My name is Scarlet Broderick and I am a rising senior on the Babson women's soccer team. This past semester I studied abroad in Milan, Italy. I knew the time would fly but I did not anticipate my time in the beautiful city of Milan to be cut in half by a global pandemic. Having to cut my four-month study abroad program in half made me truly understand how incredible and rewarding of an experience studying abroad is. It wasn't until I returned home to Middlebury, Conn., that I realized how much I loved living in Milan and how much I missed out on.
Studying abroad is challenging. Being away from my loved ones in a foreign country was a true test of my independence as a young adult. I was forced to step outside of my comfort zone to build relationships and take advantage of all the exciting opportunities the city had to offer. The goals I set for the semester were simple: take advantage of every opportunity living in the fashion capital of the world, travel as much as possible, meet new people, immerse myself in Italian culture, become more independent, and have no regrets at the end of the semester.
Immersing myself in the Milan culture and transitioning to living abroad was definitely the most difficult task for me. The first few weeks I struggled being away from my family, friends, and loved ones. The time difference made it extremely difficult to communicate with them and I felt extremely lonely and isolated. Living in a homestay definitely helped me emotionally. My host mom was super friendly and loving and was constantly making an effort to cheer me up and help me adjust. She cooked countless delicious meals for me, helped me plan exciting weekend trips around Europe, taught me how to cook authentic Italian meals, and did so many other small things that made me feel like a member of the family. As time passed and classes began to start, I found myself starting to adjust more and more and gain my footing. My days got busier, I planned more trips, and I met some new people in my classes; all of which played an important role in me building routine and gaining a sense of comfort about living in Milan and excitement about what the rest of the semester had in store.
The classes I was able to take at IES Milan were one of the highlights of my semester abroad. I was able to get a well rounded, fashion-based curriculum by taking Visual Merchandising, Managing Fashion & Luxury Companies, and Managing 'Made in Italy' Companies. All of these classes were built around field studies and experiential learning all of which were centered around Milan's strong fashion history. Finishing the semester online did eliminate some of those opportunities, however, in my time in Milan I was still able to attend some of the field trips. The combination of these classes and sightseeing in Milan reignited my passion for fashion design and opened my eyes to the endless excitement, creativity and once in a lifetime experiences that the industry offers. It confirmed that the fashion industry is definitely the place for me post graduation. The other highlight of my semester was being able to travel on the weekends. Before having to leave I was able to go to Florence, London, Budapest and Vienna, all of which were breathtakingly beautiful and rich in culture and delicious food. Although I had so many other trips planned, the trips I was able to go on were extremely special and have inspired me to make sure I am able to get back to Europe one day and visit all of the magnificent places I didn't get the chance to see.
Thankfully I have been able to stay in contact with my host mom since I left Milan through text and facetime. Living in the heart of the city, she had to endure extremely strict and long quarantine. My host mom, her daughter and her dog were confined to their apartment for close to 3 months and were only allowed outside to let her dog go to the bathroom or to get essential food at the grocery store when she ran out. As the situation has improved in Milan, life is slowly getting back to normal for her. She is allowed to go to the park and walk around, with a mask of course, and start to get back into her daily routine. When talking to her, she says the hope is that in a couple of months things will be pretty much back to normal. I'm so thankful I will be able to keep in touch with her as we created such a strong bond and relationship while I was there. She told me when I left that her door is always open for me so I hope one day in the near future I can make it back to Milan to visit her and make up for all of the traveling and sightseeing that I missed out on this semester.
All in all, studying abroad in Milan was an unforgettable experience, one that I wish I was able to finish. A semester abroad challenges you and allows you to grow as a person, both personally and professionally, more in four months than I think any person could in a year or two staying in the United States. Milan forced me to step outside of my comfort zone, explore my creative and professional aspirations, build new relationships and find new levels of independence. Although my time was cut short, Milan was a life-changing experience and one I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to go on. My biggest takeaway from abroad would be that no matter how scary or intimidating four months away from home seems, take a risk and go! It truly is an unforgettable and rewarding experience. The culture, the people, the classes, the trips, and of course the food are things that I will never forget.