I’m happy to introduce you to Tiffany Hollins, a young American woman of color living and studying abroad in Italy. Have you ever thought about studying abroad? Read on about her experiences so far!
1. What made you move to Milan, Italy?
I had studied abroad in Siena, Italy in 2001 (summer) during my undergrad. It was such a life changing experience that I wanted to feel that same way again. On my bucket list I had always wanted to live abroad and get my MBA. I figured why not kill 2 birds with 1 stone. The stars aligned and everything just happen to fall into place for Milan.
2. Do you speak Italian? If no, have you had a difficult time navigating without speaking Italian? If yes, has your Italian improved since living in the country?
Back in 2000-2001, I had studied Italian for a year and then lived in Siena for 3 months. I became very fluent, but when I went back to the US I didn’t practice and forgot a lot of what I learned. I also took Spanish in high school and started confusing the two languages. Since I moved here in August 2014, I haven’t had too much trouble navigating because I still remember a little bit, but when all else fails I speak broken Spanish. I find that most of the Italians are friendly if you are polite and try. I have been fortunate enough to not have any issues, but I know some of my classmates have. I also think it’s because they don’t think I’m American.
3. How long have you been in Italy and how long do you plan on staying?
I arrived in Milan on August 26, 2014 and my graduation date is December 12, 2015. It’s hard to say what I will be doing after that. I’m open to the right job in any country that I feel comfortable with.
4. What are some of the things you appreciate about the lifestyle in Italy?
Some of the things I appreciate about the Italian lifestyle is that it is so much more chill than the US. You don’t rush through dinner and you don’t take your coffee to go. You take time to enjoy it. Also another thing is hanging laundry. Most people don’t own dryers out here. That was an adjustment. Especially when Milan has its rainy season. You have to watch the weather to determine when it’s ok to do your laundry.
5. Are there things you have incorporated into your daily life that are completely different than the way you lived in America?
Back in the US, I drove everywhere and never used public transportation. Even to the store that I could easily see from my balcony. In Milan, I walk or take public transportation. It’s pretty amazing how just walking does wonders on the body. My legs are stronger and more tone. It has definitely made me feel more at home in Milan. You get to see so much more of the city when you aren’t actually behind the wheel.
6. How have you been received as a Black American in Italy? Is racism a part of your daily life?
I haven’t had any issues with racism. I find that people are pretty friendly toward me. I think once they find out I’m American and I speak English, the Italians (Europeans in general) get excited and want to practice English and talk about American things like how they like the NBA or House of Cards.
7. Have you been able to travel much since moving to Italy? If so where have you gone?
I have gone to Marrakech, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Madrid, Barcelona (this weekend), and Amsterdam (in 2 weeks). I have a pretty tight school schedule, but lately we have had more 3 days weekends and holidays that have allowed me to travel. I’m hoping to hit up the Scandinavian region at the beginning of May and maybe China toward the end of May.
8. What would you say to parents who may be hesitant about their children studying abroad, and what would you say to kids (young adults) who have the opportunity but may not think it’s for them?
I would tell parents that if there child has common sense, then let them go abroad. It is the best experience they can have. It will allow them to see the world in a whole new way. Plus it’s also an excuse for the parents to go visit their child. And there is a lot of funding out there for students to study abroad. It’s not as pricey as many people believe. I would tell young adults to do it! There is such a great big world out there. There isn’t anything to be scared of. You will adjust quickly and make new friends from around the world.