One thing that I did this week that was both exciting but also nervous this week was going to the Jewish district. We were free this weekend and I wanted to head to the Jewish district to try and find a specific type of food for an upcoming Jewish holiday. Now, going to a catholic school and staying at a convent, I don't typically hare with people other than my friends that I am Jewish. The two directors who I talk with every day didn't learn about it until about 4 days ago. Its just something that I don't typically bring up in conversation. This is why I was kinda nervous to bring my friends there. Even though we were just shopping, it still was slightly uncomfortable for me to go out of my typical hiding of religion. I was also excited though because this was something I wasn't able to do last time I was in Rome and was something I should do. On other trips during the semester I visited Auschwitz, Schindlers Factory and now the Jewish district. While studying in Rome is something very important for those who celebrate Easter, I was able to also make it something important for me religiously too. Once we got there however, all of my worry vanished. It was interesting to see the synagogue, the men wearing Yamakas, the kosher symbols everywhere and the occasional hebrew. The roles switched with my friends and rather than me asking them religious questions like I typically do, it was not them asking me. They were asking what kosher meant and I explained to them how you can't mix meat and cheese. Whether women wear yamakas and how I said no but I did when I was younger. How they kept wanting me to read the hebrew we saw (I can read the alphabet but don't know what it is saying (can't translate it).
Doing this was definitely something I will remember. I made sure to use this trip to also do something that I wanted to do culturally. While I did never find the food I was looking for, I did find some amazing food for lunch and was able to share it with my friends.
One experience this week that was both nervous and annoying was trying to take a taxi home after dinner to the convent in Poland. After visiting the salt mines we were dropped off in the city center for dinner. However, we had about 2.5 hours to eat dinner and get back to the convent. We headed to our reservation early yet, by the time we finished eating just one course we only had about 45 minutes to get back before the curfew. We head over to the taxi stand and ask the driver if he is able to drive us to the address. After consulting his GPS and other taxi drivers he agrees to drive us. We were excited because it meant we would only have to take one taxi to fit us all. Before getting in however, one of the girls ask how much it will be. We all look at her like he doesn't know because we were driving to a random part of the city. However, we get in the car after he ys about 45 zloty (the polish currency). We get driving and notice that we wre going a way none of us recognize. However, i was not that worried given that usually when we drove to the convent we were half asleep and all drivers have different routes that they take. However, being in the car for a little bit, the driver turns off the main road onto a side street. On this street, he starts to slow down like he is looking for a house number. We look at whats around us and all thats there is empty lots. We tell the driver this is not the address. He continues to drive down the deserted dark street and we repeat it is not the address. He stops and looks at us and says rally. We all exclaim no. We ask him to take out his GPS and he does but still looks confident in the place he took us. We had him the address again and he continues to drive down the alley saying its correct. While the rest of the car starts freaking out that we are going to get kidnapped or killed on this street, i begin to pull the address out for myself. When it becomes apparent that he isn't going to find the street, I turn on the data for my phone to put the address in myself. If needed I would literally direct the driver if needed. The rest of the car is still freaking out and extremely nervous while in the car, i calmly put in the address in my phone and realize that we are only about 4 streets away. Good, we would be back soon. I calmly tell everyone else that we are only 3 minutes away and in this time, the driver has figured out where to go. When we get to the convent, the meter says 62 zloty however, based on how he got lost and we had to sit there while he figured out where to go we were not going to pay that much. He ended up saying 50 and we gladly paid and got out of the car.
This experience is making such an impact on me because it is amazing how different my reaction to the situation was to the other girls. While my mind went to how could the driver possibly be lost if it he pit it in his phone, everyone else's went to that we were in danger. This was also kinda annoying to me because they were making a directions error into a huge situation. Part of the reason why I may feel so different is the fact that I am a second degree black belt. The other because its not like he made us get out of the car, we still were in the car and all had cellphones where we could call for help if needed. While I personally was never rall nervous, everyone else was. It is a good lesson to learn how being aware of your surroundings is always important.
This week was spring break and I spent it in Athens, Munich, and Amsterdam. One of my favorite things of the week occurred in Munich. My mom was born on a military base in Munich and she lived there for about a year while my Grandfather was still stationed there. When we were deciding where to travel to I thought that her being able to see her house would be something special for us to do together and something she may not get the chance to do again. During one of our days in Munich, we were close to the street she lived on and decided to get a taxi to take us there. When we got to the house it was a cute small house completely unlike things you would see in America. We got out and took pictures in front to send to her parents and then got back into the taxi and went back into the city. When it came time to pay, I handed the driver the cash and looked at my mom saying Happy Birthday (her birthday is the 27 of March and we would not be together to celebrate). This little act of kindness made my moms day and it was also interesting to see where one of the places she lived was.
This adventure was not one that involved going to the typical sightseeing attractions. This would not be listed in tour books anywhere. It was not like saying I visited the London Eye or went skiing in the Swiss Alps like some of my friends can say. I went an visited a house. I Did not even go in the house. However, this day will always be one that my mom remembers and because of that, it is the favorite things that I did this week.
However, not everything I did with my mom was my favorite thing ever. My mom is very into art ( she was an english major). I on the other hand don't love going to art museums and would rather walk around the city. However, I didn't want to disappoint my mom and went along with her. Turns out the museum we went to had four floors and was huge. I spent all morning walking through that museum and admiring the art. While I noticed that some of it definitely stood out as being impressive, others I could not help but to wonder what their significance was. While it was not my favorite way to spend our last day in Amsterdam, I was happy that my mom was happy.
This taught me that when going on a vacation, there are other people involved who may have their own preferences for what to experience. While my mom always tries to please me and make sure that ai get to do what I want, I can similarly do the same for her. In addition, i don't always have to spend trips with other people. I could go off on my own and do what I want. I could have told my mom that rather than her feeling rushed because of me that I am going to go to a different museum and we could meet up for lunch. I have to be willing to go out of my comfort zone to both make sure that other people are happy but tat I dont compromise too much on my own happiness.
Midterms. Midterms are always a horrible experience but somehow being in Rome they are worse. One of the things that I dislkied the most this week was the fact that I passed up going to the papal audience to stay at school and study. While initially I was really excited and looking forward to going to the papal audience, once I started studying for exams I soon realized that I wasnt sure if I could spare 7 hours with an exam later that afternoon. I made the tough decision to not go. While I spent the whole morning studying and preparing as best I could for my exams, the second everyone who went came back I soon relized the mistake I had made. I passed up going to see the pope and have things blessed by him so that I could study. So I could study the material I already felt mostly confident in. While this was a tough decision I learned that I made the wrong one and looking back on this day it is one of the oens that I am most dissatisfied with.
Experiencing this has made me learn that while school will always be important, it doesnt always mean that I have to pass up doing things. Sometimes, going to see thenpope may just be more important. This concept of school doesnt always come first is a tough one for me but I understand that in order to make the most of being in Rome I may have to make some compromises. While I wil always look back on this day that I dislike, I have taught myself a valuable lesson and will learn from it for the future.
However, one of the things that ai enjoyed the most was travelling this weekend to Barcelona. I traveled with 8 other girls and we ended up not really planning much of anything besides our plane and where to stay. Most of us only knew about one or two things that Barcelona offered which really would only take a couple hours. We were there for 3 days. Normally when I travel, I travel with a schedule of events to do that day with a little bit of free time to allow for things we may discover. This type of travelling was completely different for me. However, I ended up really enjoying it because it allowed for us to just wander and see where we end up. We didnt have any set appointments to make but rather just making sure we were all pleased with what we did that day. We ended up spending most of one of the days walking around through parks and random streets, taking photos, and wandering in and out of stores. It was a blast despite the fact it was pouring rain and we were soaked.
While I am typically someone who has a strong preference for a schedule, especially with a large group of people, I am learning that sometimes it is not the most important thing. It is instead making new experiences that I can look back on in the future. I enjoyed this event the most because it has allowed me to realize how I have changed since coming to Rome. Back when we went to Florence and our schedule got messed up, it really bothered me. Now, not having a schedule only slows me down slightly. Hopefully, as the trip progresses, I can get to the point that I do not need a schedule at all and it doesn't slow me down at all.
I'm Sabrina Kirsch a sophmore physical therapy student at Duquesne University. I will be spending the spring semester of 2017 in Rome, Italy where I will eat my way through all the gelato and pasta they offer. My goal is to see everything possible and visit as many countries as possible.