By Daniel Saldivar
To start off I’m going to write about what I learned most about myself on this study abroad trip to Rome. First, I am very blessed. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to travel abroad while continuing my studies and experiencing life in Rome for five short weeks. I am blessed with the familial support that I have back home. This trip has had many ups and downs, more downs than ups unfortunately, but it has taught me a lot about myself. I have built upon my leadership skills and learned the type of leader that I am. I have grown to be empathetic and put myself in other’s shoes. I’ve learned that I am more resilient, patient, and stronger than I’ve ever given myself credit for. I’ve developed self-confidence that I did not have before. I have belief in myself knowing that my book is still being written and God has a plan for me. I’ve learned that I am a problem solver. I’ve learned that even when it seems wave after wave knocks me down, I have the capability of getting back up and approaching every situation with a positive attitude.
In terms of living in Rome, believe me it hasn’t always been easy. For example, there is no set schedule for trams/buses, as they seem to show up whenever they please. Getting to class on time is always an unknown, as often I was hoping to be lucky enough for Tram 8 to show up time. Most of the time in the morning, people are packed in like sardines and Italians apparently don’t have the luxury of personal space. That’s just the transportation system here. The culture is something I also struggled with as they didn’t always take to kindly to me. There were multiple instances where I was not served or given poor service when others were treated much better than me. My first night I was refused entrance into a bar/club in which the owner had someone explain to me my haircut was inappropriate. My haircut is a pretty standard haircut back home so I was very confused. Apparently, it resembled a stereotypical Nazi haircut which was news to me. As a person of Mexican descent, this was not the first time I experienced discrimination in my life.
I understand integrating into a new culture can have its challenges, but there were many more instances where I felt I was having an unfair experience. However, these types of experiences have taught me to change my perspective and look at things half-glass-full. I realize it can always be worse. At the end of the day, I am confident in my ability to grind through the tough times and see the light at the end of the tunnel. With that perspective in my mind, a concept that really resonated with me from our management course was the SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound. They are difficult but not impossible. They are meaningful and require strict commitment. Finally, they require participation and measurable feedback. I’ve determined that my SMART goal is to continue building on the grit that I have developed over this trip. In a Ted Talk given by Angela Lee Duckworth, she defines grit as “passion and perseverance for long term goals…having stamina…sticking with your future day-in and day-out…living life like it is a marathon, not a sprint”. My goal is to work in the front office of a professional sports franchise. I am determined to reach my goals through whatever means necessary. There will always be trials and tribulations along the way, but with continued grit anything is achievable. Everything happens for a reason, and it’s about getting up 8 times after being knocked down 7.