Masks are worn and celebrated in Venice during the Carnival of Venice, which ends on Mardi Gras.

Masks are worn and celebrated in Venice during the Carnival of Venice, which ends on Mardi Gras. (image credit: Deion Dinuzzo)

Often we know the environment we live in so well, that we subtly forget there are many other places around us. It is one thing to say you have traveled the continent you are settled in, but it is another to say you have traveled to one you don’t live in.

In this world, there are many different cultures, foods, activities and traditions. You can’t just read a book to understand it all. Eventually, you will have to actively place yourself into the world. So, if you are a student reading this, it is time to study abroad.

From the first civilizations and even to the present, ancient history never dies. I knew of many ancient cultures and traditions and how they still are present today, so I figured I would go witness this knowledge first-hand.

Before obtaining my Bachelor of Arts in History at SNHU in May, I spent my last semester in Italy, studying ancient history at Florence University of the Arts. I walked through the architectural innovation of the Romans, discovered the current Italian traditions and how they resemble their Etruscan past and I even traveled through structures of the Greek mythological past.

It was the best experience of my life, and I learned so much about both what I was studying and myself.
There are huge benefits to studying abroad as a history major. As we know it, history has a heavy focus on the actions of people all over the world through the passage of time. If you want to understand the actions of people, you must step outside of your bubble. To understand people, you need to immerse yourself within a culture.

Culture is so important for history majors. Just by studying abroad, you can promote understanding between their culture and another. This allows for you to familiarize with traditions and customs that aren’t usually part of their everyday life. Ultimately, we begin to embrace different ways of life and not think of one as better than another.

Before participating in another culture, we may find the others’ ideas absurd or ludicrous. Studying history is a discipline, and it allows us to show others why ideas of other cultures are necessary and should be respected.

Lastly, as a history major, you spend 100 percent of the time reading about the past, so why not be a part of it physically? In doing so, you learn the opinions and thoughts on aspects of history that you aren’t taught through your culture.

If you are studying history, this experience is necessary in my eyes for becoming better within the discipline.

Then again, you don’t have to be a history major to achieve these benefits. Understanding culture is essential to every element of our world. As an overall person, the experience turns you into what the world needs: people who are not scared to leave their bubble and embrace each other’s differences of beliefs and ways of life.