Living and working in Lombardy

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This memo has been prepared by a team of  SITE coordinators and ex-interns , it is the result of personal experiences and it is based on a variety of situations  though it  does not refer to any  in particular: it is simply an outline of what an intern can reasonably expect;  it is a collection of tips, and general information on what to expect when you begin teaching in Lombardy; it contains crucial questions you must be prepared to ask  to understand and face an unclear  situation . Bring the memo with you and re-read it occasionally- it will be useful ! While you read it  make a mental note of all the small details you would like to ask and don’t forget  to  discuss them  with your adviser as soon as you get in touch.

What kind of accommodation will I have?

Basically  interns stay either  in a flat on their own or  with a family . Though staying in a flat  is by far the most common situation , a few interns might find themselves involved in a third option: accommodation  in a students’ residence. Whatever you will be offered, please keep in mind that  school advisers  will  very likely  propose only one of the three possible options . As a matter of fact  they  have learned a lot from their past experience  and know what  has  proved to be the best available situation  locally and, understandably, they tend to propose   the one that has worked more satisfactorily with former interns. Therefore, although you might have different opinions in this  matter, it is sensible, at first   ,  to  be practical and make the most of what  they recommend. After adapting  to the  new environment  a little you will be personally able to evaluate other situations and take your time to make your own decisions.

Staying in an apartment

Living in an apartment gives you total freedom and independence.

If the school you have been assigned to, is hosting  another/ other intern/s you might have to share the apartment with them. Lack of privacy ( sharing the same bedroom, bathroom etc) is widely compensated by  the opportunity to have company, support and  fun too without taking into consideration the more venial reason that a roommate  helps reduce the costs of living .

Rents vary terribly according to where you are staying .Rents in small places  are of course cheaper than rents in central areas of large cities  therefore  it is very difficult to give you a precise idea of how much it is going to cost you. Let’s say that a small flat composed of sitting room, kitchenette, bedroom and bathroom may cost on average  between €300-400 per month.  
If your adviser  recommends  you stay in an apartment,  you also need to consider, together with him/her, the following:
-Is  the price of the apartment is “all inclusive,” ? Does  it exclude utilities, such as gas, electric, etc...? usually internet access is not included, but purchasing a “chiavetta” (internet USB port) from an Italian mobile phone provider is a cheap alternative.
-Is there  a “finder’s fee” to pay equivalent to about one month’s rent,  in addition to  the security deposit?
-is the apartment completely furnished? also, do you need to purchase items such as plates, silverware, bed linen etc?
-how far away from school is the apartment? will you need a bike or bus ride to get there?

You may want to ask these questions directly to your landlord or the agent, so we are providing them in Italian as well:
- il prezzo dell’appartamento è “tutto compreso” oppure ci sono anche le bollette del gas/elelettricità/riscaldamento da pagare?
- bisogna anche pagare le spese di ricerca appartamento ad un’agenzia immobiliare (quella che ha trovato l’appartamento per voi?)
- l’appartamento è completamente arredato (anche con pentole piatti ecc)?
- come  è collegato alla scuola (si può andare a scuola a  piedi/bicicletta/bus?)
-avete bisogno di un/a coinquilino/a?  Come troverete lui o lei?

Living with a family
Host families can be a wonderful arrangement when living abroad though they are sometimes difficult to find . Ideally, they can provide a support system; through constant interaction, you will get to know your host families well, and perhaps even become very close with them. Aside from providing a support system in a foreign location (as well as physical place of residence) the host family arrangement theoretically can be excellent for practicing your foreign language skills, on a consistent daily basis.
     Ideally, a host-family accommodation is the perfect way to adapt to living abroad but the first thing to remember about host families, is that, they are, families. Obvious, but this factor is sometimes overlooked when students reside with foreign families. These are people who are interrupting their daily lives to allow a stranger to take residence temporarily under their roof.  Depending on who your host family is, they may not only feed you, and put a roof over your head, but some may take you in as a member of their family. Or, on a very different spectrum, your host family may be expecting you to be a highly independent resident, who baby sits regularly, and interrupts their family dynamic, minimally.
How will you know what to expect? You can’t, although it is helpful to ask certain questions to gather more information about your potential hosting situation. Has your family had host students before? Sure, some may be used to host students; perhaps they have hosted students for years. Perhaps they already have very specific rules and regulations for what they expect from you. Or perhaps the family has never hosted anyone before, and has absolutely no idea of what to expect from the situation.
First, ask what the family expects of you. The questions written in Italian below (domande da chiedere alla famiglia ospitante) are an excellent jumping off point- and all should be clarified before you arrive in Italy or as soon as you get to know a family that is willing to host you in Italy.
Domande da chiedere alla famiglia ospitante (host family)
- volete che io faccia da baby sitter ai vostri figli? Che faccia i compiti con loro? O che faccia conversazione di inglese e li assista nello studio dell'inglese?
- Eventualmente, preferite un tempo preciso giornaliero o alcune ore distribuite durante la settimana?
- Quante sere, eventualmente, dovrò garantire per il baby sitting?
- Avrò il fine settimana libero o dovrò stare a casa il venerdì o il sabato per permettervi di uscire?
- Devo essere autonomo/a nella preparazione del cibo,  la lavatrice, ed altre necessità? Devo comprare il cibo da solo/a o il cibo sarà offerto dalla famiglia?
- Chiedete qualche rimborso per le spese di cibo e altro?

However, keep in mind, that even if you have concrete “terms” for your stay, the proposed dynamic of your time with your host family may very well change- and, if you agree to stay with a host family, you both need to be flexible to change, and willing to communicate, in case there are issues that need to be addressed. And, while we have listed some useful questions that you should ask your host family, there are some important questions that you might want to ask yourself about the reality of host family life, and how you might react to any number of the situations (or similar scenarios) these questions pose:

-How willing are you to adapt your own personal lifestyle to that of a family?
-How willing are you to follow a curfew if your host family implements one? How about other house rules?
- If your host family does indeed feed you, should you help with household tasks such as washing the dishes or setting the table?
-If your host family expects you to perform a task/ participate in a routine that was not priorily agreed upon, how would you react?
-Will your social life negatively affect your relationship with a host family? Will you spend nights not at your host home? Would you be willing to bring “guests” back to your host home?
-What will your sleeping arrangements be? Will you have to share a room, which could involve sharing your personal space?)If you are a messy person and your host family is very orderly, will this be problematic for you?
-Will you be able to observe your family’s behavior and act accordingly? Do they seem to expect you to “hang out” with them? What time do they eat? How much time do people generally spend in the shower? Should you call if you are not going to be present at a meal?
-What if you are in charge of your own food arrangements? How and when will you feed yourself in a manner that does not interfere with the going’s on of the household?
These are just a few questions/ scenarios that need to be considered during your time as a potential host guest.
Bottom line, living with a host family is a situation that will require flexibility, regardless of what the family expects from you. As a recent college graduate, you may not be used to living in a mixed age environment: and a host family is not a college dorm. While no one can tell you what to expect from living with a host family, or a magic formula for making your host stay successful, keep in mind that you are staying with a family, and that as strange as that might be for you sometimes, the family, no matter how many times they have (or haven’t) hosted someone before, might find your presence in their house strange for them as well.

Respect, open-mindedness, and good communication skills are the best way to make a host-stay function as smoothly as possible.


A  few schools in the SITE school network  have a students’ home close by  to cater for those of their students whose families live too far  to commute daily.  A students’ residence provides full board, (bedrooms can be either single or double with common bathroom or en suite depending on the fee),  a recreational area and a laundry. As most, if not all the  students go home for the week-end, you may feel a bit lonely if you are  staying in a students’ residence. In addition to this the kitchen closes over the week-end and on festive days and you might have to provide  for  your own meals yourself. Sometimes there is a very special agreement between the school you have been assigned to and the students’ home and interns are practically  offered free accommodation in a single room and full board. If you are among these few lucky ones, make sure you know the rules of the home and stick to them. Other times interns  are   asked to give a small contribution in terms of  a few conversation classes for the students of the home or just befriend them  and take part in their recreational activities.

Domande da chiedere al Direttore del convitto/adviser
- volete che  faccia conversazione di inglese e  assista  gli studenti del convitto nello studio dell'inglese? Se sì, quante volte alla settimana?
- Eventualmente, preferite un tempo preciso giornaliero o alcune ore distribuite durante la settimana?
- A che ora devo rientrare la sera?  Nel fine settimana posso avere la chiave?
- Posso essere autonomo/a  nell’uso della lavatrice? Posso usare la cucina?
- Chiedete un piccolo contributo alle spese?

-Quali sono le regole del convitto a cui devo attenermi?