My name is Delaney Slade, I’m a Management Information Systems major and this past semester I got the opportunity to live in the beautiful city of Torino, Italy. This once capital of Italy is a melting pot of cultures, art, architecture, history, amazing food, as well as being a gateway to France and Switzerland. I studied business while also taking a communications class for my GLI global theme, Culture & Politics.
The school I attended was an international business school so, in addition to the students being from all over the world, the professors were as well which enhanced my time studying in addition to the course material. My GLI focused class, Intercultural Communication ended up being the class I enjoyed the most and felt I gained the most from. We focused on how collectivistic vs individualistic cultures differ and how that affects everything from family, relationships, jobs, the past, and the future. Being able to look at other places and people in this light has provided me an outlook of understanding rather than judging for being different than the bubble I grew up in. The focus on how much ethnocentrism can affect our everyday lives and inhibit travel and growth opened my eyes in this course.
Another great opportunity I had because of this class was taking a field trip to Brussels, Belgium and visiting the European Union headquarters. The timing of this was so interesting because it was in the midst of Brexit and we were able to actually watch a live debate between two government officials from the United Kingdom. We also were able to speak to people about what they thought about the United States government and their perspective on the current political climate.
These experiences and also the city I lived in allowed me to come face to face with a diverse range of issues and situations that honestly made me very uncomfortable at times and forced me to grow. While Torino is amazing and it has a huge place in my heart now, the first couple of weeks I was there were quite challenging. In most other places in Italy that are more traveled by tourists (Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Tuscany region), almost everyone in the hospitality industry speaks some English. In Torino this was not the case, it was very overwhelming and isolating at times to be completely unable to speak with someone when trying to accomplish basic tasks. This actually ended up being one of my favorite parts of Torino, once I learned some Italian it was amazing to interact with locals and experience the most authentic Italy I could. Many cities are heavily frequented by study abroad students, there were only 55 Americans in Torino (it’s Italy’s 4thlargest city, about one million people). Locals were slightly confused but mostly intruiged and enthusiastic that we had chosen their city to travel to.
The amount I have learned about myself and also the world over the last 5 months astounds me. But as I’m sure how many people feel after traveling, the more places you visit the more you realize how little you know and the more traveling you feel you must do to see it all. Overall, I could not have asked for a better experience. I got to see so much of Europe and also learn about myself and cultures all around the world. We truly do learn the most when we are out of our comfort zones and pushing our own personal limits.