After boarding my flight from Newark to Milan, my mind was still not fully grasping the scope of the journey that I was about to take on. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:30 (Newark time) but unfortunately our plane’s takeoff got delayed due to, as the captain himself put it, “projectile vomit”. This delay tested my patience, however, this was not the only thing that tested my patience through the day. I started to go stir crazy in the Newark airport as I was forced to simply walk around and keep looking at the same few restaurants and shops, all with the excitement and anxiousness of flying to a new continent building up inside of me. Once our flight took off, I was relieved to say the least! Though sleep was a rare commodity for me, I was happy to simply make progress in the right direction. The flight felt long and my back along with the rest of my extremities ached but it was all worth it Sunday morning when we touched down in Milan.
Once I exited the plane I noticed a few cultural changes immediately. One being the aggressiveness of the advertising in Milan compared to the U.S. Some of the ads in the airport came with an edge that I was not familiar with in the U.S.. These ads were often fashion focused and I understand why designers want to be creative with marketing their product so they can differentiate themselves from their competitor. I also noticed the repetitiveness of these ads. Especially on the drive from the airport to downtown Milan. A few ads were repeated at least a half a dozen times within a three block radius. This type of hyper-focused advertising is not common in the US and it will be interesting to see if it continues when our group travels to other cities in Italy. As our group drove from the airport to downtown, I was surprised to see the focus on industrial production. Milan is often thought of as a large cosmopolitan city which would not lead one to believe that manufacturing and raw capital would be an emphasis in this type of city. This may not be the case as I continue to explore the city limits of Milan, but I found this to be common on the outskirts of the city. Another thing that I noticed upon entering the city was the extremely impressive architecture. Most of the buildings we passed warranted their own personal snapshot. I also noticed that the city has a unique mix of historical buildings along with modern skyscrapers. This type of blend is unique to see as it is not nearly as common in the U.S.. Likewise, the buildings that have an obvious age due to their architecture are not iconic buildings in their own right. Meaning that they are apartment buildings or even possibly office space, just with a breathtaking exterior. In comparison to the US model, where buildings are generally considered important to society and then have a warrant to carry beautiful design.
After settling in at the hotel, our group went to lunch at a small restaurant which brought a unique dining experience in its own right. The US model for dining is generally fast and efficient. Meaning that the customer is expected to come, eat somewhat quickly, and then leave after the meal so the table opens up for the next customer. This model was not the case with our lunch. Our lunch featured four courses (bruschetta with unique spreads, a pasta with red sauce, an excessively large meat platter, and espresso or cappuccino to top it off). Though this meal was delicious, the timing of it tested my American sense of patience. I think the total time in the restaurant was a little over two hours which is roughly double the time of a sit down lunch in the United States. I will have to learn how to relax and enjoy the experience of eating and sharing company for multiple hours in one sitting. I hope to master this by the time I head back home. As we continued to walk around Italy, I noticed how well dressed many of the other citizens were. I appreciated this aspect of the culture, it is something that I took time to notice and I also like to dress a little nicer for day to day operations at school. Furthermore, many of the side roads were small in comparison to US roads, this makes sense due to the history in the city and older infrastructure. In closing, my first day in Milan was a success and I look to build upon this in the coming two weeks!