“That is unacceptable.” (polish airlines desk attendant)

Where to even begin. Let’s start in Chicago. To the airport in plenty of time, my mood quickly faded once I approached the counter to check my bags.  I just felt like something bad was coming.  Unfortunately, the nicest looking attendant was busy, so I slumped over to the one who just looked mean. I begin to sweat. She takes my first bag.  It is one of those hiking backpacks.  No problems. 30 lbs. Perfect. She then asks me to weigh my carry on. I look at her.  Now, I’m really anxious.  Since when does the carry-on luggage need to be weighed? The appropriate weight for a carry-on through Polish LOT Airlines is 6 kilos.  What does mine weigh? 17 kilos. (Refer to the title of the blog post). My heart sinks. Though I know no Polish, I know the crowd behind me is kicking a laugh. I ask her how much it costs to check a second bag. “$79,” she replies. Good one, Anne. “I guess I’ll have to check it,” I say.  The unexpected happens–my disappointed, stressed, sad self won her over.  She checks it for me. I pay her nothing. Thank the Lord.

The flight was 8.5 hours. Fortunately, my friend Patrick Borchert, (a UW-Madison buddy of mine) and I traveled together. We sat by each other on the plane and watched a strange set of Polish cartoons. Once safely in Poland, it take no time at all to transform our weary bodies into tourists.  We took a bus into Warsaw and snapped a few photos: Nicolaus Copernicus Monument in WarsawThe bronze statue is astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus. Fun fact: (He was under a strong family pressure to become a Catholic priest. He indeed rose to the rank of canon in the church hierarchy, but his real interest was in astronomy.) He’s holding a compass and an armillary sphere. The statue was designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen in 1822 and erected in 1828–30. It stands before the Staszic Palace which is the seat of the Polish Academy of Sciences. I consider this my first of many “annie and the statue” photos. A better photo of the Staszic Palace with my friend Patrick below.

We also stumbled along this enormous, gorgeous church.  This Roman Catholic giant is known as the Church of the Holy Cross. Fun fact: (On Christmas Day 1881, an outbreak of panic following a false alarm of fire in the crowded church caused the stampede deaths of twenty-nine people.)

Holy Cross Church, Warsaw

Frigid fingers from taking photos, we headed into a coffee shop.  We also ended up in a pastry shop because we HAD to spend our remaining złoty. Fun fact: (Złoty literally translates to mean “golden.”)

I order one cup of coffee. The barista says something to me in Polish. I reply, "yep!" I find myself with a coffee-flavored malt.

YUM

Observations of the little Poland I got to see:

  • green paper towel in the bathrooms
  • appearance of men, women, everybody: “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”
  • crow-like birds: they look like a cross between a crow and a pigeon. I’ve chosen to call them “crowgeons.”
  • Men wear tight pants (I’m finding that many European men wear tight jeans.)

I leave you with a photo of something I find quite funny:

.....just in case you didn't know.

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bags packed. hostel booked. let’s go!

Ma. Pa. Mary. Jack. Joe. Me

On Thursday, February 9, I will wake up at 7am.  More than likely, I won’t make my bed because I don’t normally do that, but also because I will be too excited…for the ninth of February marks the beginning of a new adventure. I will sit in the front seat of the Secretariat (the nickname for Dad’s red truck) with a grin as large as the distance from my home in Scandinavia (across the Atlantic) to my new home in Wien (Vienna), Österreich (Austria). I will arrive to the airport approximately five and one half hours before my flight takes off at 5:45pm. Thanks dad.

A semester abroad in Wien will be my life for the next five months-only to be home just in time for Scandinavia’s 44th Annual Corn Roast. I will be studying at the Universität für Bodenkultur Wien (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna). I will be taking a range of ecology/botany/perhaps wine-tasting classes all the while living in a dorm style housing arrangement with other international students.  The details of school and housing are a bit fuzzy yet.  Assuming I put together more of the puzzle as I arrive, a later blog post will explain what is up.

I’m pumped and anxious.  Excited and hopeful. Willing and ready.

With a belly full of America (a cheeseburger, fries, and a beer) Cheers to “The Last Supper.”

(missing 9 apostles)

Annie

*Without all of the conversation, laughter, support, and wild hilarity from my family, this Scandinavian would have no stories to tell. Love. you. all.

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