A Change of Course… and Blog Title
August 25, 2010
Those of you who have followed my blog this past year have probably noticed a change in title. The reasons for this are twofold: 1. My year in Poland on the Fulbright… is over; and 2. I’ve been accepted into a two-year Master’s program at the University of Bologna–Forli. And so, new adventure, new blog title.
The last few months of my Fulbright were quite stressful–in a good way. (A little stress keeps you on your toes.) But I had finally gotten into the swing of things: I was working on numerous projects, traveling and seeing new places, really settling into a life abroad. But, the inevitable end of my grant period also signaled a big question mark for me: What was I going to do next?
I had been thinking about (and stressing over) this very question since the beginning of my year in Poland. And the answer still remained unclear towards the end. I left myself open to chance. And for someone who usually likes to have a Plan B, or even a hypothetical Plan C… or D, the prospect of not knowing was terrifying. But it also proved to be quite liberating.
It was the tragic Smolensk plane crash, in which all passengers were killed including the President and First Lady of Poland, that reawakened an old conflict within me. I was immediately transported back to the 11th grade, when I had to make the decision between political science and the arts. Although I went on to study Textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design, my interest in political science never died down. A particular focus on Post-Communist Eastern Europe surfaced during my junior year, and culminated in an independent study my senior year. I ended up graduating with a concentration from the Department of History, Philosophy and the Social Sciences under the theme, History and Politics in a Postcolonial World. It was the Fulbright that finally allowed me to try and combine my seemingly discordant interests into a single project. This past year, however, I realized that my work had focused more so on art, than on politics, while my personal interests were weighing out differently.
That brings me to the new title of my blog, The Art in Political Thought: My Two Years at the University of Bologna. I was introduced to UniBo’s Master’s program by my professor at RISD, Andrew Savchenko, who continuously encouraged my interest in the history, economy, and politics of Eastern Europe while I was studying at RISD. Upon hearing that my interest in the region had increased significantly while living there for the year, he suggested I look into the MIREES Master’s Program at the University of Bologna. I researched the program and quickly determined that it was a chance I could not pass up.
MIREES is a two-year Master’s Program in “Interdisciplinary Research and Studies on Eastern Europe.” It is offered by the Roberto Ruffilli Faculty of Political Science at the University of Bologna, in the city of Forli. The program is taught entirely in English and aims to combine the study of Economics, International Relations and Politics, History, Linguistics, Anthropology and Cultural Studies to help students acquire a specialized, in-depth knowledge of East-Central Europe and the Balkans. The interdisciplinary nature of the program is what particularly appealed to me.
And so, I applied and was accepted(!) as one of only 40 students into this unique program! I could not believe that I would be studying at THE oldest university in the world! (The University of Bologna was founded in 1088, and is the first institution in the world to use the term universitas.) Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Nicolas Copernicus, Albrecht Dürer, and Umberto Eco all studied at the University of Bologna. So cool.
I then began the long, arduous road to enrollment, which entailed the translation, authorization, and legalization of my American undergraduate degree and transcripts (known in Italian as dichiarazione di valore); the pre-enrollment application for all Italian universities; and student visa application. NOTE: The preceding sentence hardly does justice to the fire and brimstone I encountered in dealing with government bureaucracy. However, I’ve put it all past me and am now preparing for the immediate years ahead.