Exchange report - Student at KI
Duomo di Milano
Home university: Università Degli Studi di Milano
Study programme: Biomedicine
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Autumn semester 2021/2022
Name: Aurora Hirvonen
Email address:


Since the beginning of my studies at KI going on exchange is something I have very much looked forward to. Traveling has been a strong part of my upbringing, with both my parent going on Erasmus exchange, I have been previously living in other countries and I am of two nationalities; Italian and Finnish. 


Whilst waiting for my Biomedicine studies to begin at KI I had already browsed and informed myself on potential study destinations, knowing of course that these might change by the time my application would have to be sent in. One particular university stuck out to me from the very start - Universita’ degli Studi di Milano. To my luck the university was still on the list when my turn came around. 


My main reason to choose Italy as my exchange destination was that first and foremost I deeply love the country. Regardless of the fast that I am half Italian and half Finnish, and have visited Italy uncountable times I have unfortunately never had the chance to live there. I sought the opportunity to fully immerse myself in a culture I am already acquainted with but have never experienced by living in it. I aspired to experience the everyday life of Milan, but also be able to apply what I have been introduced to by my family. Finally, I nourish a deep interest in the Italian culture, history, and language, which I was ready to explore more of. 

On a more academic note, I was curious to be part of a different study system. By being able to complete my thesis project at the University of Milan I could also appreciate the 
contribution of the university in research, build a network of contacts and most importantly gain valuable experiences to develop both personally and professionally.


The application process, notification and documentation process on KI's side was impeccable from the beginning of the exchange journey. The international coordinator at KI offered precious advice to overcome any hurdle on the way. Likewise, the application on the website of the University of Milan worked very well, with the option to apply for student housing as well and an informative list of steps to undertake depending on the stage of the exchange. There is a lot of time to complete this process on their website so not hurries! 


Little did I know that after these easy first steps working with the Milan administrative offices and exchange coordinator would introduce some bumps on the way. As I was going to complete my thesis project in Milan, I was required to find a laboratory to complete the work in. The international coordinator in Milan sent me a list of departments from where to read and choose those that seemed most interesting to me. The international coordinator offered to contact them himself to which I agreed to. I would like to note that the process of finding an interesting lab began in March right after I had received the notification from KI. Unfortunately, months passed by, and I had heard nothing back. This was my first mistake. In the beginning of the summer (June-July) I decided to ask for any updates on the laboratory front. That is when they informed me that the labs I had selected were part of the Faculty of Medicine and thus I, as a Biomedicine student, wasn't allowed to select those. This was because the exchange contract between KI and University of Milan outlined that I was only allowed to choose between the Departments of Pharmacology and that of Human Nutrition - neither of which I was excited about. I went back and forth with some professors from the departments with little interest. The exchange coordinator seemed to have given up on helping me and, to my eye, found excuses for not having replied to me in weeks. At the limit of my patience and closing to a breakdown I still did not want to give up and choose a project topic that was not interesting to me at all. I was ready to give up my exchange in Milan as I was starting to believe I would find something more suitable and rewarding at KI. I would end up sending an email to the international coordinator at KI explaining my situation. She explained that there should not be a problem with choosing from any faculty regardless of the contract as long as all changes were reported in the Learning Agreement. At this point the most important thing was to find something truly interesting to me to make most out of my exchange. She offered to send an email to the exchange coordinator in Milan, without any more luck than before. 


Regardless of my active attempts at soliciting the coordinator in Milan finally I took matter into my own hands. By this time, it was already the beginning of the autumn term at KI. I looked up the labs that most interested me, informed the coordinator of my intention and sent emails directly to the main contact of the laboratory. This was much more successful and allowed to also quickly discriminate if what they were offering to you was something of your interest and also gave the possibility to easily as further questions. This part also took some time as labs would take time to reply, which is more of a general problem in Italy, therefore do not get offended because it does not mean they are not interested. If the work a laboratory really sticks out and you do not hear back from them, keep emailing. 


When it come to me, I decided to contact the Regional Reference Center in the WHO Program for the Global Eradication of Poliomyelitis at the Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health. As mentioned, the back and forth by email took some time, but once the process of planning started everything rolled out smoother than ever and I sighed of relief. My initial thought was that the staff was so warm and welcome, willing to collaborate and clear on what they wanted me to do. At the countdown for submitting the Project Plan (December) I managed to finish everything in time and seal my project, fill the Learning Agreement and get it signed without a problem. 


Very excited to leave for Milan and start my project now I only had to pass my last exams and wait for January! 



List of Departments at UniMi to choose from: 

(For Biomedicine students section of Life Science -> by clicking topic and lies of research/research topics -> Laboratori di Ricerca; Tip: look at also the pages in Italian as they might have more detailed descriptions. Can be easily put in GoogleTranslate) 


Checklist for incoming Erasmus students:


UNIMIA: (to officially register the course you are taking that are equivalent to 30hp Degree Project) 

Italian Alps

Arrival and registration

I arrived in Milan mid-January, only a few days before I was supposed to begin my Degree Project. The main reason for this was that the last compulsory tasks of the Autumn semester were at the very end. If I would have had the possibility to arrive earlier, I would have just to have the time to explore some aspects beforehand. There was no pick-up service offered by the university but depending on airport you arrive to there are very good connection to the centre of the city either by bus or train. 


I did not see coming to Milan very close to my staring date as a big issue as I had been to Italy already multiple times. I was already aware of many things such as the society, culture and language. Additionally, I was not attending any courses, so the starting day of my project work was more flexible. I agreed on my first day at the laboratory directly with my supervisor and was greeted with a very lovely and warm welcome by the whole staff. 


Unfortunately, in the spring of 2022, the University of Milan did not organize any introduction week or introductory events due to the ongoing and unstable COVID-19 situation in Italy. However, the Erasmus network ESN Statale organized and introduction week that began with a tour of Milan as well as some other get-to-know-eachother events. These events did not start until February when the Spring semester at UniMi began.


Something UniMi Exchange offices do ask upon arrival is to provide documents for the university student ID. This was my first task to check of my list the Monday after I had arrived to Milan. A few weeks later the university ID card arrived. It works like the KI card and gives you access to places such as the library.


Università' degli Studi di Milano - Statale Via Festa del Perdono 7


Italy is known to be one of the cheaper countries to live in Europe. However, as you can expect prices within the country vary a lot depending on where you are. Unfortunately, Milan tends to be one of the more expensive cities in Italy to live in. But… Do not fear there are great deals and tips to navigate your exchange without spending all your savings! Note! How much you spend will also always be dependent on your lifestyle, standards of living and pre-existing habits.

First of all, Milan is a touristy city hence the higher prices and cost of living. On the counter side, the Milanese do appreciate a high quality of life, they like to look after themselves in terms of their appearance and overall wellbeing. This is something important to know about the general culture of the city that tie in with the costs.

In my opinion the largest expense is accommodation. Accommodation especially in the centre of the city can be extremely expensive. Fortunately, the university will most likely offer student housing for us exchange students to keep costs down. The average price for student housing is around 300€. This is for sure the cheapest option, but in case of bad luck I talk more in depth about accommodation in the next section.

Personally, the next chunk of my expenses was food. As it is well known Italian like their food and not only, they like good quality food. Supermarkets cater a lot of fresh produce, cheese, meats and milk products – staples in Italian cuisine. In my opinion the food shops have in store have a very good price-quality relation. The produce also follows seasonality especially fruits and vegetables. Therefore, do not be surprised if you cannot find grapes in April as this is not considered in season! If you are looking for more affordable food shopping spots, I recommend looking for Aldi, Lidl, Coop and EuroSpin. I found these to have a great selection of basic products and fresh produce, often better than in larger supermarkets.

The only thing I found problematic when shopping at these more inexpensive chains was the selection of specific products, such as those for intolerant individuals. I am personally lactose-intolerant, and I found that the selection of especially lactose-free milk products was very limited, with the same item being repeated in every store. This also applies to gluten-free, vegan and other special dietary products. In this case I recommend turning to Carrefour and Esselunga. These offer a far better selection, with the counter side of being a bit pricier.

Tip! Out of the more affordable supermarket chains EuroSpin is the best for special dietary products and overall my favourite! My favourite was their selection of cheeses! Just be mindful to which location you go to as the quality may vary from place to place! Give a try a few places to see which one is the best!

Something fun and new for many are farmers markets, found all over the city on differnet days of the week. This a unique experience to find fresh produce and typical Italian gastronomy products at zero kilometre. Additionally, you can find other items too like household products, clothing, curtains and more. I can understand that it is a bit more time-consuming but can actually reveal to be very therapeutic and a great, great low-cost option! Going to the street markets was one of my favourite activities to get more in touch with the Italian culture.  

List of markets around Milan:

Transportation in Milan is very cheap and is a relatively accessible, reliable and timely system. The public transport agency in Milan is called ATM and covers busses, trams and metro. The transport network is divided into zones (Mi1-Mi7). In order to move in the inner city, it is enough to have a ticket that covers Mi1-Mi3 zones. The monthly pass for Mi1-Mi3 for youth under 26 years is 37.50€, which allows you to travel unlimited times on any form of transportation. I believe that for most students the abovementioned pass is enough, but I still recommend double checking which zones you require especially if living somewhere in the border. Monthly passes can be easily bought and renewed at ATM Points spread over the city.

Note: As I lived a bit outside of the city, I would take the regional train to the lab each morning. The Milan transport network offers an integrated fare pass that allows you to use both the ATM network as well as the regional trains. Reginal trains are managed by Trenord. For me the integrated ticket for youth under 26 was 55€ (Mi1-Mi6). If living in the student residence offered by UniMi this is not necessary.

ATM Website:

ATM Point:

ATM Milano App:

Personally, I found Milan to be a very walkable city too. Therefore, I would find myself walking from place to place when distances were not too long. Alternatively, many of the students I met during my exchange, also liked to bike around the city. Bicycles can be easily found on Facebook Marketplace for affordable prices and sold on at the end of the trip. It is a great way to get your body moving while saving you the price of a monthly pass. Milan offers decent bike lanes but, in my opinion, they are not nearly as good as those found in Stockholm. I find Milan to be a bit too busy and full of construction for my liking, thus I never undertook biking seriously. Moreover, for a once in a while bike ride, I can recommend BikeMi – a bike sharing service.


Another small fee is necessary for the ESN Milano student card. It is required if you wish to participate in the ESN Milano activities and events. The price for the card was 10€. On the positive side, the student card is valid for a year and gives you discounts on many things, not only in Italy but also in other European countries.

IMPORTANT NOTE! When buying a monthly transportation pass but also in other occasions you might be required to provide a Codice Fiscale. This is the equivalent of the Italian social security number. You can generate this on your own using for example the following link: My recommendations are to use the same first names and last names in the generator as in the document you are filling in. Meaning that, if you are using both your first names in the generator, do the same in the documentation, otherwise it will give you an error message. In the ´place of birth´ put your country of origin (e.g. Sweden – Svezia in Italian) and leave the ´province´ section blank.



When completing the online application form to UniMi they ask you if you are interested in also applying for student accommodation. They don’t leave much margin to choose the location or the type of accommodation since they will offer you whatever is available at the moment. I have to say that there are good chances to receive student accommodation through the university. Most of the students that I met over the course of the exchange had been offered a place. The positive side for sure is that you will find yourself in an environment that allows yourself to branch out and make friends especially in the short timeframe. Additionally, out of all accommodation options it is the cheapest as the house market in the centre of Milan tends to be expensive. Rent for the student residence is around 300€.


On the negative side it is not guaranteed that the housing offered by UniMi will be close to the university campus or in the centre of Milan. The accommodation I was offered was on the other side of the city to where I had to be (Citta' Studi) and thus a bit inaccessible. Some feedback I also received from other students that due to the vivid student life some locations can be quite loud until early hours. Therefore, depending on your preferences and needs these are some things to keep in mind. On the other hand, the exchange is relatively short and thus in this case might be the most advantageous option. 


Regardless, it will be very likely that UniMi will offer some kind of housing option it is good to consider other solutions as well. The UniMi housing offers come quite late, thus in case of any problems it is good to have a backup plan. Below I have added come links that may be useful. I also recommend using Facebook as a tool to connect via groups for Erasmus students and housing as many Erasmus students leaving the country might sublet their rooms/apartments for a fairer price.  


In my case I stayed in an apartment my parents have right outside the metropolitan area of Milan. For me this was a more advantageous options from the point of view of the location and time of the commute to the laboratory. Therefore, I cannot report on the UniMi student residence standards or experience. 


Below I have listed some links to check out for housing options, from rooms to studios to student residences.


UniMi student accomodation


RUI residences







Milan countryside

Studies in general

I did not take part in any courses during my stay in Milan as the exchange was organized for completing my thesis project. Therefore, I cannot comment on teaching methods or the university environment other than the laboratory I worked in. I can also speak only on behalf of the research group I was part of.

From the very beginning of my correspondence with the lab, my supervisor was very excited to undertake this project with me. Upon my arrival the whole team welcomed me to the lab and always made me feel an essential part of the group. They did not just treat me as a simple student but a researcher and a colleague. I have to say that compared to the other students at the lab my relationship with the professors was more laid back and friendly. I believe for them it felt very special to have a student coming from abroad to work in their lab; something new they had never experienced before. For the whole period there my supervisor would follow the development of my thesis with pride and excitement and presented great trust in my skills and surprise for my intelligence.

The best way I can describe the atmosphere at the lab was professional but informal. All members were set on their tasks to do but left space for great conversations, moments of laughter during coffee breaks and weekly ‘pizzata’ rounds.

My days at the lab were very flexible in the length of my days and the tasks I was asked to complete. Normally I would start my days around 9 am and end around 4 or 5 pm depending on the workload. Something that was routine at the lab was to get most of the machines going in the morning, have a late lunch in order to analyse be able to analyse the data in the afternoon, concluding the day with deskwork.

The ambiance of more mature researchers at the lab was contrasted by the youth I had the chance of meeting there. Students at the lab were completing either their course required internships or thesis work. Something I immediately noticed, compared to students at KI, was that the Italian students were not very skilled and confident in the lab. I believe that as laboratory work is not such an integral part of their studies it took some time for them to get the hang on various techniques and methods. Having had lots of laboratory experience beforehand gives us an extra advantage! Nevertheless, I made great friendships with the other students as a result of long days working together and shared humour. Not only did we meet up at the lab but organized outings as soon as the bonding was more strong!

Another quite evident difference to the labs at KI is that the spaces are quite old and minimal. The lab has everything they need and not much more. Newer equipment is present such as NGS and PCR machines to keep up with the advancing research techniques. Therefore, when coming to Milan do not expect the laboratory spaces to be like at Biomedicum because your vision will be shattered quickly!

Finally, to my own initiative I took a 3 ECTS course organized by the University of Milan in collaboration with UNICEF on the topic Education of Human Rights – Emergencies, Rights and Future challenges. This had nothing to do with my thesis project, but when I came across the course, I saw it as an opportunity to shape my path for my future studies. I was held once a week at the Santa Sofia campus for 2 months. Through this course I got a glimpse into the university student life at UniMi.

Gel electrophoresis results

Courses during the exchange period

Courses corresponding to semester 6 at KI

I carried out the 30 ECTS KI course (´Degree Project in Biomedicine`) at the Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health (Faculty of Medicine) in the Regional Reference Centre in the WHO Program for the Global Eradication of Poliomyelitis. This was not among the departments in the agreement for the KI-UniMi exchange (Biotechnologies, Pharmacology and Human Nutrition). However, I was able to switch to do this switch after overcoming some initial objections (More in the Pre-departure section). In the end I contacted the laboratory supervisors personally which revealed to be the more productive and fruitful alternative (NOTE! The impression I received from the international coordinator at UniMi was thaht they were not very knowledgeable about the different alternatives and changes thaht can be made to the original exchange agreement between the universities). In this light, I highly recommend for you contact the labs of your interest yourself, rather than through the international coordinator at the partner university. In case of problems the international coordinator at KI demonstrated to be a useful asset. After the initial hurdles I was very successfully able to agree on the project, completing together the Project Plan via a Teams calls. Another recommendation is to have video calls to discuss rather than developing ideas over email.


At UniMi the ´Degree Project` course corresponded to the following courses, which were listed in my Learning Agreement

  •          K0909 Tirocinio (Internship) – 9 ECTS
  • ´        L06LL00 Attività integrative al tirocinio (Integrative activities connected to internship) – 6 ECTS
  •              Attivita’ di laboratorio (Laboratory activities) – 15 ECTS

In practice the Bachelor’s thesis project was carried out entirely as full-time laboratory research. As reference the topic of my thesis was Environmental surveillance of Poliovirus and Non-Polio Enterovirus during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Lombardy, Italy, by Wastewater-Based Epidemiology. Something I was surprised about was how as a Bachelor’s student I was considered at the level of a Master’s or PhD-student. I believe this was due to the previous laboratory work I had already done at KI in connection to my studies as well as my attitude towards the work. After an introduction period to the lab, I was left to work mostly independently while my supervisor was still very present and interested in the project and results. In addition to receiving guidance for automated equipment and techniques, I actively participated in the meetings and seminars organized by the laboratory staff as recommended. This opened my horizons to the research work the laboratory performs.


Note: Since the COVID-19 situation in Italy was still ongoing, masks were required to be work in indoor spaces.


Due to exclusively working in the lab I was unable to experience other parts of the university. I did not have any classes or formal assessment at UniMi and thus cannot comment on the teaching or examination methods. Before my return to Stockholm, I submitted my report after which I prepared the presentation for the defence of the thesis upon my return to Stockholm.


Language and Culture

As I have already hinted throughout my travel report one of my mother tongues is Italian. Therefore, I already knew the language coming to Milan. I saw this as an opportunity to improve my fluency in the language and expand my vocabulary. Similarly, I was already very familiar with the Italian culture thanks to what my family has introduced me in addition to my numerous trips to Italy throughout the years. Through this exchange programme I wanted to fully immerse myself in the culture of which I have never experienced the everyday life of!

In brief, the Italian culture is very much built on social events, especially surrounding food. Going out to dinner or an aperitivo is very common with a close group of friends. This is not only limited to weekend but also extends to weekdays. Alternatively, during the day coffee breaks are part of the daily routine, usually in the form of an espresso. Italians are proud of their history, art, architecture, and vast nature. They are warm people that truly enjoy spending time together and sometimes this can get very loud too. Hand gestures and always being a bit late are stereotypes everyone recognizes even without visiting Italy. I can say it is the truth, just by purely looking at myself! Something to note is that Italians are not the most confident at speaking in English which might lead to some miscommunication. This becomes more and more relevant the further you move from big cities and the further to the south of Italy you go. And finally, compared to Sweden, Italy is a more collectivistic country, where the wellbeing of others is forefront and helping others is respected. Family is considered super important. Generally, people are interested in how you are doing so do not misinterpret this – they are not being nosy; they care about you! 

In my case the communication in the lab happened in Italian, which I personally pushed for from the beginning. The English language knowledge of the laboratory staff varied - the younger researchers being fluent while elder professors had to be helped in all aspects of the language. Therefore, the fact I spoke Italian and wanted to speak Italian made it easier for them. I also believe this allowed us to nourish a deeper connection as a team. Moreover, as expected, a lot of the scientific terminology used was in English.

The University of Milan does offer language courses on three levels, which for the aforementioned reasons I did not attend. The university asks your interest for the language course in the online application form you fill in before departure. You are required to do an entry-level test for them to determine your level of fluency for you to be allocated in the correct group. Due to the still ongoing COVID-19 situation in Italy the language courses were held online. Here is the link for more information on the language courses on the UniMi website:

Teatro La Scala

Leisure time and social activities

All social activities were organized by the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) Statale (another name for UniMi). When activities began in February one of the first events organized was a tour of the city of Milan. Through ESN you are able to connect to Erasmus students from other faculties and universities. Throughout the semester they organized a wide spectrum of events, mostly communicated through the Facebook and WhatsApp groups, which made it easy to keep up with upcoming activities. ESN asks you to register in order for you to receive the ESN card (for a small fee) with which you are able to attend all events. The card is valid for a year. Thanks to the ESN you are also able to receive very nice student discounts. My most used one was for Ryanair flights for trips home and to cities near Milan.

Activities organized by ESN Milano Statale included food tours and dinners, big and small sports events (one-time or weekly), visits to attractions, tours of different parts of the city, picnics as the weather got warmer and, for more adventurous people, parties and karaoke nights at clubs. Some of these would require you to pay a small additional participation fee. There were also some bigger events organized with ESN Bicocca, ESN Politecnico and ESN Cattolica, the other big universities in Milan. The downside of being on Erasmus while the pandemic was still ongoing was that there were a limited number of spots for events and signing up was required. This meant it was not guaranteed you would be able to attend all events and once an activity was posted you had to sign-up almost immediately.

In addition to ESN Milano, I also recommend joining other Facebook groups for Erasmus students in Milan.

ESN Milano Statale:

Facebook ESN Milano Statale:

Survival Guide:

Milan is a very central city that allow you to travel easily to nearby cities. Regional trains make it very effortless to take day/weekend trips as they are very cheap. Nearby cities that I recommend to visit are Bergamo, Pavia, Torino, Varese, Como, Monza, Brescia… and the list goes on. I found it very beautiful that both the mountains and sea at a 2-hour reach. For those feeling like travelling further away high-speed trains allow to travel in less than 3 hours to Rome, Bologna, Florence or Venice. ESN Milano would also arrange pre-organized trips for a small fee (~10€). Participating in these allowed to travel in company and get a tour of the city. I highly, highly recommend travelling during your exchange as it is the best way to experience and piece together the true Italian culture and what better base to do it from than Milan!  

Another very central cultural aspect in Italy is their art and museums. They go all the way from classic art museums to modern galleries to design studios. The classic ones I recommend visiting in Milan are of course Duomo – the Milan Cathedral rooftops, Pinacoteca di Brera and Castello Sforzesco. Seeing the famous Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci is another must. You need to know that you are required to book your tickets in advance and time slots are just for fifteen minutes.

There are also many free museums to visit in Milan. These include Casa Manzoni, Casa Museo Boschi di Stefano and Museo del Risorgimento.


Pinacoteca di Brera:

Castello Sfrozesco: 

Cenacolo Vinciano (Last Supper):

Guide of Museums of Milan:

Yes Milano - guide to the city:


My top 10 things to note down for the best exchange experience:

  1. TheFork App – this app has been the most used one during my exchange for booking restaurants. I love it! It allows you to search the area you want to eat in, the type of food and finally when and with how many people you are eating with. Based on your indications it gives you recommendations on places to eat. But this is not it…The fantastic thing is that by booking through the app at certain hours you can receive from a 20% to a 50% discount on food. This allowed me to try more high-end restaurants for a great price! 
  2. Teatro alla Scala – An experience which is unique in Milan is to see a play/opera/ballet at Teatro alla Scala. The outside of the theatre does not give justice to the beautiful décor inside. It feels like you have entered a time capsule! My tips are (1) to look for shows given by the Ballet Academy of the Theatre. The tickets for these tend to be even 70% cheaper than for big shows. Me and my friend were able to get seats for the balcony right in front of the main stage for only 60€ (The price for big shows can be over 200€). It made us both feel like royalty! (2) Do look at the tickets in advance for the best price and (3) do not forget to dress well for the event! Tip! Do not forget to visit the restaurant upstairs! 
  3. EastMarket – Going to the EastMarket was one of my top events to go to during my stay in Milan. It is an ex-aeronautical factory in the industrial area close to Linate Airport, where once a month they hold a marketplace. They sell things from vintage to second hand, from furniture to antiques and other oddities and nick-nacks. It also had a food market with a variety of food trucks that change each month. There are drinks and a DJ too to enhance the atmosphere. It is a fantastic way to spend the day with your friends, from morning to night, discover unique things and eat all day long! Note! In the city centre there is also an EastMarket Shop that sells some of the items outside of the events. 
  4. Free museum visits – Every Tuesday afternoon after 14.00 entrance to museums is free. Some might have this offer during the last opening hour during other days of the week. Additionally, every first Sunday of the month most museums offer free entrance. I recommend checking the museum websites and to book in advance to avoid any hassle. 
  5. Best pasta in Milan – the best fresh pasta in Milan is made by Pasta Fresca Brambilla - Bistrot e Laboratorio. I don’t think I have to add much, just that it is absolutely great, and you can book a table through TheFork. The waiting time for a spot might be super long but absolutely worth it! 
  6. Navigli – One of my favourite spots for a weekend stroll when I felt like I had nothing to do was on the Navigli canals. Every Saturday they organize Fiera di Sinigaglia – a street market with vintage clothes, antiques, hand-made objects, typical Italian gastronomy products and more. Alternatively, every last Sunday of the month a similar but bigger market is organized, something very typical definitely worth seeing. Around the canal there are also numerous bars and restaurants where I recommend dining at least once during your stay. The atmosphere during the night changes and becomes very peaceful. My only tip is not to stay until very early morning hours at the area can get a bit dangerous! 
  7. Carnevale – Carnival usually falls at the end of February or beginning of March, in the days before Lent begins. You find Piazza Duomo full of people dressed in traditional carnival costumes and small children as their favourite cartoon character. Streets are filled with balloons and small colourful paper cut-outs thrown in the air! During these days Chiacchere are a must-try food! If you are really inspired the best place to experience is in Venice – a big masquerade ball on the streets. It is one of the oldest and best-known carnivals in Italy! 
  8. VoiceMap App – VoiceMap is an offers guided audio tours of cities on your phone for a small price (3-5€ depending on the tour). On the app you can find tours for a huge number of cities, big and small, all over the world. They are pre-set tours with different themes and route lengths. I discovered this app as one time  I found myself touring Verona by myself. After this I used it on so many other occasions too! The tours allowed me to have a more structured visit and get the most out of a day trip. I learned so much and discovered some amazing spots for food and photos I would have otherwise missed. Tip! I think that VoiceMap is also a great way to start your Milan adventures. 
  9. Milan Fashion Week – If you are a fashionista at heart Milan Fashion Week is held twice a year, in February and September. There are many events held outside, but the great thing is just to admire how the city blooms with creativity and internationally during those days! I recommend looking at the website for open events. 
  10. WhereAreU App – This last tip is a less fun one but maybe the most important! I recommend you download the app WhereAreU on your phone on your arrival to Milan. It is the equivalent of SOS Alarm we have in Sweden. It allows you to easily contact the emergency number while also sharing your location with them. Fortunately, I never had to use it but, especially as a foreigner, it think it can make you feel a tiny bit safer!

Final note! Be aware of pickpockets in crowded public places and tourist areas – the metro, restaurants, airports. Do not leave your things unwatched as they can be quick at taking your phone, watch or bag! My tip is to carry a bag which you can bully zip closed! 

ESN Milano


I learned a lot during this time on exchange in Italy, especially about myself as a person. I received a lot of answers on what I like and don’t like, career orientation and what in relationships do I cherish the most. This exchange not only allowed me to receive my long-awaited Bachelor’s degree but core memories, practical tips for the future and friendships. Therefore, I can say that the past five months confirmed my assumption that I would really love to live in Italy someday. I had been there only for holidays, which never really gives you an idea of what is like to live everyday life there.


Through this time period and the project I conducted, I understood the path I want the undertake with my future studies. The final thesis turned out more than I could have asked for. The lab team was very supportive even after my work had been concluded by asking a video recording of me defending my thesis at KI (since they could not attend on site) and the link to attend the graduation ceremony virtually. This made me smile because I understood that my time there had impacted them deeply.


During these summer months that have followed my exchange I have still been in contact with the group at the lab for general greeting and recommendation letters. I am glad that through this experience I was able to expand my network of contacts also for future reference. On my next visit to Italy, I would like to take the time to go and say hello!


I believe the dynamics at the lab were also thanks to my already existent knowledge of Italian, which made communication much easier. However, this was helpful for me as one of my goals for the exchange was to improve and become more confident with the language use and expand on my vocabulary. I truly believe I was able to achieve what I had set to do. Said this, I encourage to learn some basic phrases and actively engage with the language as this will allow you not only to establish relationships but engage in the society and have a bit of fun!


Something I also took as a lesson and encourage you to take away from my success story is to solicit. Write to the lab responsible, coordinators and staff as many times as needed if your matter is important and you truly stand behind it. These people might be busy, miss your email or are just simply Italian and take time to reply to your emails. Therefore, don’t be scared to give them a few reminders because only so can you get the most out of your Erasmus exchange!


A bit less than 5 months is definitely not enough to see and fully experience what Milan has to offer. Milan is such a rich city ranging from historical to modern, offering a little bit of something to everyone. It is an excellent place to branch out and travel to nearby cities or find some peace and quiet in the neighbouring countryside just outside the city. It is a city that knows what working hard is while also appreciating relaxing with an afterwork aperitivo shared with friends! 


I truly felt at home in Milan and cannot wait to go back!