1 febbraio 2021
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Travel volunteering or how I moved to Milan..

Do you want to move to Milan or any other city but you don’t know how to do it? Then I will tell you my story of moving. I hope it will inspire you to take the first step. My name is Lolita Khidirova, I am from Saint-Petersburg. In 2019, I changed several roles while in Milan: a tourist, a volunteer in a hostel, an applicant to a State University, a student. And 2020, finally, a resident.

Tourist (April 2019). In April 2019, I came to Milan once again as a tourist for a week. But it was not a simple week, but Design Week. Not the best time because it is very difficult to find affordable housing. But this is what determined my further plans. I had to stay at a hostel. Before that, I had always chosen 3-star hotels with single occupancy. I was a little worried, this was my first experience. How lucky I was that I chose Babila Hostel. This is a new design hostel in the city center with excellent service, breakfast and team. As a tourist, I highly recommend it, as do hundreds of other guests who have left their reviews on Booking.

Travel volunteer (May-June 2019). I adore Milan and have always wanted to live here, but it was expensive to rent a hotel, and it was impossible for a tourist to find an apartment for a short time (maximum stay on a tourist visa – 3 months). I am sure that those who have tried to rent a house in Milan at least once will understand me. How my gray cells moved when I saw an advertisement for volunteer work for tourists in Babila hostel! I was not in the subject of travel volunteering, but, as it turned out, this is the most effective opportunity to go abroad and live as long as a tourist visa allows you.The essence of this method is that the hostel provides you with accommodation, food and social activities in exchange for free work. This can be anything like cleaning rooms or a bar. Babila hostel needed a person for breakfast and help in the kitchen / bar (washing dishes, setting tables, etc.). I liked the idea of ​​being responsible for breakfast for the guests, I had to work 3 hours a day, 6 days in a week. I agreed. If you have a desire to live in another country through volunteer work in a hostel, you can not only write directly to the hostel which you are interested in, but also use the volunteering job search services around the world.

Images: by Lolita Khidirova

Live like a local. When I came to Milan, I began to lead a life between a “tourist” and a “resident”. On the one hand, I was immersed in the tourist environment, on the other hand, I worked, which I had not done before, and I had time for a closer, deeper acquaintance with the city, when you are relax because you do not need to leave in 3 days. I began to develop some contacts and go to places where locals go. After a month of such intense life, a clear understanding came to me that I was not mistaken with the choice and 2 months here will definitely not be enough for me. And then I started looking for an opportunity to stay. There were no prospects of finding a job (I am a tourist without proper knowledge of the language). Marriage is not a toy. Then there was the option to study.

Study (September 2019). I decided to apply for a Master degree. I didn’t want to waste time and enroll as soon as possible, I didn’t have much time to immerse myself in this topic, so I used the services of a girl who studied in Milan and helped Russian-speaking people with the preparation documents to apply in Italian Universities. However, there are many like her. You can search Instagram for certain hashtags and find girls who talk about their life, study, adaptation in Italy, and also help with admission. There are also educational agencies that provide the same services, but it costs much more. I must say that choosing the future place of study, being in Milan, was a pleasure, because there was an opportunity to visit the University.

Images: by Lolita Khidirova

Resident (since February 2019). During the summer 2019 I collected all the documents in Saint-Petersburg to enter to the University Milan Bicocca to the Faculty of Tourism, territory and local development, came back on a student visa, then submitted the necessary package of documents to Police, and already in February 2020 I received a residence permit for reasons of study. With this permit I can live in Milan for at least 2 years. This time is enough to get the correct impression of the city and think about further plans. 

Accomodation. The most important issue is finding housing for the duration of your studies. In Milan I live in a University residence. But if you have to rent an apartment, then it is worthwhile to worry about it in advance, using resources on Facebook, chats in Telegram, agency services, groups of your University.

Italian language. Even if your study is in English, I recommend learning Italian before coming in Milan, any doors are open with it. I was very excited when I found out that there is absolutely free opportunity to learn Italian in Milan. Also, there are often free or cheap courses for foreign students at the University and in the Municipality of Milan.

Legal advice. When you move in Milan, you may need the help of a lawyer with documents or other questions. You can contact a volunteer organization and get free help.

Russian community. Russian communities in Milan can also help with a wide variety of issues, because the members of these communities have life experiences in Milan and they are very responsive. It is very important for those who don’t yet speak Italian at a good level.

How to contact me on Facebook

Lolita Khidirova

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