Thursday, October 18, 2012

Clubs at SAIS Bologna: from the academic to athletic

Students play a major role in shaping their experiences at SAIS Bologna.

Most students are in Bologna for a year and then spend the second year of their MA studies in Washington. There are no upperclassmen on campus to show the way.

The variety of student clubs that spring up each year reflect the wide range in interests and the students' desire to make the most of their time in Bologna.

Some clubs are hardy perennials; others are specific to one class. This month about 100 students -- more than half the class -- showed up for the annual Club Fair. A total of 18 clubs emerged and have been proposed to the newly elected student government, which controls a pool of resources drawn from student fees to underwrite club activities.

Below MA candidate Kelsey Soeth writes about the fair and the multiplicity of clubs.

As if academics don't keep SAIS students busy enough, this month's club fair enjoyed an impressive turnout.

Kelsey Soeth in Ravenna
After a long day of classes, the fair got started alongside the Halloween party planning committee's bake sale. The committee peddled all manner of homemade baked goods, including seasonally appropriate pumpkin muffins, throughout the event to raise funds for the upcoming Halloween party.

While some people may have come only for the brownies, they stayed for the upbeat dance music provided by the Dance Club and the enthusiastic spiels of club founders making their pitches.

Clubs represented at the fair showed the tremendous diversity of student interests at SAIS. They ranged from academic to athletic and covered the full spectrum in between.

Finance & Consulting Club

Some are focused on a particular region of the world, such as the Middle East and North Africa Club, Africa Association and Latin American Studies Group. Others have a professional focus, like the Development Career Club and Consulting and Finance Club. Still more are centered on broad issues of relevance in today's world, including Energy and Climate Change, Gender and Power, and Defense and Intelligence.

Of course, SAIS students do value sunlight occasionally, and plenty of clubs are based outside the lecture halls of Via Belmeloro. Among those primed to take advantage of our wonderful location are Gastronomica and Outside Bologna.

Dance Club
Students who join Gastronomica -- and who as a result enjoy the local cuisine a little, too -- have many options for working off all the extra calories. In addition to the outdoorsy activities arranged by Outside Bologna, students can also join clubs devoted to running, soccer and even skiing.

It seems that whatever your interests, at SAIS Bologna there's a club for that.

Alas, the preponderance of interesting clubs led to dilemmas for many attendees of the fair. They had to make tough choices about how to spend their most precious resource, time, and avoid signing up for an unmanageable load of activities.

It was a battle more often lost than won, as evidenced by the number of clubs reduced to squeezing in names and emails on random scraps of paper.

It looks it will be a busy year for students in Bologna, but a whole lot of fun.

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