Relocating and adjusting to a new city

[By: Victoria Licht]

In this blog series we have heard from almost all the ESRs, talking about the challenges we encountered in our research and the progress we have made the last 7 months.  While all of us have moved from different countries to be at our present university, some of us have had minimal problems adjusting to our new city and others like myself needed some time to get use to our new home.

I am originally from Germany, grew up in Southern California, and eventually moved back to Germany. I finished my bachelors in California and then went to Germany for my Master’s degree, I really considered myself a chameleon of being able to adjust to new surroundings. I have traveled to many place in Europe and went to South America for six weeks, I convinced myself I was able to make a home anywhere.

When a friend told me about this position to be in the MOTION project, I was so excited I immediately sent in all my paperwork. I have never been to Italy but now I get to live there for 3 years, it’s a dream come true! I downloaded Dualingo practicing my Italian before even getting the offer, I wanted to be prepared just in case. I dreamt about all the espresso I would drink, all the pizza and pasta I would eat, and hopefully all the new friends I would immediately make in a new lab. Once the offer came and I accepted, I was in total bliss. This is a once in a life time chance to live in a country and to fully embrace a culture that I had no experience with outside of what I saw on TV.

I had a couple months to get everything organized, I had a difficult time finding a place to live in Milan and while I was currently living in Munich, Germany, it made it a little difficult to get to Milan. So I attempted to look for apartments over Facebook, renting websites, and apps, but the only response that I got were from people asking me to send the deposit before signing a contract which usually meant scam. Finally a supervisor of mine was able to organize me a temporary room through the university, it wasn’t much but it was someplace I could sleep and relax in at least.

Once arriving in Milan from Munich with the help of a friend, it was everything that I expected (except the mosquitos). My friend and I went to every site seeing attraction that was available and ate at every pizza and pasta place we could come across until it was time for her to head back to Germany. The first couple nights alone were pretty tough, I had come to the realization that English was not as widely spoken in Milan as I initially hoped and that my Dualingo lessons were not getting me as far as I would have liked. I was also trying very hard to find a permanent place to live but since I did not speak the language I was at a huge disadvantage. I was also having a difficult time in my new lab, while I was really excited for my projects and got along with all my supervisors and colleagues, I was still really lonely. I was used to always having friends around but now I live alone and everyone already has established friendship groups, it was a tough couple weeks of this.

After about a month of feeling really sad and lonely, it began to get better, I was able to find a permanent apartment with the help of a supervisor. I went on my first workshop meeting with the MOTION project and got to meet some amazing people and some mentioned having the same trouble adjusting, which was great to hear. Fast forward to now while I am still having a lot of trouble with the language and I am still frustrated with some of the bureaucracy here in Italy, I am happy for the decision of coming to Milan. I have wonderful supervisors and colleagues, a great apartment, making friends, and I could not ask for better espresso and food than here in Milan, Italy.