IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME AND I APOLOGIZE.
But guess where I’m writing this from? Italia! I’m back!
I’m not just back for a few days, either. This time I’m here for 3. entire. months.
From now until the end of July, I’ll be working as a Student Ambassador for the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015, the World’s Fair in Milan! It’s like the Columbian Exposition, but the theme is all about food, and Italy is the backdrop. (Read: is this real life?!)
Here’s a quick lowdown: It is projected that by 2050 there will be nine billion people living on this planet. That means nine billion mouths to feed. Expo Milano 2015 aims to encourage the world to use strategies and innovations NOW so that in the FUTURE we’ll be able to feed the population without destroying the planet. And we can’t do it alone. We’ve got to communicate and work together, and Expo Milano will be a great platform for these important discussions.
Over 140 countries are here at the Expo. Many of the countries have their own unique and exciting pavilions, including the US. My plan is to visit—and eat at—all of them, sharing my experiences here on memo2munch so you can see them too. 🙂
Or even better, you can come visit me and see them for yourself!
There are also “clusters” that concentrate on different big-time contributors to our world food system, such as coffee, rice, chocolate, and more. Certain countries that are intimately involved in producing those foods are represented in the clusters.
And to the surprise of no one at all, I have already visited the chocolate cluster.
Of course, just living in Italy for 3 months is an adventure! I was nervous to live in Milan because I’ve never lived somewhere so metropolitan. Then there’s the whole fashion capital of the world deal. But it’s been fun adjusting to the city lifestyle. (I understand the metro system!)
Our housing is on the outskirts of the city, which I love because it’s a more calm, residential area. I haven’t explored downtown too much yet because our days have mostly been filled with training or working at the Expo.
Once we’ve all adjusted to our new jobs and surroundings I’m looking forward to establishing routines and familiarizing myself with Milan. There’s an awesome arts district called Brera that we’ve explored a bit, and the huge, intricate Duomo is beautiful.
We do already have one routine, which is hitting up the little bakery around the corner. BEST croissants (the Italians call them brioche) I ever did have, and two lovely owners that are always happy and friendly, even at 7 in the morning when we’ll sometimes sleepily stumble in for a treat before work.
Also, turns out Milan has a Chinatown! We went last week and had a great meal that was unbelievably cheap. I think I paid just about 4 euros for mine! (This might turn into a routine, too.)
We’re all dog tired from working at the Expo, but it’s worth it. And being here for the grand opening was THE COOLEST. Especially because we got to come to the site a few days before opening and watch everything come together.
Our shifts are about 6-6.5 hours long. We’re stationed throughout the pavilion welcoming guests, answering questions, and initiating conversations. It’s a pretty solid chunk of time, so we get to see tons of interesting people come through. So far it’s been mostly Italians–which has improved my language skills already–, but I’ve noticed a lot of French-speaking people as well. We’ve had sooo many school groups, too, and I can report that kids are just as adorable and mischievous wherever you go.
On occasion I’ve run into Americans, and I always ask how they ended up in Europe because their answers are fascinating. Interacting with guests is definitely my favorite part. I’m really grateful to have this chance to be let in to bits and pieces of hundreds of people’s lives from around the world each day!
I miss everyone at home a lot, and sometimes it’s hard and a bit scary here because this is like nothing I’ve ever done before. But I know that I’m going to learn so much. A special, special thank you for supporting me. More to come soon. 🙂