Intern Abroad

Internship in Milan

July 4th, 2023 | by
  • Governance of Technology and Innovation, MA
  • Italy, Milan
  • Politecnico di Milano
  • 04/2023 – 06/2023

Application/Finding an internship

The search and application for the internship was relatively easy for me. Both RWTH Aachen University (RWTH) and Politecnico di Milano (PoliMi) are partners within the IDEA League network, which supports research stays at collaborating universities. The first prerequisite was to find a researcher who could supervise me during my stay. I had previously met my supervisor in person at an IDEA League Summer School. The fact that we already knew each other personally made it much easier for me to get in touch. He warmly welcomed the idea. It was more difficult when I subsequently contacted the host institution for my endeavor. At first, I received a rejection saying that PoliMi, the School of Design respectively, would not accept any interns or visiting scholars on a master’s level. After contacting the IDEA League representative of RWTH, who immediately got in touch with PoliMi, my research stay was eventually approved. First, I applied for the IDEA League Research Grant, but I got rejected. However, this didn’t affect the approval of my research stay. I was then advised to apply for funding through Erasmus+. I was pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy it was to apply for an Erasmus+ traineeship. In the end, my application was accepted, and I was thankfully awarded the Erasmus+ grant. Initially, I applied for two months, but I quickly realized that I would like to extend my stay by another month. This went smoothly and very uncomplicated. So, if plans change, even at short notice, it is possible to adjust them via Erasmus+. I would advise everyone to start very early with the application. I started 6 months in advance, but you underestimate how long an application process, in my case even two, can take.


Accomodation & Living Expenses

The search for suitable accommodation in Milan confronted me with great challenges. First, I searched for flats and shared apartments on popular websites like idealista. My relatively short stay of only a few months as well as my arrival in the middle of the semester made the apartment search even more difficult. After a long search, I found a shared flat via spotahome, a website for short and medium-term stays. I would only consider portals like spotahome or dovevivo if nothing else can be found, as bookings always come with additional fees and costs. The housing market in Milan is complicated. It is very difficult to find anything and certainly not at prices that are reasonable for students. There are reasons why numerous students are protesting these conditions by living in tents on campus. Therefore, it is not uncommon to share rooms in Italy. Although I was initially put off by the thought of almost completely giving up privacy, I ultimately decided to share a room as well. It was far less bad than I thought, but of course it depends a lot on who you get as roommates. And you usually don’t know that when you book a room through websites like spotahome. Not only the cost of housing, but also the cost of living is quite high in Milan, even by German standards. Milan is one of the most expensive cities in Italy and you should be aware of that. Not only restaurant visits, but even the cost of weekly grocery shopping is quite high. Usually, somewhat higher than in most major German cities. In retrospect, I am glad I saved on rent so I could at least live relatively comfortably without getting into financial trouble.


Everyday life/ the internship

I enjoyed the research stay very much. PoliMi is a prestigious institution, the facilities are remarkable, my research group called META was small but full of interesting and nice people who welcomed me warmly and supported me in all my needs. My workplace was on the Bovisa campus, just outside the city center. The campus is home to design students of all kinds. It is colorful, flashy, and bursting with creative people. It was a pleasure for me to come to the campus daily. As I came to PoliMi as a visiting scholar, the internship was not an internship in the traditional sense. As a visiting scholar, you are more independent and usually conduct your own research, but you are allowed to use the facilities and infrastructure on site, for example in the form of office spaces or the library. Since my master’s thesis is coming up, I was able to do a lot of research and collect data here. I also benefited from being able to collaborate and exchange ideas with researchers from similar fields. I assisted my colleagues by working together on projects and events. Hardly any day was like another, which made my stay even more varied and interesting.


Free time/tips

As far as everyday life is concerned, Milan has an incredible amount to offer. You can find everything your heart desires. Whether cultural institutions, sports, music events, restaurants, or festivals. Milan is a vibrant city. Moreover, Milan is very well connected within Italy. Therefore, it is easy to get pretty much everywhere from Milan. I took advantage of this and can highly recommend everyone to do the same. Italy is a beautiful country rich in culture and history. Additionally, Italy has hands down the best cuisine. There is certainly something for everyone.

The first tip is to get your Codice Fiscale early on. The Codice Fiscale is a tax identification number, but it is used for all kinds of contracts. Since I was not going to earn any money in Italy, I thought I would not need it. I was wrong though. I needed it for the rental contract and for a three-month card for public transport in Milan. The Codice Fiscale can be applied for at the Italian embassy in the state where you have your registered residence. The process may take several months. Another tip is to seek an exchange student status. I was offered the status as part of my application, but I declined because I did not think it was necessary. It was not mandatory, but the status would have given me access to the Erasmus student network, which would have allowed me to participate in numerous field trips, events, and parties. Obtaining exchange student status through the IDEA League is also relatively straightforward. If I had known this beforehand, it would have made it much easier for me to connect with exchange students. The third tip is to learn basic Italian. This becomes especially clear the further south you go in Italy. In the university context, English is not a problem at all, and it is also understood in many parts of Milan. In everyday life, however, it often comes in handy to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of Italian. Although Italians are warm and open to people from abroad, in my experience they are delighted if you at least try to speak the local language. My final tip is discounted tickets to cultural institutions. If you are an EU citizen and under the age of 25, you can get tickets at many cultural institutions at greatly reduced rates. Whether it’s the Last Supper in Milan, the Uffizi in Florence or the Museo die Capodimento in Naples. With an entrance fee of 2 euros, you don’t have to think twice about going to visit them.


All in all, I am very satisfied with my stay. It was different from what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot. I met great people, was able to broaden my horizon and experience the Italian way of living. PoliMi is an excellent institution, and I was honored to spend a few months there. Moreover, Milan has much more to offer than just fashion. It is a vibrant big city with lots of possibilities. Looking back, I would do a few things differently. I would apply for an exchange student status and would start looking for housing earlier. In hindsight, however, one is always smarter. That is why I am happy to share my experiences so you can learn from my mistakes and get even more out of your stay in Milan. Nevertheless, I had a great time and would choose to stay at PoliMi anytime.

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