After looking back on the trip and reflecting on all the places we were able to go to, I have decided on a few of my favorite places and favorite things we were able to do.
My favorite city we visited was Brugge, Belgium.I loved the little bridges and the quaintness of the city. The first night we were there, it was misty and foggy which made the scenery look extremely cool. The lighting on the buildings mixed with the fog and mist made for a really cool scene. We took a walking tour of Brugge as well and it was incredible to see what the city had to offer.
My favorite activity that I did on the trip happened on one of the last days of the trip. We were in Bremen and I really wanted to see a soccer stadium while on this trip. A group of guys including myself took a walk to Werder Bremen’s soccer stadium in hopes to take a stadium tour. Unfortunately there were no tour guides available, however we were told that the first team was currently training. As a soccer player myself I was really excited to watch the team train and see the way professionals play in person. We watched them train for about an hour and a half and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Overall the trip was incredible and I am extremely happy that I took this opportunity to go on the trip.
Our visit to Dachau concentration camp was one of the most sobering experiences thus far. When we first arrived at Dachau, we were basically the only people on the entire grounds which made the camp extremely quiet and allowed for a lot of time to reflect and think about what disturbing events occurred at Dachau.
After walking around the entire place, the place that had the most effect on myself was definitely the crematorium and gas chamber. Both of these buildings were attached to each other and were outside the main living quarters of the concentration camp. It was very difficult to be in either of those building for very long without feeling angry and disturbed. It really made me think about how messed up the Nazis were and how they thought what they were doing was beneficial to society. The people in the camp were treated worse than animals and extremely inhumanely.
The second thing that really caught my eye was a sign I read by one of the guard towers near the outer fence of Dachau. The sign explain how there were Nazis in the guard towers at all times watching the occupants and if any person stepped into a restricted zone, they were shot immediately. The people were not even given a chance to turn around but were shot without anything being asked or said. The sign also said that many people living at Dachau would intentionally run into the restricted zone in order to be shot and end their suffering. That really hit me hard and made me realize how messed up their living conditions were. I could not help but think about how we are so fortunate to live in this decade where we have the freedom to go and visit a place like that. While back then the people who lived in Dachau could only think about one thing, and that was how to get out of that messed up place. That really made me appreciate the sacrifice of the soldiers as well who risked their lives to see and end to Hitler and the Nazis.
The experience of visiting Dachau as I said earlier was extremely sobering, but was extremely informative and definitely an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
While traveling throughout Europe, there are a few little things that I realized I missed. The biggest thing that I missed during these first few days was being able to use my phone. Now I am not talking about using my phone all the time to text people and use social media, but I wish I would have been able to use the little things such as Google maps to navigate the towns. Amsterdam in particular is such an amazing city where everything is in walking distance, and I really wanted to explore the city more. However I felt a little restricted and nervous because the last thing I wanted to do was to get lost at night in a city where English is not the first language. However not having a phone has really been a humbling experience for myself because it has made me much more aware of landmarks, buildings, and city maps. I have learned to become much more attentive while walking through the cities because I have to remember the way back.
Europe has some features about it that I have found really appealing. The biggest thing that Europe has that I wish was also back at home is the change in Europe as well as sales tax. Now it may seem like a very little thing, but it makes paying for items much easier. I just wish the United States would get rid of the penny and round prices to the nearest 5 or 10 cent. It just makes payments much more simple and easier to calculate when paying for things and receiving change. Another thing I really have found helpful in Europe that I wish was more efficient in the United States is the public transportation. Europe has made is so efficient and easily accessible and I wish America would do the same.
I’m excited to see what the next cities have to offer!