To learn or not to learn?

“The beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”

– Plato


IMG_3129This quote is one of my favorite quotes, because it really describes the uniqueness of every individual person. It describes how sincerely different an interpretation can be from one human being to another and how something nice can be perceived as something completely different.

The other day, when a friend drove me home in her car after dance class, she asked me how I ended up in New Paltz, “one of the smallest and most boring towns in New York State”. I explained to her that I had first made up my mind and wanted to go to Paris, but when this opportunity with IIB came up, I had to go to the US. I just HAD to study in New Paltz and then do an internship in New York City, the city of my dreams. She was so surprised, how could I appreciate New Paltz and New York over Paris? The capital of fashion with amazing art and history? For me, the choice
was easy it was the opportunity of my life, for her it was not even understandable.


Photographer: Johanna Bjornback

We are now starting our fifth week in New Paltz (gosh these weeks have passed fast) and I have learned so much more than I thought I would have, and now I’m not talking about what I’ve learned in school even though that is a lot. Living with 18 persons from 4 different countries is so different from what I thought it would be. Our cultures are so different. We have different values, we show appreciation in different ways and we appreciate different things. What I might see as extraordinary might someone else see as something casual, what I find tastes good might in other peoples measures be the most amazing dish they have ever tasted. But the most important thing is: There are so many things to learn and there are so much to experience!

My roommate, the very best Federica, has taught me “Italian sign language” and it’s really impressive! “What is this?” you might ask, well Italians have all kind of different signs they use as a compliment to verbal communication. They have a sign for “get it over with”, for “I told you so” and for “I don’t care” just to mention a few. I have also come to understand the importance of body contact and hugs for the Mexicans, something that is not that common in Sweden. And from the Germans I have learned how similar our two countries and mostly how similar our two languages are!! I was surprised when I learned this. For example craftsman is “hantverkare” in Swedish and “heimwerkerin” in German. The ascension is “kristi himmelfahrt” in German and “kristihimmelfärd” in Swedish.IMG_3119 But most of all, I have learned the value of how to appreciate each other and their cultures and how different, and dull most certainly, my experiences would be without them.
If I would be given a second chance to answer my friends question in the car, I would say: “Because of all the amazing people I get to meet here, they are truly the ones that makes this trip, New Paltz and then the future in New York City an amazing experience.”


  1. Fede.Leonardi

    I’m totaly agree with you my best roommate! Thank because I’m learning many things about your country and your habits. I’ll spent a weekend in Stockholm next year, for sure!
    When you want to learn more about “Italian sign language” I’m here.. 🙂

  2. So interesting Frida! I totally agree with you, the chance of meeting new people and to learn from them about their cultures are more than enough reason to be in New Paltz and to travel in general, and its an important topic to write and read about. Every person has a story that is interesting to know about. This trip has been very educating in terms of what other cultures value but at the same time I’ve realised from reading this how similar we are to one another. I will definitely need to and I want to learn about the Italian sign language, because it probably very useful. Great tip! Beautiful Frida!

  3. agnesnilssons

    I’ve never heard of the quote before, but I fell in love with it at the first sight of it. It’s a beautiful quote and I agree with you, it’s all about different interpretations. I also agree with you that’s is fun to learn about different culture and by learning, I believe your acceptance for other cultures increases. 🙂

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