As I prepare to graduate from high school, I am excited about the opportunities that I will have as a college student to study history more in depth. I have been lucky enough in my life to have made several fascinating trips. Three trips in particular stand out as times when my knowledge base grew. When I returned home I searched for books on the areas and historical events where I had visited. When I was only ten years old, I traveled from Alabama to Washington state learning about the western expansion following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. When I was thirteen, my family and I spent several weeks in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Finally, at age sixteen, my family visited England to trace both my mother’s and father’s family backgrounds. My love of history will be an important part of my life no matter what career field I may choose.
My grandfather was very excited about the chance to teach me to love the west as he did. From St. Louis, Missouri, we followed the Oregon Trail. I learned about Indians like Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull. Lewis and Clark, Jesse James, Kit Carson, George Armstrong Custer, and Buffalo Bill became as familiar as any of my friends. I remember walking the Little Big Horn battle field; I remember climbing Independence Rock; I remember seeing Mount Rushmore; I remember feeling the indentions in solid rock from the wagons on the Oregon Trail. These are only a few of the many memories that come to mind when I read or study any of the History of the West.
My vacation in Mexico was culture shock. I knew Mexico was not a wealthy nation and I knew its history was impacted by the Mexican War. However, the widespread poverty was almost unimaginable. The lack of education and modern facilities; the poorly constructed houses and inferior transportation were obvious. I learned to appreciate the United States and was pleased when we headed home. I was interested in learning more about their history to try to understand why our two cultures were so different.
All I need to say about England is The British Museum. We had time to spend four hours there. My family says they saw everything; I only made it to the Byzantine Empire. I expect to return this summer, with the hopes of spending at least another entire day at the museum. I realize I will need to make many trips to England if I am to visit the major historical locations. I look forward to those opportunities. We did visit the industrial area of England where my mother’s ancestors originated. We also visited York, where my father’s ancestors pillaged (Vikings).
These are only three examples of all of the history I have learned by traveling and studying. However, I still feel my knowledge is only superficial and I will happily spend many hours learning from those who have done much a much more in depth study than I.