A citizen is a person who is native to and/or inhabits a place. Technically, we are global citizens simply by living on this planet. However, most people move through their lives without fully embodying this title. They fail to venture outside of their own borders and truly explore the lands we share this planet with. Sometimes travelling the world is not enough. To fully be considered a “global citizen” we must not only visit other countries but also make an effort to understand the culture and traditions behind the people who reside in those nations. Visiting Paris and look at the Eiffel Tower does not suffice. You must absorb the city: savor its food, wander its streets, visit its shops, listen to its language, and gaze thoughtfully at its foliage. You need to lose yourself in a city to learn what it truly means to live there. Following guidebooks and strict itineraries leaves you prone to aching feet and a foggy memory of just the city’s Greatest Hits. With your nose in a book and your eyes to the ground you fail to see what is around you and truly appreciate everything a place has to offer. By following your heart and your eye, by saying, “Oh, that street is beautiful. I wonder where it leads!” you can see a city or town for what it truly is. By meandering and exploring you can find the true essence of a place and learn what it feels like to be a “global citizen.”
The Italian culture is different from my own in ways that I never expected. From paying to use the restroom to being quiet on the trains, there are small contrasts everywhere. I am a person who tends to speak very loudly and when my friends jokingly reprimand me for this, I blame it on my Italian heritage. However, when I came to this lovely country I found out that the people here aren’t as loud as my spirited family. Most Italians seem pretty reserved and quiet. On trains they read newspapers, have quiet conversations, or, most often, sit pensively during the ride. Perhaps the largest contrast to American society is the value that Italians place on pleasure and relaxation. They take hours out of their days to rest and relax. Businesses that could be open to further their profits often close during these hours in order to rest. The American mentality focuses on making the most of every minute to earn money whenever possible, whereas Italians value family and pleasure above monetary gain.