Finding a Taste of Home at Bocconi
Post by Karla Chavez, Class of 2016
I decided to study abroad in Italy for one specific purpose: immersing myself in the Italian culture. I was committed to my goal and tried to get along with other local Italians. Surprisingly most of them were very open and if you made the effort of talking to them in Italian they would get even more excited. As a student in a new school it also made it ten times easier to know the local students. They were the ones that told me about the culture at Bocconi, the things that people usually do, the things to be aware of, etc. Without that help the transition from Babson to Bocconi would´ve never been so smooth. Hanging with the locals made me get a sense of the Italian culture, but I think an event that I will remember forever was one of my friend´s graduation celebrations.
I met my friend that previous summer and she received me in her house for a weekend in Vicenza, north of Italy. I not only got the chance to meet all of her family and friends but also got the chance to be a part of one of the most important events in her life. After the graduation ceremony in the school, we went for an aperitivo, which is a very important Italian tradition of drinks and small amounts of food (from pastries to pizza) before dinner. In Milan aperitivos are extremely popular too. I think this ritual says a lot about the Italian culture, as it shows that people are always looking forward to meet old and new friends even after a long day of work. Milan is such a fast-paced city and it´s really interesting to notice that at aperitivos the time freezes and all the stress goes away. Aperitivos come in all sizes and colors; a lot of Bocconi students would just go for a casual aperitivo after classes, but the designer restaurants also offer glamorous aperitivos as well. After the aperitivo we went to a restaurant near my friend´s house; we were sitting in a very long table, which made it possible to talk and share food with all of the guests. The restaurant prepared a special menu for the occasion and I got to try real Italian food that ranged from pastas, to meats and desserts. This was also the perfect opportunity to practice my Italian and interact with all the guests. Since that moment I understood that family is the number one priority in Italy and I will never forget the warm welcoming feeling that all the guests gave me. I can see a lot of similarities between the Italian culture and the Mexican culture, both very warm and very social. That´s the reason why being there definitely made me feel like home, thanks to the hospitality and nice attentions the family gave me. After that we went to celebrate to a local bar with my favorite drinks: Prosecco and Aperol. This was an experience that made me value friendship and understand that by spending time with a family from a different culture I learn more and more about the world itself.
Overall the homemade dinners and the aperitivos with the locals are what made me appreciate the Italian culture and value the kind and welcoming people they are.