Sunday, October 19, 2014


Since I am here in Milan to study (seriously), there are usually events provided by universities so that students can get to know each other and the city they are living in. One of these events was yesterdays Universiday. The event was to be informative, letting us know what the city of Milan is doing and what services they want to provide for the students - foreign and from other cities of Italy. Of course what this particular event needed, was a gimmick to get the students to come. Not only did the mayor of Milan, Giuliano Pisapia, the famous journalist Beppe Severigni come, but also the special guest of the evening - singer Mika. I think that for the most part, all of the girls present went because it was an opportunity to see the famous singer.

Held at 4:30 at the Teatro dal Verme, Milan's Mayor Giuliano Pisapia gave a welcome speech in Italian (only to be directly translated into English by a translator). The next to give his speech was the Secretary General of the Chamber of Commerce Pier Andrea Chevallard (which also was translated). We also witnessed a interesting graphs, comparing the way off-site Italians and foreign students view studying and living in Milan. Most foreign students stated that they came to Milan to enjoy the culture, food, and the weather, whereas the percentage of off-site Italians could not agree less, since they are mostly from the south, where the culture is so-very different, the food is more seasoned than in the north and the weather is filled with more sun. I have to say that despite knowing that Milan is almost in its' own country compared to anything south of it, I am in the same line as the foreign students. It is enough for me that I am in Italy, where I can learn some Italian, get to know and be surrounded by Italian culture (at least of the north), eat all the Italian food I can get my hands on (truffles and wine of the Piedmont area anyone?) and the weather for sure is warmer and sunnier than in the Czech Republic (although it was pouring last week in Milan).
One subject everyone had agreed upon, was accommodation. Accommodation is nearly impossible for Erasmus students living here for only 4 months (i.e. me). Even if you are to be here for a year, it is not only difficult to find a suitable place to live, but also a place which will be able to fit within a budget appropriate for a student. I myself could not find an apartment or even a room to share for the period of 4 months, even if I went up to the price of 500 euros for a small room I would have to share it with someone. The reason standing behind this difficulty is the fact that the owners want someone for a minimum of 6 months and to sign a contract, including a downpayment. Luckily, I was able to get a place through CIDiS - Consorzio Pubblico Interuniversitario per la gestione degli interventi per il Diritto allo Studio Universitario or in other words Union of Universities. This union offers housings for students with rooms ranging from 300 to 450 euros, depending if it is either a double room or single room. As the Mayor and Secretary General had their speech, they have addressed this problem of accommodation, since the CIDiS cannot house every student and most of these housings are primarily reserved for Italian students.
After the welcomes, graphs and a small introduction in English from Beppe Severigni, the main guest of the evening had arrived. Mika was of course greeted with a large applause and some girly screams. The interview itself was actually quite interesting, since Mika himself comes from a mixed background, but what I didn't know was that he became famous in Italy through the X Factor show. It might also be because I don't have a TV and am actually quite allergic to these shows. Besides asking about his career and his background (Lebanese mother/ US father/ raised in London), Mika was also asked about how he saw Italy to which he responded: "I absolutely hated it". This was due to all the Italian maschios hooting at his 2 sisters, and due to him being fat as a child and not being able to enjoy all the wonderous Italian food. He felt Italy was very unfair to him. In the end, when he had been performing in Italy, he began to love it and appreciate it. Age does make us change mind. A question I thought most interesting, was when Mika was asked as to why does he think so many young people leave not only just Milan but also Italy. In short, Mika answered that he believes that the main reason is because the young Italians do not believe that there are any more opportunities for them, therefore they are leaving to London and Berlin, that political scene is absolutely corrupted and so is the society and foremost, the economic boom which has happened will no longer ever happen again. It will happen in the east but in his opinion, the boom has ended. This made Beppe Severigni shift in his chair quite a few times, yet I can see where Mika had made his point. As much as it is uncomfortable to hear, I believe that what he said is quite the truth. We are told countless times how much we have moved up from the crisis, yet still you can see how much a great city as Milan has fallen and is at a standstill since the crisis.
After leaving this deep part of the interview, chosen students were invited to come up to the podium and tell why they chose Milan as a place to study. The most interesting answer I think worth mentioning was a Nigerian student, who stated that she came to Italy, because she knew she could learn so much from a place filled a rich history. What she would learn not only from the European history but also from its' presence would be useful and important to bring back to her country, so that they themselves may go forward. This made Mika contemplate upon what he had previously said, only to rebuke it with saying that he might have been a bit jaded by saying what he had previously about Italy and the rest of Europe.
All in all, it was interesting to see the numbers and comparisons of foreign and off-Italian students and their way of perceiving Milan and to hear what a third-culture kid like Mika has to say about living abroad.
There was unfortunately no concert, which I am sure I was not the only disappointed one, but prosecco, juice and a buffet was available for all. Of course, when you're a student, free stuff is always good.

Sorry I do not have more photos, but my phone died. If you want to see more on the Universiday, check out this link of the Corriere TV. In Italiano. Of course.

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