What The Countries Taught Me

During the Spring of 2017, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Dublin, Ireland at Ireland’s National Theater School. This door was opened for me largely thanks to the Haas School of Business. I applied and received the Thomas Tusher Scholarship to study abroad. This scholarship is available to Haas Undergraduates and is sponsored by Mr. Tusher because of his belief in the value of an education abroad.

As I write this post, I reflect on the the fact that I made the decision to go abroad about one year ago. During my semester studying in Europe, not only did I learn in the classroom, but I also learned from the experiences I had in the 8 other countries I visited. While not in an academic setting, these experiences have influenced my worldview, and so in this post, I would like to share what a few of  these countries taught me:

Dublin, Ireland: Be Kind and It’s No Bother

My time in Ireland was largely influenced by the people I met and the theater I saw. Throughout all of these interactions, I noticed a pervading truth and genuine kindness. When acquaintances, teachers, or even the front desk receptionist at my school asked, “How are you?” or “How was your weekend?”, they really wanted to know. They weren’t interested in a cursory “good, you?” This was a genuine, 15 minute conversation. Ireland taught me to only ask if you truly want to listen and take the time to listen when you do.

Paris, France: Read and Discuss…It’s Important

During my time in Paris, I learned through a simple experience. One evening around 5pm I went to a bar just down the street from my friend’s home. As I waited for him, I read. As the evening went on, a number of people sat in the bar, ordered a drink, and read by themselves. They were not on their phones or taking pictures of their drinks, but rather, they were simply enjoying a good read. That evening, around 11 pm, I sat with my friend, and others from Japan, Brazil, and Paris and we discussed current events, the political situation in America, and topics like architecture and fashion. The simple act of discussing without phones and reading for enjoyment is a lesson I learned in Paris.

Madrid, Spain: Family is Most Important

Spain taught me that honoring family and grandparents should come before everything else. Often I feel that in America, aging is looked down upon. That society often forgets to honor and respect age and subsequently, grandparents. In Spain, meals were never eaten alone. Families gathered to listen to stories told by grandparents and held them as figureheads of families. While school and education was important, I felt as if family was the absolute priority. Being in Spain helped me reflect on who and what should be considered a priority.  
Athens, Greece: Hospitality!

Greece taught me about hospitality and relaxation. When I traveled to Greece, one of the most memorable experiences I had was a dinner in Athens. During this dinner, there was no rush. The waitress was not ushering us out after 2 hours. In fact, she would sit with a glass of wine in between taking orders and sing with the band during the evening. As the band played live music in front of us, our table, full of strangers and friends all rose to dance together. People I didn’t know joined our dance circle and let me lead the dancing line. We sat, and ate, and drank and danced and talked for over 4 hours enjoying the moment and taking our time. So did all the other families in the restaurant. Greece taught me to relax, enjoy what you have right in front of you and not rush on to the next activity.

Rome, Italy: A city can romance you

As part of my thought process while writing this post, I read over my journal entries from each country. During one of my days in Rome, I jotted down what I ate because it was so delicious.From the espresso to the mozzarella di bufala to the gelato, every meal was an experience. The city, the gardens, the food, and the pride of the people in Rome completely romanced me. I learned that streets, people, menus, gardens, and the feeling of a city can be as much of an inspiration as the study of the city itself.

While these brief stories were merely excerpts of my experiences, I would encourage you to look for the places in your life that teach you, outside of the classroom. Consider how and what you’re being taught by the people, places, and settings around you.

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