Valentina Fanni - SLI participant in 2010

"I think this is one of the most important things the Summer Law Institute in Beijing taught me - to respect differences."

In summer 2010 I attended the Summer Law Institute in Beijing. I had a great experience, from several and different points of view.

I had the opportunity to deepen my knowledge on IP Law from different sides, sides that are not covered in University’s courses; surely I am not an expert on IP, but I learnt how to study single – but also very specific – aspects of law throughout jurisprudence, which, indeed, arises students’ attention and interest. So I can say I learnt a new way to approach to Law and I really enjoyed it.

The summer program in Beijing gave me some ideas I would like to treat in my graduation thesis. In fact it will deal with “Essential Facilities Doctrine” under the light of European Competition Law and the Abuse of Dominant Position. The course, taught by Professor Farah, that covered - also - this topic was very interesting and contemporary, just like all the other courses; in particular I appreciated the strong connection with everyday reality. I found very interesting to study something “real” and not just made up in books as an example to prove some theory.

Moreover, I changed as an individual. I found myself more interested not just in knowing a different culture, but also in understanding it, or at least trying to. I think I grew a strong respect for different people, ways of thinking, in general for others. I was not concerned just by having fun with Chinese students, I really wanted to share thoughts with them – to compare our ideas. It happened that, during a lunch, we talked about Tibet and other political issues European newspapers reported. I was amazed by Fiona’s * point of view, so different by mine for some aspects, for others so close; I was very pleased when I understood that I wasn’t struck with their own opinions, but with the simple fact that I wasn’t judging them for anything. I was really paying attention to what she was saying, trying to explain my position to her and then chatting about that. It was an amazing experience in its simplicity. I think this is one of the most important things the Summer School in Beijing taught me - to respect differences.

In addition to what I just said, this whole experience abroad - in such a far country, physically and culturally – pushed me out of Italy. When I came back I realized – well, it backed up my propositions – I wanted to go out again, for pleasure, for work, for studying. Challenging your own limits and your own prejudices sometimes make you think about the possibilities you’ve lost in the past, the opportunities you didn’t take. I understood now that things happen if you work on them; and going abroad doing something you like or you’re interested in, is worth all the efforts!

Last but not least, this experience allowed me to make friends with beautiful people. Last year I moved from my hometown to such a big city – Milan – and things changed very soon for me: I left behind me parents and friends and started living on my own. I made application for the Summer Law Institute in Beijing at the University of Milan, in March. In China I can say I found real friends, wonderful people with whom I can speak about everything, people who, like me, opened their minds to the “different” and enjoyed the contact with such a far culture. It became then like a system of strict connections that allows all of us to be updated about Summer Schools, Universities, work and whatever.

My piece of advice is: go! It costs, for sure, but my experience teaches that it is worth: you could learn a different approach to law studies, you could enjoy the cultural exchange with a nation full in traditions but still attempting to modernize its system, and then you could enjoy of your own personal growth – all of this in such a city as Beijing.


[* It’s interesting how Chinese students changed their names into English ones to help us to call them without troubling ourselves in difficult pronunciation’s exercises. It sounds a little strange to an European that I still don’t know the real names of my Chinese friends!]

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