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Wise Words From Our Spring 2021 Student

As study abroad experiences these unprecedented times, we feel fortunate.  We see a light ahead and more importantly we have a light among us.  Matthew (Matty) Bickman is one of the few students to venture back out into the world with us.  Together, we’re all making new discoveries.  He wrote the following reflection as an assignment for our course, Intercultural Dialogue, Democracy and Global Citizenship through Reflection.  

We thought that it was worth sharing as a testament to the importance of contact, host-families, and study abroad right now! Grazie Matty.


Matthew Bickman
February 4th, 2021

Space Reflection

The elbow to elbow connection has rapidly become the new handshake. Space and the human interaction within various avenues and realms of space will forever be changing. In the COVID-19 world, the loving being inside us all has had to evolve and adapt to the current times.  Italy, a culture that is often associated with public demonstrations of affection, has had to drastically adjust their relationship with space. Personal space barriers have been placed on the wandering stranger as far as the eye can see, creating an unfortunate disconnect with reality. The safety of the individual takes precedence over one’s feeling of affection and curiosity.

The comfort of one’s home allows, almost reluctantly, for the display of love to either children, spouses, friends, and the occasional grandparent. Unquestionably, the ability to self regulate oneself is a difficult challenge, especially in a culture as tight-knit as the Italian culture where care, emotionality, and interest is demonstrated through the physical modality. The
occasional kiss on the cheek, pat on the back, and hug have thankfully survived. The changing of one’s habits and comforts have been modified to accommodate the respect and space of strangers but within the confines of the home as well as other private spaces, the human is allowed to come out and exhibit moments of affection.



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