As I reflect on my European travels coming to an end, I feel infinitely grateful for all of the traveling I have been able to do as well as well as all that I have learned. Each experience this semester, whether with friends or while traveling a foreign country, has inspired me in different ways while simultaneously working in tandem with one another, helping me to understand the world and myself better.
Since writing my last post, I have left Ireland to travel to Morocco and Poland. Both experiences were completely different, yet I have found a common thread in the ways that they have helped me to contextualize the world we live in.
Morocco is a place whose people, food, energy, culture and views hold the capacity to make anybody fall in love.
Seldom can I remember a moment when I have been as happy as I was each moment during my five days in Morocco. I truly felt as though I could have dropped all of my future plans to live in any one of the small towns we visited and/or the desert for years to come. Though I am not moving there anytime soon, I am grateful for the ways the country opened my mind, and allowed me to interact with and learn about a very different part of the world.
Poland, a place with an utterly tragic history, allowed me to confront the oppression that has and continues to darken our world. It further offered me the chance to contextualize Europe’s history while considering how that history still shapes the world today. I also learned that contrary to my preconceptions about the country, and aware of the role that my own privileges play, Poland has more to offer than the brutalities of Auschwitz or the anti-immigrant rallies that occupy the news today.
Having traveled alone, I enjoyed the young energy I found in Krakow during a pub crawl. I also loved the walking tours that gave me insight into Poland’s past and present cultures. I left understanding that had it not been for the oppression afflicted upon the Poles by the Germans and Russians, it would be a very diverse country, rather than the most homogenous country in the EU. In fact, up until WW2, Poland had the second largest Jewish population in the world, as they were the ones inviting Jews to their country when antisemitism spread in Western Europe (starting in the 14th century).
In terms of my public health major, it is fair to say that other than my courses themselves, little has provided me with textbook material about health. That said, as a friend once told me “don’t let school get in the way of learning”. In light of these words, which are equally as funny as they are wise, it is fair to say that each experience while traveling has provided me with the context needed to understand different governments as well as the race, class and gender norms on a broad level that affect public health every day.
Beyond this, my experiences have also instigated genuine curiosity, leading me to read and research far more than before. It is fair to say that traveling in correlation with my classes, free-reading, socializing with strangers, learning to enjoy my own company, spending time with friends all in compliment to the lessons from Holy Cross has allowed this semester to be truly transformative.
I have 8 days left in Ireland before I head home! There is simply not enough space in this post to gloat about Cork and Ireland and about the time spent with new/old friends, but for those interested, stay tuned!
I fit as many pictures/videos of Morocco below as I deemed appropriate; enjoy!
Me (with yellow head scarf) and another tourist dancing with Berber men after being politely taken from our dinner tables!! 10/10 recommend.
Tea with a Berber family, and an introduction to the rugs they made by hand.
The camel trek on our way to the Berber tent, where we would stay for the night!
The camel trek back in the morning!! Yes, I was talking to the camels, don’t hate, #one #love.