And it came the time when I finally had to be in Milan. As expected, I moved to Italy at the beginning of February to continue my research with my supervisor and co-supervisor at Bocconi University.
Before leaving the Netherlands, the country that so well hosted me in my first months, I was not feeling very motivated to make my luggage. My experience in the Netherlands had been wonderful. The office was a top place: nice, quiet and with good company and back-up from the “EconGeo gang”. My research was starting, and I had my training classes on a “hybrid” system. I had a growing social and professional network and I had set up a nice and comfortable apartment. On weekends, I used to ride my “Oma Fiets” to near towns and I had my regular tennis match on Sundays.
Moving to another country after 4 months in Utrecht did not sound very promising when my supervisor proposed the estimated date. But after thinking, I said, why not? Better now than after being 2 years in the Netherlands. If I am settled now, what about 2 years? After all, it was going to be an opportunity to grow my academic network, not only with my POLISS PhD peers but also with other researchers at Bocconi (other PhD fellows, researchers and professors). And I accepted the challenge.
It’s been almost two months now since I arrived here and I can say that step by step, my research is moving forward. The benefit of being with both my supervisor and co-supervisor in the same building is that you can knock on their doors at any time and ask them for advice. Furthermore, one of the main reasons why I was expected to move here, was because of the possibility of getting other data sources. At Bocconi, I had access to a complete dataset on patents and a dataset with an academic and professional track of inventors. After cleaning and wrangling, I am sure both will be valuable for my projects.
Bocconi is internationally known for its academic excellence, especially its management department. The courses they provide are very rigorous and strict. But once you enrol, you make sure that you will learn, cover and most importantly understand a vast range of methodological tools that are key to our research. That is why I took all my econometrics training courses at Bocconi last year when they were online. Now that I am here, I had the opportunity to have physical classes on campus! Normally I would prefer to have classes online, but sometimes is more “pedagogical” to enjoy a face-to-face class when talking about advanced econometrics methods. But perhaps the most important feature of my experience here is cultural diversity. Not only because of the international spirit of the University but also because of the cosmopolitan character of Milan. Cultural diversity means getting to know different perspectives, ideas, and insights. But it also means transferred knowledge, like the one I am acquiring here.
As writing these lines, Lombardy is now in “red zone”. It means that everything but essential shops is closed, there is a curfew at night, and we are advised not to leave our homes unless it is strictly mandatory or to work. Despite the difficult circumstances, I think that coming here was the right choice. Especially when I think in terms of how my research and my project are moving forward. Nowadays, I have the opportunity to interact face to face at least once weekly with my supervisor who works two doors away from my desk. I also consider myself lucky when I think about the experience of having had the classes -and econometrics classes- physically. Finally, I cannot forget the permanent exchange of experiences with my PhD peers.
As we go through the 3rd wave in lockdown, I am already thinking about the pleasant Aperol Spritz that I will shortly enjoy in the sunny channels of Navigli in central Milan. I don’t lose my faith either that sooner than later, I will be able to take a 1-hour train to the Alps. I am sure that better days are yet to come…