i'm a senior at saint michael's college. i'm a political science and philosophy double major with a minor in peace and justice and i want to go to law school when i graduate. i love gymnastics, snowboarding and running. writing is my passion and happiness is my goal. i believe life is what you make of it and i'm working on making mine wonderful :) .
• ask me whatever:)
• post whatever:)c'est la vie.
I’m off to Sweden soon with my parents friends over here in Denmark. I’m super excited to get to see yet another country! and it’s off to Berlin the weekend after that, then back to the beautiful USA the next weekend :)
My traveling experience is close to over… only two more weeks left. But it has been absolutely amazing and definitely eye-opening!
Africa will be my next adventure! But for now, having seen many cities in Europe will do….
I’m not going to sit here and type facts that I’ve learned. Anyone can access facts and stories from various books and articles written on the Holocaust. What I’m going to set out to do in this post is explain my individual experience. However, I’m going to warn you that it’s a completely honest encounter. This is how I felt and this is what I saw:
You get off the bus, wearing three layers of clothing, a hat, and a scarf. It’s really windy out and the first thought that inevitably runs through your head is that you’re cold.
You enter Auschwitz one through a sign that says “Arbeit macht frei” or “Work will set you free” with a headset on and a guide explaining the various facts about the camp and its history. It’s hard to pay attention.
You walk around the brick buildings, trying to imagine having to live there, trying to imagine being in that cold without a jacket on - never mind with only a thin cloth uniform. The guide says, “Let us go inside, it’s very windy out here”. You hesitate, watching everyone else follow the man into one of the identical buildings. You stop to take a picture but only to buy time to stand outside and think. Pictures mean nothing, looking at them later will never bring back the feelings of being there.
Afraid of losing the tour completely, you quickly move up the steps into the first exhibit. One after another you follow the guide, showing you where prisoners slept, where they washed, maps of where the prisoners came from, documents from SS men ordering supplies, papers recording the names of people who lived there.
Thousands of people lived here. Thousands of people suffered here. Thousands of people died here.
The guide keeps talking, but at this point you’re not really listening. It’s impossible to hear him when your own thoughts are so much louder. You follow him up the stairs and he asks people not to take pictures, but you haven’t been taking many anyways. You walk into a darker room where the windows are tinted, fainting the sunlight into a deep shade of red. You look to your left and two tons of human hair is piled behind a glass wall.
You look down and see a long strand of hair similar to your own and you pull at your hair – these were people, innocent people, just like you. You walk over to the darkened window and look outside. The guide talking cuts into your mind,
“She died and she was five years old”
And that’s all you hear. You start to think again, focusing on how impossibly evil the world can be. Wondering what makes someone feel nothing. No conscious, no shame – nothing when another human being is suffering. You try your hardest to relate, why didn’t the guards relate? Prisoner, guard - they’re both human. In between rooms, head shots of prisoners are scattered along the hallway – hundreds of pictures, covering almost every inch. Date of birth, date of arrival, and date of death. You read as many as you can, looking for one person who survived longer than two years…
No one. Everyone pictured died before 1943.
Outside again, the sun is out but it creates no warmth. You’re thinking, overanalyzing the cold, and you realized that even when you went into a building, you still felt freezing. The walls made no difference. You are constantly cold.
Following the crowd, you enter another building – the prison of the camp. The basement contains small chambers used to starve people. You’re hungry. You know that you’re getting lunch later.
These people weren’t fed. Starved to death.
You walk to the end of the hallway and see a gate only big enough to crawl through. Four prisoners at a time, enclosed in an area large enough only for them to stand. Day after day they were forced to stand after a full day of working. Your feet are tired from walking; you get to sit down on the bus later. You get to sleep in a bed.
Next to the building, there’s a wall with an assortment of colored flowers piled in front of it. Prisoners were shot here. You slowly walk up to it; a short prayer runs through your head. So many beautiful flowers in memory of so many beautiful lives lost.
Mothers, fathers, children, Everyone is someone’s child, It’s unfair.
You’re led to the only gas chamber in Auschwitz I. You go inside and the girl beside you takes a picture. You want to ask her why, who she’s going to show that to, who would want to see that - But you keep to yourself.
Back at the main building, you put your headset away. Your professor manages to convince the tour guide that we want to walk around Birkenau
But you’re never alone - You’re with your classmates, your friends… It’s time to eat lunch on the bus. It’s warmer in there, but you still feel cold. Driving to Birkenau, you eat your lunch exchanging only a few unimportant words to the student sitting next to you.
The bus backs in, facing the metal barbed wire enclosing the camp. Brick buildings in rows litter the gravel on the other side. You walk off the bus and through the gate to the inside of the camp.
The railroad tracks split the land, you know where they lead. They are original, built specifically to make the transport of four hundred thousand Hungarian Jews easier. Walking down the gravel parallel to the rusted train tracks, there’s noise around you but everything seems still.
But seventy years ago, it was exactly the opposite.
You walk into one of the buildings and see the wooden bunks. Prisoners slept five in a row and you can feel the draft seeping through the cracks in the roof. The air outside is just as cold as it was inside the small building. You wonder how prisoners survived the winter.
As you keep walking along the railroad tracks, you calm your thoughts for a couple minutes and listen to your professor tell stories about the prisoners. He’s an intelligent man and an intriguing speaker, so you’re unavoidably interested.
Approaching the demolished gas chambers, a cold wind sends chills through your body. You’re alone with your thoughts again, trying to understand. You follow your professor to a mass grave and he explains the process of the extermination. Then he bends down and sifts through the earth - He’s looking for something. He picks up what looks like white rocks and tells you that they’re bone fragments. Then it hits you.
People died here. People died. Innocent people. What seemed like everyone to them. All of these people died.
It’s hard to hold back tears because it all of a sudden becomes so real. It’s no longer something you read in class or something you write about. It becomes a part of your experience and you’ll have that in your memory forever.
You continue walking, following the group to look at the memorials.
You stop at an exhibit showing old pictures and your professor encourages everyone to go inside. Pictures and stories cover the walls, these people were so normal.
They were so innocent.
This one picture of a little boy bothers you more than the others, he looks happy, like he lived a good life. You reach out to touch the picture and the metal it’s taped to shocks you. It sends a tingling sensation through your finger that lasts longer than it normally would and you stand there, staring at this boy. He had a family, he was happy, but everything was taken from him.
His family, his happiness, and, eventually, his life.
Again, you walk into the bitter November air and its getting dark outside. Your back hurts, you can’t wait to lie down in your warm bed.
You realize you can’t fully relate, you can’t fully understand Because, when the sun goes down, the gates are always open,
Well, since I’m clearly not getting any of my paper done, I’m going to throw my two cents out there about this video that has been basically covering my news feed (including it being posted by my mom, who is not politically active at all really.. sorry mom).
So here it is… I think this guy is extremely ignorant. Unless he expects the protesters to go out completely naked and just run around, then there is absolutely no way for them to boycott corporations. Plus, from what I understand (I’m not part of the movement, I’ve just been following it) those protesters are not complaining about the companies making too much money and being successful businesses - they are complaining about the intense and overwhelming control that the owners and CEO’s of the companies have in politics and the government.
Well, clearly the guy who made this movie doesn’t see that side of the spectrum. Understanding that, there’s no way to boycott CEO’s and the top owners and money-makers of companies who make the decisions to privately fund politicians, control regulation and have immense power in the system. If there was a way to do that, I’m sure they would. But if you boycott a company, like maybe for example, AT&T, you’re wouldn’t just be affecting the wealthiest owners of that corporation - you’d be affecting all the innocent people who merely just have a job within that company. And that’s not what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to advocate for companies to have less influence in politics - not force people out of jobs by boycotting. Plus, if millions were to stop buying AT&T products, they’ll just start firing employees because of lack of profit. But I can assure you that the CEO would most likely be paid the same amount.
I don’t support the occupy movement because I, unlike many people, see the other side of the spectrum. With the way our capitalistic society works, you’re always going to have people messing with the system and controlling things behind the scenes. There’s always going to be corruption and unless we were to install a system like the one here in Denmark (which the US never would be because - UH OH, IT’S SOCIALIST.. NONONO!) then you’re always going to have the wealthiest controlling what they want. Because they can.
So to this guy: You’re ignorant and you need to actually understand the movement before you post videos against it.
And to the Occupy Movement: It’s the American Dream, you’re not going to get anywhere unless the whole system is completely changed.
We arrived in the Beauvais airport and waited in a really long line to get bus tickets (30 euros round trip!) to go into the city, which was pretty damn expensive. (Thanks Ryanair!). After we got there, Sam and Liz wandered off to find street signs to find the hostel. Well, Emily and I just stood on the sidewalk and waited.
Not too long after they walked away, three Paris guys on motorcycles drove up and stopped at a red light right in front of us. They were really discreet with their staring, discreet enough for me to be able to turn around, say “Emily, look at these guys staring”, point her in the right direction, and they were STILL staring at us. So, me being so polite, I said (loudly) “KEEP STARING, I MIGHT DO A TRICK!”. They kept staring. Oh, the French.
Anyways, we found a hotel to point us in the right direction of our hotel (we actually staying in a hotel this time! It was just in a really sketchy area). After a subway ride, we arrived in the outskirts, or should I say ‘ghetto’, of Paris. Not to our surprise, the hotel receptionist didn’t speak English at all but we needed to communicate with her that we needed to go to get money in the ATM to pay for our room. After five minutes of rubbing our fingers together to symbolize ‘cash’ and saying ‘ATM’ and ‘need money’, she understood enough to let us put our stuff in the room and pay later.
Then we took naps and showers and headed out to explore. Our first stop was the Arc de Triomphe but because of me, we weren’t able to actually go underneath it. I was unaware of the fact that we got into every tourist attraction free with our residence permit, which I conveniently left in the hotel. After that, I made sure I brought it with me everywhere.
Then we visited the street with all the French designers on it, like Louis Vuitton and dreamed about having money. Obviously, the night ended with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower and a French dinner with some wine. Unfortunately, it was raining, but we made the best of it. Definitely turned out to be a good first day in the city!
Our next stop was the Louvre. I was really excited about this because we talked about it last semester in my philosophy of beauty class and I’ve always wanted to see it in person. It was a beautiful building and we got to see tons of sculptures and paintings like the Mona Lisa and the Coronation of Napoleon (which we saw TWICE cause we saw it in Versailles from when Napoleon made Jacques-Louis David paint it on the wall.. SO COOL!).
(This picture was from the wall, not the Louvre.. the picture from the Louvre wasn’t as good)
Then we went to see Notre Dame (which is beautiful!). After that, we took the subway and wandered around a bit to find Moulin Rouge. That wasn’t in the greatest part of town either, it was surrounded by a lot of strip clubs and sex shops. Definitely not the prettiest place. But it was still really cool to see.
The next day we headed out to see the Palace of Versailles which once was inhabited by basically all the Louis’s that ruled France up until the French revolution. The palace itself was so beautiful and full of so much gold! Also, I found it really interesting that the queen had her own bedroom and was not permitted to sleep with the king in his bed. That wasn’t too surprising to me, but I had never known that before. Anyways, the king’s life was basically open for the public to see, always. When he woke up in the morning there was a ceremony, when he ate dinner people could watch, and there was yet another ceremony late at night before he went to bed. Talk about a tiring life! Well, don’t worry, because if he ever wanted to relieve stress, he could always walk around in the acres of land surrounding his palace making up the gardens. All the kings had pretty good lives… I should have been Queen…
(Me in the palace making my best Queen wave)
After touring the palace and the gardens, we found a small cafe to eat at before heading back into the city. When we got there, we got off the subway stop right near the Eiffel tower so we could take pictures during the day. Ever wonder what the Eiffel tower looks like from underneath? …Well, maybe that’s just me but I thought it was absolutely amazing! No big deal, just standing UNDER the Eiffel tower. It was so unreal.
(Directly UNDER the tower)
Well, obviously being the typical tourists, we engaged in a good 20 minute photo shoot in front of the tower taking all sorts of pictures. It was pretty entertaining. Then we went on a bike tour to see the city at night. One of the coolest things we saw on the bike tour was the bridge that was covered in locks on both sides. Lovers go there and lock a padlock to the bridge and throw the key into the river, symbolizing their everlasting love. Pretty cliche, but adorable nonetheless.
Well, that sums up my Paris experience! Barcelona’s next! Hope you enjoyed reading! :) <3K
Well, since I have some free time, I thought that maybe I should write about my Ireland experience :)
We arrived in Dublin, Ireland and got a little lost looking for the hostel we were staying at. Once we found it, we just dropped out luggage off because we couldn’t check in until 2pm. So, we decided to explore a little bit. Dublin has an interesting feel to it.. the people are really pleasant and the city is very small, but isn’t too crowded. There are obviously pubs on almost every corner and so many gift shops! The gift shops weren’t your normal, average ones though - they each had something new to offer and shopping was very entertaining. We all bought the most in Ireland, I think.
Another beautiful aspect of the city is the churches. We visited two of them, Christ Church Cathedral and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. This was probably my favorite part of our whole trip because being in a Catholic Church in Ireland reminded me of my grandfather who passed away this summer. I loved him very much and I was sure to leave a prayer in the prayer book in both churches in his memory…
RIP Grampa, I love you<3
After that, being the typical tourists that we were, we got lunch at an Irish pub and ordered some Irish cider and one of my friends got Irish coffee. The food was delicious! Then we could finally check in and settle into our 5-star hostel room! (totally kidding, the room was smaller than my bedroom at home and it was for 8 people!) We took a quick nap and showers and got ready to hit our first Irish pub at night! We walked around a bit and we were looking for somewhere to get shephards pie, listen to live music, and drink Jameson. After walking for about 15 minutes, we saw a sign - “Live music - shephards pie special: 9 euros”. We all glanced at eachother, said “absolutely!” and ran inside. Best quick decision ever. The live music was great and the shephards pie was even better. And of course, we had Jameson and ginger ale :)
Then we set out to find another bar to hang out in for the night to meet some of the locals. Everyone was so nice and the music was wonderful!! It was definitely my favorite night of the trip - we all had a really good time.
The next day we set out to hit up Trinity College and the Dublin Zoo. Trinity College was a beautiful campus and made me miss the campus feel at home :( After taking some pictures and wandering into the bookstore, we headed to the bus station to go to the zoo. Our friend Sam was convinced that you could pet kangaroo’s there - so we HAD to go, haha.
Well, turns out, you cannot pet kangaroo’s at the Dublin Zoo.. in case you were wondering. But they did have a lot of other fun animals to look at! We had so much fun and we actually had time to see everything in the Zoo, definitely a good trip.
My giraffe friend :)
We left just in time to head to the Guinness factory before it closed.. After taking 2 different buses, we finally found out how to get there. It wasn’t the actual factory, but instead a simulation explaining what goes into making Guinness. It was really interesting and they had some really cool exhibits, like one showing the different countries that now manufacture Guinness and another one showing the old marketing posters - which we had a field day taking pictures infront of, haha.
After the tour, we went upstairs to the gravity bar where we had a 360 degree view of the whole city and got a free pint of Guinness! Surprisingly, I actually like it because I’m not really a big beer drinker. But, I thought it was really good :)
Then we went out to dinner at an Irish pub nearby, bought some drinks at the store, and headed back to the hostel to get ready to have our last night out in the city. When we got back to the hostel, we met some of the Australian girls staying in our room with us - they were so nice and we all decided to go out together. The rest of the night we enjoyed drinks and dancing and everyone had a great time :)
Unfortunately… We had to be in the airport the next day by 4am. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep. But luckily, Emily was sober enough to drive us!
….kidding!! They drive on the other side of the road and we were in a taxi… but it looks pretty believable right? She just doesn’t actually have a steering wheel, haha. Once we finally arrived in the airport, I was just one beaming ray of sunshine on a cloudy day…
Clearly, I was the happiest person in that airport. Well, we got burger king once it opened at 5am and we all cheered up a tiny bit. But the flight was still rough… we were off to Paris though, so we were pretty excited! :)
I will be sure to post about Paris the next time I have an hour to kill! Thanks for reading!
Now that I successfully made it onto the plane to Dublin, Ireland, here’s the overview of my wonderful London experience.
Amidst all the red phone booths and double-decker buses, London is a very beautiful city. It has a feel much like New York City, with people rushing in every direction and plenty of public transportation.
Well, after struggling a little bit to find the hostel, we finally arrived and dropped our luggage off. Because I booked my room after theirs, I stayed in a room with eight strangers which was different and a little nerve-wrecking because I had nothing to lock my stuff up with. (Luckily, nothing got stolen but if I have to stay at another hostel with random people, I’ll be sure to bring a lock).
After dropping our stuff off, we decided to meander around to find somewhere to eat. At that point we were really hungry so, being typical Americans, Burger King seemed like the best bet. Then we went back to the hostel to go to a Halloween party hosted in the lounge in the basement. Since there were no cups left, we ended up drinking out of bowls which became the most interesting part of the night. We also met a couple other people staying and working at the hostel, most who were Australian (interesting…)
The next day we took the tube (the subway) and after (insert English accent) “minding the gap between the train and the platform” – we arrived at Big Ben. We stepped out of the station and immediately made a photo session out of it. Out of the 200 pictures I took, I’m pretty sure Big Ben made an appearance at least 150 times. Then we went to Westminster Abbey (the church where Kate and William got married!) and it was beautiful! Such a good experience!
After that, we picked up some lunch and ate it in Saint James’ park and headed towards Buckingham palace, which was a little upsetting because it was behind a huge gate and you couldn’t actually walk next to or near the guards – probably makes life easier for them, I guess.
The London Eye was our next stop, to see the city from high up on a ferris wheel! There was a huge line for it, but it was definitely worth it. We got some really good pictures of Big Ben (again) from up above and tons of the surrounding city. Wandering after that led us to a traditional English pub and we had some delicious fish and chips!
The next day we went out to see the Tower of London and searched for London Bridge. London Bridge was another surprise because it’s not the one in the pictures – that’s Tower Bridge – it’s actually just a regular, normal bridge. Pretty lame, but it was still interesting to see. Well, that brought us to the end of our London experience and we (well, were, but I clearly didn’t finish this post on the plane…) are heading to Ireland! I’ll post about that trip in a couple of days – I’m currently enjoying Paris, France!
Well, I just finished all my travel plans :) And now I’m broke… haha
My plans: London, England from October 28th-November 1st Dublin, Ireland from November 1st - November 3rd Paris, France from November 3rd - November 6th Barcelona, Spain from November 6th - November 10th Warsaw, Poland from November 25th - November 27th
Yay for traveling! I’ll be sure to post pictures, ect. from each place!
I may or may not get a million criticisms from this post, but, as always, I find it necessary to post my opinion.
It’s really ironic that these protests are happening now… I chose to come to Denmark because I knew that people were going to get fed up and protests were going to happen. I had no idea it would be this soon, but I knew it was inevitable.
It seems that the overall complaint from these protesters is that corporations own America in a sense and can get away with whatever they want. Take iron triangles, for instance, politicians are indirectly paid off not to regulate certain aspects of business that corporations could potentially lose profit over.
But I’m not going to blame the corporations. And I’m not going to blame the politicians. Corruption happens because it’s evolved from the whole idea of the United States. Our whole country is based off of the ‘American Dream’ - you make it, you keep it, you do whatever you want with it. So, naturally, there are going to be a percentage that are at the very top making billions and getting away with it because money is power. Our whole country fosters greed, basically saying that no one’s going to stop you from owning 4 houses and 2 cars - reach your dream, live the best life ever, indulge in everything, go for it. No one’s going to stop you. No one’s going to stand in your way.
Then, naturally, once you have this much money, you inevitably have a good amount of power. What politician is ever going to blame you for corruption when you’re handing him a fat check for his political campaign? He’s not going to get elected without that because campaigns cost over a million dollars now. And he sure as hell isn’t going to give up his job just to make a bunch of people in tents on the streets in Boston happy.
I’m in Denmark for this exact reason. It perfectly worked out that I’m here now - and I’m so happy about it. Wealth is regulated here… you make it, you keep some of it, and you support everyone else around you. Denmark has the highest income equality in the world and people are happy. Because you know what? Despite what every American CEO will tell you, money does not make happiness. People make happiness.
And as far as I’m concerned, unless everyone in America realizes this, change isn’t going to happen. Unfortunately, after you allow people to make billions of dollars, it’s nearly impossible to take it away.
Feel free to comment on this and voice your opinion, I enjoy hearing other points of view :)