Every summer I get the chance to travel to a new exotic place in the world. All these trips are exciting and memorable, but none of these trips compare to when I go back to my native country, Poland. Even though I cannot spend my day lying on the beach, by the pool, or just visiting the islands, Poland is still a more memorable and fascinating place for me. It is there that I may explore my roots and reconnect with my culture. No place may compare to what I feel when I am in Poland.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
My travels to Poland are always life changing. Each trip adds something new into my life and helps me define who I am. This last summer during my trip the southern region of Poland I got the chance to reconnect with my great-great grandparents and visit the land where they worked and lived. This trip was very changing because here in the U.S. I have a lot more than they had. Every day was a struggle for them. Nobody had the time or money to visit the extravagant places that I get to see. They could not even afford to go to school. I sometimes complain about having to go to school or getting up and just helping around the house, but my ancestors they did not have all these luxuries and for them it was all about surviving day by day. I felt very at home when I was able to walk through our family home and their neighborhood. Unfortunately, none of them are alive, but the stories that have been passed down through generations keep our family history alive.
Still, it is not just my family history that makes me want to go back to Poland. It is the atmosphere and life style. I love waking up and walking outside and hearing the chickens and cows, or even the fresh air. Right away I hear my great aunt calling me quickly to have breakfast under the big nut tree. We sit there and breakfast can even last two hours because right away a conversation starts and neighbors start coming over for coffee and pie. It is a slower paced life and nobody is out for the money in our town. Everybody knows everything about everybody and our town is one big family.
Along with sitting with my family at home, I love learning Poland’s history and visiting our landmarks. My favorite place to visit in Poland is the city Krakow. One landmark I must always visit is the royal castle “Wawel.” It is a beautiful and very old castle, and I always imagine the past kings and queens running through the enormous halls. At noon, I love to sit and sip frozen coffee at a café and admire the “Mariacki Church.” Krakow is the historical part of Poland, but to get the real fresh air and breathtaking views we go to the city Zakopane and have a walk through the Polish Tatry. I feel amazing walking through the mountains or just shopping on the popular Krupowki, but it is not always that much fun in Poland. I have had to visit the traumatizing and horrible historical places such as Auschwitz- Birkenau and on my own part learn about the Holocaust. It was a very thought provoking and horrific place to visit, but it showed me the sacrifices Jews, Poles, and those killed during WW II had to make.
I am proud to say that Poland is my homeland and that it is the place I love to go back to. It is a country full of history, love, and beauty, but not many people are aware of this. It hurts me that I am so far from my motherland and may not live there, but I am thankful that America has given me the freedom and opportunities, because of this I feel closer to my country and have the chance to always go back to Poland and encounter a wonderful travel experience.