Discovering the Unexpected

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By Abigail McCollough

While studying abroad, I have found that time is expensive, and a handful of moments are invaluable. In the midst of unfamiliar customs, food, and community there are always two ways to look, six paths to take and ten pasta dishes to choose from. Over the past five weeks, I have encountered a wide range of experiences and specifically moments that have defined my time here. Moments which have increased my awareness and grown my exposure to cultures and subcultures which are both distinct and similar to my own. Perhaps what I have learned the most is that these moments of realization, happiness, and understanding can be found anywhere, especially in the places they are least expected.

By studying management inside the classroom, I have travelled Rome through a management lens, analyzing the businesses and organizations I have come across. In combining this with some of my most meaningful moments abroad, CrossFit Trastevere, a gym I wondered into down the street from my apartment in Rome, is the perfect example of this merge of learning. With this knowledge, I am able to so much better understand why I have experienced so many significant moments there when I consider the organization culture that exists within its walls.

In order to evaluate and explain the organizational culture that exists at CrossFit Trastevere a comparison to an onion can be used, as it is an example we discussed in class which represents an organization’s layers of observable artifacts, espoused values, and finally basic underlying assumptions. During my many visits to this gym I discovered each layer slowly, as I observed, participated, and connected with the individuals who worked and belonged there.

From a basic level, observable artifacts, CrossFit Trastevere is a very open work environment in which people are able to easily interact and communicate. During my time there, I saw how the instructors and members utilized the space alongside one another. Moving into its next layer, I found that its espoused values of inclusivity where very visible in its culture. This could be seen as people of all ages and levels of capabilities were accepted and able to work with one another. Lastly in its final layer of basic underlying assumptions, I found that the underlying layer consisted of kindness, hard work, and encouragement. I experienced this last layer in the moments in which I received supportive words, high fives, and patience from others when the language barrier presented its challenges.

I would never have anticipated that I would have learned so much from a CrossFit gym in Italy, but I am grateful all the same. I have found that while traveling the most unexpected environment might be the place in which you end up learning the most. After experiencing and identifying each of its complex layers CrossFit Trastevere has to offer, I am confident it has an organization culture of the highest level of cohesiveness. As a Communal Organization, a place with employees who treat each other well and think alike, I know I will remember the moments I have experienced there for years to come.