A Nine Hour Bus Ride Later…

For most of this week I was working on two tasks. The first task was a bit boring, in my opinion, because it involved a lot of sifting through thousands of records of invoices that my company has received throughout the past several years to find specific invoices and copy them. The purpose of this is because Sirius is currently in the middle of a procurement deal where they are trying to reduce overhead costs. Because of this, they are negotiating with the company that performs all of the maintenance and landscaping for the various sites that Sirius owns around Germany to reduce the price that the company charges. These company invoices are the invoices that I was responsible for finding, which proved to be very tedious and time consuming.

The other task I worked on was in the tax office. I was helping to record and report the taxes that Sirius either had to pay or that it received from its various subcompanies. It was interesting to learn more about how this aspect of the finance department works in Sirius. I am glad that I have been able to spend time in so many sections of the finance department because it has allowed me to get a better feel for what I do and don’t like. Previously, I really had no idea what kind of finance I preferred, so I appreciate any exposure I can get while I am working this summer.

Thursday night, following work, I travelled on an overnight bus to Krakow, Poland. We left at about 7pm from Berlin and didn’t end up getting to our accommodations in Krakow until about 5:30 or 6am the next morning! Luckily, I was able to sleep a lot on the bus and take a short nap when we got to where we were staying for the weekend. On Friday we spent most of the day exploring the city by foot. Krakow is pretty small, so everything was within walking distance. One of the first things that we did after grabbing a bite to eat at a little Italian restaurant was going to Wawel, the castle that sits in the middle of Krakow. We were able to get tickets to enter the state rooms, which were filled with various artifacts from the 15th and 16th centuries. The state rooms got more and more impressive the farther in we walked, I thought. After the castle, we walked through Kazimierz, the Jewish Quarter, which was filled with various shops, restaurants, and artwork. Then we walked across the river and went into the Museum of Contemporary Art for a few hours. After walking through the museum, we went back to the Jewish Quarter for dinner where I was able to try some traditional Polish potato pancakes. For the rest of the night we walked around the main town square which was filled with tons of people and live street music.

On Saturday, we woke up fairly early because we had signed up for an all-day tour of Auschwitz, which is located a little less than an hour and a half away from Krakow. A tour bus picked us up right from our Airbnb and took us to the Auschwitz I first. When we got to the site, a tour guide met us and distributed headsets to wear for the first half of the tour. Although I visited Dachau, a concentration camp in Germany, last year, I was somewhat nervous about visiting Auschwitz because of all of the horrible torture everyone learns about from there through school, books, and movies. The most difficult part of the tour for me was seeing the room that was full of hair that had been cut from prisoners’ heads in the concentration camp and the urn that contained visible ashes from prisoners who were cremated. We also visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is the site that most people think of with the train tracks heading into the center of the grounds. I am glad that I was able to tour the concentration camp, because I feel like it is a very important part of history to educate ourselves on in order repeat such a horrific event.

After returning to Krakow, we spent more time walking around and had an early dinner where I tried some authentic pierogis. We also went to an orchestra concert in a very beautiful church in the center of the city. Sunday, we will head back to Berlin on another nine-hour bus ride. I can’t believe I only have one more weekend left in Europe before I go home!