When in Rome… A Look at Cultural Norms in Italy

In my Social Psychology course I discuss the concept of social norms. Norms are rules for behavior, some of which are formal and may be integrated into our system of laws (stop at red lights, don’t steal, file your taxes); others are more subtle and are learned by watching the behavior of others around us as we grow and develop (shaking hands when we meet someone, maintaining certain physical distances from other people, holding a door for someone behind us).  Adhering to these norms tends to keep us out of trouble and wins the approval of others; deviating from these norms can lead to being punished or socially ridiculed. And while many social norms are universally shared, others tend to be culturally specific. One of the aspects of travel that I find particularly fascinating is being exposed to different sets of social norms depending upon the culture I’m visiting.

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Don’t Forget the Music! Every Trip Needs a Soundtrack

I wish I could remember the exact quote and its source, but I recall reading a passage about someone who saw the Grand Canyon for the very first time and was of course overwhelmed by the sight of it, but couldn’t help but feel that something was missing about the experience. And then they realized that what was lacking was MUSIC. Prior to visiting the actual place, this person had seen many documentaries about the canyon and the images were backed by a swelling soundtrack that was missing at the canyon itself. I have always been amused by that story, because for me, music has always been something that enhances my travel experiences; however, for me it has to be just the RIGHT music for the place.

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