University of Haifa International School Student Blog
In past years, I can say I have traveled ignorantly. You may ask what does she mean by ignorantly? I traveled ignorantly when I went to different countries not understanding the culture, current events, or history of such country. For example, when I was eighteen, I was lucky enough to go from Munich, Germany into Salzburg, Austria. If you asked me what I knew about Austrian culture, I would tell you that the Sound of Music was set there. That is about it. Obviously, I knew basic ideas about Austria, like Austria-Hungary’s involvement in World War I, but I lacked knowledge of the Austrian culture. Honestly (because we are all about candidness on this blog), I did not know that much about German culture. As I said, I knew the obvious historical references – Prussia, Otto Van Bismarck, WWI, Hitler, WWII, Holocaust (aka that stuff), but I lacked information on German culture.
Why Am I Taking the Time Out to Write a Blog about “Traveling Ignorantly…?”
When you study abroad, you are inclined to travel more than you normally would. Some people want to travel to as many countries as possible, and some people, like myself, rather travel to countries, which they have some cultural knowledge of. It is important to know where you are traveling to, what customs society partakes in, and how you should handle yourself in front of local people.
I find this knowledge to be vital to traveling.
With that said, here are several reasons why I find this knowledge to be important while traveling –
If you did not know, my studies are concentrated on the Middle East. Therefore, I have studied Middle Eastern culture in various ways – Arabic culture, Israeli culture, Islamic culture, etc., (Frankly, I wish I knew a bit more about Jewish culture before coming to Israel). As a result, I did not travel ignorantly, and I am quite happy that I had some understanding of Middle Eastern culture before coming to Israel. I know of certain societal norms, social practices, government, politics, and issues regarding religion. I have learned of the various perspectives in the Middle East and follow the current events occurring throughout the area. Ultimately, my studies have allowed me to travel in an intelligent manner.