Bocconi University

Experiencing Europe

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Guest Post by Alexandra Martyanova, Foster School Undergraduate Student.

Travel – The easiest way to reach any of the three airports in Milan (Linate, Malpensa, Bergamo) is to take the metro or tram to Central Station and hop on a shuttle bus. It’s quite affordable (8-12 Euro depending on which airport) and probably offers the least amount of hassle. When initially arriving in Milan you will most likely fly into Linate or Malpensa; Malpensa is quite a ways out of town and even further from the Arco dorm residences. I highly recommend taking the shuttle from Malpensa instead of the train into town as it is cheaper, faster, and it’s much easier to load your luggage in a bus bay then on the train. The shuttle buses go to Central Station and you can catch a cab from there to Arco for about 20 Euro – between the travel and luggage, it beats attempting to navigate the public transportation system right out of the gate.


I encourage everyone to take the train in Italy at least once (to Venice, or Rome, or Florence) for the experience. We don’t really have the same train infrastructure back in the states and it can be a great way to see the countryside. However, depending on the destination, it can frequently be cheaper to fly than to take the train if sticking to one of the myriad low-cost airlines in Europe.



Money – It’s best to arrive in Europe with a little bit of the local currency in cash form because it will make your life a little bit easier if paying for shuttles, or cabs. While many airport currency exchange kiosks can be a rip-off, it may be worth the fees/exchange rates so you have some 30-40 Euros on hand to hit the ground running. Prior to leaving Seattle, check with your bank regarding international and transaction fees: BECU charges only a 1% fee for withdrawing abroad or using the card at point of sale. Some banks will charge you a percentage in addition to a foreign transaction fee ($2.50/transaction with US Bank). I was able to easily get by in most cities in Europe with a combination of some local currency, my BECU Mastercard bank card for larger purchases and a VISA credit card that had no foreign transaction fees whatsoever.


Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Written by Kimberly Matsudaira, Foster undergraduate

Studying abroad in Milan at Bocconi University was one of the best moments in my life. A cliché thing to say, I know, but honestly there’s no other way to describe my 5 month experience in Italy.


I made life-long friendships, had incredible experiences (even the not so good ones I’ll look back fondly on) and learned so much about the world and myself. I discovered my strengths and weaknesses throughout my travels and learned ways to improve myself.

Italy_2 Italy_3
Cinque Terre, Italy


Prague, Czech Republic



Budapest, Hungary


United Nations at Geneva, Switzerland

Ultimately, studying abroad was so rewarding and enriching. My final advice: don’t ever have doubts about studying abroad. JUST DO IT! Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Prada, Black, and 3 piece suits

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Written by Shannon Ong, Foster undergraduate

Oops, don’t spill your triple shot espresso on your Chanel wallet. Bocconi University means Prada, black, and 3 piece suits. Studying at Bocconi is a unique, culturally-diverse, and terrific opportunity. For all you finance majors- did you know that Goldman Sachs recruits the most out of Bocconi University for its ivy-league standard of Finance and management education?

I loved being part of Bocconi; everyone is super ambitious and interesting to talk to. Students from all over the world- Argentina, Iceland, Korea, Australia, Sudan, and Brazil study here and it was fascinating getting to know them and talking to them about their background and working with them.

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In one of my classes, I had the opportunity to work with a startup called Picsage in Milan, where I basically helped redesign their application- I was able to prototype and wireframe their application and redesign some of their features. It was so sweet that I was able to have an impact on a startup based in Milan!

Life in the Fast Lane

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Written by Shannon Ong, Foster undergraduate

Milan: a city of business, food, fashion, and design.

Living in Milan is a metropolitan and fabulous lifestyle. Since I’ve been here, I’ve already been to Milan Fashion Week- code for a high-image, luxurious, and expensive event with celebrities and designers sporting everything from Prada to Tom Ford.  In every designer store- there were runways setup showcasing models wearing the latest season and hottest trends. It was such a mind-blowing experience, to be part of the creativity of these designers and to see these models on the runway and celebrate the end of the fashion season with the locals.


Before coming to Milan, I did not really eat bread or cheese—but since living in Milan I have eaten copious amounts of bread, salami, STEAK, cheese, gnocchi – anything pasta related, you name it- I’ve eaten it. And I LOVE IT. Food in Milan is so fresh that once you buy something at the grocery store – you must eat it within 48 hours or it literally will go bad. Aperitivo in Milan is a great cultural experience and “do as the Italians do” sort of thing. It is basically when you order a drink for 10 euros and that drink comes with a full buffet of food- from pizza to beef stews to pasta to soups to fresh salads and to pastry-filled deserts. It is quite an offer you can’t refuse. And don’t forget about the Milan Christmas Markets!



Business and design go hand in hand here in Milan; they have super cool art galleries like Van Gogh and exhibits displaying everything from contemporary art to Picasso to the Renaissance. The economy in Italy is not doing well, but in Milan – it doesn’t seem to show, there are a ton of large corporations in Milan and there also is a plethora of startups. I loved going to the art shows and meeting local designers and seeing their work. The Milanese are passionate about art history and it really shows.


Waka Waka Africa

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Written by Shannon Ong, Foster undergraduate

Morocco- the land of the Souk markets, brilliant tapestries, camels, and nomads.

I went to Morocco this past week with 5 other friends in my program at Bocconi. I couldn’t believe that Milan à Marrakech was only 140 Euros so I had to jump on that opportunity.

At first, with the whole Ebola situation that was happening, my group was hesitant and nervous about going to Africa. However, I was able to convince them otherwise.

Day 1: We arrived in Marrakech and immediately are on our way to the desert. We stop by at a few Moroccan villages on the way and stay in a hotel overnight in the Atlas Mountains. We passed by beautiful, natural landscapes of Berber villages and Boumalene du Dades.


Moroccan food is so good, the Tajin chicken pots, the mint tea, the delectable honey and butter with bread.


Day 2&3: We finally arrive in the desert. The temperature is hot during the day but freezing during the night. We arrive at a beautiful, isolated hotel in the middle of the Sahara Desert. It is stunning, with its castle like fortress and blue lagoon of a pool inside in the hotel. From there, we ride camels to our campsite- for we are spending the night in Nomad berber tents tonight. We hear drum music beckoning us to the campsite in the middle of the Sahara. THIS IS LIVING. Before arriving in the tents, we go sand-boarding through the desert, and admire the sunset. Sleeping under the stars in the middle of the desert was a surreal experience- it made me truly appreciate the nature of silence. The next morning we wake up and camel back to our hotel. Our host at the hotel surprises us with ATVS- so we spend that day ATVing through the sand dunes and swimming in the blue lagoon.



Day 4: We are back on the road on our way to Marrakech; we go to beautiful, fortified villages and see where Game of Thrones is filmed at Ait Ben Haddou. We go to the oldest city in Marrakech and marvel at its splendor of its architecture.


Day 5: Marrakech: the red city of Morocco. The Souk markets are out of this world, all sorts of sights, smells, tastes, and voices immediately hit all your senses. Bargaining with the vendors was quite challenging but fun and when you finally got the price you wanted- it was a feeling of success. I bought a lot of ornate plates, scarves, jewelry, and mantelpieces here in the markets.



The Beautiful Cinque Terre

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Written by Mayowa Laniran, Foster undergraduate

I hiked and explored Cinque Terre, which are beautiful and colorful towns on the Italian Rivera. The journey from town to town was about two hours of hiking, but well worth it each time, and I got to eat some great food along the way. Since it was still September, the weather was great, and the group I went with decided to get on a boat to go explore the two towns we were too tired to hike to. Cinque Terre is definitely one of my top recommendations of places to visit in Italy.


Casa di Clooney in Como

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Written by Mayowa Laniran, Foster undergraduate

Como Lago (Lake Como) is a place where the wealthy keep vacation homes and I see why. Como Lago is about an hour from Milan, and the town of Como offers a lot for such a small area. We took a trip with ESN, and got a boat tour of the entire lake, the coolest site was George Clooney’s house. With over 100 exchange students participating, it was a great opportunity to meet new friends. A sky tram took us up to the mountains of Como, where we were able to look down on the city for a very cool view. There were an endless strip of mansions up there, and lots of cool sites.

Meeting the famous Spike Lee in Italy

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Written by Mayowa Laniran, Foster undergraduate

Today was a very interesting day to say the least. Spike Lee, one of the greatest American filmmakers visited our university today to talk about cinema and sports. But those topics only lasted a little while, as many of the Italian students began asking questions about the issue of police violence against blacks in America. High profile cases of Mike Brown and Eric Garner were revolving around the world news, and Spike Lee used this platform as a forum to discuss the issues. After showing the moving video of Garner’s death, many Italian students wanted to know how they could help speak up and raise awareness about the issue. It was a cool event showing that students from all around the world wanted to invest their time to fight racism. Eventually the conversation turned to discussing racism that exists in Italy and all over Europe. Afterwards, I got the opportunity to speak with Spike for a few minutes and had to snap a picture for the record.


La Bella Vita

Monday, June 3rd, 2013
By: Annika Gunderson, Foster Undergraduate
Arriving in Italy, I didn’t go directly to Milan.  My entire family came to do an extended vacation in Rome, Florence, Venice, ending with moving me into my Milan apartment.  Dragging my 2 suitcases, carry-on, and backpack through 4 cities definitely made me stand out as a stereotypical American.  Italians would jokingly ask “Are you moving here or something??” as I walked past with my suitcase’s wheels rattling obnoxiously on the cobblestone.  I always stopped and said “Yes!  I’m moving to Milan!”  Every time I thought they would tell me how
beautiful Milan is, how excited I should be to live there, how amazing it would be….but instead I got “Why?  It’s ugly and industrial. I would never want to live there.”  Needless to say, I was very scared when I got on my final train from Venice to Milan.  I kept on thinking “What did I get myself into??”
Everyone I talked to about Milan was wrong.  The city is energetic, fashionable, and gorgeous. Milan never sleeps, there’s always a fashion or design week during the day, aperitivo in the evening, and clubbing at night.  Italians are night owls, when I go out I’ll eat dinner with friends at 11, hit the clubs at 12, and sometimes stay until closing at 6!  Good thing Italian espresso is strong!I couldn’t wait for class to start so I could start meeting new people.  I was so surprised when everyone came to class in groups and all sat together!  I realized that I was one of very few exchange students who came alone.  Everyone else came with groups from their university and were already friends!  Being alone made meeting people a lot more difficult, but a lot more rewarding. I didn’t come to Italy to hang out with Americans!  I now have friends from Israel, Italy, Hungary, Serbia, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, France, and the list goes on!  Some days I really wish I had searched out other Americans here so I could have a little feeling of home, but I know I have the rest of my life for burgers and beer and I should enjoy my wine and pasta while I can!

I somehow ended up becoming closest with a group of models.  I did come to Milan for the fashion, and now I’m in the middle of it!  I love them, but sometimes it’s very intimidating to hear them talking about going to a Versace casting the next day, or online shopping and seeing them all over the website! I always look forward to seeing what they’re wearing because I know they see all the trends before the public does.  Unfortunately, I’m always in something colorful while they’re always in black! I definitely stick out from Europeans- can you guess which one is me in the photo??

That’s all for now, I only have 2 months left in Italy and I want to go out and enjoy them! Baci, Annika

Un Bocconiano per Sempre- My Study Abroad Experience at Universitá Bocconi

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

By: Camillo Moreno-Salamanca, Foster Undergraduate

The best stories are those that you can recall detail by detail, despite the fact that it may have occurred months, or years ago. Now, I got back from my study abroad trip about two-and-a-half months ago, but this experience feels like one of those stories.

It also makes for a great excuse for having postponed posting my experience for so long. Last time I wrote on this blog, I gushed about the great things in Italy. At this point in time, the feeling is the same. But now, I believe I can provide an objective and comparative review of my study abroad experience, so that you can benefit fully from all those times I traveled, went out to dinner with friends, learned Italian, consumed wine—and went to class.

I’ll break it down into what I loved, what I didn’t love, and some reflections and mindsets, which I hope are as useful to you, as they were to me. I’ll start with what I loved about Italy:

The Food

I’ll start with an universal truth popularized by Julia Roberts in “Eat, Love, and Pray” (Yes, I watched it. But I watched it in Italian to learn the language so I didn’t lose any “bro” points).  The food in Italy is amazing. Actually, glorious is a more fitting word. If there is something you need to know about me is that I am by no means a foodie.
To my mother’s chagrin, my diet has revolved around the plainest, no-frill foods you can think of.  I call them the
BRiC (Bread, Rice, and Chicken).

However, I gave myself an opportunity to expand my palate and truly embrace everything Italian food had to offer. Well, it was tremendously worth it. While Italian food is relatively simple; in its simplicity lies its beauty and its flavor. Pizza, pasta, gnocchi, risotto—you name the Italian dish, and I probably tried it (with the exception of Sicilian cuisine…too far from Milan). To this day I have flashbacks of the Lasagna alla Bolognese that I had—in Bologna. Or, the time I finally perfected making spaghetti alla carbonara and basked in my accomplishment by emptying the box of barilla and promptly enduring a joyous food coma.

My point is this: The food is fantastic and in enjoying it you will actually learn lots about Italian culture. You will learn that food tastes best when it is genuine, simple, warm, and working in ensemble with other ingredients—much like Italian culture.

The Crisis and the Classes

The second thing I loved were actually a couple of my classes, and what I was lucky enough to witness in Italian history during my time at Bocconi. I’ll start with a warning about the classes: Find out if your class has an oral exam. If it does, I would strongly suggest avoiding it. Typically, I do great in high-pressure/interview situations (What up, Boeing!).  However, in oral exams 100% of your grade is riding on what you say, how well you say it, and whether the professor likes you or not. I’ll rather hedge the risk of having one terrible exam by having assignments and projects peppered in, than having it ride all in a 10-minute session.

With that said, there are two classes I recommend, not only because these were the first classes I 4.0’d in college (who says you can’t do well academically in study abroad programs), but because they were pretty fun,
interesting classes. The first class I loved was Public Management. It was a very engaging discussion based class where you learn the management philosophy in the public sector, and how much more complex it is than the private sector. Also, through this class you get to compare how different societies operate in the public sector and you are able to trace how certain flaws in public sector management (like in Italy) can have profound consequences in economic development. My instructors were Valentina Mele and Aleksandra Torbica.

The second class was Management of Fashion and Luxury Companies. Despite the fact that I am naturally interested in fashion, this is a fantastic class that dives deep into the way different brands, markets, and
industries position themselves in the marketplace, how they develop their strategies, and what their best practices are. Plus, you are in freaking Milan! What better place to take a fashion class than in the fashion capital of the
world? For our project, we had to evaluate a brand. We chose Diesel, and had the amazing opportunity to visit their flagship store in Milan. It doesn’t get much cooler than that folks.

Certainly, these are not the only awesome classes Bocconi has to offer, but they were my favorites. On a brief side note, Bocconi also has pretty cool student clubs (they don’t have the support or impact that Foster RSOs have, but they have a radio station, a TV station, sports clubs, and a variety of other cool clubs. Definitely check them out!).

Oh yeah, the big political event that I had to witness. For those of you that were in tune with the world news in the fall of 2011, you knew that the European Union was—well, doing its best Titanic impression. One of the captains of this shipwreck was Italy itself, as it found itself in not as deep of a financial trouble as Greece, but with overleveraged banks, had a high risk of submerging Europe and the world, into another worldwide crisis. At the helm of this crisis, we had Milan’s favorite son, Mr. Silvio Berlusconi. A charming, cynical, astute politician that had been able to dominate Italian politics (and media), for over two decades while presenting itself as the man Italians
couldn’t hate because all Italians have a little Silvio in them. Fortunately, this crisis brought a call to sanity, and a change of guard. Silvio Berlusconi found himself unable to solve the economic crisis in Italy and was forced to
step down. His replacement? None other than Bocconi’s very own president Mr. Mario Monti (otherwise known as Super Mario).

It was very interesting reading the newspapers, talking with Italians, and just feeling the winds of change. Oh, and did I mention two days Mr.Monti assumed power thousands of public school students marched through Milan and vowed to “siege Bocconi” and were stopped a couple of streets away from the University by the police? Well, that happened. See, something you have to know about Bocconi is that your typical Italian isn’t very too fond of Bocconi, as it is a bit elitist. Think of it as the Yale of Italy. While this is not the preferred image by Bocconiani everywhere, and not fully true, there is a sound logic behind that perception, and part of your exchange experience will be understanding that you are going to the best (and probably most hated) university in Italy; more on this later.

The European Lifestyle

Finally, I loved interacting with a variety of people from around the world. This was my absolutely favorite part. From Brazil to Russia, from Taiwan to New Zealand, and of course pretty much every country in Europe; I had the amazing blessing of interacting and becoming friends with people from all different countries. They taught me about life in ways that books or National Geographic documentaries couldn’t quite communicate to you. This is why you travel.  From small things like the reason why you look at somebody in the eyes while you toast (to avoid seven years of bad sex; there is your excuse), or the not so small things like the fact that in many European countries healthcare is a right, just allowed me to engage in wonderful discussions and learning experiences. Needless to say, this exchange experience makes you form a certain bond with people that is cemented by the unique experience you are living together; and sure, while now we have Facebook, Skype, and Whatsapp to keep in contact with them, it’s not quite the same. But the fact that you developed these memories with people from different corners of the world really puts in perspective how lucky you truly are. It also makes for a ton of inside jokes that once you are back in the US, don’t seem quite as funny.

Finally, I’ll end my ramble by giving you three quick tips to make sure your study abroad experience is successful:

1) Get out there and learn the language: It frustrates me when I see tourists or even other exchange students not speaking the native language. Especially when some of them took a crash course on Italian. Sure, I had it easier than a lot of people since I already knew Spanish, but I arrived into Italy with a dictionary and a phrasebook. Nothing else. I pushed my boundaries and took baby steps. Whenever I would go my neighborhood pizza store and buy lunch I would do it all in Italian, even if I butchered the words.  It took me about 2 weeks to figure out that “mangia qui?” meant “for here”, but once I figured it out, I was pretty proud. So get lost, ask a lot of questions, don’t be so self-conscious, and just know that even if you speak it “funny” people will appreciate and respect the fact that you are trying.

2) Meet people you wouldn’t usually meet: Another thing that frustrated me was seeing students (mostly American students) hang out with other American students, or with Canadian, Australian or English students (Long live the queen!). It’s totally fine to bond with people you have cultural similarities to. In my case, it was pretty easy to bond with the Spaniards and South Americans in my exchange class. However, make sure you are meeting people from backgrounds you wouldn’t experience at home. I met more Swedish, German, Dutch, French, Swiss, and Italian people that I had ever met in my life.  Learning about our similarities and differences was the biggest takeaway from this experience. Forging a friendship with them? Priceless.

3) If you are getting homesick, you aren’t busy enough: Yes, you will get homesick in your exchange. It happens. But when it happened to me, I focused on the fact that my family was proud of me for living this experience and that the best way to honor them would be to take advantage of the opportunity and stay busy, always learning, and always enjoying.  What good does it do that you miss your family/friends so much and you sit in your room sulking and looking over Facebook photos? None. What will you tell them about your experience? Will you
tell them that you mostly missed them? Is that the type of answer you think they want to hear?

Alas, this is the end of my not-so-short summary of my study abroad experience. Magari mia esperienza sará utile per voi. Buon viaggio, e ricorda: Mangia, vive, impara, e ama.