How Study Abroad Awakened the History Buff Inside Me

Lindsay Strong is a student at Creighton University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in London, England.

I remember so clearly the day I moved into my freshman dorm at Creighton University.  It started with rain but once the parents left the sun broke out and I was free to explore my new home.  One of my favorite buildings on campus also happens to be one of the oldest, a little over 125 years old, with its carved stone and immaculate stained glass windows.

Fast-forward two and a half years and I enter the country the United States broke away from to study and live for 5 months, something I never thought I would be doing that first day I wandered around my campus.  As I embark on the end of my journey abroad I have realized being in Europe has been more than immersing myself in new cultures, seeing new countries, and creating friendships that last a lifetime.  In the small time abroad I have learned that history is actually a lot more interesting than they make it in classrooms, especially when I can visit the historical site in the afternoon after learning about it in the morning.  When I went abroad I never expected myself to become interested in history–in fact, the only history I was interested in was the Royal Family and trying to find a loophole to get into the exclusive club. But it seems that the history has become one of my top experiences.

Einstein's Blackboard - Oxford, England - Strong - Photo 1
In Oxford you can see a blackboard Einstein used for free since museums in England are free to tour!

In England I have been able to see Einstein’s blackboard, pubs that are older than the United States, and royal residences that have housed the most famous kings and queens.  Outside of England, I have been fortunate to visit the ruins in Rome, the site Christopher Columbus set sail from when discovering the new continent in Spain, and the famous Eiffel Tower among other monuments in France.

A look at the inside of the Colosseum from a weekend trip to Rome.
A look at the inside of the Colosseum from a weekend trip to Rome.

In all of the new countries I visited I used the free walking tours to see the cities but also learn what made Paris, Paris; Barcelona, Barcelona; and Rome, Rome.  The information I encountered is more than I will ever remember but gave me the itch to research more into the city.  With all the novice research and tours I have been on I have a gained a better understanding of what Europe was like during the times our ancestors bravely crossed the Atlantic and what caused them to cut ties and form the United States.  Granted we do learn all about this in history class but very rarely do we hear the story from the other side.

Thank you note - London, England - Strong - Photo 3
At the Imperial War Museum, I viewed a note from King George thanking the United States soldiers for fighting in World War I.

I never thought when returning from abroad I would be interested in learning about my hometown, trying to find out all of the old myths and legends, but with visiting all of the cities you realize the history in these cities make up the people and without learning the history you really miss out on part of their culture.

Want to read more from Lindsay? Check out “5 Tips for Discovering England on the Weekends”