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November 2007

THE SAIS OBSERVER The Bologna Connection

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Letter from Bologna We follow a Bologna Center student month-by-month as he experiences the challenges and rewards of la vita bella By Jon Rosen

This month: Hauptbonhauf101, or why SAIS could learn something from Oktoberfest It was a bit past four on a Sunday morning and I found myself sprawled out on a concrete floor in a makeshift bed of boxer shorts and a sweatshirt. Closing my eyes, I began to drift into sleep that had eluded me for close to 48 hours, a two-day period I was finally able to – temporarily, at least – forget. Overnight train, excess German beer, savagely devouring an entire rotisserie chicken? For all I knew, in my state of semi-consciousness, this Oktoberfest adventure had never even happened. That is, of course, until I awoke with a tap on my shoulder by what appeared to be an eight-foot tall security guard who demanded that I “woken.” Back to reality at the München Hauptbonhauf train station. Yes, for the previous night, I’d been among the hundreds of postOktoberfest revelers who, for lack of better lodging option, had taken refuge at the Hauptbonhauf. Now, forced to rise after just ten minutes of much-needed dozing, I continued to let my mind wander until it landed on a subject that quickly caused alarm: The first full week of Bologna Center classes was starting on Monday, and thanks to this weekend of debauchery, I was sure to be a zombie for it. Great move, Jon. I mean, sure, I’d come to Europe to learn through travel as well as in the classroom, but not by spending nights in train stations? Or had I? Doing my best to remain optimistic (and somehow occupy my final six hours of what I’d by then resigned to be sleepless refugeedom), I removed a list of this semester’s courses from my backpack and began to compare them, one by one, with lessons I’d learned from a night in the station. Could it be that this evening might actually match up, on an intellectual scale, with a SAIS/Bologna education? What I found (as presented below through a sampling of five course-by-course findings) may surprise you: Hauptbonhauf 101 vs. America and the World Since 1945 Go standing room only to hear Professor Harper’s take on German refugees at the end of World War II – or spend a night re-enacting their experience yourself. Hauptbonhauf 101 gives you practical learning at its finest. Hauptbonhauf 101 vs. Microeconomic Theory Not even Professor Cheong’s

advanced section can prepare you for that fateful limited-resource choice between sleeping upstairs where it’s cold but quiet and clean, or down with the masses where the only available concrete has a dubious brown stain on it. Want to study monopolist behavior? With only one bathroom, it’s no wonder your wallet is drained each time you take a piss. Hauptbonhauf 101 vs. Problems of Transatlantic Relations Sure, Professor Allin, maybe Kagan’s right. American power has given Europe its Kantian peace. But all that goes out the window when you’re confronted by a drunken, 60-year-old, train station–dwelling Bavarian, who asks “Ahhr you from Texaas . . .? Is Gheohrge Bush a wahhr criemanal?” and then challenges you to an arm wrestling match. I say lets solve all of our transatlantic quarrels like this. (Though it should be noted, I declined this man’s invitation, pending orders from General Petraeus). Hauptbonhauf 101 vs. Introduction to Development You can read all the Easterlies or Sachs that you want, but when your monopolist bathroom (see above) gets hit with a powerful flooded urinal epidemic (rumors of sabotage circulated when it was revealed that the plumber’s salary had been looted by the sanitation minister), the burden is on us all – this white man included. Suffice it to say the replacement toilet – at the nearby Burger King – quickly became as third world as they get. Hauptbonhauf 101 vs. Politics and Economics of International Energy Who needs a bow-tied oilman to convince us that our world functions better on fossil fuels than it would on, say . . . pints of Löwenbräu? Thoroughly worn down from both lack of sleep and excess of German lager, I relished the moment, at 9:36 a.m., that my diesel-powered train finally departed the station. Though relieved to be on my way back to Bologna, I now understood the value of this one night of exhaustion. Hauptbonhauf 101. I’ve already submitted my proposal to make it a fall 2008 elective. Jon Rosen is a 1st year MA candidate at the Bologna Center

The SAIS Wine Society, started in Bologna by wine connoisseur Ourania Dionysiou, brings together wine enthusiasts at SAIS for events such as wine tastings and winery visits

Outside the Box, Inside the Bottle The SAIS Wine Society brings a bit of old world culture to our American education By Abby Lackman

As logic would have it, student groups at SAIS vary each year as new minds, interests, and passions enter into the academic foray. Amidst the more “standard” clubs such as Finance, Consulting, and Foreign Relations, a new entity has quietly joined us from Bologna: the Wine Society. Now hold on just a second. Don’t turn the page yet. (The ostrich will still be there.) Before dismissing this Wine Society as a group of snobby oenophiles, open your mental palate and sample some of their philosophy. “Wine is about feelings, how pineapple dances so harmonically with almond,” explains Ourania Dionysiou, the Wine Society’s founder. “How tobacco embraces the oakey barrel. How blueberries, blackberries, redberries stop being just berries, and start being the elements of a whole philosophy.” Who could resist that? Dionysiou, a native of Cyprus who practically grew up in her family’s small wine shop, organized the Wine Society last year at the Bologna Center, where it had over 80 members among the students, faculty, and staff who participated in wine tastings, toured local vineyards, attended presentations, visited regional wine festivals, and simply enjoyed taking a break from the daily schoolwork grind. Citing her relative lack of familiarity with American wines, Ourania insists that she did not plan to continue the group in D.C., but the enthusiasm of the Wine Society’s members convinced her to carry on the group’s activities to the other side of the Atlantic and give the New World wines a try. So far, the going has been a bit tough for this wine connoisseur from the Old World. “In America, it’s all about the package, not what’s inside,” Ourania commented after a recent trip to a few Virginia wineries. The philosophy behind the Wine Society is, after all, continued on page 11


For more pics see page 12 Diversions 2 On Campus 4 Bologna Connection 5 SAIS Students 6 Arts and Culture 8 Op-Ed 9 November 2007 Volume 8 No...