This past weekend several Salve students left England to explore other parts of Europe. Although I was not one of them, their adventures were exciting to follow! Two girls left on Thursday to visit Dublin, Ireland, where they met family for the weekend. They came back with stories of Guiness pouring lessons and were happy to have caught up with their families! Another group of girls traveled to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower and explore France. Witnessing their independence and determination to make the most of their time here was inspiring and reminded me how lucky we are to be able to travel.
Being a part of the international college has had its ups and downs, but the exposure to students from all over Europe has been amazing. Although we struggle with the language barrier, learning from them is interesting and exciting! We have met students from Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and Australia. I am always a little bit shocked when they tell me where they’re from, but then I’m reminded of the relative ease of travel in Europe.
This month, my plan is/was to remain in Oxford rather than traveling out of the country, but now that I have observed my Salve peers traveling and have met people from other countries, I can’t wait for my time in Italy. Once I’m settling in Florence for the fall, I plan to venture out into Europe- hopefully visiting Spain, Hungary, Brussels and anywhere else I discover! The language barrier may be tricky, the culture will be different, and the logistics may be dificult at times, but this trip has reminded me that all of that is worth dealing with.
Upon my arrival back to the States, I am confident that my perspective will have changed immensely, even after just a month. My history course has also encouraged that change in perspective. As we have learned about Anglo-American relations, it is obvious that American youth are taught history as if the U.S. is the center of everything.
However, especially during the time of the American revolution, the British Empire was in control, and even the war for independence failed to rattle the Brits. In America, because that period was so important to our development as a nation, students are often taught that when the colonies gained independence, Britain lost a significant asset. Although losing the colonies was a nuisance for Britain, our independence actually benefitted them economically. Nonetheless, with help from the French, the American colonial victory over the British was a bad look for such an established military power.
The U.S. is certainly a world power today, but managing our ego is important, especially in the coming years. For American youth, a balanced, objective view of history is incredibly important. Understanding our past role on the world stage is crucial in comprehending where the country is now and how we got here. Additionally, I have found, just as our study abroad office told us, that Americans tend to know less about their country’s past than students from other nations. As a history major, this is disconcerting, and I have enjoyed the chance to talk to students of other nationalities about the culture of their country.
I am so grateful for the chance to travel in the next few months and I am comforted by the fact that in two weeks my adventure will have just started!