By Alex Wieckowski
As students go through high school and college, they take history courses and learn about the world through textbooks and movies, but, the majority of students have a hard time understanding the significance of the information. Ask a random college student about ancient Rome and they’ll most likely say something along the lines of, it was ruled by Julius Cesar and citizens attended gladiator fights for entertainment.
It can be difficult for students to absorb information about history and the world because, at times, it can seem like a far-off land. With only books and films to educate students, ancient Rome is as foreign a land as the fictional world of Narnia.
A professor can talk about the Colosseum and show pictures of it on a slideshow, but, that is not nearly as likely to captivate students as visiting Rome in person. Seeing the almost 2,000-year-old monument in person and walking through the Colosseum, one can begin to imagine themselves as a spectator in the stands watching a gladiator fight below. Exploring the Palatine Hill, one can see the ruins of temples and palaces, and lose their breath as they imagine themselves as a citizen of Rome two millennia ago.
Traveling the world is filled with moments like these, where one has no words to describe the feeling of amazement.
Traveling can be about more than just experiencing history. It is an opportunity to experience different cultures. When traveling in the U.S., most folks are quite similar with the only thing that changes are people’s accents. However, when a person travels abroad, they get to experience different languages, cultural values, food, and more.
For example, citizens of Rome love to make their food from scratch, drink wine with their meals and eat outside while listening to local musicians.
Traveling abroad expands one’s horizon and allows students to immerse themselves in a different way of life. It helps young people learn that there is more than one way to live life. The more a person travels, the more they learn about the world come to understand how it works.
Traveling also allows people to live in the moment. When traveling, students don’t worry about grades, midterms, or jobs, they are living in the present and forget everything else. By forgetting the noise of daily distractions, students are able to find out what they like and don’t like about different places and thus learn more about themselves in the process.
Traveling also makes students more confident in themselves. At first, it may seem scary to travel to an unfamiliar setting, but by being placed in a new environment, students will begin to adapt to their surroundings. Soon or later, students will have to ask a local for directions or ask the waiter about the dinner menu, all of which will involve interacting with new people.
College may also be the best time in one’s life to do such an activity. Students are young and in good shape to walk around the city for hours, something that may be harder for them to do when they retire in their 60’s. Also, after college, most workers only get two weeks’ vacation for an entire year, which is almost nothing when one realizes college students have almost four months off.
In today’s world, students shouldn’t have any excuses not to travel. Many schools provide study abroad programs or cultural exchange programs. There are also volunteer programs where students travel abroad for free in exchange for teaching English to young children.
As the old saying goes, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” Now pick a place, pack your things, and go explore this amazing place we call Earth.