Looking Back and AheadMilan, Fall 2011

This weekend I became an official resident of the Collegio di Milano, which meant hauling my stuff around town (I swear it multiplies when you're not looking) and signing a bunch of paperwork, but now that I'm here, I'm really psyched about it. Before I got offered the homestay, I was planning on living in the Collegio, and during the course of this past semester, I decided that I would move there for the second semester so that I could have another different experience with people my own age. The rooms are pretty small, but they are singles with private bathrooms and balconies, so I don't even mind. One thing I really like is the cafeteria, though, because in the two days I've been here, I've already met quite a few people at meal times. So there's a real sense of community and everyone has been very welcoming. This is such a relief because things have been really crazy lately with exams and all the other IES students leaving. People kept talking about spending Christmas with family and it made me sad, because this is the time of year when I would finally get to see my old friends again if I was back in the States, but I'm not and so I won't. After everyone left, I started feeling a little better about it. There wasn't that vibe going around anymore. It still doesn't feel like less than a week before Chrismas though. Milan does Christmas in an elegant way, with pointsettias and fake snow and lights draped over the canals. As much as I hate how the US splashes Santas everywhere and assaults our ears with pop singers' offerings to prostitute themselves to Santa (if Santa was really impartial, they would so go on the naughty list) and you can't drive anywhere in my town because of all the holiday shopping traffic, it doesn't feel like Christmas to me without it. I also realized as everyone left, that I have a huge list of places I want to go in Europe and I've barely seen any of them. I haven't even been to Rome yet. So this break, I'm going sight-seeing full-time. I even found a ritzy discoteca to go to for New Year's. But this coming semester, I swear I'm going to spend less time sitting on my ass in Milan and more time out seeing the world. Time flies, and I can't believe I'm halfway through my stay here. I can't believe only three and a half months ago I was running around wide-eyed through Malpensa with about a hundred pounds of luggage and no idea where to go. My Italian has come so far since then, my independence has come so far, and I'm finally feeling confident.
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