by Lucrezia Dipasquale, Class of 2022
I am Lucrezia Dipasquale from the USA, a half-Nicaraguan, half-Italian student of the Bachelor in Management (BSc). As my diverse cultural background may suggest, I am obsessed with traveling and addicted to meeting new people from all walks of life.
And, above all, I love to challenge myself.
I chose ESCP because it was the perfect match for my personality and aspirations. I hope to keep pushing myself after the programme, begin a career as a young professional in Marketing or Sales, and eventually, receive a Master’s Degree in Europe or maybe America!
Transitioning to Europe as an American Student
In 2019 I departed from Naples, my hometown in Florida, and my plane touched down at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France. Even though it happened almost two years ago, I can still barely process the fact that I was walking into a new country, a new university, and a new life entirely on my own.
In retrospect, that solitude quickly disappeared as I immersed myself in Europe and amongst the Bachelor in Management (BSc) cohort. Within the first 98 hours in Paris, I had already met the people that would end up being my best friends to this day. I couldn’t have imagined a better life for myself than in Europe!
In a way, I was already somehow familiar with European culture. I was born and raised in the USA, and I fully identify as an American. But there is more building up my cultural background: I am half-Italian, and I have spent a large part of my childhood in Sicily, Italy. However, I am discovering and breaking down new cultural barriers every day, and frankly, it’s one of the best parts of being an American at ESCP Business School.
Constantly Challenging Myself
Especially in a high-level academic environment such as ESCP, in a continent with some of the best education institutions in the world, you can be easily intimidated as an American student.
But as you challenge yourself, your success will come easily, and you will “become more comfortable with conversation and asking others for help,” as my friend and fellow ESCP classmate Zachary Gilliam, a New York native, told me. And he was right.
Suppose you are an American student planning to attend or are thinking about applying to ESCP. In that case, you might be enrolled in honors, Advanced Placement (like I was), International Cambridge classes, the International Baccalaureate program. Maybe you are a dual-enrollment student, or perhaps you went to an international high school. Either way, you are no stranger to a rigorous academic program.
In my experience, the European pedagogy emphasizes projects, group work, and exams. On the contrary, in the American public school system, your grade is easily molded by frequent individualized homework assignments.
I adjusted smoothly to the new approach because collaboration and genuine learning reflected positively on my grades. Completing frequent and frivolous assignments that feel as though they frankly amount to busy work — like I was assigned in high school — wasn’t my preferred learning style.
Another major challenge for an American in Europe may be overcoming language barriers. You most probably don’t speak 67 languages fluently, and you haven’t lived in all 44 countries of Europe. Perhaps you haven’t even spent a minute in Europe before induction days — that isn’t a hindrance. That is a new challenge!
I’ve always found that all kinds of barriers simply dissipate if you keep an open mind, take criticism with ease, and stay determined.
Take this as an opportunity to grow as a global citizen and expat, and don’t beat yourself up for where you’re starting. By the end of the BSc, you will have developed 2+ languages and lived in 3 new countries. It is definitely worth it!
Breaking the Mold
Due to America’s global influence, Europeans have a view of what it means to be American, and I am often touched by their admiration, interest, and excitement.
The way people’s faces light up when I tell them I am American is indescribable as they begin to rack their brain for anecdotes to share with me about their memorable trips to America or excitement to ask me about life in the USA.
Ultimately I was able to use this as an opportunity to set myself apart from any American stereotypes anyone may have. We all hold stereotypes, negative or positive. I am glad I had the chance to have many of my own preconceived notions squashed, as well as to smash those that Europeans may have about Americans.
But, I always get the question: “You’re American… and you speak languages other than English!? Wow, that is impressive for an American.”
Although meant as a compliment to me, I find it curious that Europeans still view Americans as close-minded monolinguals who don’t own passports (the latter, granted, is true for an alarmingly large portion of US citizens).
Although usually harmless, this stereotype does undermine the American identity of the millions of Chinese, African, Latin, and other members of our society. In fact, many Americans speak English, their cultural language, and a third language taught at school, which is mandatory in many states, contrary to the common misconception that Americans don’t learn languages in school. America is a country of immigrants, after all.
On the other hand, in all honesty, before I moved to Europe, I was afraid of the common stereotype that most Europeans are ‘rude’ and ‘hate Americans.’ As I lived my day-to-day life in Europe, I realized that this stereotype simply arises from a misunderstanding amongst foreigners rather than an actual nationalistic feud.
Many Europeans hold a solid connection to their country and value their national identity and culture. Sadly it is common for American tourists to hold a sense of entitlement when abroad, like not speaking the language, disrespecting traditions, etc. Therefore, Europeans who wish to correct their seemingly disrespectful behavior may come off as ‘rude.’
I have learned quickly that this is just a manifestation of their love for their country and willingness to preserve their culture against what they perceive as disrespect. For example, try to pronounce that French word correctly. It may not seem paramount to you as an American tourist, but your extra effort is valued to a French person.
Realizing the Value of my Perspective
Cultural differences are at times challenging, but just by putting yourself out there, respecting and upholding a country’s culture, and even just by attending ESCP as an American, you’re showing the world your willingness to be a global citizen.
My American perspective is always an added value to conversations, debates, and group projects during the BSc experience. My professors and peers always come from a place of curiosity, and so it allows me to join in on the critique or shed light on certain aspects.
My group project calls for the comparison of the US to Europe? My time to shine!
My economics course discusses a particular statistic about the US? I’ll chime in and give my experience!
We discuss American stereotypes in your Intercultural Skills course? I’ll prove them wrong by pushing myself in academics, language classes, and social standing!
These challenges are all simply blessings in disguise. I love bringing the American perspective in such an international cohort as the Bachelor in Management (BSc) at ESCP Business School. I really feel like my experiences as an American are valued. At the same time, I am also empowered to grow as a global citizen in a European context.
In the end: Whatever the cultural context from which you start, whatever your perplexities or fears, accept the challenge! Your willingness to learn and grow will always render you successful!
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