Packing... lightly?

Ciao! I am Samantha. I am a Global Intern in Milan for this summer! I have already been here for a month now and have loved every minute of it!

I thought I could share with you all a little bit about my first day here in Milan. Let's just say it was a very difficult morning...

Looking back to my first day when I arrived in Italy, the one thing that always comes to mind is how heavy my luggage was! I had one big rolling suitcase that weighed about 52 lbs., a duffel bag that weighed about 25 lbs., plus my backpack that weighed about 8 lbs and of course my purse! Totaling the weight together I had about 85 lbs. of luggage that I had to get from the Malpensa Airport in Milan to my new residence. Before I had left Indiana, my mom and I decided that I wouldn't take a taxi just because the cost was so high. So even before I was in Italy, I was sitting at my computer looking up my address on Google Maps trying to figure out how I am going to get there from the airport. I had no idea what I was doing! So I ended up emailing Vanessa, who was my Global Experiences Rep in Milan. She was so helpful! She emailed me back right away and said that I would want to take the green line to the stop Udine to get to my apartment. So when I finally did arrive in Milan I had a plan. I would take the Malpensa Express to the Cardona Station then get on the metro taking the green line to the Udine stop and then walk about two blocks to my apartment.

This is how it really went... when I arrived in Milan I first picked up my luggage and went through customs. After which I was overcome by taxi drivers waiting eagerly to take me to my destination. I was so tempted, but I didn't have any cash on me, at least not euros! So I started searching for an ATM not finding one anywhere. I kept trying ticket machines and then came to eventually find the courage to ask someone Dov'è un bancomat? (Where is the ATM?). Where the man proceed to point straight ahead and say it's right there. Well since I was so overwhelmed I completely missed seeing that it was staring right in front of me. I was mortified thinking to myself -- way to look like the stereotypical American in Italy. Fortunately everything became a little easier after that incident. Now that I had money and had done so many circles around the airport, I had no problem purchasing my ticket and stamping it! So then all I had to do was find the platform that my train was leaving from.

At the time I did not know there were several platforms, so I ended up going down to the first one I see. When I came to the platform there was no train, but there was a train across the tracks. I began to wander around for awhile on the platform thinking that I might be in the wrong place. Then a young man approached me asking if I was going to ______ ( I don't exactly remember what he said but it was definitely not Milan!). We end up talking for awhile; he was from Bangladesh and was traveling through Italy. It was my first friendly encounter in Milan. We ended up bonding over the fact that neither of us knew if we were in the right place. It was nice knowing that I wasn't the only one who didn't have a clue. We eventually left the platform and parted ways, and I finally made it to the platform across the way with the correct train.

As I made my way away from the airport I found comfort in removing the 85 lbs. from my body and staring out the window to see my first real glimpse of Italy. When I arrived at Cardona, all I had left was to get on the Metro then I would be at my new home for the next 9 weeks! I bought a ticket for the Metro and arrived at Udine no problem. Well... there were problems, but again it was my LUGGAGE! I was constantly kicking myself for bringing all my Italian books and several other items that I didn't need! I was exhausted, and I could barely move every time I had to take my luggage up the stairs. I was hoping not to fall!

That was the one thing I first noticed about Italy -- the stairs!! I seriously despised those stairs that first day in Milan. Every set of stairs felt like I was climbing Mount Everest! I was struggling so much with my luggage that I had to walk the two blocks backwards to my apartment to get my luggage to move! But when I finally saw my apartment, I felt so relieved! The best part of it all was that my plane got in at 8 am and I arrived at 10:30 am! It took me two and a half hours to arrive at my destination! When it should have only taken me an hour to get there! Oh well! You live and you learn! I learned to never to pack 85 lbs. worth of stuff again!

Hopefully my first day arrival story helps make some of you future interns think twice about what you are packing! Make sure to ask yourself: Do I really need this? Believe me most of the times the answer is NO!

So, to make your traveling experience more pleasant than mine, I have compiled a list of tips for you to help with your packing:

1. You do not need to bring a hair dryer or a straightener.

Usually these items will not work abroad. Several of the girls' hair dryers and straighteners over heated and died. So it is better just to buy them when you arrive then to bring them with you!

2. Use space saver bags!

These are my all time favorite! All you have to do is put your clothes in the bag and then use the vacuum to take out the air! Then amazingly you have ten tops that take up the space of one! Warning though they are heavy when you take the air out! That is why my duffel bag ending up weighing 25 lbs!

3. Keep your beauty supplies at home!

I am not saying to not bring anything! What I mean is instead of buying like razors, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shaving cream, etc. at home, just buy it all when you get there! Believe me the weight adds up. So opt out and get your essentials abroad so then you never have to carry the weight in your suitcase!

4. Think realistically.

Do not pick out an outfit for in case you get invited to a gala event! I know it's difficult! I am the queen of packing everything I own! But don't bring a bunch of workout stuff if you are never going to workout! Like me, I brought running shoes, workout shorts and t-shirts... Have I worked out?? Nope not once! I keep saying I will, but it has been four weeks already and nothing, so I think it's safe to say most likely it will not happen!

5. Allow yourself to bring that one thing that you can't live without... even if it might seem a bit crazy to everyone else!

For example: I was unbelievably irrational about parting with my steamer. I know it sounds crazy, but I love that thing! It makes my clothes look amazing, so pretty and wrinkle free! My mom said I was crazy, my landlady and my roommates also agreed! But all the other fashion interns were very jealous! That's when I knew the pain was worth it! (It really wasn't that heavy; the problem was trying to fit it in my suitcase!)

P.S. Later I found out that I was one of the six girls that packed the lightest when coming to Milan... Let's just say at the time I did not feel like the lightest packer.

P.S.S. If you all are planning to travel to Milan... here is the metro map for the city! Milan is huge! So you will need to know how to get around!

Milan Travel map

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