Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Take-Home Exam!

Hi everyone!

There are always surprises when it comes to exams at LUISS. What might be familiar for Americans or Australians is not necessarily know by Europeans. A few weeks ago Andrea, our Australian Business Organization teacher informed us that we have to complete a take-home exam instead of a written examination. When I heard this, my first thought was: “What is a take-home exam?” Of course at first sight the enthusiasm in class was great, because everybody thought we can simply take the exam at home. But that is only partly the case. What is it then? Well, I guess every professor has its own way of letting the students do the take-home exam. For Business Organization we have received a case study from Andrea. Our case study is a challenging 19 pages academic article which deals with Ericsson, one of the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment providers. The article gives a guideline, how managers successfully implement IT-enabled change. The findings are based on a three year study, which has been carried out by researchers inside Ericsson. Andrea has uploaded the case on Wednesday. From Wednesday on, we have one week to complete an essay about what Ericsson did right, what they did wrong and what they could change in the future when implementing an IT-enabled change. I am allowed and it is requested that we apply the theory from our book and the lectures to the case. However, we are not allowed to do any research about Ericsson or communicate with other students about it. Apparently, professors in the US and Australia have had good experiences with take-home exams, because I just heard from a friend who is currently on exchange at Berkeley University in California that they have to do this as well! So far I went through the theory and the article. The challenging part is going to start tomorrow: writing the essay!

Monday, October 24, 2011

On Holy Grounds

Hi There!

On Saturday we have been on holy grounds: The Vatican Gardens (Italian: Giardini Vaticani). This trip was organized by ESN Roma LUISS. In order to take part in the ESN Roma LUISS activities, you have to go to their office in Via di Trasone 56 and sign up for it. Even though the office is at the back of beyond, it is always worth it going there, because most trips are sold out immediately.

The tour started on Saturday morning at 9.30h. Meeting point was the obelisk on the St. Peter’s Square. Half of the group was late though because we went to an Erasmus party on Friday night and most of us arrived home only a few hours before the tour started. A few minutes after I have arrived, our tour guide showed up. His name was Toni and he was a funny, young, German priest. Toni had to replace another priest who was our actual tour-guide. He was very nervous, because usually he is guiding the tours in German and not in English. He already prepared us at the beginning that his English is very bad and……it was. The Germans, who were at the trip, had to translate words which he did not know and sometimes he was mixing German words in his sentences so that non-Germans only understood half of what he said. Anyways, we had a lot of fun with Toni and it was a very informative tour.

After everyone had been arrived, we went into the gardens which cover more than half of the Vatican territory in the South and Northeast and which are usually out of the touristic itineraries. We first went into the Campo Santo, a German cemetery with the corresponding church Santa Maria della Pietá. Afterwards we walked through the gardens and parks which have been established during the Renaissance and Baroque. Toni showed us around in the perfectly manicured gardens which contain important fortifications and monuments as well as beautiful grottoes and fountains dating from the 9th century to the present day. Toni explained us that no one is allowed to be in the gardens from 13h-17h because the doctor prescribed the Pope to take a walk in there every day. The gardens are not only there for walks, they are also place for quiet and meditation for the Pope. In addition, they house the Vatican Radio Station and other important buildings.

In total, our tour lasted 2 ½ hours. It was impressive to see the huge gardens and great to have a priest as tour-guide because this gave us insight into the real Vatican world. If you open the link, you can see pictures from the Vatican gardens and a short description to it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

È inferno a Roma

That was the headline of the Italian newspapers: Corriere della sera last Sunday and means something like “Hell has broken loose in Rome”. Probably all of you have heard about the recent protests at the Wall Street. Last Saturday the movement swapped over to Europe and raised demonstrations in many big European cities, also in Rome. Thousands of people all around the globe protested against the difficult social as well as economical situation and especially against the big gap between poor and rich. The demonstrations here in Rome started at Termini, the central train station. Around 200.000 people from all across Italy gathered here to follow the huge demonstration processions which lead through parts of the city centre until San Giovanni, one of the districts.

The demonstration seemed to be peaceful, but circa 500 people started to get very aggressive during the procession. They wore motorcycle helmets, were totally masked and equipped with baseball bats and fireworks. According to the newspapers there have been 2000 police men and Carabineri on duty, but they could not get the furious hooligans immobilized.

I did not actively take part in the demonstrations, because I already had other plans on Saturday. However, I was invited for dinner at a friend’s place. He is living in the street where the demonstration procession went through and accidentally, I was right in it. When I walked down Via Cavour - a big street close to Termini - I saw the huge destruction dine by the hooligans. Most expensive cars were not recognizable anymore. I saw cars such as the Audi Q7 or a Jaguar which were almost completely burned down. The hooligans even destroyed one Carabineri car and set on fire parts of the ministry of defence. They smashed windows of banks as well as those of expensive shops. Petrol stations where destroyed and buildings covered with graffiti’s. The street looked totally different than before. According to the newspapers 70 people were hurt and the damage costs have been estimated to more than €1 million. The demonstrations are still headline, but soon there will be another event in Rome which will occupy the journalists.

To sum, it was very interesting to once see such a demonstration, but it should never have gotten so out-of-control.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Courses at LUISS

Ciao ragazzi,

the weeks are passing by. It is time to introduce you to the courses I am taking this semester. At LUISS we do not have periods; we have four courses in one semester. Unfortunately, we cannot choose them ourselves, because the strategic minor program is already fixed and so are the courses. However, I cannot complain. Last semester I did Financial Markets & Intermediaries, Accounting, Corporate Finance and Marketing.

The level of education is similar to Utrecht and most of my professors have completed their degrees at well-known universities such as Cambridge and Oxford. Last semester I really enjoyed the guest lecturers in Marketing. For a couple of weeks Professor Peter Leeflang from the Netherlands thought us the most important marketing concepts. He has already done a lot of marketing research all over the world and could answer almost all marketing related questions. Then there was the Chief Marketing Officer of Luxottica, Fabio d’Angelantonio who held a very enriching guest lecture about the marketing concepts of Ray Ban. He is a former LUISS student and now a successful business man. If you Google him, you will find pictures of him with Gisele Bündchen and various other stars. That was quite impressive and those are the real privileges of studying at a private university.

This semester I am visiting the following courses: Capital Markets with Professor Zadra, Management with Professor Boccardelli, Business Organization with Professor Andrea North and European Economic History and Policies with Professor Viviani.

So far, I enjoy Business Organization (BO) and Management the most. Andrea, our BO professor is from Australia and always very enthusiastic. I think her aim is to create a herd of managers by the end of the course. She motivates everyone in class and gives everybody the chance to participate (voluntarily or involuntarily).

In Management we learn to assess, scan, forecast and analyze relevant issues and challenges today’s managers have to face for the short-term survival and long-term development of their company. Instead of tutorials we have to write a paper which exists of three parts.

For Capital Markets we have four professors who are working in different companies and business areas besides teaching. Right now we are dealing with the financial crisis in 2007 and it is quite interesting, because all four can contribute to the topic by telling us about their own working experience and view about the crisis.

For European Economic History and Policies I will stick to the book, because the lectures are quite tiring and exhausting. Sorry…Professor Viviani.

I hope I could give you some insight of will expect you next semester.

Monday, October 3, 2011


The third week of my second semester at LUISS starts today. So far, it has been taken-off well and it is good to be back at LUISS after a two month summer break. Even though most of my friends are not at LUISS anymore (because they were Erasmus students) I was happy to see my Italian friends again. This already raises the first topic: Finding friends at LUISS…..

Unfortunately, it is not that easy to make friends with the Italian students. At the beginning I was a bit lost, because I did not know the Utrecht students who participated in the Strategic Management minor that well and most of the Italians have been studying together for more than one year when we arrived at LUISS. Therefore, they already had their own circle of friends in which we did not fit and belong in.

Hence, most of us became a member of ESN (International Exchange Erasmus Student Network) LUISS right at the beginning of the semester. ESN LUISS organizes parties, trips and a lot of other things in order to socially and personally integrate Erasmus and exchange students. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people from all over the world at those events who later became my friends.

After a few months I also got to know some very nice Italian students. Our neighbours - Andrea, Giuseppe (Pepe) and Antonia – are students at “La Sapienza” which is with 140,000 students the biggest university in Rome and Europe. Without having any doubts, they once rang on our door bell and invited us for dinner without even knowing us. You see, Italians are actually very open. Even though the communication between us is quite hard, because only Andrea speaks English, it works out and we are still having dinner together once in a while until today.

Then there is Caroline, Jessica, Nicola and Margharita. I consider them as my main Italian friends at LUISS. I met Caroline (Caro) once by accident. One of the Italian boys introduced me to her, because she and I are from the same part in Germany. She is a regular LUISS student and besides Romy and Martine my main library buddy. I spend a lot of hours studying there with them before exams. Then, I got to know Jessica - a typical Italian girl – because I was sitting next to her during a lecture. She introduced me to Nicola and Margharita. Those two are best friends and always hanging out together. We found out that Nicola is just living across my street and that made it perfect.

This semester Rafaella, our contact person at LUISS, organises - in cooperation with the Dutch Embassy in Rome- a “Dutch-Italian Business Challenge”. The purpose of this business challenge is to bring the Italian and the Utrecht students together.

To sum, it is possible to make friends here in Italy. The most important thing at LUISS: you should go up to people. That makes it way faster and easier to find friends here. For know I am excited how the business challenge is going to be and I will keep you up-dated! Have a great week.