Today our group took a crash course in Italian, taught by an American who has lived in Italy for the past year. I found her perspective to be very informative since she understood the mistakes and differences most commonly encountered by Americans in Italy.
From the crash course a small group of us went out for lunch at a restaurant called Michelle (pronounced mee-kay-lay, we learned from our crash course instructor). There we were able to try out some of our new Italian phrases and order antipasta and pizza.
After lunch, the whole group went on a walking tour of Milan, which focused more on cultural architecture than on historical architectural. The guide was able to show us recent building projects as well as older ones such as the iconic Duomo. This demonstrated how Milan’s modern architecture is designed to maintain key industries and to move Milan into a future of sustainable living. Finally, I split off from the group and about 12 of us went out for dinner after wandering around the Prada and Versace stores in the Galleria. I was able to try risotto, which Milan is known for, and eat my first gelato of the trip.
This day was aptly named in the itinerary, which called it our “Acclimation to Italy”. I feel as if I am finally adjusting to jetlag, and more importantly I am learning more about the cultural differences that define Italy and specifically Milan just by wandering around the streets and stores. I noticed in particular that because of this city’s status as a “fashion Mecca”, the mall was actually crowded, whereas even the largest mall in America, the King of Prussia Mall, looks almost like a ghost town. Milan has maintained a high-end fashion culture that does not exist in America. I am also seeing this cultural difference in the way that people dress. Even older Italians will wear clothes that seem like runway fashion to me.
Overall this day in the trip served to surround me with the culture of Milan, both through the crash course, the tour, and the wandering through the local high-end stores. I am excited to learn more about how the cultural differences I noticed today will affect business practices that I will explore as the experience goes on.