to Turin and Genova / Cinqueterre respectively. I visited two of the great northern Italian glacier lakes (Lago di Garda, Lago di Como). I spent a couple of days in Florence, and then took part in a one-day trip to Lucerne, Switzerland organized by fellow Cemsies to visit the offices of EF, our corporate partner. Trust me, all these places are absolutely amazing, but instead of writing an entire tourist guide on them here, I will let you explore them yourselves. But I do give you some photos here, and if you want to see more, check out my Facebook page.
Trip to Cinqueterre with enjoying a swim in the Mediterranean in October
Lago di Garda from the top of Monte Baldo
All in all, I recommend coming to Milan for CEMS exchange, I would choose it again any time!
Contact the author Kozma Viktor at email@example.com