Prague was an amazing city in which I enjoyed every minute of learning and exploring, but we have moved on to the second location of the program, Krakow. We took an overnight train to get here, and it was a very unique experience, previously I had never spent over an hour on train. Located in southern Poland, the city of Krakow is full of history along with countless pierogis restaurants located on every street corner. The language barrier is still a large obstacle, but one of the students in the program speaks perfect Polish, so I have been able to have a translator on hand the majority of the time.
Krakow is also a large tourist destination just like Prague, and it is unsurprisingly full of tourist traps, where they will take every penny from you if you let them. Some classmates and I went across the river to a much more residential area for lunch the other day, and the prices were unbelievably cheaper. The city as a whole is much more spaced out than Prague, so we have to do a lot of walking to get to the main city square, our classes, and then back to the hotel, all of which are in opposite directions of each other.
The group was given the opportunity to tour Auschwitz concentration camp, which is only about an hour outside of Krakow. It was a very humbling and sad place to visit in which we saw everything from the gas chambers to the luggage, shoes, and even human hair taken from arriving prisoners. Almost everyone is taught about the horrors of the holocaust, but it was something else to actually see where it happened firsthand.
We were also able to tour the Krakow office of Brown Brothers Harriman, a US based private bank with offices all over the world. Almost everyone working in the building had a degree in finance, which just so happens to be my major as well, so it was particularly beneficial to my future career interests. We listened to presenters on the operations and structure of BBH, then toured the office. I thought we were at google for a minute, because there were multiple break rooms on each floor, with couches, rocking chairs, video games, and one room even had a giant teddy bear. Needless to say, BBH seems like a great place to work, with an impressive business model and network, this experience made me excited to see what is to come in the near future with my aspiring career in finance.
Before this trip, I barely knew anyone in my program, and I was worried about flying to another continent all alone, where I couldn’t even speak the language. I waited until the last day to decide to commit to this program due to those fears, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision. While budgeting and expenses have been and continue to be obstacles on this trip, I have been paid with unforgettable experiences, memories, friendships with students and locals, and academics, all of which I will have for the rest of my life. I encourage students considering any study abroad program to not worry about the little things like money, language, friends, etc., but rather the big picture things like future career advancement, memories that will last a lifetime, and of course endless Instagram photo opportunites to caption with #pittstudyabroad.