Image credit: Tra i Leoni

From Bocconi to Oxford: In conversation with Daniele Myallonnier

This article was produced as part of a collaboration between Tra i Leoni, the student newspaper of Bocconi University in Milan, Italy, and The Oxford Student. This is the first of three articles that will be cross-posted by both newspapers this term, attempting to showcase the differences in higher education and culture between Italy and the UK. This article was written by a student of Bocconi University.

In the world of academia, tales of transition and transformation often hold the key to inspiring narratives. Daniele Myallonnier, a former student of International Politics and Government, has embarked on an unusual journey, leaping from Bocconi University to the halls of Oxford. Today, he serves as an exceptional bridge between these two outstanding institutions, forging a new connection between Tra i Leoni and The Oxford Student.

Drawing inspiration from my experience at Oxford, I would endeavour to enhance and facilitate the interaction with professors at Bocconi

Claudia Caffo: For those who don’t know you, could you share a brief story about who you are, what you’re studying, and your passions?

Daniele Myallonnier: I’m Daniele, from Bergamo. I went to a Classical high school and then studied at Bocconi. My biggest passion, I’d say, is spending time with friends. Also, I’m passionate about Formula One, football, and academically speaking, quantitative methods, let’s put it that way.

CC: How have you adjusted your daily routine since transitioning from Bocconi to Oxford?

DM: The routine between Oxford and Bocconi is quite different. The Master’s system here in Oxford has fewer mandatory classes, but for those that are required, you must attend. Given the smaller class size, there are various departmental colloquia or interdepartmental seminars that are optional, and you tend to go if it’s an interesting topic or relevant to your thesis. So, I’d say it’s more individual, and it’s easier to manage your routine. I can create my own schedule more easily because there are fewer constraints from classes.

CC: Have you noticed significant differences in exam planning or execution between the two universities?

DM: Here, exams are quite different because all exams at Oxford are at the end of the year. The year is divided into 3 terms, and even for courses in the first term, the exams are at the end of the year. You must keep up with your studies. There are also assignments, somewhat like the American system, but unlike in the US, many of these are formative and don’t impact your final grade. The methods are very different; there are no midterms, so it’s more independent work.

CC: Do you prefer the English or Italian student environment, or do you think the international environment has blurred the differences between the two?

DM: Honestly, I haven’t experienced the English student environment much because, here at Oxford, for graduate courses, there are many international students. In fact, most people are international, especially in some colleges. In my college, for instance, the English percentage is low; you don’t notice it. Having done my undergraduate degree in English at Bocconi certainly helps because it immerses you in a more international environment. But I have to say there’s not much difference. Luckily, the environments are quite similar, I must admit.

CC: How has your relationship with professors changed since you’ve been at Oxford?

DM: Regarding professors, the situation is quite different. Mainly because the master’s programs, here, have far fewer students. In my master’s program, there are, if I’m not mistaken, about 15-20 people, which is quite small. There are many professors, maybe 10-15. So, they obviously have more time to dedicate to students. I have to say that I also had a good experience with professors at Bocconi. The difference is that, here, it’s easier to get advice, and the relationship with professors is more informal. This is partly because the average age of students is higher compared to a master’s program at Bocconi; here, many people have several years of work experience.

CC: If you could introduce an innovation from Bocconi to Oxford and vice versa, what changes would you make in both universities?

DM: The food. Jokes aside, I would say it’s not exactly an innovation within the universities themselves, but it’s the experience of being in a big city like Milan, which is different from being in a small town like Oxford. That’s undoubtedly an advantage. On the other hand, drawing inspiration from my experience at Oxford, I would endeavour to enhance and facilitate the interaction with professors at Bocconi. Obviously, having a smaller number of students, it’s easier to be mentored and be in contact with professors, who can provide advice on various aspects, whether it’s the job market after the master’s or further studies like a PhD, or even just for assignments or theses.

CC: How have you managed your mental health at both universities? Have you found adequate services in both, or did you have to self-manage?

DM: Well, in terms of mental health, I mostly managed it on my own. But from what I know, there are several resources available at Bocconi. Here at Oxford, there are plenty of options, and I think the difference is that they are more advertised here.

CC: What’s your relationship with sports outside or within the university environment?

DM: I’m quite involved in sports. I started playing football for my college, and I go to gym, so it’s great. The intercollegiate league is organized between colleges, and it’s a way to make friends. It’s fun, and it doesn’t cost much. The membership fee for the sports association is £25 per year, and the college gym, if I remember correctly, is £20 per year. So, it’s excellent in that aspect.

CC: So, would you suggest that accessibility to sports is better in Oxford compared to the Bocconi sports center, which has been criticized for its prices by some students?

DM: Yes, it’s more accessible here in terms of prices. Almost every college here has its gym, and while they might be smaller than the large commercial gyms, they only cost £20 per year. There’s also the main University gym, which, if I’m not wrong, costs £17 per month, but it’s a large gym. There are various sports teams and clubs for every sport imaginable: lacrosse, football, and a lot of people participate in rowing, which is the mainstream sport, here at Oxford. For all these sports, there’s a fee for access during the year, but it’s quite affordable.

CC: Earlier, you mentioned food as the first innovation you’d bring to Oxford, so have you noticed any differences between the canteens in Oxford and those at Bocconi?

DM: Compared to Bocconi, the food here is quite different, but still acceptable. Dining in college is cheap, ranging from £2.50 to £5, and it’s not bad. I must admit that I’ve been on an exchange in the United States, at Princeton, and compared to the US, the food here is better, let’s put it that way.

CC: How does the nightlife in Oxford compare to that at Bocconi?

DM: The nightlife in Oxford is not bad at all. Compared to when I was on exchange in the US, I find the nightlife here much better despite Oxford being a small town, as it boasts around 150,000 residents. However, there are plenty of students, many pubs, and quite a few nightclubs. The best part is that everything is within walking distance, and they use bicycles a lot, here. Then, colleges organize affordable parties thanks to their ‘college bars.’ They also host ‘formal dinners,’ followed again by a small party. The collegiate system helps in making friends compared to when you are in a big city: people invite each other from one college to another, so it’s nice. On the other hand, Milan is a city about ten times the size of Oxford, so there are many more options. If you want to go to a nightclub, it’s quite different; for going out to pubs, it’s nice in Oxford, but there’s no comparison with Milan when it comes to nightclubs. These are clearly the benefits of being in a larger city. Here, you’re not far from London; it’s a 1-hour and 10-minute bus ride, costs £10, and there are plenty of buses, so that’s quite convenient too. But undeniably, Milan offers a lot more choice.

CC: How has the cost of living changed between Milan and Oxford?

DM: The cost of living in Oxford is higher than in Milan, but it’s not excessive, especially compared to London. I expected it to be worse. The only thing that’s truly expensive is rent, which is disproportionate to the rest. There are many students in a relatively small city. However, in general, the costs for groceries and drinks in Oxford are only slightly higher than in Milan.

CC: Have you lived in a residence or an apartment in Milan and Oxford? Do you have any recommendations for finding accommodation in both cities?

DM: In Milan, I lived in both apartments and the Castiglioni residence, while in Oxford, I’m in a residence. In Milan, I have to say that both options are feasible, even though prices are rising. In a big city, there are various options. In Oxford, I strongly recommend looking for a college that has accommodation because finding a place here, from what I’ve seen, is really challenging. They require some incredible guarantees. You might end up far from the university and pay a lot because, as I mentioned, there are very few accommodations. Even the off-campus accommodations get snatched up quickly. So, if you want advice, despite the higher cost, it’s better to stay in college accommodation here at Oxford rather than trying to find housing independently.

CC: What’s the wildest thing you’ve done during your years at Bocconi and Oxford, if you’ve had the chance?

DM: Well, listing one wild thing at Bocconi is difficult: I’ve done many crazy things and taken numerous trips with my friends. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve made great friends. I’m very happy. But the most significant craziness was coming here because I took the flight the day after my graduation ceremony. So, I had the whole celebration, then the morning after, I “woke up,” so to speak, to go with all my luggage to England. I have to say it was quite a challenging journey after my party…

CC: If you could go back, would you make the same study choices?

DM: Absolutely, yes, I would make all the same study choices. I had a great time at Bocconi, especially in BIG. Bocconi is well-known, and all the professors appreciate the preparation it provides. Beyond the academic aspect, which I think was excellent, I had a lot of fun, made some good friends. So, without a doubt, I would do it all over again a thousand times. It gave me a thousand opportunities to meet a variety of different people.

CC: Where do you see yourself in five years, considering your life journey up to today?

DM: Honestly, making predictions about where I’ll be in five years is not easy. I would like to return to Italy to live there because Italy is beautiful. But I don’t know; it depends on the job opportunities and where I find a job that I enjoy, in a place I like.

CC: If you had the opportunity to say something to the Daniele of four years ago, at the beginning of his academic journey, what would you tell him?

DM: Honestly, I would tell him to do everything he’s done because in the end, I have no regrets about my academic journey. I always worked hard, but I managed to balance it with having a good time. After all, that’s also what university is about. So, absolutely, I would do it all the same way.