Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Why did it have to end?!?

I'm sad that the trip has come to an end because I truly had the time of my life. Never in my life did I think that I would travel to Europe, let alone see all the amazing things I saw. My life has forever been changed and because of my experiences I have become a new person! I am thankful for my experiences but I am also very thankful for all the new friends I have acquired over the trip. It feels nice to know that I now have someone to talk to besides my cat! I do want to share a few highlights from the trip that will forever go in the memory bank.

The first one is the view of the alps in Salzburg. The view from the castle was amazing and I seriously couldn't believe my eyes. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

The next thing is the crazy thing Megan and I did at the castle the night before we left Salzburg! I had so much fun and it is just something I will never forget!!!

I will also cherish the time when I met the Benda Quartet and got them to sign my program! Even though 1 of the 4 performers was missing, it was still awesome!

Lastly is the night I got chocolate wasted at the hostel in Vienna! I had so much fun that night and I wouldnt change a thing!!

I of course will remember this entire trip but these are only a few of the wonderful experiences I had. I am so glad I decided to take a stab in the dark and apply to come on this trip! Thank you Dr. Powell for all your hard work on strategically picking each thing we did everyday and making this class possible for any student! Finally I would also like to just say thank you for all the people who either supported me on this journey or just made my trip that much better! I will see you again Europe, maybe not now but I will be seeing you in the future!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Auf Wiedersehen

What an incredible month it has been. While it is hard to believe we are back in Washington, I feel excited for what spring semester holds for all of us. I am so grateful for all we experienced and am looking forward to seeing all of my fellow travelers on campus! Every day of this journey has been so memorable but I will never forget our last night in Vienna. Our final group dinner in Austria felt so communal. A local Viennese musician serenaded us on his guitar, With the first song he played there was a wave of connection that washed over the room. I could feel the way the past month has moved me. How it had touched all of us. With such a generous feast, the restaurant provided us with to-go boxes to take leftovers. That night Brett, MariHa, Matt and I put together care packages with the leftover food from various adventures and our feast. We set into the night to give some love to the homeless people of Vienna. It was the perfect way to end the trip. I am so grateful for this experience and the opportunity to share it with such incredible people who I am so proud to call my colleagues and friends :).

 I can feel how we've grown and how we will carry this experience into the next piece of our journey. Thank you so much Dr.Powell for designing such an exceptional J-term adventure. I am excited to return to my studies of music after such an inspiring month. I know I will return to Europe soon.

A Reflection on J-Term

    The concept of having a J-term class is a unique experience for sure. It is an opportunity for a different kind of learning that I have really come to appreciate. But getting to study away while taking a J-term class is a different experience altogether. So when I got accepted to go on a classical music course (adventure) in Europe I was extremely excited. At first it was because we were going to cities I hadn't been to yet and as you know, I have been bitten by a pretty extreme travel bug. I was not as excited for the classical music part of the trip. Mostly I was worried I was going to be bored and fall asleep at all the concerts and performances.
Awesome new friends in Salzburg
    Well, looking back on my experiences over the past month, I can say that a lot of my expectations about that have been shattered. Of course the cities themselves and the people, buildings, rivers, and museums in them were amazing and reminded me every day why I love to travel so much. But I was surprised to find that the orchestras, philharmonics, and operas were anything but boring. Watching the immense talent of not only the musicians but also the conductor and composer being showcased before me was amazing. Seeing people getting to pursue and experience their passion for music both on stage an in the audience and to feel that much emotion from music written centuries before I was even born has been such a wonderful experience. I have a new understanding and appreciation for this kind of music now.
At the opera
A big part of that understanding also came from my daily barrage of questions posed to the music majors during intermissions. And I appreciate them for so willingly answering all my questions (even the slightly silly ones like: what kind of instrument is that? Oh, a trumpet, right I knew that!). But then I guess answering questions gives them a chance to talk about something they are passionate about.
View of Prague
At the end of this month -and yes, it really has been a month, it's still hard for me to believe -I have come away with hundreds of new pictures of amazing things and people, concert experiences that I know I would have never gotten otherwise, a lot more appreciation and knowledge about a subject I knew little about, and a whole bunch of new friends. I realize just how lucky I am. It's something I'll never forget. So thank you Dr. Powell for accepting non-music majors into this class. I'll admit I did dose off in a few of the concerts, but can we just blame that on the jet lag?

The Berliner Dom

What a month. The last four weeks have been one of the most incredible experiences in my life. I saw incredible concerts, learned a lot of about each city, made wonderful new friends, and ate great food. 100% beats out sitting in a classroom for a month.

We ended the class back in Vienna for a few quick days. It was kind of bizarre to come back--it almost felt like we never left in the first place. The sense of familiarity was really nice though. I knew my way around the public transportation system, what the hostel was like, and the food places I wanted to go back to. (shoutout to Mr. Schnitzel for the best schnitzel I had all month).  The final concert of the trip was in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein, a venue we had been to in the first leg of the trip. The first time we had standing room  only tickets (an experience for sure), but this time around we got to sit and appreciate the concert hall for all it is. Going back to the same venue really made the month feel like it had come to a full circle. I sat in my seat reflecting on all of the concerts we'd seen since I was last there and I was almost overwhelmed by how incredible it really was to see so many fantastic ensembles in such a short period of time. It was an experience of a lifetime.

I'm so grateful to Dr. Powell, Dr. Rhyne, the Wang Center, and PLU for making study away courses like this possible. It's an experience that could not be replicated in a classroom setting--seeing the places where some of the world's best composers lived, worked, and performed as well as learning about the socio-political setting in which they worked made these legends seem tangible. Great works of classical music were made accessible to me, and I am ending the month enjoying it more than I expected to.

It was a wonderful, exhausting, mind-expanding, and fun month, and I'm so grateful for all the experiences and new friends I made during it. Danke schΓΆn and Auf Wiedersehen!!

Full Circle



    We came full circle with our travels in Vienna. It was an incredible feeling returning to the same hostel and knowing the layout and the people who worked down in the Wambar. After a few weeks of backpacking through Germany and the Czech Republic, returning to Vienna felt so familiar. From carriage rides in the cobble stone streets, to Beethoven's cafe, visiting the Schoenbrunn Palace, and the museums which housed extensive displays of incredible works of art and priceless artifacts, Vienna was a remarkable city to start and end our adventures.

 The final concert we attended was in the Golden Hall at the Musikverein, a fitting venue for the grand finale. The concert featured pieces by Bach and Mozart. It was amazing to watch the way the conductor played the piano and conducted the orchestra. His passionate approach to conducting came from his immersion into the production as both a performer and conductor. His connection to the music had a very powerful effect on the performance. It was also very luxurious to have a seat for our final performance after standing for the first concert we attended at the Musikverein. Vienna left its mark on our European travels. It was an honor to get to know Mozart's favorite city.

Adventures in Salzburg

Two days after our class hiked up to the top of the castle and immersed ourselves in the breathtaking panorama of the mountains, Leah and I went on a hike that overlooked the whole city, with a view of the castle, river, and incredible churches. We made it to the top just in time to watch the sunset. We then proceeded to explored the woods in the soft light of dusk while the colors continued to change in the sky. It was so peaceful and such a treat to spend time in nature after a few weeks of experiencing life in the city. We savored every moment as we made our way to grab dinner at an Italian restaurant before the concert that evening. Leah ordered a pizza the size of both our heads put together!

I remember how sunny it was in Salzburg that day. It was so nice to explore the city in the sunshine. I spent time on the other side of Mozart platz, across the river where I hadn't explored as much. There were all kinds of cozy coffee shops, book stores, music shops, cafes and restaurants. I drank espresso and purchased postcards on my way to explore all of Salzburg's gems. The concert that evening featured period instruments which was incredible to see for the first time in a live performance.

On Melancholy Hill

Travel, read, and vote.

I'll be back.


This trip has left me with one word. Inspire. With all the attractions, symphonies, operas, food, shops, and people, I am now inspired. When I left for this trip, I was ready to experience a new world, see things that I couldn’t dream of, eat new food, communicate with people, and experience what it truly meant to travel. And that I exactly what happened.

Starting in Vienna, that is when I knew that I had a good class joining me on this trip. Some of us already knew each other from past encounters at PLU and were good friends. But some of us thought that we would not like each other based off of our interactions in the meetings before leaving. As it turned out, each person brought something new to the table. Each unique and meaningful which always added to the betterment of the group. Some of my best memories from Vienna was hanging out with people in the hostel’s bar and playing pool with them. Good times that I won’t forget. These people have inspired me to do more and to be a better person as they have been.

I have been inspired by the sights I have seen to create more beauty in the world. In Prague, I fell in love with the city almost immediately when we got to the city center and the main foot bridge. The colors were so vibrant and warm. I really want to go back and experience that again. In Salzburg, we found views that I thought only were found on desktop backgrounds. Again, such a gorgeous city and the surrounding landscape was spectacular.

I have been inspired to work even harder at my music and craft. Seeing these world class orchestra has been something else. Each one had a unique sound that they produced and was under different leadership that lead in interesting ways. I want to do even better on my violin and thank their great work and discipline with my own dedication and discipline. These people were amazing to watch and I hope one day, I can hear them again.

Overall this trip has been one of the best experiences I have had in my life. I loved the travel, spending time with friends, gaining new friends, meeting people from far away places, seeing beautiful landscapes, beautiful architecture, hearing amazing music and watching amazing conductors. I also am very thankful for the leadership of our Professors and their organization of this trip. It would not be the same without them. But I am left inspire, willing to work harder and meet the world again. 

Much Room in My Heart for Mushrooms & Europe (An Overview)

 If you happened to know me before this J-term trip, you might have known me as the mushroom gal. I suppose some may call it an "obsession," but I prefer to think of it more as a collection. πŸ„ I am not quite sure of how it all began. I started collecting garden gnomes first, and became tired of seeing all these stumpy little old men with pointed hats and ended up only collecting the "toadstools" the gnomes sat on. Plus I love anything from the 1960's/70's, and mushrooms just happened to be the popular print/symbol for that era. (Just to be clear, I collect DECORATIVE mushrooms...not real ones, so no need to worry). Every mushroom I saw on the trip, I had to take a picture of.  Luckily, there were plenty of lil' shrooms in each city. This may not be as cool as a collection of graffiti art over the course of the trip or a collection of the best views in each city, but I think mushrooms are pretty dang adorable and need to be showcased in this blog.
The first mushrooms I saw in Vienna inside two different gift shops. A mushroom mirror and ornaments. 

Mushrooms on the inside and outside of our Prague hostel! Very majestic.

A Prague mushroom nutcracker

Mushroom displays inside the Leipzig University.

Handmade mushroom people in a Leipzig store.

Hanging mushroom decoration in Berlin and handmade glass mushroom earrings Mariha found for me in a Turkish market in Berlin! 

Fake mushrooms with green confetti in a Salzburg gift shop.

More mushrooms in a window flower box and a potted plant in Salzburg.

This was an incredible J-term trip, and I was happy to find things along the way that reminded me of home, whether it was mushrooms, record stores, or quirky artwork. I was nervous for this adventure at the beginning, because I have never traveled outside of the country (except for Canada), and I did not know any of the students too well. I was told by a friend who took the trip last year that it was mainly wind ensemble members who signed up for the class. This year, however, I thought it was a good mix of music majors and non-music majors of all ages. Although I loved seeing the beautiful sights, going to the concerts, and learning more about classical music, my favorite part of the trip was getting to know my fellow classmates over the course of January. Every person I talked to is so unique, caring, and sincere...each adding something special to the overall group dynamic. I am very thankful for these new friendships and for sharing these experiences with them. It was a good feeling to know that my fellow students are the kind of folks to always look after one another and always try to include everyone. Also, many thanks to Dr. Powell and Dr. Rhyne for being such personable and patient professors who always had great suggestions, making the class fun and informative.
As an anthropology/ethnomusicology student, I have looked at many different genres, but classical music is one that I barely had any knowledge on. I know most of my blogs posts are about things that I am familiar with, but I am happy this trip challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and learn more about classical music and the composers. The "Music Centers of the World" class not only exposed me to the world of classical music, but made me step out of my comfort zone when interacting with my peers and the locals. I am happy that I pushed myself every day to explore and strike up a conversation new people. This is a trip I'll never forget, and it was a real privilege to spend time with the best group in the best cities πŸ’—

Record Store Excursion: Part 4 & 5

Salzburg is a breathtakingly beautiful mountain town, but the tour guide was not wrong when she said it is very small city in comparison to the previous places we visited. When we split up to have our own adventures, it was still easy to run into folks from the J-term group. However, when there is a small town, there is a small chance of record stores. Four options popped up when I searched on my phone, but just like in Berlin, there were some stores that no longer existed in the same spots.
It was a pleasant sunny day when we walked through the home that Mozart was born in, so I did not want to waste my time standing around too long afterwards. It was an interesting place, but I have not looked too far into Mozart's music before this trip, so I did not take as long as others in the Mozart house. I ventured out on my own and figured I might as well check out the first record store, so I did not have to pressure anyone to go with me, haha. Walking around Salzburg in the sunlight was energizing and it was the first time that I explored on my own. It was fun to pretend I was in Europe by myself having my own adventure, geared up with my leather jacket and sunglasses and prepared to storm into any music store I saw. To get to the first store on my list, I had to cross the lock bridge. I loved seeing all the different shapes and colors of the locks and wondering which ones were the oldest. I was even considering adding my own lock, but a plain black combination lock just would not cut it. It ended up being a good thing I left early, because there were no records in sight at the shop! The store was actually full of sheet music, which is not really a bad thing but I was just salty that I was mislead. The only things of interest in there was sheet music for Chilly Gonzales' songs and a pencil with mini guitar on the end. There was also a John Lennon book, but as expected, it was all in German.

I tried once again to locate a record store, because I desperately wanted to complete my goal of visiting one in each city. Salzburg appeared to be more difficult for this purpose than I previously had thought, but it still is one of my favorite cities the class visited. Alex and I went out to search for "Jet Lag" records which (for once) existed in the correct location! Sadly, they did not open until 4:00pm, which is a pretty odd time to be opening. All I got for that store was a photo of the logo outside their window. The one and only Salzburg record store I stopped in was one found by accident. Alex pointed it out as we were walking by and I knew my goal was still reachable. Inside, there was a cool guitar made up of records, and a nifty lounge space upstairs for listening to records on upscale turntables. This record store was called "Musikladen."

Earlier that day, I was listening to the new Ty Segall album, "Freedom's Goblin" and I showed Caroline how much I loved the fuzzed out guitar sound that is characteristic of pretty much any garage rock band. That was my first time listening to the album in it's entirety, so when one of the new songs started playing over the speakers in Musikladen, my ears perked up. They were playing the new Ty Segall album that I was listening to just 5 hours earlier! I went up to one of the workers and asked if they had the vinyl of the album. Ignoring the cries of my wallet, I snatched up that record and Alex convinced me to buy it. It was probably the most expensive buy of the entire trip, but it felt like it was meant to be. I've seen Ty Segall in concert about 4 times, and it was the first band I crowd-surfed to, so I knew this album would be special. (even more special if I bought it in Salzburg) #noregrets. To make up for it, I also got a free Record Store Day magazine, which was outdated by a year, but also still worth it. It was fun to look at the German comics that I will have to translate later. I related to some of the illustrations for sure.πŸ˜‰

Fast forwarding to Vienna, this was also another city where I only had time for one record store. I remembered planning out all the ones I wanted to go to based off of reviews and pictures I searched at the beginning of the trip. I kept telling myself I would always have time to go back to them at the end of the trip, but I also forgot that we only had two days in Vienna before flying home. Whoops. On the last day, we had a group dinner at 5:00pm, so I could not be late for our "last supper." My pals and I spent a little too long in the Beethoven cafe drinking hot chocolate and eating chocolate cake (yes, it was a chocolate filled day) and before we knew it, it was already 4:30pm. Luckily, EMI music store was within a short walking distance so we settled on that one. It was too sterile looking, even with the graffiti on the second floor. I sensed something was missing...maybe it wasn't grungy enough...or there was a lack of incense...something was off. It also felt like they only carried artists that would be in the top 40 chart, which can be a bit boring at times. On the bright side, it was cool to see a grand piano on the third floor and various types of record players they were selling. One was super old-school, looking like a gramophone-style record player. Caroline and I both picked up booklets that featured different Beatles themed record players. Of course, my favorite was the George Harrison one πŸ’—. So there you have it folks, this gal made it to 7 record stores on this European trip. Success 😎

Back to Vienna

Back to Vienna we go. The final destinations and the return to where it all started. When we started here, I was so excited and full of energy. But now I enter tired and full of different experiences, music, gifts, food, and beer. I will say that I am glad to be back. This is a great city and I have deeply enjoyed my time here. The food is always good here and I will say that Vienna has the best/most clear transit system compared to the other cities that we have been to. The maps are straight forward and easy to understand if you are a foreigner. That helped make my stay in Vienna enjoyable.

Anyway, on the day when we got back to Vienna, we went to our last concert at the Musikverein and heard the Cappella Andrea Barca play pieces by Bach and Mozart. It was a great concert, minus the fact that about every five minutes someone would drop something on the floor. The items included (guesses based off of the sound) programs, coins, phones, and some other items that I don’t know what are. For a person with ADHD, this was very distracting made the performance very hard to enjoy. I still did enjoy it because the music was fantastic and performed by masters of their instruments, but it was difficult. I think people might need to learn how to hold onto their stuff. The Musikverein should maybe think about including concert etiquette classes or instructions in their programs. But that is just my thoughts.

The day we toured the State Art History Museum which had some massive and spectacular pictures. My favorite was one of the Archangel Gabriel fighting and sending demons to hell. The picture was about 20 to 25 feet tall and 8 feet long. It was massive! It was the most epic piece I have ever seen. The rest of the art was also fantastic. Pictures of the past, of people, events, and stories filled this museum from top to bottom. It was amazing and it reminded me that I could never do something like that. Painting that is. That is why I do music. Later that day we had our final group dinner at a place near Beethoven’s apartment in Vienna. The name of the place was Mayer am Pfarrplatz. The room we were in was full of good food and great company. Laughter was constant and good stories were going all around. It was a great last night in Europe. A night I will not forget. 

Salzburg: Mountains and Mozart

It took me until the second day of Salzburg to have the full weight of this month hit me. We had just climbed up the large hill in the city to reach the Hohensalzburg Fortress and I was standing at one of the viewpoints along the castle looking at the mountains. This was the first full, blue sky, warm sunny day we had all month. There was something about the combination of the glorious weather and the absolutely astounding view (so pictures below for evidence) that made me stop completely for the first time and go, "Wow. This is my life right now."

Salzburg was delightful. It was surprisingly rejuvenating after the emotionally exhausting week of heavy history in Berlin. The city is relatively small, easy to get around, did not have an overwhelming amount of things to do. By the middle of our second day there, I had already checked off everything I had wanted to see there, leaving more time for coffee and cake breaks and hiking up various parts of the hills for the best views of the mountains (I took Sound of Music seriously when they told me to climb every mountain). I enjoyed the Hohensalzburg Fortress the most. This castle was home to the ruling Prince Archbishops of Salzburg beginning in 1077 and boasts incredible views of the city.
Hohensalzburg Fortress

The music in Salzburg was really great as well. We arrived on Mozart's birthday just in time for Mozart Week, one of Salzburg's main music festivals. I listened to more Mozart than I ever have before in the four days we were there! By far the coolest thing we saw was the performing of Mozart's pieces on replicas of the instruments that would have been around in his day. I still don't think I can fully grasp how amazing it was that I heard Mozart's works they way he would have heard them when they were played for him.

Overall, I loved Salzburg. Great views, great music, great food. Can't wait to go back again someday!

Record Store Excursion: Part 3

Berlin was a very intense city, almost overwhelming with the hustle and bustle of its many inhabitants as well as the smokey and  industrial-like atmosphere. Overall, it’s a very urban place with a lot to take in. Even a German lady we met in the Vienna hostel said that there is too much pressure to be “hip,” and that Hamburg is actually her favorite city in Germany. I appreciated Berlin, but I found that the outskirts were reminiscent of my hometown of Portland, Oregon.
We discovered this part of town because of a sushi craving, and we traveled to this affordable and simple hole-in-the-wall restaurant called “Rice In.” Although we went fairly late at night, I remember walking by some small shops that looked intriguing, including a record shop for me and a crystal shop for my friend. It was settled: we were returning.
The following day, I mapped out the record stores and turns out, about 12 of them were clustered in that same area! The narrow streets were filled with small kitschy shops, giving the smaller part of town a quaint and calmer vibe. After hunkering down on an old comfy couch for a cup of coffee inside a cafe, Erika, Katie, Alex, Caroline and I all headed out to explore. Unfortunately, two of the record stores that were supposedly nearby were no longer there. We still were able to visit 3 of the record stores which were only a few blocks away from one another.
The first stop was “Vinyl A- GoGo,” which specializes in mainly tropicalia, Afro-beat, jazz, and French albums.
The place was decked out with vibrant colors and retro style cut outs and posters. I only allowed myself to look through the boxes of 45s, because at point, I was going to be carrying a lot already! I found a Jane Birkin 45 which featured the very controversial French single “je t’aime moi non plus,” but it also has “Jane B” as the B-side which I love. If you give it a listen, I’m sure you’ll figure out why it must’ve caused so much ruckus amongst the conservative audience *scandalous*. The store didn’t have much merchandise with the logo on it, so I figured the record would be enough. The worker pointed out some groovy bags that had “Vinyl-A GoGo” printed on it, along with a bright yellow toucan.
Up next was a record store called “Wax Art,” and as you could probably tell from the title, the place was pretty artsy with the zany patterns and pictures on the outside and inside. On the inside, one wall has a giant mirror, reflecting the other wall that was covered in an op-art pattern. My love of op-art is no secret. This dizzying, trippy decor gave the little store a lot of character. There were even a few records we found that had similar op-art patterns for the cover art. Record stores aren't just for music, but they are also good for art inspiration as well πŸ™‚. I was not planning on spending much time in the store because there were still more places to go, so when I found the compilation of mod 60’s jams (a record called “Blow Up”), I had a little shriek of joy and checked out immediately. I knew this was going to be my best find in the store.
Last but not least, was the record store called "Schallplanet." Small and more subtle in design, it was still charming. Even though I only walked away with 3 different business cards in primary colors, I had an enjoyable time sifting through what music it had to offer. Schallplanet had a great jazz selection, even containing my all-time favorite jazz artist, Mulatu Astatke (besides Vince Guaraldi...gotta love that Charlie Brown soundtrack)! Mr. Astatke is known as the father of Ethiopian jazz and has some of the most compelling arrangements...it is always a shock to me that most record stores do not carry his albums. I expected Schallplanet to know a thing or two about jazz due to their main sign having Duke Ellington on it! Schallplanet also had an extensive section just for The Beatles albums. I was searching for special German covers of their albums, but the only one I could find was a very early record: The Beatles live in Hamburg. I was tempted to purchase this for 12 euros, but the songs were either covers or extremely early Beatles songs...maybe even some songs when they used to be known as The Quarrymen. I was not too familiar with these, so I decided to pass on it.

After three different record stores and a cool crystal shop, we still had enough time to see the "Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism," which was across the street from the "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe." The class got to experience the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe a few days earlier on a tour of Berlin, but the other memorial was only briefly mentioned on the tour. Although we were becoming a bit exhausted during this part of the trip, we knew that these memorials were an extremely important sight to see, and that the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism deserved to be witnessed and reflected upon as well.
I am so grateful that we went back to the memorials, specially in the evening when everything was becoming darker. It had a haunting effect for both, but both memorials were quite different. I know there is still controversy about the location of the two, as some say that it gives visitors an impression that the suffering of the groups were the same. We first went to the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism. Seeing it for the first time, I was a bit confused when we approached the large rectangular structure that seemed to be...just a rectangle. Circling the concrete cuboid, we came to the side that contained a small screen projecting out a black and white video clip of LGBTQ people kissing. It was moving and powerful, and the projected video was even clearer at night. To see a memorial that shows members of a community displaying actions of love and affection was heart-warming, but it was still a sobering experience to understand that victims who identified as LGBTQ were not recognized until the 1980's and were considered the "hidden victims." This made sense to me why the video in the memorial itself was somewhat "hidden." The video humanized the large concrete, cold structure.

Alex and I decided to walk through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe again, and to experience the memorial at night made my initial feelings about it more intense. I was looking forward to seeing this memorial after spending a whole day learning about it for my art history class last semester. No matter how much I read about it, no matter what other people described in their own accounts, nothing could have prepared me for experiencing the memorial on my own. The layout of the memorial is very disorienting and isolating, not having enough room for people to walk side-by-side and therefore, "forcing" people to experience it by themselves. The ground undulates, and sinks further in, while the grey blocks grow taller towards the center. As I traveled further towards the middle of the block, I felt like I was shrinking. Someone mentioned that even though you can always see a way out, it becomes overwhelming in the middle and the possibility of becoming lost seems greater. It blocks your senses as sound is cut off and echoed, giving an illusion that any noise produced is coming from somewhere else. I thought it was already anxiety-inducing, but it was so much more at nighttime.
After my friend and I separated in the memorial, I began to panic slightly. Alone and lost in my thoughts, I wondered around thinking of how scared the victims of the Holocaust must have been. I became still, reflecting on the city's history, both good and bad. It was strange to stand where so many others have stood. My friend and I eventually met up again and exited the memorial. I had a conflicting feeling of peace and tension. Maybe the night plays a trick in which the quietness seems serene, but also leaves room for paranoia to seep in.
Seeing the record stores brought me much joy during the day, but seeing the memorials at night gave me a new, important experience that was intensified. ~ It is both a blessing and a curse to everything so very deeply. ~

Why did it have to end?!?

I'm sad that the trip has come to an end because I truly had the time of my life. Never in my life did I think that I would travel to Eu...