What's a better way to (almost) end your time studying abroad than to get the chance to go to Poland for five days? This trip was something I had been anticipating since the start of the program. To be honest, Poland was never a top country I had a desire to go to, so I was eager to see how I would like going there. In summary, this trip was like going on a road trip with your family that never seemed to end. Somewhere along the way, we made it to Warsaw and then Wroclaw.
The first city we went to was only fitting to go to Poland's capital: Warsaw. After having to wake up before the sun rose and then enduring a 9 hour bus ride, we made it all in one piece. Once I noticed the signs on the Autobahn change from German to Polish I knew we weren't in Germany anymore. Let's just say the Polish language is ... fun. When they speak, it's as if they don't pronounce the right letters that the word indicates. It was like being on another planet when in Poland.
One word to describe Warsaw in a nutshell is cold. Although I have never been to Antarctica, it sure felt like I was there during this trip. When we made it there, we immediately had a tour at the Warsaw Uprising Museum. It was hard adjusting to life after having so much jetlag (just kidding, we took a bus). The tour of the museum was pretty fascinating. Our tour guide was really awesome and you could tell how passionate she was about her job and country.
After that, we went to a group dinner. The place was really fancy and we all felt like royalty. This was my first time experiencing Polish foods, and I have some opinions. First, they served us some sort of soup that didn't taste so hot. Next, they served us the main course. All I remember was that there was chicken. And for dessert, it was some raspberry surprise that made me realize that I don't like raspberries. After a filling meal, it was time to rest up for a long day ahead.
In my opinion, the second day was the hardest day to get through. Keep in mind that the weather has only gotten colder and there was no hope of feeling my toes. On the second day, we got to do a 6 hour walking tour around Warsaw (split up, so 3 hours each, less painful). We had a wonderful tour guide who took us around Old Town and showed us the important historical features of Warsaw. To me, Warsaw seemed like an interesting city, being that there were no signs of really any tourists there. The majority of the people appeared to be locals. Not sure if the weather had any decision on that, but it was nice not being around any crowds of people taking pictures of literally everything.
Later that day, my taste buds were about to be blown. We were on our own for dinner, so my friends and I decided to try some of the famous pierogi. Overwhelmed with the possibilities, I decided to get boiled pierogi with lentil beans on the inside. This was a very healthy choice, despite the fact that for the rest of the trip it wasn't going to be so healthy. The portion size was unbelievable. They gave us nine and they were a great size. I told myself that there was no way I was going to eat all of them. Cleary I underestimated myself since I kept going until my plate was clear. All is good though because it was so worth it.
Our last day in Warsaw was the following day. Yet again, we started the day with another walking tour. This tour brought us through the Jewish ghettos. The weather for that day was very gray and dreary and made the tour seem sad. At the end of the last cold walking tour in Warsaw, we went to the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews. This museum was in memory of the Polish Jews that were decimated by the Holocaust, but also gave insight about the history of Polish Jews. I thought the museum was really cool, and it had a lot to offer, history-wise. The tour guide was really nice and she was able to give us in depth information and answer all of our questions. After the tour, we scurried onto the bus because we had to go to our next city, Wroclaw (which is also not pronounced the way it looks).
Luckily, Wroclaw was a lot warmer than Warsaw. It felt weird that I was able to feel my toes within four hours of being outside. In my opinion, I liked Wroclaw better than Warsaw for the fact that it was much warmer and because it was all around more populated and had beautiful architecture. The next day upon arrival, we had a walking tour around the city. All around, every tour guide was awesome and the one we had in Wroclaw was the best. Still in shock that I could feel my body, we had some free time and got to explore the city on our own. My friends and I went over to the market hall and got to explore the vendors and food they had to offer.
After that, we had a lecture to go to. I think the best part of that today was having a traditional Polish dinner. I was a little skeptical because I've only had pierogi so far, and I knew Polish people don't just eat those 24/7. The first thing they served us was soup. I took a sip and in that moment, I knew my stomach was going to thank me later. The food was amazing!!! I tried all sorts of new foods like sauerkraut, schnitzel, and a few other things I can't remember (blame it on the food coma). Let's just say I slept good that night.
The last day in Poland was sad, but I was happy to be going back to Berlin. We ended with one last tour around the city, seeing all different types of architecture around, even the ugliest building in Wroclaw. We then got to see Centennial Hall, which was part of the German Empire. Now, it's used for exhibitions, concerts, opera performances, etc. We got some free time after and my friends and I hit up the Christmas market. We tried to eat every last bit of Polish food we could before we had to go back. It didn't go so well, but not all dreams can come true. After that, it was time to endure the rainy long bus ride back to Berlin.
Overall, I would say this was a successful trip. It taught me a lot of things. First, that being with your whole program for an extended amount of time is going to get tiring. The best thing to do is just stick it out and enjoy all these moments with these people who have been on this miraculous journey with you. I also learned that I will never be great at the Polish language but I think my life will be fine without it. And lastly, take the time to really learn and be engaged in the country you're traveling to. If it wasn't for this trip, I don't think I would have ever planned on going to Poland. But since I went, I learned so much about their culture, history, and people that I would recommend those reading this to check it out.
All in all, only a week left for my time here in Berlin. I'm sure you'll miss my blog updates. But stay tuned, there's still more to come with this short amount of time! Until next time.