My First Week in Milan


If you’re subscribed to the newsletter, you may notice this blog post is coming to you later than I originally promised — oops! But hey, isn’t that just the Italian way of things? I guess I am assimilating quickly… 


Landing in Italy knowing I am going to be living here for over a year is very different than landing in Italy for vacation. There is more stress, less wishful anticipation. Stress about making sure my flights are on time, about whether the four suitcases I checked would get lost in this travel climate of lost luggage and cancelled flights.  Luckily, my travel was virtually seamless. No delays and all bags in possession. The steep cost to check those suitcases is officially worth it.
For the forty minute drive from the Malpensa airport to my apartment, I am relaxed. I’m relaxed knowing that the tricky part is over. It isn’t until I open the door to my apartment that I feel the stress return. Maybe it’s how I was raised (by neat freaks, a title I now also claim) or the American side of me (try as I might to suppress it), or simply a result of living in luxury apartment complexes in Charlotte for the past five years, but I was aghast at how dingy my apartment appeared at first sight. Dramatic? Perhaps. To me, the layer of dust and used sheets made my skin crawl.
Though I anticipated certain differences such as no A/C, tiny showers, quirky appliances, no clothes dryer, they hit me harder than anticipated. When travelling in the past, these differences hardly had an impact. Knowing that I’d be living here, however, was a different story.
I didn’t expect my American-ness to be exposed so soon, but in my efforts to pull the place together into something that felt like home, I found myself desperate for the convenience of Amazon Prime, Target, or hell, I even would’ve relished a Wal-Mart.
I had a week before my program started which suddenly didn’t feel like nearly enough time to figure out where to find home goods, cleaning supplies, additional outlet converters, and all of the other items I had no clue where to find (yet). Not to mention necessary tasks such as changing my phone plan and getting my permesso di soggiorno.


Come Wednesday, the jetlag has worn off and I’m seeing things clearly. A deep clean and a couple trips to IKEA later, my apartment is beginning to feel like home.  The first night I slept starfish style with a fan pointed directly at me. Now, I’m able to sleep comfortably despite the lack of A/C. I’ve finally figured out how all of my appliances work after slogging over manuals. Picture me sitting on the floor, dripping sweat, fan pointed at my face, painstakingly translating a dusty Italian user manual to learn what the symbols on my oven mean. The euro life is glamorous, no?
Luckily, there’s so much to do and see outside of the apartment that it’s nearly impossible to stay inside. I’ve had a couple amazing meals already (stay tuned for a blog post listing the best places to eat in Milan!). The first was a treat after successfully navigating the infamous Italian bureaucracy. This included a visit to the post office, running around to find stamps and to print documents, and a return to the post office to have them suddenly decide they were closing three hours early. So, I return a third time the next day and wait in line for two hours to submit my application, which had to be submitted within 8 days of arrival, in order to then receive my appointment time to finally get my permit to stay at the police station…in November. Hurry up and wait, as they say.

Another meal was notable not because of the food (perfectly average sushi) but because of the company.
I’m one of the first to arrive for lunch as noon is still a bit early for most here. I’m quickly joined by a table of two right next to mine, what appears to be a father son duo or perhaps grandfather and grandson (who’s to say). I pay them minimal mind until suddenly a man comes up to the elder of the pair. Clearly they know each other. But no, the man asks for a photo and I piece together that he wants the selfie “per mia madre”. I realize I must be in the midst of someone important. I notice person after person double take as they walk past. A woman comes up and, though I can’t understand her words, I understand that she is expressing her gratitude and appreciation to the man. I’m thinking the son must be annoyed but he’s unphased. Probably gets it all the time.
When I thought they left, I paid my check and asked the server who that “uomo famoso” was. He laughed, of course, and gave me his name and said he was a famous opera singer of over 70 years. I googled and sure enough with 15 million listens on Spotify, I guess he’s pretty big.
I head to the bathroom before I leave and try the door but it’s locked. A second later it opens and out comes Albano himself. Suddenly star struck for a man who was a stranger mere moments ago, I feel my eyes widen and I just say “mi dispiace, mi dispiace!” (sorry, sorry!) to which he replies “prego, prego!” And so ends my brush with Italian fame.
I head home after a few more twists and turns down the beautiful side streets in the city. I continue to organize my apartment while listening to Al Bano, windows open with a glass of wine and I truly feel I am in Italy.


By the time Friday comes around, I officially am in love with Milan. I spent long days exploring the city, learning the public transportation system, seeing the major landmarks, and peeking inside all of the glorious produce markets. The stress of Monday is a very distant memory now.

I’m exciting to start school, but I also know I should relish my freedom to do nothing. I enjoy one last special meal for the weekend and otherwise am at home breaking in the new kitchen and continuing to be humbled by my European oven.


As I write this, I’m wrapping up the first week of the journey that is the actual MBA program. Opening week was a string of presentations, introductions, workshops, and thankfully, a few incredible aperitivos and dinners to balance it all out.  The week has been a blur but I’ll be sharing the details (including about a dinner at a 3 Michelin starred restaurant) with you in the next blog post!
Alla prossima!

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Sydney Isaacs
Sydney Isaacs

Sydney is a 29-year old American living between France and Italy. She has a WSET Level 2 certification in wine, along with a degree in environmental engineering and an MBA. She loves exploring local farmer’s markets, haunting her favorite wine bar, and discovering new restaurants.


  1. Katy Kosick
    September 23, 2022 / 11:26 am

    I love this!! You are such a good writer! Can’t wait to follow along. ❤

    • Sydney
      September 27, 2022 / 3:13 pm

      Thanks, Katy!!! Miss you! Hope you’re planning your trip to visit already 😉

  2. Perry Gayle
    September 19, 2022 / 8:21 am

    Hi Sydney,

    This is so cool. I am going to love following this blog. It sounds like you studied Italian before you moved there. Please tell me about that. I am interested in learning a couple of additional languages. Will all your MBA classes be taught in Italian? OMG, that would be difficult.

    What is the name of your University? In what part of the city do you live? What type of public transportation do you use? Do you have a bike or do you plan to get one?

    Take care. I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Sydney
      September 22, 2022 / 3:37 pm

      Thanks, Perry!

      I have indeed been studying it for a couple of months and will be taking an Italian course through school as well, so hopefully I’ll be fluent by the end of the program!

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