Written by Yiannis Ioannou & Bart Van den Bossche
Milan, the trip everyone of our class was waiting for left us with mixed feelings of “pain” & pleasure and lots of memories.
The pain started before we even boarded the plane. Since most of us booked the same flight, Brussels – Milan with Easyjet, we decided to take the train from Antwerp Central together to the airport. This is where the pain started, our train got cancelled. Luckily we could still take the next one, 25 minutes later, but this made us arrive late in the airport. Since some of us had luggage to check in, we were supposed to be at the desk 40 minutes before the plane took off, we were 10 minutes late and therefore couldn’t check in even though the plane had a delay of more than one hour. After some (heavy) arguments and help from the responsible Easyjet manager, the problem got resolved so all of us could fly together.
First days in Milan.
Since the students had to plan the flights and accommodations themselves this would become a promising trip. Once landed it was a huge benefit to have some Italian speaking colleagues with us. Having people who can cross the language barrier made it a lot easier to find our ways to our apartments.
We arrived at the apartment around 5 in the afternoon and felt hungry. Luckily Silvia, our Airbnb host, recommended us a lovely Italian restaurant in the neighborhood of the apartment. Although the price was a bit high, as we learned later, it was a good first experience with the Italian kitchen.
Having finished dinner, we went back to the apartment to prepare for a first night out in Italy with lots of big clubs, grumpy bouncers and good drinks. “Market research” as our first night would be described in business terms.
After recovering from the first night out, some of us decided to go to the legendary San Siro Stadium to experience an AC Milan game. They faced the Genoa team in what was a fun match to watch and a great experience. After the game we went to the food stands outside of the stadium to grab a Salsiccia sandwich which is the Italian alternative for a hambuger.
In the evening a tradition for the coming week was established, relax a bit at home before heading into the city to have a drink and enjoy the evening.
Days in the school.
This Milan trip was communicated to the student as a design seminar. However design and business have more in common than generally known, we didn’t know what to expect. The seminar was hosted by the Politecnico di Milano University and from day one we were submerged in a bath of design. The first lesson we were taught was that our current definition of design was completely different from what we were going to learn. Despite the fact our professor was very passionate about design, we had a hard time staying awake (maybe the nights were a bit too long), luckily the man had a loud voice which kept us awake.
After two days of design theory we went to the Milan design museum to see what design was all about. Although the museum was housed in a nicely designed building, the exhibition wasn’t that nice. A 10 – 20 minute walk in a room filled with design chairs wasn’t what we expected. We expected more from a museum and luckily that came the next day. In our program a trip to the Fondazione Achille Castiglioni was scheduled. The MIE-students with a product development background were very excited about this, the others didn’t know what to expect. Mr. Castiglioni was a well-known designer with lots of awesome inventions, a spoon that helps you clean your pot of Nutella as the most interesting for me. We were guided by his daughter in a house that was still filled with a lot of the designs her father made. The aim of the designer wasn’t to design aesthetically beautiful items but he wanted to design practical products. His products are still getting discovered by the big design brands (e.g. Alessi) in the world, which shows that he was a design visionary.
The last two days of the academic part of the Milano trip were all the collaboration between business and design student. We met our fellow students and were introduced to the companies to whom we were assigned to do a project. The Milan students were very eager to start on this project and greeted us with open arms. On Friday we said our goodbye to the University but not to its students. We’ve been working on these projects and they are coming to Belgium next week to present the results.
Some of us booked a few days more in Milan which gave us the possibility to visit the city. The city center was typically Italian and very beautiful. The famous mall is breathtaking and so is the Duomo that stands at central square. It is possible to go up the roof of the Duomo and the view is amazing. The Castle which is situated in the center is quite impressive and the surrounding park gives you the possibility to escape the busy city life. Our group was lucky to have our own MIE – Milano guide. One of our fellow students studied in Milan for six months and guided us to the hidden treasures of the city. The most mesmerizing of these spots was the Cimitero Monumentale di Milano. The place where the important Milanese people get buried.
The week in Milan was one of long days & short nights, of frustrations & amazement, of design & business, of academic work & leisure time, … It was a week which we will remember for multiple reason and will stay in our hearts as the first MIE-trip.
Now it is up to us to pay it back and make the Milan students feel at home in Antwerp. Looking forward to guide them around in our amazing city.