Larah Kuziw is a current final-year student studying Business Studies and Italian, and writes here about the ‘distant Italian memory that was once her Year Abroad…’

Finally! After months of form-filling, telephone interviews and contract-signing, my Italian adventure had at last made its long awaited appearance! Since I am one of those typical girls who has something for everything, packing my life into one measly suitcase proved very difficult, as you can probably imagine. And of course, in true Italian-style, I didn’t travel alone. Oh no. Along came the troops – my mum and grandma, my two sidekicks, my two travel companions. Put it this way – not only did that mean more luggage space for me (yippee!), but leaving home wasn’t as difficult as it could have been had I done the journey by myself. I guess at this point I should at least say thank you to both of them for that!

Larah Kuziw photo for CLAS blog

The goodbyes and the journey itself were a bit of a blur. I just remember feeling every emotion under the sun: scared, excited, worried and happy (and beginning to crave pizza and wine…obviously!). We finally landed in Milan and like the pack-horses we were, struggled around this big city in order to reach our accommodation.

The first month was all about settling in. After weeks of searching for a place to live in permanently, I finally found an apartment that wasn’t charging €700 a month for rent! I’m a poor student remember! I also entered this scary world I’ve heard a lot about – the world of work! That’s right, gone were the student days! In all fairness it was exciting and something new to look forward to. I occupied the role of a “Marketing Assistant” for a worldwide pharmaceutical company based in Milan. I chose to work because I wanted a different experience and also because I study Business as part of my degree and you know what? I don’t regret the path that I chose. Do you know why? Because firstly, I got paid (ok, it was peanuts, but who cares? I actually got a real-life wage!), and secondly, I learnt more Italian during my year abroad than I did in the two years I had studied it previously. It was a win-win situation! Not forgetting the great friends that I met out there whom I am still in touch with now!

When I started my year abroad experience, I have to admit that I thought it was going to drag and feel like I was spending a decade there rather than a year. But before I knew it, I was fitting my life back into those suitcases and heading home. The only difference was, I had accumulated even more things than I started with! Typical… But that’s another story! Anyway, somehow the thought of adjusting back into my ‘old’ life was daunting. Who can blame me? I was used to a life of coffee, pizza, pasta, wine, glorious sunshine and Dolce & Gabbana (ok, maybe not the latter, but still…!).

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve taken away some great memories from my Italian Year Abroad experience and what is even better, is that I have stories to tell the grandchildren in the future! Opportunities like this don’t always come around often, so if I was to give some advice then make the most of your adventure and try new things that enable you to leave your comfort zone.

In bocca al lupo!

Many thanks to Larah for sharing this fantastic experience with us.