Saturday, May 14, 2016

SBCC: The Best 2 Years of My Life.

I can’t believe the semester is officially over! 

Finals week was pretty rough, as I spent my whole Wednesday at the UCSB library, until 5 in the morning… I got only about 2 hours of sleep, and then I caught a ride to school with my best friend Alyssa. As soon as I arrived, I went to the SBCC library to prepare for my Philosophy midterm. Right after my midterm, I went to the cafeteria, where I was approached by Peter the cameraman, who asked me to shoot a new scene. Of course, I said yes. This scene was about me studying on my laptop at the cafeteria while sipping ice coffee; then, I joined two other guys at a table, pretending they were my friends. I introduced myself and then we started filming as the guys an I introduced to each other and talked about soccer. After that, I kept studying until my Economics final at 6pm. The exam went well, and as of 7pm on this Thursday May 12, 2016 I officially got done with my studies at Santa Barbara City College. 

It was such a great journey… the best two years of my life. And today, Friday, I was able to celebrate this journey at the Graduation Ceremony. 

Lunch
The ceremony was that more special because my parents came to see me all the way from Italy! We met on Thursday night right after my Econ final exam, and we went out to dinner at FishHouse, a nice restaurant near the beach on Cabrillo Boulevard. We met again on Friday morning, when we ran a few errands before going out to lunch and then we drove to Commencement at 4pm.

Friends and I
I met with my friend Hannah, and we got our gold tassels for over-achievers (3.5 GPA or higher). The ceremony started at 5 on the clock, on the La Playa football field. First, we walked down the field to find a seat, while music was playing. Then, one of my best friends Isaac Eaves, who is the president of the Student Senate, approached the microphone, everyone became silent, and he said: “You can be seated.” I thought that was very funny, but also cool that he was up on the stage. Following, SBCC President Lori Gaskin welcomed us, and gave a very inspiring speech. She also gave a few statistics about the 2016 SBCC graduates— and I always like numbers. We were over 1,400 students graduating. Over two thirds were females, which I thought was very cool! Finally, 51 students achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA, and I was proud of being one of them. Every student got a chance to go on the stage and receive a diploma, while his/her name and plans for the future was announced at the microphone. You can check that out on my Facebook profile.

videoThe ceremony took longer than expected, lasting about three hours. Listening to those thousands of names be announced was kind of painful, but it was also exciting to be there. The audience was huge, as many parents and friends had come to assist to the Commencement ceremony. Around 7:45pm, all of the graduates were allowed to move the tassel to the left side of the cap, the traditional gesture that signifies graduation, and then we threw the cap in the air. 

After the ceremony, we all walked outside, where there was nice music and where I had a chance to hug my friends and take pictures with them. 

This concluded my journey at Santa Barbara City College, the best college in the nation. Here, I had a chance to make many great friends, deepen my understanding about myself, learn important skills and interesting facts from outstanding faculty, and last but not least enjoy a terrific view and lifestyle in a town that is such a gorgeous piece of Paradise. 

My sincere thanks go to my parents who allowed me to take part in this amazing experience, to my friends who make me smile every day, and to and faculty who inspired me; also, to the Honors Program, Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, International Student Ambassadors Program, and the Economic Club of Santa Barbara, through which I have gained invaluable skills by working with and learning from the best teammates.

It was a great journey, which will be in my heart forever. 

Sincerely, 


- Fede

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Inflation and hyperinflation in Germany.

Are you familiar with the topic of inflation and hyperinflation?

Here an article I wrote about it!

When I was 10 years old, a small ice-cream at my favorite ice-cream shop in Italy was about 1 euro. Today, the same cone costs me about 2 euros. Similarly, I remember when the bus ticket used to cost me 85 cents, and now it costs closer to 1.85 euros. It is apparent that prices change over time, and in most economies, price tend to increase, due to inflation. Inflation is the rise in the general level of prices over time. It is measured as a percentage value, and in the United States the average inflation rate per year is about 3.6%. 

One of the causes of inflation may be that too much money exists in an economy. Principles of Economics is “Prices rise when the government prints too much money.” A reason why the government would print money is in order to finance its spending. For example, when the government wants to build a public school, open a new highway, or buy five million rifles for the U.S. army, the government obviously needs money for that. There are different ways that the government can use to finance this kind of public initiatives, the most common being collecting taxes from its citizens (such as through sales taxes or income taxes) or selling Treasury bonds to the public. Another way that the government can get the necessary funds to finance its projects is by simply printing out the money it needs. 

This solution generates inflation, which increases the price level and therefore decreases the value of money. This way, the government is effectively imposing an inflation tax on the public, which is not an actual tax, but it acts like it, by impacting everyone who holds money. If done disproportionally, this can lead to hyperinflation, which is defined as inflation that exceeds 50% per month. In these circumstances, the price level increases by over one hundred fold per year.

This is exactly what happened in Germany in the first years of the 1900s, when the Emperor Wilhelm II decided to finance the effort to enter World War I through debt instead of collecting income tax like most other countries had done. There where about 13 billion German. Marks in circulation in 1913, but by the end of the war this number has jumped to over 60 billion. However, this wasn't enough to finance the war, so the government started selling bonds to the public, which was confident that Germany would have won the war, and therefore they bought the bonds. The national debt increased from 5 billion to 156 billion marks. Unfortunately for the German people, their country lost the war, and was asked to pay 132 billion marks in repairs, which was a huge sum, more than Germany could afford. This had a negative effect on the outlook of the German economy. There was no faith in the in the country’s economics prospects, so the German people lost their faith in their currency. To get the money necessary for the repairs, the German Government started printing out a lot of marks. This decreased the value of the currency, so much so that by December 1922, one US dollar was worth about 2,000 marks. About four months later, a dollar would buy 20,000 marks, and time four more months, the exchange rate was one to one-million. While in 1922 a loaf of bread was about 160 marks, in November 1923, at the peak of the hyperinflation, the same loaf cost 200,000,000,000 marks.

Clearly, this huge hyperinflation had an important effect on the lives of the German people. Every time people received their payment, they would rush to spend it or to pass it on to their families so they could spend it before its value became worthless. Elderly people and members of the middle class who had saved money suffered a huge loss, as their pensions and saving had became completely worthless by the time they could access them. Restaurants could not print menus because the price was changing by the hour! People had to carry huge bags full of money, because it was worthless. In the picture, you can see that a 50,000,000,000,000 mark bill was printed, which in November 1923 would have been worth about 12 U.S. dollars! 

A presto,

- Fede

Monday, May 9, 2016

Finals Week is Here!

Finals week is here! 

A whole semester already went by and here I am at the beginning of my last week at SBCC. I didn't have any finals scheduled for today, but I have a lot of work due tomorrow. I also don't have any finals on Wednesday, but I have two on Thursday. Good thing that my Physical Geography LAB and my Enterprise Launch class had final exams last week, so I only have three classes to worry about for my finals week.

As I said, I didn't take any exam today, but I had much work due for my Art History class. In fact, tomorrow, for our finals we are going to meet in class and take a Slide Test, which is a sort of quiz where the professor shows an image on the screen portraying one of pieces of art that we have studied, and then asks four questions about each piece; specifically, things like the name of the work, the artist, the location, the time period, the culture, the style, and so on… After that, each of us had to present their creative response project. What is the creative response project? Well, is is the additional project that all Honors students are expected to realize as an addition to the normal course load. 

We were expected to select one piece of art that we particularly liked, and then use our creativeness to reproduce something about it in an artistic way. For my creative response project, I chose the Colosseum of Rome because of the emotional connection that I have with this monument. First of all, the Colosseum represents Italy, which is my home country. Secondly, I myself went to visit the Colosseum and I was impressed first of all by its size and complexity, and second by the meaning behind its use. 

Imagine assisting to this kind of "entertainment"
In fact, while the Colosseum was built almost 2,000 years ago, it is as high as a 16-story building and as big as a football stadium. It also had a complex structure, including underground allies, animal cages, and cells both for animals and for people, as well as lifting systems to move the beasts and the fighters from the undergrounds to the arena. Also, the spectacles involved costly and complicated projects, including importing animals from Africa, covering the whole theater with huge curtains to protect the audience from the sunlight, and even flooding the whole arena and bringing ships into it (how??) to maneuver them to reproduce ship battles— impressive. 

Naval fight in the Colosseum arena
My project consists of a creative 3-dimensional representation of the Colosseum, featuring a football stadium in the middle of the arena. This is because the Colosseum and modern football stadiums have similar purposes— entertaining the people. And while there are no wild animals on football fields, and football players don't usually end up dying, the underlying reason why we watch these shows is the same one. We appreciate watching human being using skills and violence. Just like a gladiator used his skills to survive, modern football players use their skills to run their plays. And just like gladiators used violence to kill the animals (or each others) so do football players use violence to run their plays—and the greatest hits/tackles make for the greatest entertainment. I also colored the exterior of the colosseum with red because red is my favorite color and also because it is symbolic of the blood shed by all the living creatures (gladiators and animals) that lost their life in the Colosseum’s arena. In fact, according to softschool.com, it is estimated that over 400,000 people and about 1,000,000 animals died in this amphitheater during the four centuries of its activity.

What the Colosseum looks like... 2000 years later!
Working on this project was pretty fun although it did take me the whole afternoon. But this won't be all! After taking the Slides Test, presenting our project, and turning in a 3-page paper that we have to write about our project, we will still have to take the final exam! For this class, our exams are online, so the professor decided we are going to do do all of this other stuff during our final exam meeting time, and then we still had to take the exam. I am sure I will be fine, though. I feel prepared!

To everybody, GOOD LUCK WITH FINALS!

A presto,


- Fede

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Last Saturday as an SBCC student

This is one of my last weekends in Santa Barbara, and certainly the last weekend at SBCC. Next week is Finals Week, Friday is commencement, and then we’re done. 
Have you gotten your haircut yet? If you're like me, your hair looks the best about one or two weeks after it’s been cut. I feel like the hair is one very important component of a person’s look, so I try to take care of it; that’s why I always go to the same barber, even though it’s a little more expensive and way further away than some other barbers nearby. In fact, The Palms Barber Shop is located in upper State Street, so the only bus that goes there is the line 11, which takes about 1 hour from Isla Vista. I have been loyal to The Palms for two years, and the first time I went there was in May 2014, when I was visiting California with my parents. So let me say I highly recommend this barber shop, especially Erin (the hair styler at The Palms who always cut my hair).
I already was in the downtown area, and I knew I could bike to the Transit Center faster than waiting for a bus and riding it (I always bring my bike with me, even when I use the bus). My plan was to take a bus from the transit center to SBCC and spend some time in the library, however as I approached Anapamu Street, I thought about paying a visit to my old housemates. Greta and Nathan are my two best friends from that house, and I was lucky enough that they both were home. Nate has been my best friend for a year and a half, and it was great to see him. He also was very happy for the surprise, and we went out for Donuts (YOLO). We hung out at the house for a while, and then he gave me some mail that was sent to that address… Specifically, UCLA and UC Berkeley Admission Letters and Welcome packages. That, together with some prior thinking, motivated me to finally submit my intent to register at UC Berkeley, so I am now a prospect Haas Golden Bear!
As 5 o’ clock approached, I was ready to tackle the last task on my list, which was… going to a beach party to film the SBCC Virtual Tour. This was the last time we filmed together before the film team will work on the editing and creation of 12 short videoclips about SBCC and the things students can do while living in Santa Barbara. Obviously we needed a videoclip about the beach, so this Saturday Peter and the rest of the crew has bought some pizza and invited people over. He had us play soccer on the grass next to the beach, talk to each other, drink some soda, and so on…
Play a sort of baseball game on the sand, walk along the water, and even go inside the water with our feet. There was a big canoe (or little boat?) there, and we kind of borrowed it for a second, pretending like we were going to use it. Peter asked us to push it into the water and then to take it back out. By the time we took it out of the water, two guys had run over to us to ask us what we were doing with their canoe… Oops! My friend tried to lie and say it was a little dirty and we wanted to wash it, which I thought was hilarious! I explained the real situation and they said it was ok; then they took the canoe away with them… 
At the end of the day, we took some shots of my friend Brooke playing the ukulele, and some shots of us just sitting on the sand and talking about the future. The camera doesn't record any sounds, but Peter always asks us to talk about specific topics because it sets the mood that he wants to record…
Overall, it was a fun day and I had a great time recording the SBCC Virtual Tour videos this past couple weeks. I cannot wait to see the final videos!
A presto,

- Fede

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Goodbye, PTK leaders...

In my two years at Santa Barbara City College I have taken part in many campus activities and joined the effort of several student organizations. Each of the experiences that I lived every day enriched my life by teaching me critical skills and making me have lots of fun with like-minded individuals. Joining the leadership team of our local chapter in the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society has been the best of these activities. 
Phi Theta Kappa leaders
Here, I have met people who are smart and ambitious, and who make really good friends. We are brought together by similar goals and aspirations, and we were able to bond deeply and quickly by woking on several projects and participating in many activities as a team. In our first semester, we organized about 18 events, meaning more than once a week we would meet (usually on weekends, and some weekdays) to cleanup, help the environment, or organize interesting lectures on campus. In our second semester, we worked on a student conference featuring three panels and treating the issues of War & Civilization, Female Leadership, and Social (Dis)trust; we also secured an official partnership agreement with the international NPO Habitat for Humanity, for which we have volunteered several times. 
Looking sharp at Finch & Fork
Now that the semester is over, we will all split up to go our own routes; a few of us are going to Berkeley, others to San Diego, others are staying at SBCC. In order to celebrate our efforts throughout the year and the friendships that we created, this Friday we went out for lunch at a fancy restaurant— Finch & Fork. 
The original plan was to take a trip to Los Angeles, go to the Broad Museum, eat out for dinner, and then be back at night. However, adviser Dr. Manu Eskandari is extremely busy and could not have made it to the trip with us. Therefore, we decided to stay in Santa Barbara, and we chose a nice restaurant to celebrate. 
I ordered “The chop,” which was a delicious salad dish, with torn smoked salmon, wheat berries, quinoa, avocado roasted cauliflower, sweet corn, tomato, and cilantro dressing, and it was very good. It was a tough decision, because I was also very tempted by the lamb burger, as lamb is my favorite type of meat and I have never had a lamb burger. My friend Diana got one, and she let me try a bite. It was delicious, too.
"The Chop"
 Even better than the entrees were the desserts! I had a fire roasted banana milk shake with caramelized banana ice cream, crushed graham cracker salted caramel, and toasted meringue. This was the best milkshake I have ever tried, and it was on recommendation of the waiter. This is highly recommended. Other friends had honey lavender creme brûlée and toffee cake, and all these desserts were just amazing! 
"Fire Roasted Milk Shake"
At the lunch, we had a long discussion about our future, talking about universities and the pros and cons of transferring to each of them. For example, my friend Stephanie suggested that for international students like me or her it makes more sense to go to a private school, because everybody pays the same tuition, while public schools tend to have significantly higher tuition rates for international and out-of-state students. Stephanie claimed that the high price of private school pays for the quality of the education that will be received, while the price of out-of-state tuition at a public university, which is a little lower but still very high, is less justified. While I partially agree with her reasoning, I am still convinced I will choose UC Berkeley Haas over USC Marshall, mostly because of Haas’s excellent reputation. As an international student dreaming to find a job in the United States, it is critical for me to be surrounded by job opportunities. While both schools offer incredible resources, I trust that a Haas education will help me achieve my goals. This, among other important ideas, is one of the reasons I want to go to Berkeley.
After one round of double-espressos and cappuccinos, we decided it was time to leave. We hugged and said goodbye, and we will see each other at graduation.
A presto,

- Fede

Friday, May 6, 2016

Last day at SBCC & Ambassadors Goodbye Party

Yesterday was the last day of instruction at SBCC for me. I will probably never assist to another lecture at SBCC and that makes me feel weird, and a little sad. But once again, I am excited to begin my course of studies at the Haas School of Business in Berkeley!
On the other hand, I am not going to talk about my classes in this blog post. I mean, the day was pretty average, with work in the morning, Art History lecture right after, and Philosophy immediately after that. The lectures were not special just because they were the last ones. The day started becoming interesting right after I was done with class.
First, I walked to the green hill at West Campus. From there, the view is spectacular, and that’s one of the things I will miss the most about SBCC. It is such a gorgeous view that I have seen more than one couple of spouses getting married on that hill. It’s funny to think that what is for us just a hill at our school, is also a destination of choice for people looking to get married. So I walked up there, and I took a nap. The hill is green (a good sign of response to the drought, it used to be yellow about a year ago…), peaceful, and has the greatest view. That makes for a great spot where to take a nap in between classes.
Happy Birthday Allen
When I woke up, around 3 o clock, I felt some energy came back to me. I grabbed some lunch and started feeling great. Then I had a meeting with the SBCC bloggers and our boss. Needless to say, this was our last meeting, and rather than being a checkpoint to assess our work, it was more similar to a goodbye party. Melanie, our awesome boss, brought pizza from Giovanni’s! I had just eaten lunch, but who can say no to free pizza from Giovanni’s (which has a ton of mozzarella cheese on it) ? 
So that continued my stream of free food, after the free pizza at Demo Day on Tuesday night, the free JSB lunch on Wednesday, and the free dinner at the Honors Gala on the night of the same day. But the stream kept going. 
Around 5:15pm, after saying goodbye to boss Melanie and the bloggers, and checking in at the Economic Club of Santa Barbara leadership meeting (which was almost over when I arrived), I jumped in my friend’s car, headed to… more free food! 
Every semester, the International Student Ambassador Program organizes a lunch at a restaurant to say goodbye at the end of the semester. Yesterday, for the first time, we had a dinner instead of a lunch, and we went to Carola Smith’s house in Montecito instead of going to a restaurant. Carola Smith is senior director of International Programs (and head of the International Student Support Program, aka Int’l Student Office) and she was so nice as to host a goodbye BBQ party at her beautiful house. 
Allen and the great view
After eating some delicious BBQ chicken, BBQ sirloin steak, as well as some pasta and some salads, we also had dessert! That’s because yesterday it happened to be Allen’s birthday! So some of us Ambassadors bought him a cake and surprised him at the party. It was very fun to see his happy and surprised face, and to sign happy birthday. Somebody even made sure to put some cake on Allen’s face, and then we all grabbed him, stripped him of his phone, wallet, shoes, and socks, and threw him in the pool.
Adviser Shelby giving out award certificates

Yeah, I know, that’s not nice!— you may be thinking. But it actually wasn't too bad, as some of us already were in the jacuzzi, and others (including Allen) joined later.
Before anybody went down to the swimming area, the advisers and leaders of the Ambassadors Program gave certificates of completion to all of those who had just completed their first semesters as school Ambassadors, and then announced the awards for this semester. Every semester, one or two Ambassadors receive awards for “Outstanding Service” or for being an exceptionally motivated team member who drives the energy at every meeting, an award that we call the “Spark Award.” We also award the “Newbie award” to a student who was new to the Ambassadors Program but demonstrated great leadership and commitment. 
We left the party around 8:30PM, and we all had a really great time. 
I have been an Ambassador for a year and a half, and it was a beautiful journey that will forever stay in my heart.
A presto,

- Fede

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Honors Gala

Let’s talk about another Wednesday that was incredible. The only way I could have successfully gone through the day is if I had 2 twins. In fact, I was supposed to be at three events at the same time, tonight, from 5:30pm to 6:30pm.
First of all, that is the time at which every Wednesday I meet at the Luria Library for the weekly Phi Theta Kappa leadership meeting. Yesterday was the final meeting, aka last meeting of the semester (and the year) before I transfer, and the reason why it is important to be present at this meeting is because the first point on the agenda is: “electing new President and Vice-President.” All the members of the leadership, excluding the current president and the current vice-president, get to express a vote on who should be leading the future leadership team of Phi Theta Kappa. 
If I were there, I would have voted for Sebastian Rothstein, current VP of Service in the leadership board. I have worked with Sebastian in the Economic Club of Santa Barbara, where he has the position of President. He does an outstanding job, because he is extremely dedicated, very clever, and always informed. However, I was not able to make it to this meeting, and therefore I did not get a chance to express my opinion. 
At the meeting, Sebastian received 3 votes, and my friend Adam also received 3. In presence of a tie, the leaders voted once again, and Adam won 8:1. Adam is one of my best friends, and he has served in the leadership board for a whole year (like me) as the VP of Public Relations. He has always done an outstanding job and I am sure he will be a great presidents for the next Phi Theta Kappa leadership. 
I was sorry I missed this meeting, mostly because I love those people and I like to meet them all at least once a week. I knew, however, that we would have gone out for lunch on Friday, so I still had a chance to meet them again. 
At the same time, the event “A voice for the new generation” was happening in room PS-101. This was the last event of the semester organized by our newly-started organization, the Economic Club of Santa Barbara (ECSB). Unfortunately, neither President Sebastian or I were able to attend the meeting, which was mostly organized and carried out by Amanda Mosby, and intelligent and ambitious young woman, who demonstrated great leadership skills in organizing this event through us. Today (Thursday) at the weekly ECSB leadership meeting she applied to become part of the future leadership to replace those of us who will transfer (e.g. myself) and she successfully was accepted as the future VP of Public Relations.
So, if I was not at the PTK meeting, and I was not at the ECSB event, where was I?
On this day, starting at 5 o’ clock, there was another event taking place at school, at Gourmet Dining Room (next to JSB cafe) on East Campus. This is the annual Honors Gala, a celebration of the students who have completed the Honors Program at SBCC. The reception started at 5 with a lot of fancy-dressed people mingling and snacking on some meatballs, salads, fruit, and cookies (and let’s not forget the chocolate-covered strawberries!). 
Around 5:30pm, Dr. Melanie Eckford-Prossor, the Honors Program Director, gave start to the event. Melanie was my English professor on my first semester, and she taught me so much. All Honors students love her, and would agree that she is an amazing woman; she can really make an impact on the life of a student, and she definitely did so with me. I am extremely proud of the many hours spent just thinking about the challenging prompts that she assigned in the English class, as well as the many hours spent typing. 
Anyway, she started the event by welcoming us, congratulating with us, and then calling up Wendy Peters, the awesome Honors Program counselor who has helped me so much throughout my journey at SBCC by developing a great educational plan with me. Wendy informed us that 58 students will earn a certificate for completing the Honors Program this year, which is a record for the Program. She also said that while the acceptance rate from the pool of SBCC students was 23%, the acceptance rate to UCLA from the pool of Honors students was a staggering 71%, which shows the rigor of the students in the program. About 50-60 students have earned 132 degrees this year, and I myself will be earning three, namely Economics, Economics for Transfer, and Liberal Arts. The ceremony continued with the students being “stolen,” term by which we really mean that we were awarded a Honors Program stole to use on commencement. Finally, to wrap up the event, we were offered delicious Tiramisu, homemade with ingredients actually imported from Italy by my friend Matthew Poulin; needless to say, it was delicious.
It was such a great day overall, and I am very proud of my achievements.
A presto,

- Fede