Field Study to Poland

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May 1st 2008
Published: May 1st 2008
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So this was the beginning of my week trip with my Marine Biology class to Hel and Gdansk Poland. Our trip was from March 9th-14th.

After a late night of wine and painting with some paints we got from Tiger, which is a great store filled with cheap useless things haha, it was time to get up and go to the airport. This nice thing here is you can just hop on the metro and it takes you straight to the airport, almost literally inside of it. And the metro trains don't have any drivers, so it's like being on a roller coaster because the front of it is all glass so you can see into the tunnel. So you always see all the children and tourists up in the front seats, its pretty funny. Anyway, I couldn't belive that I was going to be leaving Copenhagen for 3 weeks!

So Im with my whole class and we all get on the plane. We were sitting on the plane, not moving, for over an hour. Then the captain comes over and says he is not going to fly the plane because his speakers and some other equipment is not working. So we have to get off then plane and wait for the next one which was 7 hours later! Seth, who was the organizer of the trip, didnt want us leaving the airport because he knew some of us would not make it back in time, so it was a very long wait for a flight that would be less than an hour long. A funny thing about Seth, that I dont think I mentioned before, is that his name is not really Seth... he is an American that has been working for our school here as an intern, and his real name is Brian. But the Danes hate the name Brian, they think of 'a Brian" as like a cocky punk guy who thinks he's so cool, kind of like at home if you were to someone a Guido, like a too cool italian guy. haha yea anyway just thought that was really strange, but either way Seth is a very nice down to earth guy.

So the next plane we got on was working fine, and we made it to Poland safely. It was a little intimidating getting off the plane because all of the men
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Kristian walking into the only market in the town
working at the passport control and all in the airport are in the military, so they are in complete uniform and very scary looking. They are very strict about who can come into the country, but we all made it in thankfully. Now it was time to take an hour bus ride into the little town of Hel, which is on the north west coast of Poland. I really had no idea what to expect of this field station, but it was a very very nice wooden building. Everything seemed almost new, yet it was homey. We were split up into three rooms two rooms of girls and one of guys. There were about 14 girls and 6 guys. The rooms were big open dormitory style with 10 beds.

In the mornings we had nice catered breakfast with lots of food, cheeses, all different breads, fruits, vegetables, cereal, the usual. This first day we were heading out in two teams on a boat to collect some samples that we would be analyzing later in the lab. There are some funny pictures of that. Each group had a different project to work on while we were there and on the
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Cute little Hel
last day we would have to give a presentation of our results. After going on the boat the next two days were spent in the lab mushing up bugs and doing other science things.

Hel is more of a summer town so in the winter time it is completely deserted, there was no one around. So at nights when we would head out to the local bar, we were the only ones there! It was nice to just have our group there, we didnt have to feel bad about speaking English all the time, because most Polish people we had met in the town did not know any english. I really enjoyed spending time with everyone, our group which was about half the class is very diverse. Kristine and Kristian are both Danish, Matjaz is from Slovania, Hogni is from the Feroe islands, then Tom, Colin, Emily, Sarah, and Alex are American. So we all have a really good time and it's a great mix of cultures we are always leaning things from each other and sharing all our different languages, I love it.

Another cool thing about the field station was that there was a seal rehabilitation center right behind it. So we could walk over there whenever we wanted and see the seals. Most of them had been sick or hurt in the wild and will be re-released, and others have been in captivity their whole lives and will stay at the station permanently. It was so nice though, you could get so close to them and almost touch them.

After giving our presentations it was time for us to leave, and we were now headed to Gdansk which is one of Polands largest cities. It was only a short bus ride away. I guess the women who had Seth's job before him was Polish so she made sure we had a nice place to stay in Gdansk so we got to stay in a really nice hotel. It's nice because this trip is included in my tuition here so the school payed for all our travel expenses, payed for our food, and payed for the rooms. It's a big benefit of not having an actual campus here, we only have a few buildings, because at home I'm sure half my tuition goes into mowing the lawn on the quad. Poland is a big change
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Tom Sarah and Emily
from Denmark, it's so damn cheap! I don't remember now what the exchage rate was, but they use the zwate, which when pronounced correctly sounds like "slutty" haha so you can imagine the fun we had with that word, being the mature group that we are. It was the perfect time to stock up on toiletries though, I bought all my shampoo, soaps, lotions, anything I could there and it was about half the price that it would be in Denmark.

When we first got into Gdansk we had a guided tour of the city. I think I probably would have learned a lot more if Kristian and I werent laughing the whole time. It was so hard to take our tour guide seriously when he had his loudspeaker attached to his belt so it was right over his crotch, so everytime he went to speak he would project his hips out a little farther, and of course every building in Poland had been ERECTED at some date. haha so yea the cold, plus tiredness, plus crazy tour guide means a giggly American and Dane.

We didnt have any work to do in Gdansk so at night we
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Hogni playing with the beautiful candle holder, yes that is a fish head.
were just off on our own exploring the city. A lot of things were closed, I think it's also not that busy in the wintertime. But we found some places that would tolerate our huge group and we had a few nice dinners because it was so cheap!

On one of the last days we were lucky enough to take a trip out to a concentration camp, I know lucky doesnt sound like the right word but I really feel privleged to have been able to experience something like that. I have never felt anything so powerful in my life, it was the most intense thing Ive ever done. We had an amazing tourguide who did so well at delivering the message and telling the history of that place, he was actually a survivor of the camp, when he was 14 him and his family were held there, his whole family was murdered by the SS and he survived and now he's there spreading awareness and meeting others who come to re-visit their horrifying past. I can't even explain it in words how empathetic I am for all of those people. I don't really want to go into detail
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Us with the pirate
about it because I have a lot of video from that day so you can hear it from that man himself.

The last day it was time for our group to be split up. Tom and I would be staying behind in Gdansk and the rest of the class was leaving to go back to Copenhagen. We wanted to start the rest of our travels from Gdansk rather than going all the way back to Denmark. We had to wait most of the day until our flight to Frankfurt, Germany at 9pm. We spent most of the day just walking around the city, and enjoying the cold but nice weather. We were pretty exhausted from the week and eager to get to our next destination!

All in all, Poland has a lot of history and is still in recovery from WWII, and most people don't know english but it is a beautiful country, pierogies are delicous, they make the best soups and it's cheap!

Now on to Germany!

Additional photos below
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Colin with the Captain
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Scariest pirate ever!
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Captain Morgan's bar
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Sarah Emily, love them!
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Now time for work, Kristine hunting for fish otiliths
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Getting the trawl nets ready
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Sarah is more than prepared
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Kristian and I haha
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It was very cold
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Casey and Heidi

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