March 01, 2009:

Two short weeks in review.

These last two weeks I’ve been working hard and trying to keep up with the increasing importance of my assignments. As the weeks have progressed I am steadily becoming more familiar with the work that I’ve been assigned. I’m fortunate because my job allows me a very interesting assortment of assignments, each new task has proved more interesting than the last. As I continue my studies and continue my internship, I get to spend time searching for new laws and economic and political developments in the Italian system. Additionally I’ve had the privilege of following and summarizing the changes that have been introduced by the new Barack Obama administration. The model that the U.S. has provided has helped shape further developments in the world community. As the world struggles with its economic issues it is important for us to study how one country interacts with another. Further cooperation and interaction can only lead to an improvement in our current situation. This crisis has proved a breeding ground for international cooperation and will continue to provide benefits for all those involved.

It is very interesting for me to be in Italy studying and learning about the changes taking place in the world and at home. I find myself with a different point of view than many of my colleagues in the United States as the information I am studying is provided from alternate sources. This different viewpoint, I believe is shaped by the international media; additionally the people that I have daily interaction with here have a stronger and more rounded understanding of global politics and global reactions to this crisis.

Well enough reflections on work I suppose it’s time to start reflecting on play. This week I went to the little German and Italian town of Bolzano/Bozen. The majority of the population in the province of Alto Adige speak German or Ladin. However in the town of Bolzano the majority of the population speaks Italian. Additionally townspeople are fully bilingual. All street signs and public notifications are published in both German and Italian. Businesses provide bilingual documents. The town itself is absolutely beautiful with brilliant colors, stark towering mountains, snowcapped and majestic, a friendly population and a mixture of Italian and German architecture.

It is difficult for me to describe the difference in cultural as well as traditional attitudes of the population. Although as friendly as the Italian population here in Milan. The population proved to be more formal with a stronger spartan German attitude. The sense of efficiency and the change from typical Italian tranquility was palpable. I would recommend, for those interested, to visit Bolzano – as it is a beautiful mountain city sequestered in the foothills of the Alps. Additionally for those interested in the story of ancient humanity at the museum in Bolzano, is the preserved mummy of the Ice Man found frozen in the mountains.

As we returned from Bolzano/Bozen, I decided to begin work on three youtube video scripts that would be used for my independent study. Part of the fun of doing these presentations is that I will be able to analyze and discover how to properly portray the information and experience that I’ve gained through my study here in Italy. The opportunity to share these and provide facilitation for future visitors has me excited.

As I’ve noted before Italian custom and tradition is very interesting especially as you begin to introduce yourself and make friends within the Italian community. It is with great pleasure that every day I venture forth from my home and encounter new friends and acquaintances with which I can practice my Italian, discover more about their culture, and work to discover what is proper and what is considered rude in this foreign culture. In Italian culture catholicism is very dominant. Because of this it is always necessary to keep in mind the moral code which is imbued in the teachings of catholicism. On a day to day basis it is important to remember the removal of your hat indoors. The need to wear conservative clothes when you plan on visiting a church or religious area. Shorts, T shirts/tank tops are banned as well as short skirts.

On a cultural level the use of language, respect for your elders and the interaction between men and women is still heavily influenced by this catholic involvement. In my personal observations, very few Italians actually attend church; the Sundays and Fridays that I’ve spent visiting churches I’ve seen very few Italians attending services. In fact, I’ve found that many churches here in the city close or are open for only a very few hours as they do not have the staff or the attendance to merit keeping them open. Despite this lack of attendance, catholicism is prevalent in everyday society.