Natural Hair Journey as an Exchange Student

Going abroad as a woman with curly hair means that you need to plan ahead. Finding what styles you’ll have, where to find natural hair products and finding stylists is always on my to do-list.  

Before my semester at Bocconi University in Milan started, I visited the UK to attend Notting Hill Carnival. Since I knew I had to get a protective style to save myself time from doing my hair every morning I reconnected with a braider and got my hair done. I would then rock these box braids for the first month of my trip.

I LOVE wearing a protective style while traveling, it makes getting ready so easy and everyday is a good hair day. The only challenge I encountered was that I was running out of scalp oil that I brought and needed to buy more. For about a week or two I was too intimidated to walk into the “international markets” that allegedly sold hair oil. I finally went to a store near the Centrale Station and got some oil! This saved my scalp and hairstyle.

Verona, Italy

After I took my braids out I had a routine of wearing buns and ponytails at school, and wash and go’s on the weekend. Although these might not be the best way to wear your hair – it was convenient! I had brought Cantu products with me so they served as my main hair product.

As convenient as buns were, I even became bored of that, so I decided to get my hair straightened. My Italian family friends had suggested a man who had a salon near Centrale Station (are we seeing a theme here??) who was good at doing black women’s hair. I showed up to the salon barely knowing a few words of Italian, and met the stylist who barely knew a few words of  English. There was a huge language barrier but somehow we figured it out. My hair looked super cute when he was done, however within a few hours it was sooo poofy, and never became “laid”. I’m not sure if his styling tools were hot enough, or he didn’t have the technique….Regardless, I rocked my poofy hair for 2 weeks before returning to my buns.

Un-laid straight hair
Rome, Italy

My hair experience abroad was a bit of an adventure whether it be reuniting with my homegirl braider in London, entering foreign markets in an already foreign country, or trying to get my hair done by someone who doesn’t speak the same language as me. It’s a reflection of my time abroad which is so full of little confusing and enlightening moments. Overall, being abroad was a blessing. Honestly, I was growing and learning so much – it didn’t even matter whether my edges were laid or not, being abroad is a beautiful experience regardless of your hair style.

Hewan Solomon



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