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Italian and American cultures are very different from each other and, sometimes, they can even be contrasting. The frenetic pace of the States fits perfectly with “All day away from home, a sandwich on the fly for lunch…” (cit.). I rarely remember sharing meals that coincided with the idea of conviviality, Americans occasionally cook and sit at the table. Lunch or dinner are moments that we Italians take advantage of to create interpersonal relationships and find aspects that unite us and anyone sitting at the same table. Humor is also different from how we perceive it. Self-righteousness is often confused with a lack of self-confidence and it is always better to specify the good-natured nature of our jokes (“just kidding..!!”) in such a way as not to offend anyone. In addition, our beating around the bush with concepts to “embellish” sentences is perceived as a waste of time. In American, you always have to be direct and fast.

These elements, accompanied by an initial language barrier, can create discomfort in the student-athlete in the first months of college. However, any activity that exalts our cultural difference forces us to learn, even when we are frustrated and not exactly receptive. My intention is certainly not to create panic. Your difference will turn into the element that will make you special and, by assuming the right mind-set, you will be able to assimilate the culture of others. The partnership between your culture and the American one will represent that “extra gear” that can guarantee you coveted jobs. That? Because it will allow you to grasp crucial aspects of business without having to study them in books! Have an open-mindset, being at ease in a multicultural working group, adopting appropriate attitudes in meetings where our interlocutor is from another country, and being able to understand and forgive the mistakes of those who, like us before, are novices in a completely new context, are all fundamental characteristics in today’s business world. Knowing other people’s cultures can also allow us to close a deal in our favor.

After an initial shock , therefore, we will move on to a phase of adaptation. Everything becomes easier again, we laugh and joke, we create friendships and connections. Without even realizing it, we will arrive at the integration phase, which is nothing more than an improvement on the previous phase. Thanks to this experience, you will have learned and put into practice, almost automatically, a fundamental concept: contextual-intelligence. It is the realization that our perception of the world is not universal and has several limitations. Once we understand this concept, we can adapt and rebuild our knowledge to better cope with a different environment and culture. The acceptance of diversity is essential if we want to develop economic, social and management models that are more suited to the new university and work context in which we will enter. Moreover, contextual-intelligence can ensure greater collaboration, productivity and reduced conflict, especially in team sports. This type of intelligence allows us to face new contexts and to enter the phase of integration and “falling in love” with the States.