Last night, we met up with a few students from the University of Warsaw. We met them in our hotel lobby, and all of us were definitely a little nervous meeting students we had never talked to before. According the them, we had a “5 minute” walk to the restaurant we would be dining at, which ended up being closer to 15 minutes. Before even arriving at the restaurant, our long walk gave us a chance to become acquainted with our new friends.
The Polish students decided we would eat at Pod Wawelem, a classic Polish beer hall.
Sitting and talking to them was a great experience, especially to hear a student perspective. None of these students had lived through the Nazi occupation, but they had heard stories from their grandparents and other family members.
The girl I was sitting next to, Agnus, was 20 and studying management at the University of Warsaw. She was born and raised in Warsaw. Out of all the things we talked about, one that really stuck with me was how bitter she was about the tainted history of Warsaw. She was a very bubbly and kind person, but the destruction that occurred there was something that really bothered even a warm soul like hers. She said she had traveled to other cities like Paris, Rome and even Krakow, and felt it was so unfair that these countries had historical monuments and buildings that had been there for so long. Most of Warsaw was completely destroyed during the war.
However, she mentioned one advantage of the country’s reconstruction: it made way for a many new things. In Warsaw, they are able to construct buildings with many floors and of larger sizes. She said in Krakow they are limited in space because majority of buildings must be preserved as-is. That is why many pubs and restaurants are in the basement of the buildings, and don’t go up extremely high.
Overall, we learned a lot from meeting with students from Warsaw University. They had just as much interesting information about their hometown as we were able to share with them. It was a great way to really immerse ourselves into a whole different culture, speaking to actual people who live here.
Today, we visited a mall called Zlote Tarasy. It was similar to the previous two malls we have visited in that it was very new and modern. However, this mall was a lot busier, with more people. People moved quickly and swiftly throughout the mall and never slowed down. Many traveled with backpacks and larger bags. This could of been related to the fact that the train station was only meters away and they were doing their shopping during lunch or after work. This mall had everything you could possibly imagine; the variety of stores was wider than the previous malls. Many of the stores were international brands, which makes sense as Warsaw is frequented by international travelers and businessmen. The people in Zlote Tarasy were definitely on a mission and wanted to get their shopping done quickly.