The Domus Academy and a Rihanna Concert

As my plane landed back in Milan from Dublin’s airport, applause erupted in the cabin and I knew I was back in Italy. It was good to be back. Between the airport and my hostel, I could feel it was a bit more organized compared to Rome and the South, but there was still the subtle chaos of life that Italians thrive on.

            My study program in Milan was at the Domus Academy. Immediately I could feel it was a bit different than the London program I had just finished. The teachers were more lax. Nobody checked my student ID at the door. Our scheduled start was 10, but we hardly ever started before 10:30. We had a slew of professionals that came in and told us about their take on design and their respective fields each day of the first week. The next week, we developed and designed our idea. The Domus Academy seemed to be much more conceptual with ideas bordering on the impossible. One fellow summer-school student who was also studying at Domus Academy even said “I try not to think about technology. I don’t let technology limit my designs. If I can think it, it can be done.” Which is all hunky-dory, but who’s going to buy a camera that costs $12,000 to make, or a $2,000 pocket projector. It was clear that during this unit, rather than work on my drawing skills, I’d be picking up another international perspective on design.

On Tuesday, I saw a flyer for a free concert that night put on by MTV Italia out in front of the Stazione Centrale, creating an interesting contrast between this modern party and the fascist architecture behind it. Rihanna was the headliner in the concert and I watched among the Italians in all their jean-shorts glory. Before the concert starter, I went down the street to get some beers. After each city block from the event, I noticed, the price per bottle drops about 50 cents. So I walked three and got three Heinekens for €3.50 each instead of the street vendor in the middle of the crowd selling for an even €5. The concert progressed through first an Italian rapper, and then an Italian pop/country singer who seemed to be quite popular, I realized that it's times like this when I’m glad I don’t have epilepsy. The strobe lights and thumping bass were intense to say the least. Rihanna came on at 11:00 p.m. and rocked the show and everybody there with no shortage of hip gyrations and other fun gestures.

After the concert, I lit up a mild Cuban and heard “Sei pazzo!” or “you’re crazy.” I turned around and replied “Sono Americano, siamo tutti pazzi,” or "I’m American, we’re all crazy." And immediately I had a group of new Italian friends. I asked them where the after party was, but being a Tuesday evening, they were just returning home for school or work the next morning.

 The next afternoon after class, I walked through Milan’s famous fashion district until I got tired of being looked up and down in each shop I went into. The street was lined with Porsches and Ferraris and even had a designer baby carriage store where each stroller was upholstered in the finest of Gucci and Fendi and Louis Vuitton. I walked past Virtu phones, which I learned about in London. One of those exclusive cell phones goes for several thousands of dollars and are fully customizable. Fed up with hyper-consumerism, I went back to my place kicked off my shoes and admired my blank walls. 


Dan McGlinn, University of Notre Dame

Happy Backpackers

Great mix between learning and leisure. Our tour guide, Lauren, was extremely knowledgable and also very well connected. The weekend was a blast!

Dan McGlinn, University of Notre Dame ~ Notre Dame Global Gateway, Rome, Summer Break 2016

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