How Study Abroad Teaches Respect

by John Gavin

Studying abroad is something I will never forget. It has provided me with many experiences I will never forget. It has allowed me to travel to many different historic locations like Pompeii, Rome, and Berlin, Germany. All these places are astonishing. But, these memories are not what I will think about most when I move back to the United States. I will always think about how it made me grow up and learn to respect another culture.

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Coming to a different culture, there are differences everywhere I go. One of the first things I realized when I got here was how far behind the U.S.A. they were from a technology standpoint. People still don’t have a washer machine. This made me realize how privileged I am at home. It also made me respect the locals, because not everything is easy for them. They have to work harder for everything in life. They have to think in advance for when they want to go and do something. They can’t just say at any time of the day say, “I need clothes”, and hour and a half later, they have clean clothes. The washing machine alone takes roughly three hours. This makes them have to be proactive.

Another reason I respect the people of Italy is because they are family oriented. They work for their family business. They are not pushing away from their family in their teenage years to go out with their friends. They are obligated to work at their local business. Most of them take pride in this because they know, one day this could be their business. By knowing they could own the business, they all treat incoming customers very respectfully. These businesses have been in their families for generations. The people who work at these places make it obvious they are trying to pass down a legacy that was started, in many cases, before they were born.

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This leads me to the main reason I’ve gained respect in Italy. I am currently an intern for my local school Sant’Anna Institute. By walking around town and noticing everything I have talked about above, it has made me take this same approach to my work at my institution. The staff truly does treat you like family. They want to hear what you have to say. They also want to work with you, not above you. This allows for me to truly believe in the work I’m doing. It also will allow me to respect the people around me more when I go back to the U.S.A. It will allow me to do this because I will understand how unity and appreciating another perspective is the true way to work in unison. This has truly made me a better person and will make my work life back in the United States much more enjoyable for myself and everybody around me.

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