Dec 212005
 

I wrote this a long time ago, and never finished. Thought I might as well post what I had. It is rather dull dribble about my life:

I live in the northern-central part of the city. It’s a slightly rough/edgy neighborhood. The graffiti here is really elaborate and sometimes beautiful. My apartment building is less than 10 minutes away from two different large train stations. The trannie club one block away is right next to the metro station. Picture this: You’re walking home at night and it is freezing. On your way you pass by a tall slender woman. She has long straight brown hair, and is wearing a big leopard print coat over a slinky red dress. Her car is playing loud club music. As she glances at you, she leans against her car and takes a slow drag of her cigarette. What strong facial features! She turns her eyes back to the passing cars after seeing that you aren’t a potential customer. Then you realize it’s a beautiful trannie prostitute. Even better, you later realize that she lives in your building and is always considerate to open the door for you. Half a block down my street there is a commune. The people I’ve met there are really interesting. In front of my building there is a pretty park. Once a month the organization for bio agriculture sets up booths to sell their organic goods. (honey, pastries, wine, produce, etc) I occasionally go to the cafe around the corner; one wall is lined with books and they sell organic coffee/tea and vegan pastries. Every Tuesday and Saturday the streets are over taken by the open market. I have a feeling that most food in Italy is either naturally organic or super OGM; Kiwis look especially strange here.

I am a 15-minute walk away from China Street (actually called Via Paolo Sarpi) where I go to find soy cheese products and other asian goodies. It turns out that I found the neighborhood that most reminds me of Berkeley/SF. My commute to school takes about 30 minutes.

Bocconi students look very normal-jeans and t-shirts, sometimes slacks and button down shirts. The only things that makes me aware that I’m not in San Jose are the ugly giant euro glasses, the smoking, and the occasional ugly bag. Really, I have never seen such a high concentration of ugly accessories as there is in Milan. I can appreciate funky style with some gaudy shoes, but here it is ‘la moda’. Most people cannot pull off the over-the-top style. In Milan, to many people think it works for them. Naturally, everyone stares at my fishnet stockings and weird skirts.

Since it is a private school, the buildings are well-lit and well-maintained. The bathrooms are clean and always have toilet paper and soap. In the main building, post-modern artwork decorates the halls. We have 5 or so computer labs. The only one I frequent has 80 shiny new computers with optical mice. Of course, there is wireless if you register your computer. Of course, I haven’t done that yet because (1) I don’t spend enough time at school and (2) the office to which one goes to register one’s computer is open only on Tuesdays and Thursdays at some random hours depending on the cycle of the moon. This is a sharp contrast to Ava’s art school, Brera. They have free open wireless internet, but if you take up too much bandwidth, they will seek you out and reprimand you. Ava brings her own tissues to school in case she needs to go to the bathroom.

The school is in the South of Milan, and there isn’t much of note there, save Porta Tichinese. This is known to be the hip and artys neighborhood. There are many small funky clothing stores. As with all other piazzas in Italy, Tichinese fills up with people at night. People hang out and drink, buy/sell/smoke hash, share cigarettes, and generally socialize. However, it is not uncommon to hear a drum circle.

It feels as if I have been in Italy forever, and yet time has passed so quickly. My days are generally very full-lots of activities, discoveries, experiences- so it feels as if 2 or 3 days have passed for ever one.

Last Sunday, I went over to Emily’s house (where I borrow net) to help Bovy (this darling Thai girl) with her resume. (We had a career fair on Monday, which I hear was a total waste of time). I managed to pressure Jamie into helping her also, since he was the one who originally had said he would help her with her resume and cover letter. Since Jamie has a penis, she was far more appreciative of his assistance than she was of mine. Emily, 4 or the six of ‘the Irish’ (new friends of ours) and I went out to BhangraBar for dinner. Side note, B-Bar is absolutely amazing. They mix really yummy girly drinks with passion fruit, coconut, rose water, and other goodies. The apertivo bar is filled with indian influenced food, including fried eggplant with cumin, chicken tandori-ish, puffy fish crackers, and sesame bread. It is appropriately located right next to the Arch of Peace.

Anyway, we meet up for dinner. The place is completely packed. One of the Irish girls mentions in her own way that Antony (one of the two Irish boys) has a crush on me. This is the 3rd time in a month that someone has more or less told me this. He’s darling, but he’s just a boy with yellow fever. I make googly eyes at the waiter, who is a big beautiful piece of work. We drink, we laugh, we eat, we talk, and then I head home with the intention of calling Dennis. However, the phone center closes around 2330, so instead, I go over to Emily’s house again to use her internet. As I am sitting in the kitchen with Jamie, Paolo (really sweet sicialian housemate) asks me if I ever see myself in the future married to Jamie. Pardon? He repeats himself, says Jamie again, and realizes he meant to say Dennis. Wow, that was definitely an awkward moment for me.

It’s getting late, so I head home. Unfortunately, I missed the last bus, so I start walking. I have never walked home from her house before, and I didn’t have a map, so I put a lot of faith in my non-existent internal sense of direction. (Some bus stops have maps also, in which I had a lot more faith). I make it a little more than half-way home, get completely disoriented, and take a cab.

Monday was just a little weird and depressing. I was feeling really homesick, and Ava had had ‘an episode’ the night before while I was away. Her girlfriend (who was our teacher in Rome) had recently left for New York after spending 4 days with Ava. We were both feeling low and antisocial, so after eating authentic Indian takeout (soooo good), we hide at home the rest of the day.

Aaron (Public Polic student from Berkeley who we met in Rome, who is studying in Bologna) comes to visit on Tuesday. There is something strange about the other programs that allow them to not have classes for long stretches of time. Since I hand canceled plans with Charlotte (perky girl from London) the night before, I invite her to dinner.

This is where I stopped. Wow, that week was a million years ago.

Monogamy: the condition or practice of having a single mate during a period of time (Merriam-Webster)

I have been thinking a lot more about monogamy lately after spending some time with this boy from Santa Barbara. I went to a club with him last Friday and for a good part of the night I teased him. This involved dancing really close to him and brushing my lips against his skin ever so slightly. Yes, I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes and saying ‘THIS is why girls are evil’. But I never behave this way with someone I respect ;). He would push me away, and as I walked away, he would follow me.

I think about my peers who have much more control over their physical state than this boy. What did it mean when he cheated on his girlfriend? What would he say if he were caught? I feel like the conversation would be one of two forms: (1) I’m really sorry I betrayed your trust. (2) We really didn’t do anything anyway, and I was really drunk, and she tempted me. apologetic or defensive. Why is monogamy so precious? It seems to me that many people practice it out of tradition rather than desire. If there were only one person in the world for you and you’ve found it, nothing else should be tempting. I wonder if this is an overly intellectual approach which leaves no room for the uncontrollable desires of the flesh. Does one feel a sense of accomplishment when resisting natural instinct? Should one be praised for doing so? “Hey honey, today I met the sweetest little thing that I wanted to hop on, but I decided against it. Not because I lacked the desire, but because I love you and know you wouldn’t like that.” This seems a little silly, since the average person would be very angry and hurt by such a comment. How about the reverse then: “Honey, I really appreciate that you haven’t cheated on me. It really shows that you are considerate of my feelings”. Equally silly. Monogamy doesn’t seem to be appreciated. Perhaps it’s one of those things that becomes so routine, so automatic, that it need not be acknowledge, like taking out the trash or doing the dishes. The action would then be only noticed when clearly missing. ” ‘Why did you stop doing the laundry?’ ‘Well, you never said that I was responsible for it.’ ‘But you’ve always done it.’ ‘And you’ve never said ”Thank you”.’ ” But on the other side, one can argue that this is the same as being thankful for not being beaten. As I try to better understand monogamy, I just become more confused.

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.

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.