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?

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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!