Other Nations, Other Ways

Curtis - Western Springs, Illinois
Entered on September 28, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Other Nations, Other Ways

My family has always looked at traveling as an important part of life. My parents never wanted to buy a lake house, or cottage, because they enjoy going to different places every year. We are constantly trying new places when we go on vacations.

Within the past couple of years I have taken two trips to Europe: one to France and one to Italy. In my view, the culture and society in France is different from our American one. We sat around many cafes drinking our beverages and watching the people go by. It was a whole different sense of the word “sit”. In America, people sit down with just enough time to drink or eat what is on their plate before they leave for what they have next on their agenda. In France, I sit down, not just to enjoy the food I consume, but also to take pleasure in just watching people go by and admiring the world around me. This way of living has changed my perspective of “living life to the fullest”, and it has taught me that sometimes, the best thing to do is to slow down, and relax.

I also took a trip to Italy, including Venice, which is now my favorite city. I like the city a lot because it is so unique and it has a culture of its own, apart from the Italian culture and society. The most noteworthy attribute of Venice is its roads, which are actually waterways and canals, including water-bus and water-taxis routes. I also went grocery shopping in Florence, Italy where my family rented an apartment. The grocery store is a whole different experience in another country. The store was selling whole chickens with their heads still on; the fruit sales were slightly different because I had to weigh the fruit myself as opposed to here where the cashier weighs it for you. . Also, the milk was not served in large cartons. They were sold separately in smaller containers. This experience showed me how regular Italians lived their lives. Most people’s experiences in other countries are of how the residents act around tourists, but my experience was actually being part of the culture.

I believe in experiencing cultures. I believe that you can live your life better if you understand and know other options and ways to live your life. It’s important to see the way other people live, and to understand what other people do everyday. Others need to understand how different parts of the world celebrate life itself. Our culture is unique, and the best way I’ve found to learn what makes us unique is to experience a whole other culture. This I believe.