Follow my trip in Israel on http://twitter.com/farano
A funny conversation showed generational divide on Germany - and Europe - history.
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Conversation with a shoe-shiner, sounds from the Empire State Building and much more from my second time in a jazzy New York City. Audio-video report.
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I am just back from New York City and I must tell you about this wonderful experience I had at the Hearst Media Dialogues.
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On Wednesday I was a guest speaker in two separate talk-shows.
One in English (Face Off), the other in French (Face à face). On the same TV, France 24. Who is running Europe in time of crisis?
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We continue our series of Erasmus city-guide with Alicia Benito-Martinez, an Erasmus pioneer who will run you through the wonderful city of Edinburgh. Discover Scotland, its traditions and the unforgettable experience of being Erasmus there!
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Here we are with a lot of info on another Erasmus city: Bratislava, capital of Slovakia.
Francisco Chica García will show you all the tips you must know to spend a wonderful Erasmus year!
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This post is also available in: French
How's to be an Erasmus in Sevilla?
Gabriela Azevedo (first from the right in this photo taken in La Carboneria), from Seville cafebabel.com, will tell you all that you must know before coming in Andalusian capital for a student exchange program.
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This post is also available in: Italian
65% of young people voted NO to Lisbon Treaty.
Is it a generational or a social divide?
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Open letter to the President of the European Commission. After Ireland said “No” to the Lisbon Treaty with more than 53% of the poll, a gesture, a move is much needed. Straight away.
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me your question for José Durao Barroso in the aftermath of Irish "No" to Lisbon Treaty and European continuous
crisis to deal with its rules definition.
In 5 years time, the President of the European
Commission will have dealt with strong refusals from national public opinions
to European Constitution and Lisbon Treaty, getting No in three different languages from French, Dutch and Irish.
How do you judge his action? Chairing European Commission, what should he do in a different way?
Write your short question among comments below and speak your mind!
You are or you are not part of the Eurogeneration? To find that out, check out this commercial!
Have you seen that? Right, you do not speak German. In that case, my colleague Katharina, will explain to you what all the fuss is about:
“We are in Germany. A client of Media Markt, of blatant Italian origins, called Toni, asks a shop assistant in a strong Italian accent:
- A man, finally a man! Well, if you want to buy a TV set, to watch the football match for instance, you always need a man! Why? Because only a man knows about the technique and football. Women instead do not know anything about it!
Then a gorgeous female sales assistant passes by and our man changes his mind:
- I am sorry, "un attimo"
And talking to the beautiful girl he says:
- "Scusi", can you please tell me how that appliance works?”
So, how would you define this commercial?
1. Racist and offensive. I approve the official complaint letter sent by the Italian ambassador in Berlin, Antonio Puri Purini, I will support the boycott of the Media Markt products as Laura Garavini, Pd deputy elected in Germany, invites us to do. I am glad that Media Markt has decided to stop broadcasting the aforementioned commercial.
2. Simply amusing. I have travelled and lived abroad, I have got plenty of friends from all over Europe, and all these stereotyped jokes should not be taken personally. According to my experience, as an Italian, I was always greeted and welcomed with warmth.
Obviously this blog goes for the second answer and firmly condemns this curfew atmosphere everybody has been able to experience in Italy lately. Ours, from the outside, looks like a country under siege. And not only on commercials. A minister (Maroni) who would like to renegotiate the Schengen agreement on the free circulation of people to tackle the problem of Roma immigrants. The anger of many after the world’s surprise on the management of the rubbish in Naples. The deafening silence by the Democratic Party (centre-left) on the xenophobia accusations after the publication of the Security bill approved by the Government. Anti-Roma populist billboards belonging to the Democratic Party. Bottom line, Donadoni, might as well make as many efforts as it takes to deploy an aggressive Italy at the European Cup due to start soon… but the Italy of politics and the Italian society is freaking out on a more and more defensive position. It is the curfew politics!
Traduzione Alessandro Mancosu
Let's continue our tour of European cities with all the tips
provided by people who spent their Erasmus year there. After Budapest,
here you have a unique report of Portsmouth, the little seaside village
in the UK. Our host this week is Antoine aka Antuan, co-author of Babelyon blog.
Finding a place to stay: the uni helps you but life is expensive
I arrived in Portsmouth one week before the term start, with my backpack as only friend. I was helped from the very beginning by the university: free minibus transfer from the train station to the temporary accommodation in a seaside campus, private room at a fair price (about
£15 a night), house-hunting day with free phone and buses to the city centre, advice on housing contracts, etc. Everything was organised and planned by the foreign students department. The only thing I had to take care of was making friends, which was easy since most EU students opted for the Uni temporary accommodation offer.
Nevertheless, even helped by the Uni, finding a nice place to stay in Portsmouth isn't hassle-free. It depends where you want to live.
Portsmouth being an island city, it is densely populated. The City Centre where the main campus is located isn't very attractive.
Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy (see original marines in the above picture) and, hence, suffered heavy bombings during WWII. Although some historic buildings remain, much of the centre is "a product of myopic and uninspired postwar development" as the Lonely Planet puts it.
Therefore many students choose to live in the nearby chill-out seaside resort of Southsea. I myself ended up in a gorgeous three-storey Victorian house a short walk from the seafront. Nonetheless I was probably the luckiest of my friends. Virtually all of them lived in terraced houses in and around Albert Road, Southsea.
Continental Europeans must know that living in the UK is costly. As a means of comparison, I paid more or less the same for my shared room in Portsmouth (a middle-sized city) as for my flat in Lyon (France second-biggest city).
Portsmouth University: beware of the Chinese box
I studied two years at Portsmouth University (BSc and MSc). I'm overall happy with the education provided. A great variety of subjects was available. In France I struggled (and failed) to find a Internet degree which wasn't IT only whereas in Portsmouth I could choose between e-learning, creative technologies, e-commerce, etc. But beware of the all-powerful finance department! They seem to have forgotten that their "clients" are students and not senior executive managers.
Make sure that the degree you're interested in is attended by British students. This may sound awkward but some degrees are marketed for the foreign market (tuition fees for non-EU students are three times higher) and directly sold abroad by Portsmouth Uni overseas offices.
Unfortunately for many of these degrees, derogatively nicknamed 'Chinese box', the teaching is not up to the standard it should be.
Places: jogging, beers & the Isle of Wight
1. As Portsmouth is so compact, one often wants to escape. My fave destination is the Isle of Wight, a 10min hovercraft ride from Southsea.
Once on the island, head to the village of Seaview, follow a seaside footpath southwards into the woods and you'll find yourself in one of the most beautiful beaches I know.
2. If you like jogging, the seafront is the perfect spot. Unlike Brighton's, Portsmouth beaches are separated from the city by a vast green space, Southsea Common. So while running you'll enjoy the view on the Isle of Wight without being annoyed by the traffic.
3. On a sunny day, get yourself a beer and watch the ships going in and out the harbour from Old Portsmouth walls.
Partying: don't tell people too early!
There are many places where to go out in Portsmouth. Forget Gunwharfs quays, a former Navy site turned commercial precinct, it is way too chainy. Give Guildhall walk in the City Centre a try. You'll find out that the best pub around is the Registry.
In Southsea, the seafront is lined with clubs. My favourite is the raucous Chaos on South Parade pier. About 10min from there, Albert Road is good fun: great pubs (Festings), bars (One-eyed dog, Wine vaults), curries and music for gig-goers (Wedgewood rooms).
However EU students prefer the cheaper and more international house parties. When organising one, remember this: don't tell people too early. Word of mouth is very efficient amongst foreign students. For the first party we threw, we told about 20 people a week in advance. Hundred came!
My feeling: a brilliant Erasmus village
Portsmouth might not be pretty but it is a brilliant Erasmus city.
You'll learn to love Southsea: the seafront, the pubs and above all the student life. In Portsmouth no need to take the tube to meet your new friends. A student village within the town!
Pictures by Antoine
Apart from that my 5th March in London has been a lovely sunny day. Let’s stroll around then from St. Pancras Station to Old Street. Here on the left graffiti in Trafalgar Square, on the background is the Big Ben.
The difference between the English, not used to the light and the Italian tourists armed with the compulsory sunglasses is blatant!
I meet later on an old friend from University, a true babelian, Alberto that runs a community for social entrepreneurs, those people who do business without forgetting the general interest. Chapeau! I want to introduce a bit of Cafebabel to him but, for a change, the plugs in England are different from the rest of the Continent. Might God curse these antediluvian barriers to communication!
I meet then Annette, responsible for the local branch of Cafebabel and co-organiser of the debate I will take part in, at the London School of Economics about “New Media and European Democracy”. Stop at a supermarket. I found that London prices are now much lower compared to when I used to live here, in the Lira era, in 1998, for two months after leaving high school. Maybe it’s our prices that have soared in the meantime!
And I still have an unforgettable memory dating back to that period...memory of an evening spent with Luca’s guitar (my adventures mate), a Scottish hippy and many pleased passers by. We were in Covent Garden in front of this shop. The weird thing is that that shop is now called “French connection”.
And it is just in Covent Garden, in a place where time seems to have frozen Neal's Yard, that I came across Zsofia – an Hungarian girl former College of Europe, now in charge of the press releases of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a new centre of studies sponsored by the tycoon George Soros, that is defined as the “first pan European think-tank”.
In the lane that leads to the Neal’s Yard one could read this nice sentence that has added a bit of magic to my trip: “Live the life you have imagined”.
After the debate, debate in which Andreas, author of Kosmopolit euroblog, stood out, off we went to the pub and later to Annette’s where I took this picture, caught on the bedside table: four books in four different languages. We really are babelians!
The following day, I am nearby the brand new St. Pancras Station, (my Eurostar train to Paris sets off from here) you could have come across this funny character. A way, from the swinging London to wish me adieu...or maybe...bye bye!
Translated by Alessandro Mancosu
Today, as announced, Eurogeneration is proud to launch 'Erasmus
guide': a unique cityguide compilation taking you in the best European
cities to let you discover them with the eyes of someone who lived it
at 100% – say an Erasmus student. Very personal, these portrays do not
pretend to be exhaustive. Take them as a chat with someone who is here
to share with you his thoughts. So do not hesitate to comment this
This week, our guest is Roberto Yanguas who spent his Erasmus period in the Hungarian capital two years ago.
Finding a place to stay: real estate agency
Well, this is probably the most difficult matter for a foreigner because of the language. In Budapest there are few residences for students. So the best solution is to use a real estate agency.
Budapest is divided in two big parts (Buda and Pest) and in many districts. I've been living in the Distict VI which is, with Districts V and VII, the best to live in. It's recommended to avoid District VIII, wich can be dangerous. And don't forget: Pest is better than Buda if you are an Erasmus student.
University: the right place if you don't like to study
I was in Peter Pazmany University, Faculty of Law. All the classes were in English even if Shakespeare's language is not always well spoken. Anyway if you are interested in spending your Erasmus year without studying, then this is your university: most of the teachers would ask you to give them a short and easy essay. Usually few exams (I had only one and really easy).
As for equipment, neither the library or the computer room are well equipped, but you have a sort of computer centre (called HIK) just 5 minutes from there. More, the sporthall is uniquely a closed field where you can play sports (but I would strongly recommend you playing sports in "Margherite Island" if it's sunny). Last but not least: in my case, the Erasmus office worked really well...
Paprika, decadence and baths: 3 places you cannot miss
- Beers with friends: "Szimpla" (my favourite place). You cannot imagine it... it's decadent, old and dirty... but it really really worths it.
- Relaxing times: "Szechenyi termal baths". 8 € for a whole day of sauna, jacuzzi and natural-earthed medicinal water. After that you'll be a different person!
- Paprika Restaurant (near to Szechenyi) or Stex Haza Restaurant. My suggestion: Goulash soup and chicken breast with three cheeses and home-made croquets in the first. Pork cutlet Carpatian style in the second one (I am salivating just remembering it...).
Partying: football table and police
Erasmus students used to go to Morrison's pub near to Opera (karaoke party on wedesdays – don't ask me why but Hungarians love karaoke...), Old Man's pub (near to Erszebet körut street and Szimpla bar), and we used to go to Sulss Fel Nap, Szoda, Sark... Be carefull with your clothes: they can "misteriously" disappear (look out even with the bouncer).
Most of the Erasmus parties are in flats, and here is a good tip (we dindn't know it until the end): you can previously phone the police to tell them that you're organizing a party and if some neighbor phone them in the middle of the party, they will be informed that is sort of an "official party".
The quantity of the spirits rarely is as in Spain or Italy (it's less). Even during the nights, if you like football table, they play a lot: you'd have to put a coin in the table and wait your turn, the winner remains. Don't use drugs: if the police catch you, then you have big troubles. For them coke and cannabis is the same. More things: drinking in the streets is allowed unless in Spain!
No words, I'd recommend it to everyone!
What do you think of this testimony? Have you been in Budapest? Do you have some questions for Roberto? Otherwise, have a look to Budapest babelblog! And don't miss "A foreigner's diary".
See you next week in... Portsmouth, a small city in the UK near the Isle of Wight!
What's to be Erasmus in...Warsaw? ...Budapest? ...Paris? ...Istanbul?
Eurogeneration wants to start a practical series of articles 100% fed by people spending or having spent their Erasmus period in any European city.
This person would be credited and would be asked to send a picture of him/her illustrating his/her experience (not mandatory).
Information I need:
- Finding a place to stay: where to find the best offers both online and offline; what you should knwo to rent a place; universitary campus; prices etc.
- University: are there classes in English? is local language teaching well provided? how does the university system work? what are the tips to live in the university
- Places: tell me 3 places you absolutely recommend to see/visit in your city that are really special and not touristic
- Partying: where to party with other Erasmus, best tips, cultural thinigs to take into account in clubs, pubs or whenever (about alcohol, things to do/not to do)
- Your feeling about your experience in that city: would you recommend it to someone else?
Your picture if you agree
Send your contribution to farano[at]cafebabel.com
Massimo has been pizza maker in Paris since 1970. At that time passport was still compulsory to travel between Italy and France. Travel or rather, immigrate! As all moving was, back then, far more definitive compared to the one we are used to nowadays. For Massimo, the conditions of the past do not seem to have changed a big deal: « Naples? I go back every two or three years. But every time I cannot stay there for more than one week. Last time I was not able to find anyone, the streets of the Spanish Borough (Quartieri Spagnoli) in Naples were deserted. Later I was told that everybody had been arrested!».
Massimo’s case might look too extreme, but for most of the immigrants, words such as «free circulation of people», «Schengen area», «Euro», «low-cost flights», «modern mass media» or «skype» - in short, twenty years of Euro-revolution and globalisation – do not mean much. Nothing like all those people who, by choice or by need, pack up their stuff and leave, to travel or to immigrate. E-migrants , with an «e» very fashion that rhymes with email, but that proceeds from afar...the Latin «ex».
Now back to our pizza maker. Massimo tunes up Naples songs from the fifties, songs that he knows by heart or a sparkling Laura Pausini in her best performance ("Marco se n'è andato..."), and even an Eros Ramazzotti with his distinctive flu-like voice ("Ed ho imparaaaaatooo che nella vitàààà...), while kneading the pizza paste with a Neapolitan know-how (unfortunately the mozzarella is from France!). But this does not prevent him from mixing up Italian and French, as much as he does with this tasteless over salted tomato that he mixes with artichokes dipping in vinegar, tasteless stuff that he pulls out an anonymous pot made in - God knows where !
This past Christmas my father offered me a Garzanti dictionary, just to take the piss, because he claims that, having spent a few years in France, I forgot my Italian. But next time, I will take you, dad, to Massimo’s and you will have to admit that his mistakes are far more blatant than those of the E-migrants, as big as a wooden oven !
So, dear readers, next time you come across an immigrant, a real one, do this : tempt him, tell him what the world is like nowadays: beautiful because of its melting pot. Babelize-him !!
Translated by Alessandro Mancosu
Foto di Veronica ArtMusic
Information sometimes gets out of reality. When Monica, a brilliant babelian that worked in this editorial office, told me that during the summer, I couldn’t believe it. During the exam that gives you a journalist license – yes, in Italy, the fascist-origin-law on journalism still exists – the candidates have to use a typewriter. Yes, it’s true: that noisy and almost unobtainable thing.
Now the culture commission of the lower chamber approved a proposal of law by Pino Pisicchio (president of the justice commission) that states the abolishment of typewriters during the exam and introduces the use of PCs. Welcome to the digital era, oh my dear journalists!
But beyond this funny news, why don’t we think about removing the order of journalists? During the tv programme on France Inter, Transeuropéennes, to which I participated few weeks ago, we were talking about journalists passes and notice that Italy, together with Portugal, was the only country that still has an Order. And now that the symbol of that ancient and démodé kind of journalism is gone, what do we need the Order for?
Here I am, back in Paris: still paying the consequnces of the jet-lag, with loads of ideas running through my mind, happy about being able to hug my wife and go back to cafebabel.com. But still...
Still I have to admit that this stars-and-stripes experience was so omni-comprehensive as to leave a mark. For the people around me it must be so wearying. Yesterday my collegue from EUrotik (now available in English as well) told me (in French): "Enough with these USA, Adrià".
Well, I have to say that, dear babelians that followed me faithfully during my "On the road 2.0", I feel like many of you after Erasmus. I guess I should be psychoanalysed by doctor Allanic, whom Prune talked about, o maybe by Fiorella. Joking...meanwhile, here is the latest version of my journey map with the New York stop that I didn't tell you much about...
View Larger Map
You can read here about the illuminating meeting with Jay Rosen, "crowd-sourcing journalism" guru, in the Big Apple.
A rich, explosive and extremely varied country, USA is, at the same time, a nation proud of its DNA, forged with blood and with an hard-and-fast Constitution. But also contradictory, sometimes cruel, always bearer of challenges, adventures and uncertainties, loads of uncertainties. These were the USA that I saw. Joking and being serious at the same time, here is a gallery of what I liked and what I didn’t.
Washington subway: elegant
Animals throughout the city: funny
Multietnicity when it means harmony
The flag: it rocks
Offline ads for online web sites: modern
New York subway: narrow, dirty, “well, what...?”
Regular coffee in Starbucks: are we sure that the roast is Italian???
Rats in the streets: still a problem in big cities like New York
The count down to cross the road: really unendurable (without having to talk about the omnipresent automatic drive that nullifies the breaks’ slow effect and makes your stomach jump).
Ounce, gallon, mile... grrrr. In the picture the graduates Giusy uses for cooking.
So what do you think? Am I too provincial? What are your impressions on America guys?
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