My brother and I went to an American/international school called "The American School of Milan" (ASM for short), which consisted of people from all over the world: Italy and beyond. In general, Italy was one of my favourite places to live. My parents are currently living there again, in Milan, and I'll be going to visit them in July! This will be my first time visiting Italy/Milan since I moved away in 2007, and I couldn't be more excited.
Let's start with culture.
Italy is known for it's intense, exciting and romantic culture. In terms of language, the main language spoken by Italians is Italian (no pun intended). Other than Italian, English is widely spoken too, but not to the same extent or degree as Italian, which, of course, makes perfect sense. Personally, I didn't have any trouble getting around in Italy, as I went to the American School of Milan, where everyone spoke English, and most people could also speak Italian (in other words, those who were Italian could speak both, and the majority of international students were learning Italian while studying there). Out on the general streets of Milan, communication was sometimes a problem - but it's important to remember that we, as foreigners, should not expect another culture to adapt for us. :) I studied Italian for a semester while there, but for the most part, I got by in English while living in Italy. If I had a chance to re-live in Italy, I would definitely change that and practice Italian much, much more. That's one of my biggest regrets about living there: not learning the language properly. But I was only 12-13, so it's understandable.
Fashion: Italy, particularly Milano, is known to be one of the Fashion capitals in the world. And you can tell. Just walking around the Duamo, basically in the centre of Milan, you can see everyone's very distinct fashion sense. Safe to say both Italian women and men are extremely fashionable! While my views on this might be a little skewed (since I was so young when I last visited Italy), I personally British fashion to Italian (actually, British fashion to all other Western-fashion hubs). In my opinion, though keep in mind I'm no "fashion expert", British fashion is really classy, and Italian was a little more edgy. Think vintage-classy (British) vs. edgy-classy (Italian).
Overall, living in Milan was one of the biggest blessings in my life. For a whole year, I got to experience one of the most beautiful cultures in the world, while making some amazing friends and meeting such wonderful people. Luckily, I have a chance to go back for a visit this summer. I cannot wait to experience Italy as 21-year-old Ayesha (rather than 12-year-old!) and I'm beyond looking forward to seeing some of my old friends again. I'm truly blessed and feel so honoured to have spent a year in Italia.