Are you curious to learn more about the history of other nations? Have you always wanted to visit some of the world's most important historical sites? Are you a history buff who wants to embark on a study abroad program focused on history? Fortunately for you, there are a good variety of study abroad programs for history majors and destinations.
Popular destinations include Germany, England, France, Italy, and Greece. If you'd like something less typical, venture to China, Japan, Egypt, Jordan, Cuba, or Latin America to learn about non-Western history.
For program types, you can opt from a traditional study abroad program attending classes at a university, a study-travel program, or short-term programs led by professors from your home university over the summer.
Learn about history from the source or listen to a different side of the same story by studying history abroad.
Photo: Melanie van Leeuwen.
The type of history you choose to study abroad depends greatly on your interests. Because there are so many options for studying history abroad, it will help to consider which topic interests you the most and go from there.
Think about the settings of your favorite movies and books. Maybe you're interested in learning more about the country your ancestors emigrated from. Perhaps you're drawn to a very specific topic like the history of Samurai and martial arts.
By studying abroad, you'll have the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions with teachers, fellow students, and locals. So think about the questions you're most anxious to have answered and it should help you narrow down your search.
Here are some popular topics to get you started:
When we learn of past wars, especially ones that didn't involve our home country, we only learn one side of the story. If you're interested in war history, take this chance to learn the details that can only come from locals.
Studying war history can take you anywhere in the world. You could study the World Wars in Europe, the battles of Genghis Khan in Mongolia, or the French Revolution in Paris.
Your classes and teachers will provide a great deal of valuable information but make sure to take full advantage of your time by visiting museums, memorials, and respectfully talking to locals to learn their perspectives as well.
Politics and History
Another popular option for studying history abroad is to take it in combination with politics. Study the political history of the country from those who know it best.
The United States is unique because it's relatively young. Democracy in the US only goes back a few hundred years while many other countries have political history records that go back thousands of years with a wide range of government types.
Explore the similarities and differences between your host and home countries. Read local newspapers, watch the news, and join in on class discussions while keeping an open mind.
Although the people of ancient civilizations may be long gone, the ruins, artifacts, and stories are still very much alive and are begging to be explored by students who love history.
Learn methods of excavation, take language and culture classes, go on excursions that will bring the pictures of famous historical sights to life.
Where to Go
Forget everything you know about field trips from grade school and get ready to step back in time.
Touring the Coliseum in Rome makes you forget the cars rushing past right outside. The costumed guides at the Tower of London take you back to the middle of the 16th century when King Henry VIII changed the course of religious history. In Belize, Garifuna musicians and dancers tell their story of resisting colonialism through song.
Germany has seen some of the most influential historical events over the past century and offers incredible options for learning about them.
For short term study abroad experiences, city walking tours and museums provide fantastic overviews of complete Germany history and the world's most recent wars. After learning the facts in museums explore the art museums to experience moving evidence of a country touched deeply by war.
For longer stays, take every opportunity to respectfully engage in conversation with locals to understand their stories. Because this history is so recent, many German citizens will have first-hand experience.
Because there are so many places with rich histories and nearly five thousand years of stories in China, you can't go wrong studying history any city.
Try learning about the philosophy behind China's culture, military battles, religious culture, or political history.
Study history in one of the most desirable countries in the world for international education and travel. Popular topics include the history of gladiators, Catholicism, and the Roman Empire.
If you enjoy Roman takeovers, Viking invasions, plagues, beheadings, and castles, then England may be the place for you. England is also a great place to study recent history, especially if you're interested in using your degree for a career in politics.
The British Museum does a fantastic job of taking you through the world's most influential historical events. The British Library displays a wide range of meaningful historical documents from Beethoven's original sheet music to lyrics jotted down by The Beatles.
If you're not sold on these options, explore this list of 9 great cities for studying history abroad.
Planning Your Trip
Most semester or year-long programs offer you the option of staying on the college campus or with a host family. Many smaller towns recommend staying with a host family, especially when English is not commonly spoken.
There are many benefits to staying with a host family when you study abroad, but for history majors, it's especially helpful. Many host parents will be close in age to your parents or older. The firsthand knowledge they have of recent historical events will be the perfect compliment to textbooks and lectures.
If you haven't decided where you want to study and you're looking for something to tip the scales one way or another, you might look at what the museum and excursion opportunities look like. You can look up cost and proximity to help you make a decision.
Most museums in London offer free entry, Spain has free entry during certain times of the day to some museums, and many programs include museum entry fees to the total cost.
Having quick access to London's Imperial War Museum, China's Great Wall, or the Great Sphinx of Giza may be the pro on your pro/con list that decides where you'll end up.