It's been more than a year since I started writing for The Grid, three years since I moved to Milan, and one year since I finally started living the true Milanese life.
Attending university at Politecnico di Milano and living on campus with all my international friends gave me a rather limited view of what this city is and could be. Campus life and all that comes with it was very different from the reality of how most people in Milan live. If you are comfortable just enjoying university life and having coffee with your friends, like I was, you may be less likely to go out and explore the social jungle of the city.
When I graduated, I moved from the quiet, residential life of campus Leonardo to the chaotic life of Via Padova. Just by moving, it felt like I had changed not only the view, but the entire urban and social perspective I created for myself. In a way, I also changed the life I was living. I went from an international, English-speaking routine to living full-time with Italians and making homemade pasta dinners with my roommates. I was lucky enough to find a place to live that was filled with great people that came from different university backgrounds or places in Italy. Our evening conversations inspired a lot of the posts I have written over the months.
I had a chance to listen to people who have been living in Milan their whole lives, or who saw the urban layout from a different angle than I did. When you travel as an urban planner, your first step in to take a look at the the structure of a city. You look at the building patterns, layout, and mostly urban design.
As you spend more time in the same place, you begin to have a deeper notion of the city's social needs or problems. Combine the two, and you can understand how the social life of the place you live impacts its urban design.
My post, Milan, a City of Different Cities, is exactly the impression I have of this city. The articles I wrote were structured according to the discoveries I made this year. Traveling and seeing new places helped me have a deeper understanding of living the Milanese life.
Many of the topics I covered, like the controversial issues of Via Padova and the Chinese neighborhood, reflect social problems that all great cities face nowadays, in respect to migration. Also, it was interesting to understand how new urban development projects have a strong impact on the Italian city skyline and how people can shape the urban design of the place they inhabit.
As Expo 2015 approaches, I am even more excited that I decided to stay in Milan after finishing my studies. The city will host an impressive amount of people from all over the world, and events have already started to spring up. Keep following The Grid, as we will try and give you a unique insider's view of the international exposition. For me, the experience with the Global Site Plans team and The Grid has been a great opportunity to research and discover Milan on different levels.
Credits: Images by Laurent Qy Photography and Alexandra Serbana. Data linked to sources.