Showing posts with label university. Show all posts
Showing posts with label university. Show all posts

05 February 2001

Recensione: "La Via della Cina" di Renata Pisu, ****

In questo libro l'autrice racconta il suo rapporto con la Cina, iniziato nel 1957 quando, insieme con alcuni compagni, si trasferì a studiare a Pechino, all'università di Beida. Vi trascorse 4 anni e da allora non ha mai smesso di tornare periodicamente in quel Paese che l'ha contagiata di un male inguaribile, il "Mal di Cina", segnando in modo indelebile la sua vita. Quello che leggiamo nel libro non è solo un resoconto o un reportage di viaggio, piuttosto assomiglia a un percorso tra passato e presente che si accompagna a un itinerario esistenziale.

27 March 1981

Article by Dan Lubin in "The Hoya", newspaper of G.U. on Polish Seminar

At the end of the month, Georgetown University will be the forum for a unique and unprecedented program. The United States International Communication Agency (USICA) has agreed to sponsor a seminar between the Warsaw School of Planning and Statistics (Polish acronym: SGPiS) and Georgetown University. The seminar, conceived and organized by Georgetown juniors Andrew Menard and Marco Carnovale, is designed to promote extensive exchanges of knowledge on different political and economic issues.

16 May 1980

Zakopane tour and Juwenalia

Day trip to Zakopane, a ski resort in the Tatra mountains, next to the border with Czechoslovakia. It is still unseasonably cold for May. We take a nice and easy walking tour of the town, with a tasty lunch in a local eatery. Nothing special really, it would be much better to come here in full Winter, for skiing, or in Summer, for trekking. Now we can't do either!

In one quaint shop I buy a tea set: pot, 6 cups, and milk jar for zl 2500, nice souvenir.

Dinner in the evening at the Staropolska. Our local guide, Halska, maintains this is a "typical" restaurant, but I hope she is wrong. It is really nothing special, a smoky joint with mediocre food.

Today it's the start of the "Juwenalia", a kind of youth celebrations during which college students go around asking for money. Seems like a Halloween for older kids. The make more noise and ask for money instead of candies.

08 May 1980

Foreign policy exam

Morning at home studying, then light lunch (sort of light) with bread and sausages we got from Marian and Ewa.

There is not much meat available in Poland, not expensive choice cuts anyway. But sausages (keilbasa!) have been our best friends for many meals. Cheap and almost always easily available, they go very well with hearty Polish bread and savory butter. And vodka of course, though not today, since we have to write an exam this afternoon. Not that it will make much of a difference, give the kind of exam that awaits us.

In the afternoon, written exam of Polish Foreign Policy. Easy. Too easy, not challenging at all.

06 May 1980

Exams and study

In the morning we go for our Political Systems exam, very easy.

Afternoon to study the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, or Comecon. This was once believed to be the USSR's response to the Western European Common Market. But it's always been anything but. Anyway, relations are mostly regulated bilaterally.

Moreover, many countries wanted to join the Common Market, there was a waiting list and no country ever left once they joined. While no other European country I was aware of wanted to join the CMEA, while more than one member state would have likely left already if they had had a chance to do so. Albania actually did.

Never seen so much nonsense concentrated in so few pages like in our course material.

05 May 1980

Informal lecture on the real political system of Poland

In the morning we have our history exam. The question is "Communist takeover in Eastern European Communist countries". The wording is a bit convoluted, even recursive.

In the evening I am in my room studying for the next exam on "Political Systems" when Stefan pops in and tells me not to waste any time with this nonsense. Things are not like what they teach us. He sits down and goes on for a long time with a most interesting monologue on "real politics" in Poland, ie on how the HQ of the Communist party decides everything and sends orders down the chain of "democratic centralism", all the way to the lowliest head of a small party cell in the countryside.

Most interesting indeed, even if I won't be able to use this material in the exam tomorrow. But who cares? I learned more tonight about Poland's political system than in all of our classes put together.

19 February 1980

Arrested in a Warsaw Pact military base. (This is not a joke.)

What happened on this day deserves special attention as it was one of the defining days of my life. It was not funny when it happened, though it made for countless hilarious conversation afterwards.

We left Vienna in the morning and crossed into Czechoslovakia with transit visa, with the goal of reaching Poland by the end of the day. We clear the border quickly, little more than ten minutes. Barbed wire as far as the eye can see.

Very few cars on the Czechslovak side, while many buses and trucks slows us down quite a bit. Almost all cars are withre FIAT 124 (Soviet made Lada) or Skoda. The road to Brno and beyond is dotted with hundreds of small monuments to Communism and red banners hailing socialism. One such banners reads: "Our union with Russia is a guarantee of peace". Small red stars are ubiquitous, even on lamp posts, street signs, everywhere.

The Iron Curtain at the border between Austria and Czechoslovakia