Home time graffiti

Simple as the title, walking back home today through Porta Ticinese I stumbled accross a group of graffiti artists decorating one of the outer walls of the square, check it out below it's pretty impressive stuff.

Internship at Tata Naka

I have an internship this Summer, at Tata Naka, let me just go scream into a pillow to get over this!

After liaising with the studio manager we've agreed on a three week placement at the start of September where I'll be working alongside the design team, YESSS. For years I've been a fan of the Tata Naka brand, founded by identical twins Tamar and Natasha Surguladze who graduated from central St Martins together the brand is amazing with a bold and fearless edge utilizing bold prints and colour. WAAAAAH.


Last Friday I think I finally discovered heaven, it's Venice, being the most phenomenally beautiful and idyllic place it really does belongs in the clouds.

Catching a train from Milan for the day it was an incredible opportunity to see the city I only wish I could have stayed longer and explored the other islands especially Burano with it's vast array of different coloured houses and the glass blowing factory where they frequently give demonstrations.

I realise as I'm typing this I'm going to sound incredible silly but I didn't expect as much water. I know, it is a ridiculous thing to say the city is in the sea but still it's staggering to actually look at. Water, everywhere. So much water.

We purchased our train tickets from Centrale FS in Milan to Venezia Mestre for 75 Euros return each then getting off at Mestre purchased tickets again to go across the bridge to Venezia St. Lucia which is the station ideally you want to have a through train too. Tickets from Mestre to St. Lucia we're only a mere 2,50 euros and the trains are very regular running just about every ten minutes so it's a very easy transfer.

Once in Venice with the smell of salt water pouring over us we at first went into fits of happiness for five minutes before actually starting to look around. The entire city is a marvel and you don't have to visit the tourist attractions to experience it's beauty you are engulfed in it. Through the day we did visit the Rialto bridge and St. Marcos square (ascending up the bell tower) but generally pondering through the streets and looking in the shops is more than enough to keep you busy.

I've always wanted to visit Venice and now I've done it, problem is I just want to go all over again.

And finally my poster..

Also as part of my international enhancement year submission I required to do a poster that entices other students to take part in the Erasmus Scheme, here was my attempt.

A letter of advice

Dear Erasmus student starting in Milan,

This is a letter especially for you in an attempt to help you learn from my mistakes, know what it is going to be like and to tell you about all the wonderful things I have been lucky enough to enjoy here.

Firstly you need to read my October post regarding housing, it was very difficult and stressful living in a hostel whilst trying to find permanent accommodation so really try to do everything in your power to avoid it. In terms of where to live Milan it is incredible easy to navigate and even if your apartment is far away from NABA you don't have to worry because the transport links are amazing. Ideally if you want to be close to NABA Naviglio is the best area and also has a bustling night life however the area is quite expensive. Bocconi is also fairly close and, as it has a university, is a student area making it busy but it doesn't have a great wealth of bars. Otherwise the area of Garibaldi is fantastic in terms of bars and night life however is futher away from NABA and would require around a 20 to 30 minute commute depending on exactly where you are. The closest metro stops to NABA are Romolo and Porta Genova and both or on the green metro line. The closest tram in the area is the number 3 and the number 59 bus is also very close. In terms of how to use the public transport network in Milan look at my October post as I've put all the details I possibly could on there.

With an apartment also try to get one which has internet already installed, as you have to wait for university to set a meeting with the bank to open you an account free of charge so you can put the internet in your name you won't actually be able to sign up until November and then there is about a three week wait to have it installed, this makes doing work a nightmare so heed my advice!

Next, ensure the arrival date that IEMS at Coventry University provide you with is correct by checking with the international students officer at your institute. When I moved to Italy on the 3rd of October I had been given the information that classes didn't start until mid October when actually we arrived just as they started and had to go through the horrible juggling act of finding a place to stay and attending introduction lectures. Equally I also found out on arrival that there had been an intensive language course provided by NABA three weeks prior to my arrival that was free of charge. Not only was not knowing about this hugely detrimental in terms of language skills but it also meant we we're late meeting the other Erasmus students so it is something else to ask about when you email. The fact that the lessons are free means that they really need to be utilised as otherwise in order to take Italian classes at NABA you have to pay and even for the basic 8 week course of two lessons a week, an hour and a half long each, the price is 340 euros with the discount of being a NABA student.

Speaking about language it is very important. Even if you only know basic Italian being able to understand numbers, ask how much things cost, order in restaurants and say excuse me will get you incredible far. Obviously the more you know the easier life becomes here as even though many people do speak English there are also many that don't know a word and this can make simple situations like sending post, trying to find an apartment or even just going to the supermarket more than a little bit tricky. At NABA you are taught completely in English and are not expected to speak any Italian at all. On a day to day basis outside NABA is a different matter and you are surrounded by the language. If I have one regret from this year it has been my failure to speak the language and although I am capable of  basics I still lack the ability to put a sentence together.

Financially ensure you have a lot saved up or some one that can help you. Even with the funding from the Erasmus scheme the city is incredibly expensive and moving in costs are more that substantial, as I mentioned in my October post the cost of moving into the apartment alone was 2750 euros. This is normal and the apartment I've lived in this year isn't that expensive so be prepared. Drinks in most bars are 7 euros and nightclubs are pretty pricey too and speaking as the girl that back in at Coventry went to Kasbah nightclub 4 nights a week and didn't get bored it has been a bit heart breaking this year simply not affording to go out all the time.

Be wary of pick pockets and thieving whilst you are out, in my second week here I made the mistake of putting my phone on the table in a bar whilst I was chatting and some how it was taken from the table without me noticing, these people make a living stealing your things so just be a little wary where your possessions are at all time it's so much harder trying to replace things with insurance from abroad.

When moving in there are three Ikeas around the city that are easy to get to and for the Corsico store there is actually a shuttle bus too and from departing from the closest metro stop. Another fantastic home ware shop to visit is called Tiger. There's a number of them around Milan so you will easily bump into one, in truth they do far more than just home ware and have some really cool and quirky products along with stationary and sketchbooks so it's some where you will visit regularly. Do not buy sketchbooks from the fine art shop at NABA if you can avoid it as they are very expensive.

Before moving make sure you get your own travellex card. Also the university provide you with one that your grant is loaded on to you are not able to top this up yourself so in the event of running out of money you need to have your own card registered to be able to top-up and use. When withdrawing money from a cash point using your travellex card you do get charged 3,95 euros for each transaction which is a hefty amount so it's best to withdraw big amounts and then hide it in your apartment safe to save wasting money.

Be wary as well that Italy does not provide a very vast array of British products, or products of other nations for that matter. The international food isle in the supermarket is a two foot wide section of shelf mainly consisting of different flavours of salsa and as much as I like salsa I can't call is a necessity. Things like dry shampoo, branded tea bags and gravy are impossible to find here so if in doubt bring it with you.

That's all the serious stuff out the way, now we can talk about al the amazing things that you have to do whilst your here. Depending on where your going to live is going to dictate greatly the areas that you go out in and of course you will find your own favourite places to eat and drink but from this year these are mine, there's more details of them throughout my various posts of my blog but here's names and addresses so you can easily have a quick look;

To eat..
1) Burger Wave, Via Cardinale Ascanio Sforza, 47.
2) Luna Rosso, Alzaia Naviglio Pavese, 3.
3) Ginger Cocktail Lab, Via Ascanio Sforza, 25 (aperitivo).
4) Be. Bop, Viale Col di Lana, 4.
5) Shiva, Viale Gian Galeazzo, 7.

To drink..
1) La Vineria, Via Casale.
2) Cape Town, Via Vigevano, 3.
3) Ginger Cocktail Lab, Via Ascanio Sforza, 25.
4) Il vinaccio, Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 49.
5) Mag Cafe, Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 43 (this ones a bit pricey but lovely).

To see..
1) The antiques market down Naviglio Grande on the last Sunday of every month.
2) Exhibitions at Palazzo Reale, Piazza del Duomo next to the Cathedral.
3) Any performance at Opera alla Scala, I went to see the ballet it was incredible.
4) Lake como, it's so close and only cost 9 euros return on the train go as many times as you can.
5) The square in Porta Ticinese at night, I mentioned this is my November post.

There are tons more things to do and see but and most of those places are in the Naviglio area where I live but it's a start, one thing I have learnt by living here is that it's difficult to stumble upon a good place where the prices aren't extortionate so at least you have a starting list. Also, never judge a place by it's decor, in Milan some very average looking places can serve the most exceptional food so ensure you remain open minded.

Another thing, ensure you travel! You will definitely find that NABA is way more intense that university England and you will be in 9 till 5 most days and still be expected to work in your own time but do not let this prevent you from travelling. Unfortunately in my first term here the work given by NABA did prevent me from seeing many things and although I have got excellent results and a fantastic array of new skills and things to put in my portfolio it would have been magical to have seen different parts of Italy around Christmas time and I wish I had. There are many places close to Milan to visit and train fares are cheap so make the most of it, If you have a module that you don't feel applies to you or your not gaining anything from do not be afraid to drop it and use the time to experience the culture. I'm doing this right now in my second term as it is better weather and couldn't be happier.

Make sure you take pictures of EVERYTHING. Not only to remember what an amazing year you've had but also because it is a fantastic aid when blogging to be able to quickly look and see what you have been doing plus makes posts a little bit more visually interesting rather than lots and lots of boring writing, like this post. 

Finally enjoy it. This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life and has only encouraged me to move on and also try living in other places. You will leave changed, in a good way. Moving out here as matured me even more so than moving to university and I can't imagine having gone into final year without the knowledge and experienced that I've gained from this. 

Good luck in your year abroad,
Incredible happy and fulfilled Erasmus student


So we are only half way through May but as my deadline for the Module is on the 16th this will be my last monthly post about my time in Milan on Erasmus.

Arriving back in Milan on the May the third was the first time I could really call it hot here. We arrived on the Tuesday and we're excused from class on the Thursday due to the May bank holidays so chose to spend the day in Parco Sempione which is the huge park sandwiched between the arch of peace and castello. Although I've visited castello many times I've never put any pictures up so feast your eyes on the fresh shots below! Castello literally means castle in Italian and is a landmark viewable from just beyond the Duomo Plaza so it's central to the city. The castle can be walked through to get the park and has an enormous courtyard, various exhibitions are on in the castle itself in relational to it's historical reference but I haven't been to any so can't comment what they are like. 

The area is very busy with both tourists, street traders and occasionally as I've seen brass bands. On the day we visited it was glorious sunshine and the park was completely heaving. It is a lovely environment to spend the day at and many traders constantly circle with drinks and ice cream so your constantly refreshed without moving. in a particular area of the park near the pond there is a monument much like a small seating part of a Colosseum where on two of the occasions I've been including my latest visit drummers sit to play in time. They are actually very good. At the pond you can see lots of tortoise like creatures that I think are terrapins sunbathing and around the park it's not uncommon to see lizards scurrying. If you do walk all the way through the park you then reach the arch of peace which is a huge monument. One piece of advice, if you burn ensure you remember suncream, Emily did not and has suffered greatly for this mistake as the picture below illustrates.

So now I'm going to start with telling you about Madrid. Oh my god the place is amazing. In my April post I mentioned that a friend from my home university is also doing Erasmus in the city so last week I went to visit and I've simply fallen in love with the place. I hate to say it as of course Milan is a fantastic city with wonderful culture and lots to do but in terms of doing Erasmus Madrid kicks it into the ground. The issue with Milan is that as a young person studying abroad it is very expensive so unless you have a lot of financial support you can't do something all the time. Madrid was completely different and so, so cheap. Madrid also has an awful lot more options in terms of bars, restaurants and shopping and is far more like London in terms of never sleeping. Milan is obviously smaller but lacks the bustle of these competing cities.

Once in Madrid it was the lovely Imogen Wall who myself and Emily Land had a tour guide, Imogens blog is linked to mine so look at it if you are at all interested in Erasmus in Madrid. On the first day we arrived early and caught the metro straight from the airport to Plaza de Espana which is a very central part of the city linking directly to Grand Via which is the main street for shopping where we met Immy as her apartment was close. 

After dropping our bags off we we had 3 days to enjoy Madrid and see all we could. One of the places we went was to a chain store of Madrid called El Tigre where we we're literally and I mean literally bombarded with free tapas. If you buy a drink the waiters then continuously bring different forms of tapas to your table and with a beer only be 2,50 euros this was the cheapest and best lunch I've ever had. Being a complete tapas virgin I didn't know what to expect but there is so much to choose from. Just on our table we had a selection of roasted potatoes, bread, chorizo, ham, cheese, Spanish omelette, risotto and potato croquettes and about 10 minutes into eating we actually had to turn away a further two plates.

Another cool chain bar we visited that was full of young people was called La SureƱa where bottles of beer are purchased by the bucket. For 5 bottles of beer in a bucket it's 4 euros so it is entirely understandable why the bar was swamped with students. For eating we went to the most amazing burger bar in the area of Malasana called Zombie Bar. If the burgers themselves were not enough the bar itself also had incredible cool decor in terms of art and even the menus were interesting being in the middle of individual comic books, I strongly advise if in Madrid you give this place a go. 

In terms of sight seeing we hit all the big destinations such as the parks and palace as well as going over to casa di campo via cable car. Casa di campo means house of the county in spanish and is huge. When in the cable car to get to one side of the park you get a panoramic view of Madrid which is cool and less cool but helpfully the cable car talks to you in a strange voice at certain points pointing out landmarks and points of interest so it's great to go to. 

Other places we visited whilst on the trip are San Miguel market and the rooftop bar Gymnage. San Miguel is not really what you call a market, it's way more than that! It is a food hall full of different stalls selling tapas size or bigger portions to try all the different tastes of Spain and is delicious. I had some astounding Sangria at this place. The Gymnage restaurant is a roof top terrace wine bar and restaurant that is simply beautiful so between the two I couldn't pick a favourite place but instead am incredibly jealous we don't have any form of equivalent in Milan.

In Ritiro park we went to had an amazing glass house called Palacio di Cristal, cystal palace that was stunning. Inside the building which is free entry they have rocking chairs and books for you to read, it is the sort of place you could spend days in at not get bored. In the same park we were even brave enough to hire a rowing boat and went onto the lake where of course we we're all naturals. Of course.

The entire experience of being in Madrid has really encouraged my want to travel more and it is certainly somewhere I plan on returning to and would love to work.

With this new found want to travel on our return from Madrid we went to Centrale FS which is the central station of Milan and have finally booked some train tickets to see glorious Italy starting with Venice before then going to Genoa. We leave for Venice this Friday the 16th of May which is actually deadline day for this blog and my international enhancement year module. This does mean you may not be seeing the photos but I can assure and make the promise that I will be enjoying myself greatly, roll on Friday. Just for a random comment check out how big the train tickets are here in the picture below, I thought this country was mad on recycling?! 

Coming back from Centrale FS on the green line last week we decided randomly to get of at Garibaldi which is the nightclub district and an area we have never visited. We have been missing out. Stepping straight out of Garibaldi station you are instantly at the foot of the Uni Credit banking building which is the tallest point in Milan due to the tall spire on the top. We've seen the building from all over the city but not been at the foot of it before so went for a wander and discovered a very pretty courtyard with a substantial water feature and seating and a lovely looking restaurant/book shop.

Walking on from the Uni Credit building we went down the street Corso Como where there is a substantial number of bars, cafes and restaurants all that look very lovely! As it was Saturday afternoon it was bustling with people and being a pedestrian area was lovely to walk through without the usual drama of nearly being run over every two minutes. About half way down Corso Como is a huge supermarket can Eatily, this is the first time I'd heard of it or seen it so had to go in for a look. The place is huge and is a wealth of different eating stations food and wine. Each floor is dedicated to a different type of food or drink e.g. wine, meat, fish etc. but is not at all like ASDA, this place looks Marks and Spencers look like Aldi. On the top floor there is a station that serve bruscetta type snacks and wine that I HAVE to go back and try because it looked that delicious. Another part of the building that aroused my curiosity is the galleried stage that sits proudly in the middle of the building. With a grand piano and guitars proudly sitting on it I imagine the place must have bands playing frequently, what a fantastic place to eat out in the evening.

After continuing to walk down Corso Como we turned off onto a random side street and wandered until we surprisingly found ourselves in the familiar area of Brera. This is now the third time that we have been walking in an unknown area and suddenly seen something very familiar, Milan is definitely a city you can easily walk around if you know where your going.

As for University work we now only have another two and half weeks of study until we are again in exam period which means there is going to be a lot of work to tackle in the not so far away future. My task now is to decide when to leave and return home and I'll be sadly booking flights within the week.