Exchange to Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy
Semester 2, 2015
I have been away from home for just over 2 and half months now after leaving Australia at the conclusion of semester 1. It has been an amazing experience to travel before settling into normal life for my semester exchange at Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milano. My travels have allowed me to experience a diverse range of cultures in 11 weeks of travel, beginning in Turkey and concluding in Spain before I arrived in Milan.
The trip started in a group of four, then two and then I concluded with 2 weeks of travelling by myself. Each have their advantages and certainly all gave way to completely different experiences.
During my trip I have visited 11 countries I will limit my post to a few experiences I found particularly poignant. My first stop was Istanbul the hub of Turkey. We arrived during the Ramadan period which for Muslims is as sacred as Christmas. Ramadan means Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset – eating a meal at 4 am and then again at around 9:30 pm with nothing in between. As a foreigner it was an interesting time to be in Turkey as at night families would begin to gather in parks and then as sun went down begin to eat the most amazing feats. It was beautiful to see the happiness that people had being in big groups and enjoying the company of their families. Not only did we have the cultural experience of Ramadan we experienced the beauty of Istanbul. Certainly one of the highlights was visiting the Blue Mosque which sang its call to prayer 5 times a day louder than any other Mosque in the world.
A second experience I would like to talk about was my experience solo travelling through my favourite country so far (apart from Italy J). Travelling solo was completely different to travelling in a group of your close friends. Every day you meet new people from such diverse backgrounds and all corners of the earth. Spain was one of the most beautiful countries with a dichotomy between old and new. Personally, I loved the new architecture that is scattered in between old historic plazas and churches. Spain’s culture was completely different to Australia’s where they have a siesta and then children are all still playing in playgrounds at 10pm. The food culture of tapas was also completey foreign to me and I enjoyed the diversity so much.
These are only two experiences of hundreds which I have chosen to focus on and certainly travelling opened my eyes to different lifestyles and cultures – both accepting and oppressing cultures.
I have now been in Milan for 4 days and am starting to get settled into my home for the next 4 months. I havn’t been more excited for something my entire life, and look forward to posting on this blog in the coming months detailing my experiences at my new university.