I'm still leaving this "journal entry" as it is the only thing I posted while I was actually in Poland. All these other journal entries about Poland have been posted after I returned to the states and typed my journal out. At any rate - it also provides for reading about a little lighter side of the trip. It was very intense and emotional, but there were fun moments as well :)
Wow - Poland.... its crazy, amazing, heartbreaking, surreal, intense, breathtaking, gut-wrenching, horrifying, beautiful, hateful, loving, full of life and full of death, hopeful, and many more words that I can't even begin to describe ALL at the same time. I just have a few minutes as we have just found an internet cafe and just wanted to post a quick update. Three very crazy things that have happened since/while we are here that don't have so much to do with our trip to study the holocaust, but interesting nonetheless. In case you live under a rock - the Pope has been in Poland for this same time that we have. Our entire 500ish person group had to reroute our entire trip so that the Pope was following us around Poland rather than vice versa because if we had followed him that we wouldn't have been able to finish the trip - too many people wanting to see the Pope and not leaving any room in hotels or on the streets for us. It's just very interesting, because clearly this is the first time that Pope Benedict has been to Poland since his reign as the Pope - but did anyone know that he was a member of the Hitler Youth? While at the same time Pope John Paul (a Poland native) was participating in some of the "underground" activities here in Poland as he was trying to study to become a priest? Just kind of an interesting twist of fate. Every city we go to is spending the day preparing for the Pope while we tour around - including Auschwitz/Birkenau which is preparing for his visit on Sunday (We were there on Thursday). ALSO - If you've again been living under a rock - it was my birthday on Friday :) I'm 24 - yay! :) But anyway - our group here in Poland wanted to take me out for a drink on Friday night because our schedule allowed for some extra/free time etc etc - but we couldn't go out because all of Warsaw wasn't serving alcohol until after midnight in honor of the Pope's presence. Weird... The Pope - ruined my birthday drink. Ok - I'm just kidding... we went out for a fantastic dessert at this restaurant called Ginger - and I ate the most amazing Strudel I've ever tasted... And thirdly - we have body guards. Yes, honest to goodness body guards that pack heat and look like Vin Diesel and yell at people in Polish - it's fantastic. :) They check the bus every morning to make sure there are no "attachments" underneath the bus, run around corners before we are allowed to walk there, and almost get hit by Polish buses as they stop traffic so that we can walk across the street. Who knew a bunch of American students studying the holocaust could be dangerous? But at any rate - I have the Polish Mafia watching us every day and as a matter of fact their hotel room is two doors down from ours... so no worries kids - Laura will soon return safe and sound. :) OK - I'm done rambling - I'm tired and jet lagged - worn out - emotional and drained - so that's my excuse for rambling. Looking forward to posting more when I return with stories and journal entries from Poland.... Love to you all!