Politecnico Milano switches to English: Good or bad?

Politecnico di Milano
Politecnico di Milano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a recent BBC News article:

One of Italy’s leading universities – the Politecnico di Milano – is going to switch to the English language. The university has announced that from 2014 most of its degree courses – including all its graduate courses – will be taught and assessed entirely in English rather than Italian.

I still remember my master thesis dissertation at Politecnico in 1997. My thesis, “Modelling the Self-motion and Environmental-motion Coherence in Yaw” was entirely developed in English during a stint at Delft University in the Netherlands. At the time, I was forced to translate back in Italian a 10-page summary of the thesis and my slides. The defense presentation was also delivered in Italian.

I for one welcome the change. English is (still) the language of international business and academia. It will only benefit students to spend a few years prepping for communications in an English-dominated world.

But some strongly disagree:

Something of the precision and quality of teaching and learning will be lost in translation, when both teachers and students are using a second language. “Speaking Italian to our countrymen is like watching a movie in colour, high definition, very clear pictures. On the contrary, speaking English to them, even with our best effort, is, on the average, like watching a movie in black and white, with very poor definition, with blurred pictures,” says Professor Matricciani.

I am not sure I agree with the spirit of the objection. Do you?


Jailbreaking the Degree

This certainly makes for an interesting dinner topic. The only real problem I see with unbundling the college degree is that it is there is very little flexibility on the demand side of the job market. When it comes to credentials the degree is still an binary filter. You have it or you don’t.

Visiting San Francisco FAQ

Night shot of Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco
Night shot of Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have lived in the Bay Area for less than 10 years, so by no means I know it all. But I feel it would help to collect the most asked questions I get from San Francisco visitors:

Q: What’s the best Italian restaurant in San Francisco?

A: I get this question a lot, predictably. My favorites in alphabetical order:

  • Acquerello delivers a formal dining experience of superior quality and service.
  • La Ciccia is a true neighborhood gem of a restaurant delivering Sardinian fare that is up to par with the original stuff.
  • Cotogna is a relatively new entrant on the scene and an instant success among foodies.
  • Farina e Focaccia has established itself as a must visit for fresh pasta and Genovese focaccia lovers.
  • Perbacco features Piemontese cuisine of consistent quality in a classy and relaxed  ambiance. Try the agnolotti!
  • Quince, top of the line. Period.

Q: What is the best pizza in San Francisco?

A: Pizza seems to polarize people, maybe cause everyone has a very personal opinion of what a great pizza should be like. Anyway, here’s my very personal list:

  • A16 delivers top wood-fired owen pizza with seasonal toppings.
  • Delfina has established itself as a solid spot in the SF pizza scene.
  • Zero Zero has got to be my personal favorite. Choose the Margherita Extra with buffalo mozzarella.
  • [Special mention] Pizzaiolo is technically not in San Francisco. Well worth the trip to the Temescal restaurant row in Oakland.

Q: What is the best spot for a drink?

A: So many choices, so little time.  This one depends on a number of criteria. I go by the bartender’s craft as the primary factor. San Francisco is home to some of the best. Again, in alphabetical order:

  • 25 Lusk, 70s ambiance and a nicely laid out bar.
  • Bourbon & Branch‘s bar tenders are as good at it gets. It is a speakeasy, so you need to call for a door password.
  • Burritt, a nice new spot in the Crescent Hotel.
  • Nihon has a top notch whiskey stock. The location is out of the way and the ambiance cosy and stylish.
  • Toronado, if you are into beer this is your spot.

Q: Is it worth visiting Pier 39?

A: In a word, no.

Q: Is it worth visiting Alcatraz? 

A: In a word, yes.

Enjoy your stay!