Independent in Bratislava

One of my classes had a take-home midterm, so last week I worked on it so I would not have to worry about it on the weekend, and it was due on the Monday of midterms week. I am much more proactive than my classmates. Many of them wait until the last minute. I always prepare ahead, and I do not regret this strategy of mine. On Monday, I had 2 midterms in person. I think they went pretty well and I stressed about them for no reason. I am not sure of any of my grades since most grades are based off of participation. For the actual assignments that I have had, I have not received any real grades. This is kind of good because it is helping me to focus less on school. I know that sounds bad, but one of my goals for study abroad was to not worry about school as much, especially after my super stressful summer courses. I just wanted to take the time abroad to enjoy life and travel without stressing myself out over academics. I only have one midterm left before my very busy end to October.

My friends wanted to procrastinate studying for German, so last week on Wednesday night, Vienna, Maddie, Claire, and I went to the Eissalon. It is a small bar right down the road from our apartment. It was super nice and more of my scene, since I do not care much for the clubs. I drank spritzers which were much cheaper than the specialty alcoholic beverages with “eis” or ice cream. My whole class ended up thinking that the German test was not what we were told to prepare for, so going out did not necessarily hurt me. I typically do most of my studying early in the mornings anyways.

We had our meetings for the mandatory fall break trip. The mandatory fall break trip for psychology students is going to be to Leipzig, Dresden, and Prague. The field trip aspect (out of the country) is from Sunday to Wednesday. We also have a 2-day part that takes place in Vienna on Thursday and Friday. I am not quite as excited for the activities on Thursday and Friday, but I am excited to travel to Leipzig, Dresden, and Prague.

On the 10th, Claire ran into my room and fell (she did not get hurt). She stayed on the floor and then was accompanied by Jacey. Claire predicted Jacey, Maddie, and my futures in 20 years. She said I would be working in some sort of travel planning or corporate business.

My Personality Theories and Psychopathology class required that we go to the Sigmund Freud Museum on our own time. The real exhibit is closed, so we had to attend the Moving Freud Museum (temporary exhibit until the real one is done with renovations). The museum was not very exciting. I am interested in Freud, but the museum did not provide much insight into his life. The home movies were kind of interesting to watch though. I want to find a documentary- maybe Penn State’s Kanopy will have something similar. Some interesting things about Freud was that he wrote a lot of letters and one of his early experiments was on himself and he would do cocaine to test its effects. He also was initially studying zoology.

I ran around shopping and searching for postcards for various people at the end of last week. I did not get all of the postcards that I wanted to get for everyone, but I got a big bulk of them. For others, I will get postcards while I am on some of my upcoming trips. The postcard writing took longer than I expected, but it was still fun to do. I am excited for people to receive them.

I tried a new restaurant that I found from walking around and getting my steps in. Claire, Maddie and I tried the Kriterium 3 restaurant on Stiftgasse. It is a pub-style restaurant and I ate dumplings and drank a white spritzer.

On Saturday the 12th, I went to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. It took us 2 hours to get there. The introductory lecture was super interesting in explaining how these camps came to be and how Hitler gained so much support. It is unbelievable to think about how so many people could be brainwashed into the same mindset and view others as not human. What is even more bothersome is that there were other concentration camps not related to the Holocaust that existed, but many people are not even aware of them. American history classes usually just talk about the Holocaust since America got involved in the liberation of the camps. This leads to the lack of knowledge of other camps that were in existence, killing drastic amounts of people. The introductory lecture talked quite a bit about the Dachau Concentration Camp which is not far from Munich. On my high school trip we also went to Dachau. Dachau was the first concentration camp and it opened in 1933. Mauthausen was modeled after Dachau and had many many sub-camps throughout Austria. In my sociology class we watched a movie called Teenage by Matt Wolf. It highlighted some youth who became a part of Hitler’s following. This was the part of the movie that surprised me the most was watching and listening to some of these youth and how they were so inspired and thought that what they were doing was a good thing. They genuinely thought that this movement was benefitting society.

I was shocked to hear that the tour groups were under different impressions of if the people who lived in the area knew what was happening at the camp. My group was told that people knew and came to watch the soccer games played by the Nazi guards to show their support. Also, I was surprised to hear that the guards were willing to have their weddings at such a place. The setting to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp was hauntingly beautiful and situated in a very gorgeous location. The leaves were changing colors and the green hills provided a picturesque view. When looking at the beauty of the scenery, I thought about how lucky I am and what the prisoners of the concentration camp must have thought while looking at the same hills and trees as myself. Did they start to believe the mentalities imposed that they were lesser of a human? Did they think that they deserved what was being done to them? Did they hold onto their personal identities or did they just allow it to be shed like their hair, clothes, personal belongings, and physical closeness to family?

Right after German class on Friday, we will be traveling to Hallstatt by train and stay for one night. We are coming back on Saturday because our mandatory fall break trip starts on Sunday.

On Sunday the 13th, I went on a solo trip to Bratislava, Slovakia. My roommates went to the club and returned home close to 4AM, so it is a good thing that I decided not to go because I had to be up early for my bus. My bus came surprisingly early and I got a whole seat to myself on the way there. I went to the castle, ran into a fellow independent traveler a few times, went to the cat cafe that my friends raved about, checked out some spooky graffiti, bought a wristlet for less than 5 euros for my GoPro, saw the famous blue church, and just explored! My sim card did not work and I had to pee, so I knew the cat cafe would help me by providing wifi and a place to pee while also get a tea. I never got hot tea at a restaurant before, so that was also an experience. I got blueberry vanilla black tea. It was super good. The waiter was super nice and gave me too much change back (in change-nothing too drastic), a free sticker (my friends paid a lot for theirs and were jealous to hear that I got one for free), and a handful of candy with my receipt. People are typically surprisingly nice to independent travelers (except for my waitress at lunch, she was not the friendliest). Also when you travel alone, you are more aware of other independent travelers and almost share a bond without talking to them. You just kind of give each other a look without knowing the native tongue of the other, but still have a mutual respect for one another.

At the gym, I feel like I am getting stronger and might be able to bump up the amount of weight that I can bench soon. I try not to do anything too uncomfortable since I do not have a spotter and my mom says that people get killed from dropping weight lifting bars on themselves. I bought some more of my protein powder from Hofer to be prepared ahead of time for when I run out. I love the taste of chocolate protein powder.

My GoPro uploads go much quicker early in the morning than later in the day and at night. I assume it is because everyone is on the wifi. In the morning I can fly through uploads. I should stop wasting my time trying to upload anything during the day or especially at night.

I also looked into a trip to Krakow for after fall break. It seems like it would be pretty cheap and a super nice trip. Later on this week, I hope to finalize the trip, so I can start planning my travels with my mother. We will most likely be traveling to Slovenia and might squeeze in a day trip to Salzburg. Everyone’s parents always seem to want to go to Salzburg. It must be the parent place to go. I have already been to Salzburg, but I don’t feel like I was there long enough and it was raining, so going back might not be a bad thing. There is much more to see than what I saw while I was there in high school. October is flying by. It is scary to think that it is almost November. When November hits, then it will be a month away from my arrival to go back to the states, which I am not necessarily looking forward to. I only wish that I had Scrappy here to take with me on my extremely long walks. I could totally live abroad forever.

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