Hello! I am Zakaria Ait Lemzend, second-year Master student at IÉSEG in Lille and I did an exchange at Bocconi University in Milan.
Why did you choose to go there ?
Initially, going to Italy was not my first choice. I had to do my exchange in Taiwan, however because of the health crisis linked to COVID, many countries, especially in Asia, remained closed. So, I changed my destination to Italy. My choice was based on the notoriety of the school and it’s ranking, the country mattered less to me.
How did you prepared your departure ?
Regarding my departure, I had to complete the documents and Erasmus scholarship application but also finalized my registration at the partner school, make my health insurance card, my doses of vaccines, prepare my choice of courses and finally housing.
Besides, I advise you to look well in advance, Milan knows a very large number of requests regarding accommodation, which exceeds the supply. The prices are also more expensive.
How did your first days there go ?
I arrived 2 weeks before the start of classes, in a hostel. The atmosphere was pleasant and lively because there were only young people in the hostel, and since I couldn’t find a studio or an apartment I decided to stay there for the whole semester.
Bocconi also created a facebook group bringing together all the students coming on exchange, which facilitated our integration.
Several outings, evenings, parties were organized by the ESN association of Bocconi during the first 2-3 weeks but also in private. Participating in these events is a good way to familiarize yourself with the environment and get to know the people. As everyone tend to join a group.
How is the university ?
The Bocconi building is of great modern design and architecture, I guess it goes with the culture of the city which is known by the same in addition to fashion. It also has 8 student residences, 8 office and course buildings, 2 university restaurants and a library open every day until midnight.
In addition, the school is centrally located, 15 minutes from the Duomo, the city’s famous square. Also, easily accessible with all public transport, from buses to trams or the metro.
All services are of great manners and always ready to help.
How are the courses ?
The choice of courses is quite large, with a wide variety ranging from all levels. For my part, I chose only the courses related to finance, which is a department where the school excels. The quality of the courses and speaker is beyond rewarding, the difficulty is more present on the workload than the complexity of the content. Also, most of the exams are in the form of multiple choice or a mixture with open questions, which sometimes tend to be tricky.
Several events related to our specialty are organized at the school, my favourites were the presence of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and the team of Algebras Investments including the CEO.
How much is the cost of living there ?
The cost of living in Milan is basically like Paris. Accommodation varies between 500€ to 1200++€ depending on the location, 200€ -300€ for monthly groceries, restaurants from 12€, fast food from 5€ and 2€ for the metro ticket.
Italy in general is cheaper than France, but Milan is a tourist city and the economic center of Italy. Salaries are also higher than in the rest of the country which explain the cost of living.
What do you do on a daily basis ?
I had classes from Monday to Thursday, I usually finish around 6.20 p.m., but there are days when I only have 1.5 hours of class. The evenings, I spend them mainly in events organized by ESN or with the friends I have made (restaurants, parties, etc.). During the holidays I travel and discover the surroundings and sometimes at home studying haha.
At school, some evenings, they organized films or even plays.
I had the chance to meet models in the hostel where I was staying, and to attend brand shows during fashion week.
Eating ice cream and pizza has become a habit, I guess that’s what happens when you live in Italy.
What do you like the most in your exchange ?
What most appealed to me about the exchange was the interactions I was able to have with different people of different cultures, origins, and nationalities. Opening to new perspectives is always something you look for in an international experience.
I was also lucky to be in the period when Milan won the cup. It was a great experience to see the team celebrate at the center. Always good to see Zlatan even though I’m not a football fan.
Academically, the courses I attended were very formative and quality of intervenants are of high caliber.
Do you have any advice ?
A word of advice: never order a pizza with a cappuccino and south of Italy is not Napoli.
I learned it the hard way. I was in a restaurant and asked for a cappuccino with a margherita, the waiter was explicit and clearly said: we don’t do that here! (With a murderous intent). I directly understood, if I wanted to stay alive, I had to change my order for only a pizza.
Do you have an original anecdote to tell us about your exchange?
I strongly recommend students to do their exchange at Bocconi, they will not only meet a lot of people but also the experience of studying in a very competitive environment surrounded by the best students coming from prestigious schools all over the world. Next, the location, Milan is a great city, museums, design, food, fashion, parties, you will never be bored.
Also enjoy and learn some Italian, most don’t speak or don’t like to speak English. Another piece of advice: start searching for accommodation 2 months in advance.
Your favorite local addresses ?
For restaurants ! Piccola Ischia: Great Pizzas with Great prices.
Hostels: Queen Hostel.
Ice creams: Venchi and GROM.
Clubs: Clubroom 11, magazzini generalli and Terrazza Duomo21.
Zakaria AIT LEMZEND, Campus Lillois