by Simon Rocco

Discussing culture and integrating into a new society with Sheik, a Singhalese refugee, was not on my ‘to do’ list in the Italian port town Genoa. Nor was listening to Luca, an Albanian tow truck driver, discuss the importance of respect within a family as he towed the recently-crashed rental I was riding in with my friend on our way to the Alps. But, that’s travel.

I’m thankful that these experiences happened. Each experience, good and bad equally, provides us with an opportunity and that teaches us about life. The following are three completely unrelated pieces of thought, each attempting to shed light on my travel experience and learning so far.

Italian fare

Architecturally, Italy offers a feast of architectural fare. There are, of course, the incredible basilicas scattered all over. The money. The power. The craftsmanship. The church manifested their power with buildings designed, decorated and constructed to make mere mortals awestruck and meek.

But the symmetry and the grandeur are not relatable or comforting. They are places which you are in awe to behold but become eerie when you linger for too long. Thankfully, the streets of Italy are full of beautiful public buildings and residences on a smaller-scale. They offer their pretty faces to the street and keep their gorgeous courtyards secluded, providing a quality experience for those who enjoy the building from within or passing by outside. But moving down to human scale, things become far more complicated.

A new perspective

Studying a master’s course in Europe brings people from all over the world into one room. I have this opportunity to understand life through other cultures, but also a chance to consider my own life from new perspectives. As I meet new people from all walks of life, from many places around the world, I have become more aware of how most Australians are shielded from hardship and suffering.

With the recent terrorist attack in New Zealand, there was a mass outcry, both reported in traditional media and posted across social media, rejecting the murderous Australian involved and his actions. With my newfound international perspective, I remain curious to see how the Australian government will treat this incident. Will it be a catalyst for real cultural or educational policy reform regarding race and religious hate? Or will this only amount to political grandstanding and hot air?

A curious outlook

Australia is often called the lucky country. During my travel experience, I’ve found that Australians are loved and Australia is well-respected as a nation. Many may say that we won’t experience turmoil on a level that many other countries do, and I am quietly optimistic that this will stand true.

Maintaining a positive, open outlook is essential for this. Your attitude determines how you perform, from retaining hope to producing the best work you’re capable of. Knowing what makes your product good, why someone is rejecting, and being open to change I’ve found to be key in design and life alike. A healthy dose of tenacity and resilience also goes a long way. Just ask Len and Julie.

Congratulations on 20 years of being a POWErful force in the industry, and I hope for many more prosperous years to come.

Cordiali saluti a tutti in Australia,