I have realized that this year I have written very little, but for me this has been an incredible year of wandering around the world and yet staying close to home at the same time.
In just a little over a year, I've traveled to three separate countries in order to present my MA thesis, and have had it received quite positively. I didn't write about my time in Poland this year and I have a few memories I'd like to add to this blog.
I traveled alone this time, as the two previous times I had either Liz or Andrew with me. I have traveled alone on various occasions, but this time was rather nerve wracking. My first country in which I didn't know any of the language all by myself since I have been married. I took the bus to Madrid, slept a bit in the airport and then off on the umpteenth Ryanair flight for this year.
It took almost 4 hours by plane to get to Krakow, and then I walked tentatively to the train station, following signs and other travelers. You completely leave the airport, walk down a country road with adorable houses, and then suddenly, you see a grass covered train tracks with other travelers listelessly waiting and think, is this it? and then, where the heck am I going? and will the train be full of Nazi soldiers? Seriously, the train tracks look like something out of Schindlers List.
But the train came, nice and modern and for 3 euros whisked us into the centre of town. I had 3 hours to kill before my next train and fortunately the train station ended in a massive shopping mall with lots of places to shop, eat and explore. It was raining when I thought about stepping out side, and I thought, yah ,that's ok, I'm good.
After an interesting and cheap lunch, coffee at Starbucks and impulse shopping for my husband and myself, I found my next train ride. Now, this was an adventure. The train looked like something out of a 1970 James Bond film, curtains and worn carpet to boot, and looked like it was pre communism. I couldn't understand my ticket and strangely enough found another American who I found was later bound for the same conference who helped me read where my seat number. In my cabin sat an old, greasy man who munch on massive pretzels and reeked of sweat, vodka and borsct, as well as an older women. When both tried to speak to me and I shook my head and said English, they looked sadly at me.
3 hours through massive hills, trees and adorable houses later, we arrived, and I found our massive group waiting for the 2 hour bus ride and we were off.
I had spotted the prof I wanted to meet and was pleased to find out when we arrived at the hotel, I was just two doors down from her. She caught the same elevator down to the dining hall and we introduced ourselves to each other. I'm not going to mention names to protect the innocent, but she and I and another professor important in my field ended up gleefully eating roast chicken and potatoes together....making friends instantly.
The next day was my presentation, and she and another prof were in attendance. I received a wonderful amount of feedback, and I am forever grateful. I also heard I was accepted into the program at UGR the same day, and so I happily bought drinks for my table at suppertime. We drank dark Polish beers and spoke of the revolution and how we viewed it. IT was fabulous and my Polish colleagues are dear, lovely people. I can't wait to return.
I loved my time at the conference, and next time I hope to see more of Poland. Green, trees, rushing rivers made my two times I went running a pure pleasure, and I don't like running that much. Polish hospitality was wonderful, and I'm so happy to have met all the right people, and I will definitely see this moment as one of the great highlights of this year.