Kristen, Student Blogger: Pre-Milan

This week has been a pretty relaxed week in terms of feeling like I’m pretty well settled in and have a feel for how to operate things better. I might be only saying this now as I, for the first time, walked to the train station by myself and found the platform without feeling like I needed to attempt to ask anyone if I am in the right spot. Instead, an Italian asked ME to make sure the platform was heading to Milan! I am on my way to Milan to meet my friend from home, Britney. Her dad has business in Milan and her brother is playing American football in Germany currently so she is traveling around Europe for a couple of weeks with her family. She was originally going to meet me in Torino, but the outbreak of riots while in Paris prevented her from being able to take her train. So now I’m meeting her and her family in Milan!

This week has been pretty interesting in terms of my school work. My first lesson came on Monday during my first exam for Economics and Politics in the EU. Essays for tests are more common in Italy. While preparing for a multiple choice test on the treaties of the European Union, I got slapped in the face when I actually found out I needed to memorize a lot more than I thought I did. Overall, I hope he doesn’t grade it too terribly hard, but we shall see. I definitely will be studying differently next time.

In my other class, we had to interview a person of a different culture and talk about the values and differences that exist, through a report. I got the chance to interview one of the Italian students in between classes. There were differences that existed, as the sports that she grew up with, such as ice skating, tennis, gymnastics and horse riding. Sports that were not-existent at my small, high school growing up. Similarities existed with her relationship with her parents, values of getting a job and moving away from home. What I found the most interesting, was her view on her own country. It is well known that Italy is growing through an economically hard time. While speaking to her, she informed me on her disgust for her countries views. She thinks Italy is in a political sink-hole that is “going no where”, seeing now future. Her plan is to go to America or England when she graduates from her school. I guess I should be able to understand as Illinois is also in financially hard times, but it’s hard for me to imagine leaving the country. It would have to be hard living in a place where you believe there to be no future.

In my Economics class, we happened to be talking about the views the Italian citizens and the economy of Italy, in their current state. Italy has the lowest birth rate of world. My teacher, along with many other reasons, sees this as a potentially threatening problem for future generations. Italy has become sort of a retirement home for the older generations and no new minds are coming through. His view is also that the students who see and focus on a future, are the one leaving, while those content, are staying. Dr.  Dastru continued to explain that one of the reasons a crisis began to occur was the retirement plans the Italian government set up back when Italy was prosperous. Rules were set up that allowed workers to retire after merely 15 years of work. He personally knew a family member who did this and still currently, reaps the benefits of the retirement plan. So this was allowed for many government worker for years. Only recently did they end the outrageous retirement plans when realizing that they couldn’t keep up. He, personally, would like to see more educated discussions on why Italy is doing financially bad and how to fix the problem.

A lot of these views vary greatly from what you see in America or what would happen in America so I think that is why it is so interesting. On the other hand, learning these kind of things would probably not seem nearly as interesting while at home, instead of Italy.

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