There are many perks to studying abroad. One of my favorite perks is being in close proximity to Europe. I am thankful to organizations like Fund for Education, for off-setting the costs of tuition allowing me to study and travel abroad.
After spending New Years in Tbilisi, the other students and I decided to go our separate ways. A few of the students went off to the Netherlands and I decided to go to Poland. I was apprehensive at first, because before I set off on this journey I had heard about many negative experiences that people of color had endured during their visits to Poland. I decided to continue with my trip, but to maintain aware of possible problems that could arise. (Thankfully I did not have any problems during my visit.)
My flight took off from Tbilisi in the early morning and I arrived in Warsaw in the afternoon. My plan was to go directly from Warsaw to Wroclaw, however I missed my 5$ Ryanair flight and had to wait 5 hours for the next flight.When I arrived in Wroclaw I was greeted by a very energetic and friendly couple that welcomed me into their AirBnb apartment. It was nice meeting cheerful people after having an airport mishap.
Before my trip to Poland I did not do any research on the cities and did not know what to expect. To my surprise Wroclaw is known for their gnomes. In every inch of the city gnomes can be found doing strange activities such as mowing the lawn, reading books, or rolling stones. It was quirky and I enjoyed it. I had never in my life seen colorful cathedrals with gnomes decorating them.
I spent two days in Wroclaw walking around the city and trying to find as many gnomes as I could. On the third day I took a train to Krakow. Like Wroclaw, I knew nothing about Krakow, but I was excited to find out that it’s considered the cultural hub of Poland.
While in Krakow I joined two informational walking tours. Although it was very cold, I learned about the history of Poland, the Polish people, and the history of the Jews that lived and died there. It was a very difficult tour to be on and to listen to what happened to the Jewish people.
As a society we can learn so much from history, and it’s easy to think that something as gruesome as the Holocaust would never happen again. However, we’ve seen similar events in Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and now Syria to name a few. Many people told me that I chose the worst time to visit Krakow and that the city is much more beautiful and enjoyable in the spring and summer. I’ll have to make way back there someday.