Sunday, January 22, 2006

Due interessanti telefonate - 2

The second interesting phone call that I wanted to mention was with a college-mate of mine, Eugenio, that I hadn't heard from in a long long time.
It was an interesting chat about science in Italy, Europe and US. He's now in the Netherlands, doing his Ph.D. on a cutting-edge NMR-based technique that they are developing to study the photosynthesis centers in plants.

We both observed how different is to do science in Italy or abroad. One of the main points is that abroad, you're really left to your own initiative, whereas in Italy professors follow you step after step.. we both like having more freedom better, and also, it's quite amazing how efficient things are here (or in Netherlands, as he was saying).. you order a reactant, and it's in the lab the day after.. Also, English language has the nice characteristic that there's not really a formal way of approaching people (like the 'lei' in Italian or 'vous' in French), so that makes you feel all the time at the same level of the professors that you're talking to.

Still, some other differences in culture and vision of State made us prefer Italy to both US and Netherlands. In the Netherlands, for example, people seem to have a lot of fun going to pubs and getting drunk, more than talking to their friends - Eugenio was saying..also, he was saying that it's a great country until you're young, but the State is not very concerned with the needs of old people.
I'd say that here in the US, the Social system would have so much to learn from Italy, from children care to health care to education..

Eugenio said something that made me think: he went to visit Washington a few years ago, and he was amazed by the contrasts between the Mall and the poor surroundings.. so he said: in the US, I think you can live well if you don't look and hear what's around you. This kind of strucked me - I try to be aware of what's going on around me, and still manage to live well my life. It's true that the contrasts between rich and poor here are much stronger than in Italy.. maybe, I don't see them so much because I live in Raleigh and not in Washington DC. Also here, though, for example, racial segregation is visible - just go downtown and you'll notice it.

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