I always know that I wanted to focus my study abroad experience on music. At Macalester, I’m majoring in it, in addition to a pre-med concentration. I have always loved world music of all kinds. I was also interested in studying in Italy because my family is mostly of Italian heritage and I wanted to explore my roots. I chose the Milan IES program because it was the only program I found in Italy in which I could study music. I also have a deep interest in opera, and for the last century and more, Milan has been the European capital of opera.
In Italy, I lived in an apartment with other American students in the program and one community assistant. I took classes through a specific center associated with the IES program. I took voice lessons, Intermediate Italian, Contemporary Italian Composition and Literature, History of Italian Opera, and Music Performance Workshop. I also learned a significant amount about Italian opera, from multiple courses, and from viewing operas at La Scala on two occasions. Some of my favorite memories come from those operas at La Scala.
I got to travel, too. I went to Barcelona, London, and Switzerland twice (only an hour away by train from Milan). Around Italy, I visited Venice, the Lago di Como, Lago Maggiore, Val d'Aosta, Tuscany, and Cinque Terre. I loved my visits to the lakes on the border with Switzerland for their beautiful scenery, towns, and lush gardens. I also loved epic cooking with friends and roommates.
Being in Milan changed my perspective about American society and Italian society (and thus my own identity as a combination of the two). It made me think about music, food, friends, cities versus countryside, and work and life. Studying abroad makes you step out of yourself and your place of origin to better understand all that you previously failed to question. Fitting in study abroad means I will have to wait a year after graduating to enter medical school, because of how much it shifted my coursework around. For me, it was worth it.