When planning for study abroad, of course it involved creating an EXTENSIVE list of anywhere and everywhere you want to visit while in a foreign place. For myself, and for many I assume, the top of my list included every iconic city in Europe. These consisted of all of the typical ones that you see in movies and are very commercialized like Rome, Venice, Amsterdam, Paris, London, etc. I didn’t even take much time to consider less popular places because in my mind I didn’t think they held the same weight or need to visit them.
So, when I was given the opportunity to visit Poland for a weekend, I didn’t find myself jumping at the prospect of it. It was all already planned by my program so I said why not? I didn’t have another trip planned yet so let’s do it! Only 3 people in my program of 20+ decided to go, which in itself said a lot considering almost everyone went on the other trips. What I’ve found is that I think it is intimidating to people to be on a trip to a place that holds such heavy history, and Poland was the center of some of the most horrendous scenes in the last century.
The majority of our weekend in Poland focused on the central theme of World War II and its effects on the Polish people. We visited places like Auschwitz and Schindler’s Factory, which hold such weight to even be close to these sights. The majority of time spent in Poland I , as well as most other attendees, found myself in intense reflection and often times of silence trying to come up with a way to understand the things we were seeing and the heinous events that occurred. Auschwitz, “the world’s largest cemetery where nearly 1.1 million people lost their lives”, was so powerful of a place to visit and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to go.
Poland was immensely beautiful and full of life. From this weekend trip I’ve created a newfound respect for less popular places. I know Poland isn’t an “unpopular” attraction, but for sure one not one the immediately came to my mind. After visiting, however, I will recommend everyone see this beautiful country at some point in their lives.