Luke Minich – Cultural Differences

The 206 countries that cover the face of this Earth are different. This simple fact that I have both been told to expect and have learned firsthand through my travels across Europe seems obvious, but is nonetheless a fact that garners validation through experience. Ironically, it is these very differences that transform an oddly colored spot on the map into a conglomeration of people, ideas, cities, natural beauty, and everything else that defines our lands into homes with distinct personalities; a flavor or a trademark of their own. I didn’t traverse the vast whitecaps of the Atlantic to see things that my eyes have already uncovered. I want to learn a new way of living, to challenge myself in a range of capacities previously unknown to me. These challenges are presented to us through these innate cultural differences, along with a fair share of debilitating frustration that breaks us down, but this despondency is far outweighed by the precious rewards gained through the smallest victories; like successfully ordering a cappuccino in Italian from the bartender, or walking headfirst into a winding mass of twisted cobblestone alleyways and emerging at your desired destination, and, most of all, the reciprocated smile you receive in exchange for a greeting that costs you a mere four letters.

I have found that the culture of specificity prevalent in America is somewhat callous, but is in fact easier, less “messy,” and more attuned to the American ideals of independence and profit. Italians lack the sense of duty as well as the vicious craving for monetary success that embodies the specific cultural system; they are more relaxed and value friendship far above the coin. My internship has been eye-opening in the realization of this firmly held tenet of the amiable people here. People aren’t slaves to the hands of the clock; time isn’t regimented or categorized as belonging to one activity or the next. In all honesty, I find that I very much prefer this way of living. Something about living underneath a leisurely expanse makes me inexplicably happy.

In all truthfulness I think both nations would greatly benefit from a combination of cultural ideals. America is too serious. We spend all our efforts working to attain some degree of success only to labor in misery our whole lives. Indeed it the double-edged ambivalence reigning in Italy is the proverbial knife that cuts deepest. Luckily for me, I am not bound by the morose urgency that plagues the United States. I am free to return to my home with this glorious disposition towards humanity and life that I have learned during my short duration in the Eternal City.