My Study Abroad Experience: Alejandro Mendez

Where and when did you study abroad/off-campus? 

Fall 2019 – Bocconi University

What did you do for your internship and what kinds of projects were you assigned (if you had one)?

N/A – not an internship role.

What are two things you learned from your time abroad/off-campus that you may not have learned otherwise?

  • See and understand how history plays a role in shaping culture and things in every day life from how people socialize to how their education is struct
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  • The world is a lot more connected than I expected – certainly more than about a decade ago. For example: Italy’s contemporary music scene is very similar to the latino one, their books are the same as in America, they follow the NBA and NFL, and a lot of the students I met have friends spread all over the world, including Asia, America, and Africa.

What surprised you most about your time abroad/off-campus?

The class dynamics are very different. You are not expected to go to class, but classes are very challenging because they expect you to go above and beyond of what the class teaches you. They expect you to be very well versed in the class topic and challenge you to think critically beyond practice exams, homework, etc.

What was the hardest part of your experience?

The change in class dynamics. In some cases, classes give you practice exams or quizzes, but they are not similar to the exams. As mentioned, they expect you to go beyond of what is taught in class to earn an A.

What was the best part of your experience?

Being able to meet so many people. Being in Europe gives you the opportunity not only to meet other exchange students at your university, but to explore the neighboring countries and meet people everywhere to go. It helps you put everything into perspective and understand the world better.

What are your best tips for those planning to study where you did?

  • Understand what is expected from you in class. It is really easy to underestimate how difficult exams will be, because what is taught in class and practiced in quizzes is a lot simpler than what they expect you to know for the midterm or final exams
  • Try to meet as many people as you can. There are a lot more students than you think doing the exam same thing as you – they are there to learn and meet people, so meeting people early on makes the whole experience better.
  • Plan your weekends if you expect to travel during the semester. Sit down and understand your schedule to plan out where you want to go and when. You wouldn’t want to miss a good trip because you did not anticipate you would have a quiz next week.

Are there any hidden gems that your classmates should check out?

Milan is easy to navigate. There are no places you won’t find after a quick google search for things to do. What I would recommend is knowing what places are open when it’s snowing and planning on going there before it starts snowing/when it stops snowing.