Dec 152005
 

After writing notes/studying for literally 40 hours, this was my oral exam:

Prof (not mine, because he wasnt administering it): Where are you from?
Me: California
Prof: Where are your parents from?
Me: Um… Vietnam
Prof: Why did China miss out on the first industrial revolution?
Me: The chinese were too proud and did not see the importance of the inventions that were brought to them from Europe. They trivalized clocks as toys and saw guns and cannons as useless. They closed off their ports to trade. In England, there were many scientific societies and journals and the people generally were literate but in China the culture discouraged sharing and innovation…
Prof: Do you agree or disagree?
Me: I agree because empirical evidence showed that europe was much more profitable than China and in Japan…
Prof:Ok ok, your professor thinks you deserve a 24 (I have no idea how he would have known that), but Ill give you a 26. Is that ok?
Me: (In complete shock) Um… can I answer another question?
Prof: No. I don’t have time. You can have a 27. (and then he gets up)

I cannot believe this school. It’s absolutely absurd. My exam literally lasted less than 2 minutes. At first I had the knee-jerk reaction of “that’s not fair!” since there were many students who passed (18+ is a pass) who did almost no work. But upon reflection, life is never fair, and at least I learned a lot about economic history.

My international and european law was much ‘better’ insofar as it actually tested knowledge and comprehension. Then again, that course was taught by a Swiss lawyer.

This is a snippet from my marketing lecture notes:
To effectively use your online community:
brainstorming: gather ideas
selection: pick the product ideas that will be profitable and practical
design: make the product
promote and sell your product online

So are marketing classes always like this? What, then, does one actually learn in marketing? I would argue that the above does not need to be taught, as it should be plainly obvious. How is it that a course called “Technology for culture and communication” is actually about “Marketing online”? Does anyone know anyone who studied and enjoyed marketing? All those I have spoke to here more or less do it because they couldn’t think of anything else to do. For the first time, I found a subject in which I have absolutely no interest and have found no one to convince me otherwise.

And really, what is it with the Italian need to know one’s ethnic background? Never, was the answer ‘California’ sufficient when someone asked me where I’m from.

Nov 062005
 

The bulletin board lists 7 or so classrooms for the location of my exam. As I walk away, wondering how I know which classroom I’m supposed to be in, I see an old class mate. I turn and we smile at each other and in doing so, I miss the first stair and go tumbling down all 5. The entire hall goes silent. Yep, it’s one of those embarrassing moments where I just want to disappear into the ground. Two very sweet guys help me up.

Falling didn’t give me any insight on where my test was, so I called a classmate. She concludes that we are in room 201. We are sitting in the classroom and the students are very rowdy. They occasionally do the wave, and are constantly hollering at each other from across the room. They all start clapping occasionally. I turn to the guy next to me and ask him why everyone is clapping. “They’re clapping for the students sitting in the front row”. Oh, of course…??? Eventually the professor shows up and we realize we’re in the wrong class. We go to the international office (which is luckily on the same floor) and ask Paolo (the most amazing man it the world) how to find the location of our test. He tells us about the board downstairs. After we insist that there are no prof names nor section numbers associated with the classrooms, he goes downstairs with us to look. He examines the board, shrugs his shoulders and tells us just to look in each listed classroom for our professor. I am secretly cursing Italy again as I start to stress about the test. On the third try we find him. We sit down in the front row and the professor starts explaining the questions to us. Everyone starts laughing. Hm… I just assume the reason is that we’re foreigners and they are mocking our general inadequacies at adapting to Italy.

After the test, I stopped one of my peers in the class and ask him why everyone was laughing. He told me that people who end up sitting in the front row are either suckers or really brave. You can’t cheat in the front row, so it is the worst place to sit.

*pictures are in the process, I swear

Oct 262005
 

This is the 4th, time that I’ve gone to class and it wasn’t there. I am just too accustomed to the ‘way things work’ at Berkeley:

First week of school, International and European Law, 845am
Why is it not there? English classes start the 2nd week of school

Random day in October, I & E law, 845am
Why is it not there? Because I didn’t check the schedule; that day there is no class

Here is the schedule:
Tuesday from 16.15 to 17.45 from 20/09/2005 to 20/09/2005 Room ZAPPA
Wednesday from 16.15 to 17.45 from 21/09/2005 to 21/12/2005 Room ZAPPA
Thursday from 08.45 to 10.15 from 22/09/2005 to 06/10/2005 Room ZAPPA
Tuesday from 16.15 to 17.45 from 11/10/2005 to 11/10/2005 Room ZAPPA
Tuesday from 08.45 to 10.15 from 18/10/2005 to 18/10/2005 Room D
Thursday from 08.45 to 10.15 from 20/10/2005 to 22/12/2005 Room ZAPPA

See? No thurs class between Oct 6 and Oct 20

Following day in October, Urban Economics, 130pm
Why is it not there? After going to office hours, I find out that the online schedule is wrong. Class started at 130 before, and 230 from that day on.

Today, History of Economics, 415pm
Why is it not there? No class for the next 2 weeks. Why? Because there are midterms.

How do I find out where my midterm is located? The morning of the test, they post the lists on a bulletin board inside the main building.

I am in a constant state of confusion.

I will also point out that this is known to be the most organized university in the country.
More ranting:

Permisso di Soggigorno- residence permit
We had already applied for one in Rome a few weeks after we arrived and got receipts that are valid for 3 or so months. In Milan, applying for a permit involved getting up at 5am, and getting in line. The line was pretty long by the time we got there. The office opens at 8am and they give out numbers. When the numbers are gone, well, you come back the next day. By 8 o’clock, we were too far back in line to get numbers (Italians are bad at waiting in line), but our director told us to wait anyway. She was inside trying to get info/appointments for us. We meet her at 11 at a cafe and she tells us that our letters of acceptance are dated from Sept to Feb. In order to get our permit, we have to give them the permit from Rome. To get the Rome permit, we have to go back in a few months to pick it up at the office. So… It was all a total waste of time. Buh.

Bus Pass
I waited for 2 hours at the station office until I could submit my form. Turns out there are separate forms for students. So it took me another 1/2 hour. After all that, I get another reciept (and a pass valid for a month). Come back next month. Your electronic pass will be ready. Somehow I lost my reciept, so when I went back they told me to go to the main station. At the main student station, I was sent across the way to the general main station. He tried to send me back to the student station. Finally, he just told me it was lost and I had to fill out new forms. Back to the central station. Ok, breathe, try again. This time the agent looked my name up in their local system and told me my pass was ready. I just needed to go to the table across the station to pick it up. When I got there, the man asks me for my passport. Fortunately, the day before I was supposed to give my director a copy of my passport. I forgot to do that, so I was fortunate enough to finally get my bus pass.

Though in general I enjoy being here. Every time I have to deal with bureaucracy I more or less want to jump on a plane right back to America, but Milan is a lot of fun most of the time. To some extent, I wish I had more time here so that I can find my nitch. I have more or less bored myself because I have been spending a lot of time with peers my age (By that, I mean they primarily prefer to drink and party). The clubs are fun and exciting, and I always have a good time, but it is ultimately unsatisfying. I found myself craving the intellectual stimulation in which I was accustomed to being surrounded. So I slowed down the partying/drinking and bought some books. It is very easy here to fall into the trap of constant, instant, meaningless gratification. Though, I am learning a lot, and I have come to truely appreciate California for all it has to offer. I miss the variety– food, ethnicities, restaurants, interests, art, culture, ideas. Italy is depressingly homogenous. All in all, it is a wonderful place to visit and live for a little while, but I can never see myself living here.

Oct 262005
 

This is the 4th, time that I’ve gone to class and it wasn’t there. I am just too accustomed to the ‘way things work’ at Berkeley:

First week of school, International and European Law, 845am
Why is it not there? English classes start the 2nd week of school

Random day in October, I & E law, 845am
Why is it not there? Because I didn’t check the schedule; that day there is no class

Here is the schedule:
Tuesday from 16.15 to 17.45 from 20/09/2005 to 20/09/2005 Room ZAPPA
Wednesday from 16.15 to 17.45 from 21/09/2005 to 21/12/2005 Room ZAPPA
Thursday from 08.45 to 10.15 from 22/09/2005 to 06/10/2005 Room ZAPPA
Tuesday from 16.15 to 17.45 from 11/10/2005 to 11/10/2005 Room ZAPPA
Tuesday from 08.45 to 10.15 from 18/10/2005 to 18/10/2005 Room D
Thursday from 08.45 to 10.15 from 20/10/2005 to 22/12/2005 Room ZAPPA

See? No thurs class between Oct 6 and Oct 20

Following day in October, Urban Economics, 130pm
Why is it not there? After going to office hours, I find out that the online schedule is wrong. Class started at 130 before, and 230 from that day on.

Today, History of Economics, 415pm
Why is it not there? No class for the next 2 weeks. Why? Because there are midterms.

How do I find out where my midterm is located? The morning of the test, they post the lists on a bulletin board inside the main building.

I am in a constant state of confusion.

I will also point out that this is known to be the most organized university in the country.
More ranting:

Permisso di Soggigorno- residence permit
We had already applied for one in Rome a few weeks after we arrived and got receipts that are valid for 3 or so months. In Milan, applying for a permit involved getting up at 5am, and getting in line. The line was pretty long by the time we got there. The office opens at 8am and they give out numbers. When the numbers are gone, well, you come back the next day. By 8 o’clock, we were too far back in line to get numbers (Italians are bad at waiting in line), but our director told us to wait anyway. She was inside trying to get info/appointments for us. We meet her at 11 at a cafe and she tells us that our letters of acceptance are dated from Sept to Feb. In order to get our permit, we have to give them the permit from Rome. To get the Rome permit, we have to go back in a few months to pick it up at the office. So… It was all a total waste of time. Buh.

Bus Pass
I waited for 2 hours at the station office until I could submit my form. Turns out there are separate forms for students. So it took me another 1/2 hour. After all that, I get another reciept (and a pass valid for a month). Come back next month. Your electronic pass will be ready. Somehow I lost my reciept, so when I went back they told me to go to the main station. At the main student station, I was sent across the way to the general main station. He tried to send me back to the student station. Finally, he just told me it was lost and I had to fill out new forms. Back to the central station. Ok, breathe, try again. This time the agent looked my name up in their local system and told me my pass was ready. I just needed to go to the table across the station to pick it up. When I got there, the man asks me for my passport. Fortunately, the day before I was supposed to give my director a copy of my passport. I forgot to do that, so I was fortunate enough to finally get my bus pass.

Though in general I enjoy being here. Every time I have to deal with bureaucracy I more or less want to jump on a plane right back to America, but Milan is a lot of fun most of the time. To some extent, I wish I had more time here so that I can find my nitch. I have more or less bored myself because I have been spending a lot of time with peers my age (By that, I mean they primarily prefer to drink and party). The clubs are fun and exciting, and I always have a good time, but it is ultimately unsatisfying. I found myself craving the intellectual stimulation in which I was accustomed to being surrounded. So I slowed down the partying/drinking and bought some books. It is very easy here to fall into the trap of constant, instant, meaningless gratification. Though, I am learning a lot, and I have come to truely appreciate California for all it has to offer. I miss the variety– food, ethnicities, restaurants, interests, art, culture, ideas. Italy is depressingly homogenous. All in all, it is a wonderful place to visit and live for a little while, but I can never see myself living here.