Abroad Lesson #1: The Importance of Being Humble and Kind

I knew that moving to a different country across the ocean from the only place I have ever known would teach me some lessons, but the most important one I have learned so far is how important it is to be humble and kind.

Generally speaking, Americans are a very proud group of people. Proud of who they are, and what they’ve come from, and just generally proud of their country. We even have lyrics that go as such, “I’m proud to be an American…” and most Americans in a room can sing along whenever they hear those lyrics. But although I have not lost any of my pride in being an American, I have learned that it is also good to be humble in addition to being proud.

Being humble is about knowing how lucky you are, but not flaunting all your blessings. Being abroad is hands down the most humbling thing I have ever experienced. I have seen how people live so differently than I do, and how things that we take for granted in the States are things people want over here. I have seen the way money is treated differently over here and the means of living are not the same even though on the surface you would think otherwise. I’ve talked with people whose dream is to travel to America, and I find it so ironic because so many Americans always talk about how they want to travel around Europe.

Knowing how lucky I am to have this experience and to have the opportunity to travel is something that I know is not an opportunity to many people. But in addition to being humble, I have constantly been reminded how important it is to be kind.

I would not say I am an unkind person, but living in a different country where you don't speak the language makes you extremely grateful for any act of kindness you encounter, which also reflects my own self awareness and sense of kindness towards others. It would be so easy for Italians to disregard me, as I am a foreigner who does not know their language very well, but everywhere I go I find someone willing to answer any questions I have or help me with directions. Even a smile or a “sorry” aka “scusi” which is the simplest act of kindness can go such a long way, and it just gives me a sense of comfort.

As my journey abroad continues, I know I will remember at the end of every day to at least be humble and kind.