Seeing the world in a whirlwind

Over spring break, my dreams came true. I wanted to be the one with the accent, who couldn’t speak the native language and who did the most stereotypical touristy things. Going to four European countries in 13 days gave me that opportunity.

I got to my seat on the plane and noticed the monitor with an animated plane hovering over Chicago and a dot to Munich, Germany. I don’t know if it was out of sheer nerves or amusement but I laughed out loud. I turned on a movie and fell asleep. I had a layover in Munich where all of the signs were in German, everyone around me was speaking German and I tried to blend in by not saying anything too American. That was until I walked up to the customs officer, and told him that I was coming from “’Merica.” Not the United States…Plainly, ‘Merica. He laughed and said, “Welcome to Germany” as I grinned.

I spent a week in Warsaw and Kraków, Poland. Here is a list of some of the important things from that week:

  • Visited Wawel Cathedral & Castle
  • Toured Auschwitz
  • Went to top of Poland’s tallest building
  • Saw the Polish President’s house
  • Ate pierogies

PolishHouse

The week in Poland ended, and I left to visit a friend in Frankfurt, Germany who was a foreign exchange student when I was in high school. He took me to an overwhelming amount of places: Straussbourgh (France), Frankfurt and Cologne (Germany), Middleburg (Holland, The Netherlands) and so many others. Here are some of my favorite activities from that week:

  • Saw the Rhine and castles along it
  • Visited Frankfurt’s city center and many cathedrals
  • Ate pancakes at the De pannekoekenmolen, a Dutch windmill turned into a pancake restaurant
  • Rode bicycles through Darmstadt where my friend attends university
  • Went to the top of the tallest church in Europe

To be honest, I saw so much more than these 10 bullet points, but it’s too much for one post. I did learn a few valuable lessons on the trip about life in Europe.:

  • Life overseas is pretty much the same, but also completely different. Kids go to elementary school, but walk to class alone. People do eat nice meals, but will spend at least two hours at a restaurant instead of one. People drive, but life is faster on the autobahn.
  • People are kind. They aren’t going to say, “hello” first, but once you do start a conversation, it will be genuine. The people I met were hospitable, down-to-earth and charming.
  • I CAN DO IT. This was my first experience travelling on my own. Before this trip, I feared airports. I was afraid of missing my flight, saying something “dumb” in customs and somehow getting put in a foreign TSA prison. Everything worked out just fine.
  • I am in love with travelling. My goals have changed since my trip. I want to have a homebase, but I wouldn’t mind spending time each year travelling.

If you dream it, go do it. I am so glad I did.

MacKenzie_headshotMackenzie is a junior at Indiana University studying Media Management, Industry and Policy with a minor in Marketing. At IU, Mackenzie is a Pearson Campus Ambassador and a member of BeIU. Off campus, Mackenzie enjoys playing with her pets, crocheting and playing volleyball.