Bison Abroad | Carnival, Classes and Kisses?

This week is fashion week and carnival in Milan. The streets are full of people wearing clothes that probably cost more than my car, and confetti all over the ground (God bless the people who have to sweep the streets).

As the weather is starting to warm up more, the streets are full of more hustle and bustle and people, which is fun to be a part of, but it makes the line to get a deep fried pizza (the newest and best food development in my life at the moment) significantly longer.

RYAN KOCKELMAN | PHOTO COURTESY | Basilica of Saint Ambrose, spotlit at night on the University campus.

Classes have started at Cattolica, and it has been really interesting getting perspectives on European history from the European point of view. I’ve talked to many people who have made the claim that Mussolini, “wasn’t that bad.” Most people are all right with him because of all the things he built.

And it’s true, most cities and buildings in Italy were built on remnants of old buildings. Milan itself was once the Roman city of Mediolanum, and was built in layers. Much of it had to be rebuilt during World War Two, including parts of the university I go to now.

Another aspect of daily life that always takes me by surprise is kissing. In Italy, greetings between friends are typically done with kisses on both cheeks, however, in Milan while guys greet girls with kisses, and girls greet girls with kisses, guys don’t greet guys with kisses.

While I am trying to integrate more and more with the people, my inherent awkwardness makes me mortified of this tradition. I have a hard time talking to girls, much less keeping my cool when they lean in for a kiss, and I have to be sure I start with the correct cheek for fear of making a total fool of myself. Future goal: do this without having a mini-crisis.

Ryan is an NDSU student who shares his experiences studying at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Italy.

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