September 25-28, 2016: Let the Real Classes Begin

So finally, at the end of September we’ve started real classes. Talk about being on a late schedule, Europe. I didn’t read for any of my first lectures. Because who does that? In undergrad at least, it was never expected that there be work before the first class unless the professor sends you an explicit email.

I think in general, there’s a learning curve to how much you actually have to read for class and how much of it is overkill. Because we are assigned so much reading that it is physically impossible to do all of it. One of my classes has three tiers of readings: required, recommended and background. I only do the required ones. Even though I’m a native English speaker, I read very slowly. And my process is even slower because I now feel obligated to take notes since I don’t own the books. We borrow them four hours at a time from the library. If you get the book after 7pm, you can have it for the night and return it at 10:30am the next day. But that means I have to go into school by 10:30am—so I only do that on days I have language class in the morning.

I met with my academic advisor, Justin Frosini. He is the director of the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development, which is a research center run conjointly with the University of Bologna law school and SAIS Europe. I applied for a research position before they even released applications. He just told me to send him a CV and a writing sample. And then he sent me a test before I officially got the job. I spent the better part of Sunday working on it. The assignment was very oddly worded so I wasn’t quite sure what he was looking for. But I took a guess and did some research and now I have a job. I handed in the assignment 3 days early, and in return I got a new assignment with the same due date as the first one instead of giving me an equal amount of time. The whole reason I did it early was so I wouldn’t have to work on it later, but alas I needed to spend another day on this one. It was also vague without too much direction.

Now officially, I am doing research on the legal challenges to Brexit. It’s timely and relevant and interesting. I enjoy it. They’re in uncharted waters. Naturally, a lot of the talks and panels they’ve had have been focused on Brexit. The talks here are kind of hit or miss but the majority of them are really interesting. The thing about grad school is people attend talks without the incentive of food. In undergrad, you have to offer free food to get people to come to a lecture. We don’t get food here.

I also had a whole fiasco with financial aid and health insurance that I don’t really want to talk about. Essentially this problem went on until November and was only just resolved now as I write this. And it was not resolved in my favor. Financial aid is a frustratingly unwinnable game.

We also finally had our ILAW dinner. I kind of organized it as coordinator but Katherine is the one who made the reservation at a nice little restaurant near her apartment. There were 7 of us, including Austin who dropped the concentration. There’s Katherine, Emily, Eleanor, Yushuang, me and Ashley (a second-year student here in Bologna for this semester). A lot of the other concentrations had already had their dinners, so I was glad we got to have a get together. This restaurant even gave free limoncello at the end of the meal! Katherine is a regular here so she gets some perks.

And I got my first haircut in Bologna! You know how much I hate getting my hair cut. I found a cheap Bengali place on San Vitale and there’s young guy from Bangladesh that speaks English. He studied English literature in university and he came to Bologna cause that’s where his sister went. I even gave him a 2 euro tip on top of the 8 euro cut. 8 euro is the best price I’ve seen in Bologna. And I got a decent hair cut.

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