I have already been gone for two and a half months and I will be home in six weeks. This is crazy to me because the weeks go by so quickly, which helps me forget that I will be back in Ann Arbor by mid-August. Honestly, I am excited to be back and see all of my family and friends again. However, I am not going back to Grand Rapids, but straight to Ann Arbor so I will not see my family for a few weeks yet. Zach and I often talk about how excited we are for tailgate season and how we miss the things that we used to do on a weekly basis. It is easier for me to have a steady schedule in Warsaw: I go to work, go for a run, do some work, and then do it all again the next day, while traveling on the weekends. However, I miss going to class and doing work that really makes me think. That may be part of the Michigan difference right there, missing school. I know that the next six weeks will fly by and that I will be in Ann Arbor before I know it so I cannot wait to make the most of it while I am still here.
Yesterday, I met up with a Michigan alumni that got her PhD in chemistry and worked at Ford for 32 years, but moved to Warsaw during the mid 2000’s when the industry was crashing. Now, she works at the American School of Warsaw and teaches students math and science. She explained to me that the reason she went into teaching was because she found it very sad that students feared learning math and science. Her goal was to eliminate this fear by making these subjects more understandable since they are useful at a university level. I wish someone tried to teach me with this mindset because even the word math freaks me out and I try to avoid it at any cost. It is crazy for me to look back on my first year and a half at UofM because I was a biology major and I was fine with taking all of the science classes, but the math load scared me into switching majors. However, I do not think I could picture myself stuck in a lab for the rest of my life so I am happy that I ultimately switched. Having this meeting was very helpful for me because I was talking with an American that moved across the world and started a new life, which is what I would love to do one day. Additionally, she did a complete career change from being an engineer at Ford to a teacher in Warsaw. Hopefully, some of her colleagues in the State Department will have time to meet with me over the next few weeks because I would love to learn what they do on a daily basis
This past week I have finished the packet that will be handed out during the summer education program and I could not be more happier because it contains the layout of the program, the abstracts, and the bios of the professors. I feel like I will be able to greet everyone and automatically know everything about them because I have read their biography so many times over the past month (of course I am not actually going to do this). However, I am going to try to set up meeting with these professors over the two weeks that they are in Poland because becoming a professor is one of my career options for when I (eventually) finish school.
I haven’t really had any huge obstacles while I have been completing my internship, but I think a tough thing for me to get used to is how I should edit texts, which I do on a daily basis. For the past few weeks, I have automatically been editing everything as I would in America, but I met with the editor yesterday and that should not be the case. She made the argument that we are meeting with people from Germany, Poland, Israel, and Ukraine so we should follow the editing rules of the international community, not just America. However, it is difficult because the museum follows an American format with their texts throughout the core exhibition. Yesterday, I reedited all of my texts to follow the international rules, which is hard for me to get used to, but it worked out in the end. Additionally, I am still struggling with the fact that I have to google translate all of my emails, but I normally assume that if it is not in English it is not directed solely towards me.
Over the weekend, Zach came to Warsaw and I tried to show him all of Warsaw in a day. However, no matter the size of the city, this is very difficult and we did not finish everything because we had plans to meet up with another intern (Michael) for dinner and drinks. Zach and I had to catch a 6:40 am train to Krakow on Sunday morning because we both wanted to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is an hour and a half by bus from Krakow. So, we took a 4 hour train and a 1.5 hour bus to get to Auschwitz, but it was definitely worth the wait. A few years ago, I went on an EF Holocaust Tour through my high school and we went to Krakow for a few days where we saw Auschwitz, the salt mines, and Schindler’s factory. Except, I felt that I was rushed and could not truly wander throughout the camp to see everything. Boy, was I right. We spent four hours in Birkenau alone because of how big it is and it is not something you cannot rush through. Once again, I was overwhelmed by what I was seeing because there was just an eerie feeling surrounding the camp. I have read extensively on the Holocaust for my courses and my personal knowledge so it was crazy to think that whatever I touched, or wherever I walked, hundreds of thousands of people had done so on a daily basis while under the persecution of the SS. Throughout our time there, I realized that I had only seen a small portion on my guided tour because most of it was just as new to me as it was to Zach.
Then, we headed to Auschwitz, which is a lot smaller and more feasible when it comes to time restrictions because we had a train to catch at 8 pm. I showed Zach the barracks that I thought were the most interesting, but we unfortunately ran out of time. However, it worked out for me because I spent more time in Auschwitz on my last tour, but less time in Birkenau. This time it was reversed and I feel like I have properly visited the camp. Except, we saw something unexpected while at Auschwitz, which was someone getting arrested? I am not sure why he was arrested, since I do not speak Polish, but there was one man with three police officers so it must have been something crazy.
We took a train back to Warsaw because I had to work on Monday, but Zach finished his list of things to do in the city. On Wednesday, I will be heading to Kiev for six days because I need to be under my 90 day visa limit, which always terrifies me because Poland is very strict when it comes to this sort of thing. At first, I was apprehensive about going to Ukraine, but I am excited to go somewhere that is not expensive. Also, I took a daring risk by booking a tour to Chernobyl, which you all may think is crazy, but don’t worry it is. However, I am very excited to see it because I learned about it in my Nuclear Proliferation course at UofM so I have extensive background knowledge on the plant. Roughly 10,000 people visit the plant per year, but mom says that is 10,000 too many. I just ask myself this question, when am I going to be in Ukraine again? Probably never if I am being honest. So, I might as well do something that is really cool to me while I have the chance, but don’t worry I am renting a dosimeter.