From Dublin to Krakow: A Bronc continues her travels abroad

Jessica Hergert stands in the main square in Krakow, Poland. Hergert was able to immerse herself in World War II history by visiting the city, where she and co-workers toured Auschwitz.

By Jessica Hergert

As the mid-term craziness comes to an end at Griffith College, I am finally realizing that my time abroad in Dublin is already half over.

In just two and a half months I have taken more pictures, conquered more fears and experienced more of the world than I ever thought possible.

Like most students who study abroad in Europe, I have been trying to see as much as I can while I am here.

I had the unbelievable opportunity to travel to Krakow, Poland, and London over my spring break last week, my first trips outside Ireland since I arrived in January.

I spent the first half of the semester touring Ireland and seeing all the wonders that the Emerald Isle has to offer. It was important to me that I see all of the country I am studying in so I could truly immerse myself in the Irish culture.

I decided that I wanted to travel outside my new home and venture into cultures that would push me outside my already widening comfort zone.

Much to my friends and co-workers’ surprise, I decided to go to Krakow, Poland, for my first trip outside Ireland. Krakow is not known for its tourism, nor is it a warm, typical spring break destination for college students. The city proved everyone who questioned my decision wrong and provided me with an unforgettable four days in a city unlike any I had ever seen.

The most impactful sight during my time in Krakow was my tour of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Words cannot express the feelings I had walking through a place of such pain. However, I believe that it connected me to an inescapable part of history that textbooks were never able to do.

Krakow, suffering terribly during World War II, was the location of one of the worst ghettos set up by the Nazis to “contain” Jews. The city’s heavy history can be felt on the streets that are filled with people walking slowly and restaurants serving large portions of hearty food.

While in Krakow, I visited the Wieliczka Salt Mines and Wawel Castle, both unbelievably stunning sites. Within the castle was a cathedral where I climbed to the top of the bell tower, later visiting the crypts underneath where dozens of Polish royalty have been laid to rest.

After leaving Krakow, I returned to Dublin in time to celebrate a traditional Irish St. Patrick’s Day.

Following St. Patrick’s Day, I did not waste any time, as I boarded yet another plane to jet off to London, a place I have dreamed of traveling to since I was very young. I actually got tears in my eyes when our Uber driver rounded a corner to reveal Big Ben lit up in the night.

During my time in London, I crossed another item off my bucket list when I was able to see Stonehenge. Something about the mystical origins of the ancient monument peaked my interest as a child. That curiosity came back the second I saw the stones and no matter how much I thought about it, I could not crack the mystery of how it was built.

I am excited to continue my travels in the upcoming two months before the six and a half hour journey back to my little American town. I am hoping to go to Romania, Amsterdam and Barcelona, Spain.

Studying abroad has really opened my mind up to different cultures, languages and ways of life. Although I recommend going to places not often traveled, any time spent in another country will offer truly a new world of experience.

 

Printed in the 3/29/17 edition.

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