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Some people say
you can't have a cross cultural experience in Europe, but
frankly I have found this trip to be more challenging than my adventures
to Bolivia or Guatemala. For one, I am sitting in a laundromat; I never
would do this at home. We have our own washer and dryer and clothesline in
the backyard. And when the dryer broke, we bought a new one. In fact, we
bought a new washer too so we would have a matching set. But here in
Europe I can hardly find dryers. People simply do not own them because
they use too much energy.
Likewise, Europeans do not heat their homes the way we do. They live in
their 55 degree houses and simply pack more clothes on . The same goes
for conserving gasoline; Europeans use public transportation or buy gas
conserving vehicles. Definately no SUVs here.
But instead of complaining about how cold we are and how much we want the
comforts of home, I think we should learn from the Europeans. They are
human just like you and me; they are cold too. But they approach life
differently. Instead of being the greedy American who only thinks of
themself, Europeans realize that the natural resources are going to be
exhausted one day. There are recycling bins on every street corner.
Businessmen and ladies in skirts ride bikes everyday instead of driving
I think our goup needs to take a step back and realize that these people
are just as wealthy as we are, yet they live less wasteful lives. There
is no social or economic barrier between us and them like there would be
if we were in Bolivia. Yet, these people have learned to do without
certain things for the betterment of the world.
As Christians we should have this same attitude that the Europeans have.
When I returned from Bolivia I had the heart of a servant, but my daily
expectations of living did not change. I still expected hot food, dessert
at every meal, dryers, and access to my own car. It was too easy to
separate my life from that of the Bolivians. However, here in Europe there
are not such boundries. We can live with less! We can consume less! As a
Christian, I need a servant's heart, yet I also need the attitude to
change my life. As a group from a Mennonite school and an Anabaptist
background we should not be the ones complaining that we are
uncomfortable. We knew when we signed up for this trip that we would be
forced to deal and be inconvienced. That's when we learn.
Our happiness should not be dependent on our surroundings or material
possessions. Our joy comes from our faith in God and his blessing to
allow for us to study in Italy. We have been given the opportunity to
experience the Renaissance first hand, yet we grumble that it is four
more weeks until our plane leaves. If we let the cold get to us we will
want to go home even more. But we can put on another layer, take a brisk
walk, put a smile on our face and become Italian.