A day in the life of a EU fellow in Southern California

The alarm clock wakes us up at 7 am just like in Brussels.  It is a bright sunny morning –as it is very often the case here in Southern California– with a light fresh breeze from the Pacific. A quick breakfast – the coffee is Italian – a couple of shouts to the girls (9 and 12 year old) who have to hurry up and get ready for school, sometimes even the chance of seeing dolphins swimming in the bay of Santa Monica and just before 8 am we are ready to hit the road.

I take the Rosa Parks Freeway, which is also the initial part of the Cristopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway and in Los Angeles is referred to as the “Santa Monica Freeway”. We drive eastbound to Overland Avenue and after 15/20 minutes I drop the girls at the Lycee Francais of Los Angeles. Instead of taking again the freeways – I should continue on the “Santa Monica” for a while and then get on the Harbor Freeway – and having to face the heavy traffic approaching downtown LA, I recently  found out that it is much quicker to drive through the streets of the city. Angelenos love (and hate) freeways and as a consequence there is virtually no traffic on my way to the University of Southern California. It is also a very interesting drive through very different neighborhoods: from Culver City with the Sony Pictures Studios, the splendid Kirk Douglas Theatre and trendy restaurants like Akasha to more crumbling and clearly disadvantaged areas like Jefferson Park with its houses with windows protected by strong, metallic bars and an incredible number of every possible kind of churches. I finally get to the USC campus by 9 am, approximately one hour after I left home. Not so bad actually for LA.

Today, I have been asked to prepare a lecture for the students of the Master in Public Diplomacy. The course is on European Public Diplomacy and is taught by Professor Mai’a Cross. I always sit in her class in order to reply to specific questions on the work of the European Institutions and discuss about European current affairs. The students come from all over the world. I am always so happy to see the level of interest they have in the EU. But back to my presentation: I have to deal with the power of individuals in public diplomacy and my analysis is about Italy’s case. The lecture discusses how personalities influence positively and negatively the image of their country in the European context. I use the examples of Altiero Spinelli and Silvio Berlusconi.  Guess who was the one doing well for Italy…









It is lunchtime now, I buy a sandwich and walk to the Mc Donald Olympic Swim Stadium: two fantastic 50 m. long outdoor swimming pools. It is great to swim in the sun (23 degrees today  – 73 Fahrenheit ) and then eat your sandwich while admiring the training of the Diving Team of the University.

In the afternoon I go to the awesome “School of Cinematic Arts”. I have an appointment with Jason Squire. He has been a high level Studio Executive at United Artists and 20th Century Fox before joining the faculty of USC.  In his office there is a big picture of himself with Sergio Leone and the poster of one of my favorite films, “Novecento”, signed by Bertolucci as he’s been working in the production. He is really a nice and available person and his hints will be very helpful for my paper on the Film Industry. He invites me to join his class. He teaches “Movie Business” to enthusiastically committed undergraduate students: the future of the Studios. Back to my office, I write down some notes for future lectures and for my paper, reply to some messages, check the Commission’s mail and by 5 pm I am ready to leave.  I’ll probably stop by at the Santa Monica Fish Market to buy some fresh Californian shrimps, clams and scallops for a nice “spaghetti ai frutti di mare”. After dinner, there will be for sure something interesting at the American Cinematheque’s AERO Theatre in Santa Monica…we are in “Movieland” after all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *