I’ve been steadily writing and blogging as I’ve progressed through this voyage and have posted my log’s on www.Davidberger.net There you’ll find a more in-depth record of my travels to date. Also I’ve uploaded photo’s from my trip at www.Facebook.com on my profile – David Nathaniel Berger.
Jan 20th 2009 – Milano, Italy. I landed and found my way from the airport to the centre of Milano. Il Duomo. There I waited for a contact I had found through my searching for an apartment – a fellow intern who was awaiting his security clearance before he could begin work. He graciously offered me his couch and I was able to stay with him for the four days it took me to find an apartment here in Milano. During those four days I spent time exploring the city and checking out apartments to rent. Although gracious my colleagues couch was small and uncomfortable. Also Italian custom regarding heat and utilities in these tough financial times is to run the heating system to generate hot water and heat for the shower and after and then run it again at the end of the day right before you go to sleep. Other than that houses stay around air temperature (1-5 degrees Celsius).
It was a boon to have Paul as a contact and as a host as it saved me spending 20-30 Euro per night in a hotel. The four days I spent there were interesting and fun and each night we would adventure out into Milan and explore. We found a few English speaking pubs about a 15 minute walk down Viale Torino from the Duomo. The best of which was a little pub tucked into a tiny alley off to the side of the street across from a large business called FNAC. I met quite a few friendly Italians and Swiss, American’s studying at the local universities as well as Swedes. All in all a great experience to begin my stay here in Milan.
I finally found an apartment on Saturday having arrived Tuesday and moved in Sunday evening around 8. I began work at the Consulate the next day, January 26th at 9AM. I checked in with each department and got to meet and speak with each department head for an average of 15 minutes each. I am living with Two Italians, a young gentleman from Korea in a three room apartment on Viale Bligny, 5 minutes walk from Porta Romana and the yellow metro line which brings me to work each morning and 15 minutes from University Bocconi. My roommates are very nice and energetic. All are students and the two Italians are from southern Italy. Nico is from Naples and Giovanne is from Puglia.
Work is hard but fun. I’m working for Mr. Kidwell in the Political Economic section and trying to get a hang of the way things are done here. Everyone in the consulate is very welcoming and patient. I work 40-50 hours per week and start each morning at 8:00am and finish around 5-6 pm. Stores and shops (internet cafés here close around 8pm and after I commute to get home I generally have about 20-45 minutes of time before they close.
I don’t have steady internet service at my apartment and unfortunately the solution I have found is relatively expensive. After five days without internet access in my apartment I finally found a small internet USB key that uses the local cell phone network to connect. Although expensive it provides access for 1Euro per hour. It is also subject to lost connection which has been very frustrating as each time I connect the minimum time logged is in 15 minute intervals. So if it drops me after 3 minutes I lose 15.
Work is exciting but because I’m dealing with sensitive/classified materials I can’t really talk about it much. Instead I’d like to write about my experience in terms of my personal time.
In the future I would prefer to have housing nailed down before I arrived. I searched for nearly three months without luck and wound up here by shear luck and desperation. Also I would have liked a better understanding of the initial start up costs involved in the internship. Small things I did not think about like sheets and a backup pair of shoes.
I packed a little differently than other interns might have as I will be doing a three month solo backpacking tour after I finish my internship. Because of this I packed very Spartan. I’d like to include my packing list:
4 pair re-enforced wool socks
5 pair thin synthetic dress socks
4 lightweight quick drying intimates
3 full suits –
Pants (2 pair blue 1 pair black 1 pair tan)
Tan, Blue, and Black jackets
Red, Baby blue, cream, salmon, and black shirts.
Blue, Red, Tan, Black ties
Pair of jeans
Outlet converters and adapters
And 2 hats
I fit all of these items in a backpack and hanging bag. I will mail the hanging bag (with my suits) home when I leave for approx. $15-20 dollars. Because I’m working at the consulate I can take advantage of the U.S. APO mailing system (mail overseas as if you were mailing in-country). That will leave me with a consolidated packing list of: Jeans, 4 pair intimates, 4 pair wool socks, 4 button down shirts, a lightweight jacket I’ve bought here, I-Pod, Camera, Outlet converters, Hiking boots, Battery charger, 2 hats. Lightweight and recyclable it also gives me room to buy gifts or other items as I travel. I would like to buy another pair of jeans as these may wear through in the seven months I’m overseas. However as I am traveling from winter into summer I doubt I will require much more than this – anything else I will require I can purchase here.