Tuesday, November 16, 2010

History Shapes People

If any of you have ever been curious about what drives me to travel, I think I might have at least a bit of an answer for you.

I love people watching. People watching is great even in your own backyard, but it's even better abroad. 

I guess what I love about watching people abroad is that it's all new and different and I'm always trying to figure out what is going on. But I love that the things that are different about it are entirely based on their culture. The thing about culture is it's so mixed and it's entirely shaped by history.

Throughout centuries, land that belonged to one empire thousands of years ago trades hands through what seems like a bajillion other governments. What we see now are people who have derived a culture from many without really thinking about it.

I just found this video which is a 5-minute map of the changing boundaries and borders in Europe across the past ten centuries. I found it especially interesting to watch the Holy Roman Empire dissolve, the Byzantaine Empire become overrun by the Ottoman Empire, to watch Germany take over much of Eastern Europe during WWII and then the Soviet Union to practically take over the map during the Cold War. 

Sure the battles and history are interesting, but even after six weeks in the Czech Republic I could see that there are still traces and evidence of those time. They're not just lying in the buildings and art and history books, they're in the people.

People so things the way they do because history shapes them.

I can't wait to get back to Prague so that I can start people watching again and learning more about history and culture all at the same time.

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