Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The End


I can' t believe my time in Poland went by so fast. I had an amazing time there and hope I can go back some day. Poland is a country full of history but also beauty. The world has not discovered all its potential yet but I can only imagine it will not stay a secret for much longer. 

Our morning of our last day we had a lecture on the women of Poland and the struggles they have faced through the years. As a woman I found this lecture to be very interesting.

For our last day in Poland we all decided to venture into Warsaw. It also happen to be the hottest day of the summer so far. We took a bus into the city and explored. We had our last taste of Lody (Polish ice cream), walked around the old town, went into more souvenir shops, and even watched a shop make hand made candy. It was a fun day but also a sad one, knowing that the next day we were to get on a plane to leave.

Friday morning we got up and had our last meal at the hotel. Got on our bus and made our way to the airport. I spent the day in airports and on planes to get back to the United States. Coming back home will always be great (American all the way) but I will miss my time in Poland. 


Last days in Poland :(

Monday - Wednesday

That last Monday we had more lectures and another final presentation by another student.

Again I spent my free time asking to borrow computers and trying to get my presentation done. 

At night we watched the movie Poklosie. It was bad off of the events of Jedwabne, I spoke about it briefly in an earlier post. No town name is ever actually mentioned. The movie shines a terrible light on Poland and the actions of Polish people before no after the occupations. It makes Poland seem to be a country of anti-Semitic people who have no problem killing Jews. It was a very hard movie to watch, and a sad way to end our day.

Tuesday morning we had a guest lecture on the legacies of Communism. The are many. Even today you can see how Communism has affected the culture and lives of the people of Poland.

After a quick lunch we had a tour. This time we went to the Praga section of Warsaw. This area of the city is across the river and was not originally considered an original portion of Warsaw. This saved the area. When Warsaw was ordered to be destroyed, Praga was not. A such actual history still exists in this section of Warsaw. We we able to see buildings were proof of Jewish crosses being nail into doorways still existed. Old apartments that still needed coal to be put into stoves to keep people warm during winter. Praga is the section of the city were people of Warsaw actually live. Across the river is the tourist and industrial sections. 

Wednesday was my presentation! I was very nervous things would not work out since I was other people's computers. But I did it and everything worked out! 

That night we had our farewell cookout. Our Professor and his wife (the lady go gets everything done and this trip couldn't have happen without) put together a nice outdoor dinner for all of us. It also happened to be the birthday of one of the girls on the trip, so of course a cake was ordered. It was a fun night for all of us. 

Final weekend


Unfortunately my last weekend in Poland wasn't vey exciting. 

As I had mentioned earlier by the end of the trip my computer had died. While we were in Gdansk my hard drive completely failed and I was forced to periodically borrow people's computers to get work done. This last week I had my final presentation to do. Sadly for me everything was lost on my computer. What I found was that people are extremely reluctant to let others use their computers, even if they are not using them. It took an extreme amount of begging so I could get my work done. Thankfully two individuals were nice enough to let me use their computers or I would have failed the courses. 

I spent my weekend piecing together my presentation and last assignments. If anyone wants to know anything about Colonel Kuklinski let me know. I happen to have learned his whole life story for this Dialogue. He is actually a very interesting individual. Was someone who had top secret access to Soviet military exercises, a Colonel in the Polish army, and yet was a CIA operative. Don' t worry he was never a traitor. His only hope was to free his believed country of Poland from Soviet dominion. 

We can leave your friends behind...

Cause your friends don't Gdansk
And if they don't Gdansk
Well then they're no friends of mine...

Haha sorry I couldn't help myself. I had to use the song to talk about Gdansk.


Friday we had a day off and were told that if we took the train we could go to a famous beach town on the Baltic Sea. So of course that is where I went! Three of us walked to the main train station in a Gdansk and worked out how the whole system worked. Bought ourselves round trio tickets for the day and figured out which train we needed to catch. Yeah we're conquering Poland and its language :)

Once we reached our destination it was game on. The town sort of reminded me of a Miami beach resort town. We explored the pastel buildings, the ice cream shops, the stalls selling Amber, and just the major tourist attraction that the area was. We were also able to put our feet in the Baltic Sea! Making my way around the worlds waters. 

After a day on the beach we were all very much exhausted and after finishing packing that night it was to bed for us.
The next day we were to leave Gdansk :(

On our way back we made an out of the way stop at Wolf's Lair, Hitler' bunker in Poland. We drove almost two hours on dirt roads to get to the middle of no where that was Wolf's Lair. Here we explored pieces of bunkers and destroyed buildings. Hitler's base was completely destroyed by bombs. After our walking tour we took a drive through the area in an old Nazi military vehicle. 

The ret of our day was spent in a bus to get back to Warsaw. Took a dinner stop at a McDonald's along the highway and kept going. We arrived back at our Warsaw hotel around 11pm. 

We can go where we want to...


Wednesday started off with all of us walking over to the headquarters for World War II museum in Gdansk. But her is the catch, the museum doesn't exist yet. So far the plans are for it to open in the year 2015. So we actually gotta virtual tour of the museum by one of the historians who out it together. The museum seems like it well be extremely interesting and interactive active once it comes to life. We were given the amazing privilege of seeing the archives for the museum. We were actually able to touch items that will eventually be put behind glass walls! How amazing and unusual to be able to experience something like that. Right in front of me was a German uniform, destroyed helmets, old artillery, and even an Enigma machine that was used to translate enemy transmissions. 

After the 'tour' was done we were given time off to grab lunch and explore before we need to meet for our next tour. So of course a couple of us decide to go exploring! We ended up getting our lunch to go so that way we could see more. I got a REALLY good spinach and cheese pastry and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Poland makes some of the best pasties ever, sweet and savory. France look out because once Poland becomes well known you may have a run for your money! 


That afternoon we took a tour based on the Solidarity movement. It started out in a museum meant to bring you into the time of Soviet occupation. For you entrance ticket we were given the little card that everyone received every month that allowed them to get their loaf of bread, roll of toilet paper, piece of meat, and so on. Once we walked in we were greeted with the site of the typical shop during that time, filled basically only with white vinegar. As we walked through the museum we were told the tale of the people and what they had to endure under Communism and how they fought against it. After the museum we followed the 'trail of freedom' to the docks. Her we saw the large monument celebrating the dock workers who first rebelled. From there we walked out to the docks and saw another part of the museum. Here the focus was entirely on the fight against Soviets. 
That evening we had dinner in the hotel and we all needed to get work done.

Chopin - The Music of Poland


Saturday we went into Warsaw to the University and had a lecture with the head of the music department. On Sunday we were going to the home of Chopin and our Professor thought it necessary for us to learn as much about the Composer and Pianist as we could before we went. It was actually a quite entertaining lecture with the Professor rambling on and periodically running up to the Piano to play. Very stereotypical of what one would think of as a Music Professor, kinda crazy.

Sunday was a perfect day. Blue skies and music in a garden.
We took another long bus ride out to Zelazowa Wola, the home town of Chopin. We were able to tour his child hood home and lands. While wandering the gardens we enjoyed a beautiful concert of his works. A pianist came out introduced herself and then went inside Chopin's house to play his composed works on the Piano. The whole thing was supposed to feel as if we were back in the day and listening to Chopin himself playing. It was beautiful. There really are no words for how great a day this was.

After hours of enjoyment we took a late lunch in a restaurant nearby. Delicious Spinach Pierogis yummmmm

And sadly
had to head back to real life and work.

Chopin's House
The Gardens

Chopin's Piano


A taste of Chopin's composition

A Week of Lessons


Unfortunately for you guys, this next week wasn't very adventuresome. It was a week of lectures, classes, and final presentations. whoopy!

We read diaries from people about the war.

Had discussions about German invaders.

How art during the time of the Third Reich was affected by politics, as one would assume since they basically controlled everything.

The horrors of the Jedwabne massacre, which I don't want to give you nightmares so I won't go into all that.

 Still went on about the whole controversy of Poles being killed and maltreated under Nazism, and no one really acknowledging it.

A very creepy day devoted entirely to Nazi doctors. All kinds of shivers and cringes are needed to get through those lectures.

And then we got a break!! On FRIDAY we went for another tour! This time we went to explore the Warsaw Ghetto. As loyal follwers I am sure you are aware that the Warsaw Ghetto was 100% destroyed during WWII. As such I am sure that you are wondering exactly what we were before the tour, what exactly are we seeing? Very little in fact :(
We were able to see plaques around the city of Warsaw commemorating different aspects of German occupation. There was also a ribbon of sorts that was put in to the roads and sidewalks to outline the area that was once the Ghetto. The 'ribbon' itself had the dates of the creation and end of the Ghetto within it. We were also able to see the memorial for the bridge that used to exist connecting the tow sides of the Ghetto. Just in case you don't know, I'll explain. The Ghetto in Warsaw was actually split into two sections originally. The small Ghetto and big Ghetto. Each side housed a certain type of people, intellectuals on one and laborers on the other. In between these two section was a street that was still used by the outside community. The Germans eventually built a bridge over this road. It is this bridge that they have a memorial for. The memorial is quite simple. Just a light show really connected by large pillars on each side. Th pillars show images of the bridge and the old Ghetto.

Friday was a very long hot day of walking.