We arrived in Milan on Monday morning. Suprisingly, Sabrina, my twin sister, and I, were able to navigate the airports and catch a bus and taxi to our apartment. Prior to this part of the trip, I was really nervous because I had never done any of these things without my parents…so when we arrived at Via Pasquel Sottocorno (street of our apartment) I was so relieved!
The first day, we spent sleeping away the afternoon. That night our landlord took us to the square in front of La Scala, the famous opera house in Milan, to hear a music performance. The walk there was really cool. We passed the Duomo and through the Galleria. The streets were busy with vendors selling chestnuts (which look delicious) and these unusual toys that were sling-shotted into the air and when they fell, they spun to the ground….kinda like helicopter seeds…and changed from blue to green, which looked really cool!
The performance itself was amazing! The doors opened from the La Scala onto the square, emanating loud classical music from within. The sound echoed off the walls of the surrounding buildings to create an almost surreal scene. Renata, my landlord, said this was a special performance, occuring only for the third time in 300 years. The purpose was to commemorate Claudio Abbado, a famous composer who died earlier this January. The last commeration like this one was for Giuseppe Verdi, another composer, who died in 1901.
The past few days we’ve spent walking around the city, visiting the Duomo, stopping in cafes, and visiting our school (Universita Cattolica Sacre Cuore). We quickly found that very few people speak good English. Communication is really difficult and simply tasks like buying a croissant and finding a building (even with a smart phone) can be hard. At times I feel very discouraged. We still haven’t exchanged most of our US dollars we took out when we were in the States, figuring that it would be less expensive to exchange them for euros in Italy then in Virginia. The two places we know for certain that will make the exchange have a really steep fee. For $100 US dollars we would get back 48 euros. So…. that’s been one of the big issues. Also we’ve tried withdrawing cash with our credit cards, but this is impossible too, because most ATMs (known as Bancomats in Italy) require a 4 digit pin…which our credit card company is now sending to my mom…but it would have been nice to know earlier that YOU NEED A PIN TO GET ANY MONEY OUT IN ITALY!!! Also, the transportation system and phones (Sabrina switched to Vodafone) have been a hassle. Although, thankfully both my parents have been really helpful through this whole situation, sending Sabrina and I weblinks and making phone calls to companies like capital one, to try to figure some of this stuff out. Hopefully with time everything will fall into place, and we’ll start to get the hang of it. Also, when school starts on Tuesday, Febuary 4th, it will be nice to have some other English speakers to talk to.