Julia Szeto
November 24, 2015

* This post is a rougher sketch than my past posts. Please accept my apology. My thoughts aren’t coming easily or gracefully to my pen. *

Just about a week and a half ago, I traveled to Warsaw, Poland, for the weekend. I was there on school grant to see the city that my childhood piano teacher calls home. Coincidentally, Warsaw is also the birthplace of Frederic Chopin, my favorite composer, so the weekend was a great opportunity to see the monuments and museum dedicated to him. It was exciting to go somewhere relatively less traveled in Europe. Despite travel mishaps – one delay, one missed plane, one additional flight, and seven more hours – I made it to Warsaw in one piece on Friday night, November 13.

Little did I know what would happen that night.

I checked my phone around midnight and found that I had multiple missed calls and emails from my program directors in Italy asking about my whereabouts. Friends and family from the States sent messages wondering whether I was alright, where was I this weekend, and to please get back to them soon.

I was flummoxed. I had no idea what was going on. Five minutes later, Google had me up to speed, and the reality of what had happened and what was happening in Paris was horrifying. I immediately got in touch with my friends who were studying or visiting Paris that weekend and quickly verified that they were safe.

Following news on the Paris massacre has made huge impact on me. I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t been on top of world news, and I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know how ISIS, as an organization, came to be until the attacks in Paris. I was a Wikipedia fiend for several days, and since then I’ve been on the news like a hawk. Why is it that the most tragic events must happen before there is awareness? Perhaps because “ignorance is bliss?” I’m guilty of it, certainly.

Recently the US Embassy in Rome has been sending travel precautions to students studying in Italy, since Jubilee is quickly approaching on December 8. I have never lived anywhere even close to a big center where terrorism is suspected, so being three hours from Rome is an interesting feeling. This brings to mind how fortunate I am for having lived where I have lived.

In related news, the refugee crisis continues, and I dearly hope that countries don’t close their doors to refugees because of the recent Paris attacks.  

Signin’ out.



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Julia Szeto

<p>I am a junior at Bates College, where I study English, Creative Writing, and Chemistry. Though I left the beautiful forests of Portland, Oregon for snowier seasons in Maine, I&#39;ve discovered that there are valuable stories to be heard and told in ever corner, or coast, of the world. I am interested in people and the words they have to say, and I am thrilled to be in a city as rich with history as Siena. I hope to explore new perspectives of culture and life in Siena through words and photographs. Outside of story-telling, I am a varsity coxswain on the Bates rowing team, and I enjoy hiking, trail running, singing loudly in the car, and getting hopelessly lost in a good book.</p>

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