Saturday, September 4, 2010

20 countries in 20 months....and Poland

I have this goal...

it's a mixture between embarressing and a reminder of how fortunate I am.

My goal is to have visited 20 countries in 20 months.
Through Semester at Sea (last summer) I was able to visit the following countries:
1. Canada (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
2. Spain
3. Italy
5. Greece
6. Turkey
7. Bulgaria
8. Egypt
9. Morocco
A Christmas family cruise added countries #10-12 to the list:
10. Mexico
11. Belize
12. Guatemala
And now Sondra and I are closing in on the remainder of the last 8 countries.

So far, we have been able to visit:
13. Ireland
14. England
15. Belguim
16. France
17. Switzerland

This goal is so interesting to me because when I was in middle school all I ever dreamt about was visiting Italy to see where my family was from. I never even imagined that I would be so blessed to see so many amazing places and especially in such a short amount of time. I could relive Joanna and I's Semester at Sea summer a thousand times and it would never get old. And now, Sondra and I are trying to create our own memories by living together in Switzerland.

I might be getting into this blog thing too much, but I found a quote that made me think of how these amazing adventures have changed my life: "Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." --Miriam Beard


One of the main reasons Franklin College Switzerland stood out to me was its Academic Travel element that requires students to participate in a two-week educational trip half way through the semester. After having an amazing experience on a mission trip to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, I couldn't resist Franklin's service trip to Poland. For two weeks we will be volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and fitting in a few day trips to nearby sites such as the city of Krakow and WWII's largest concentration/death camp, Auschwitz. I'm pretty nervous about the visit to Auschwitz. I know it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the history up close, but it's going to be pretty rough.

On a food-related note, the Poles love soup just as much as I do. Borscht, a beet soup, is very popular in Poland. The Ukranians, Russians, and Poles argue over its origins. For me, it originated in Sharmin Brenneman's kitchen. She shared this beautiful soup with me in 8th grade and ever since it has been one of my favorites. Zurek is another popular soup in Poland - it is described as a "sour rye soup with potatoe, sausage, or an egg, sometimes served in a bread loaf." (the whole hard boiled egg in soup thing throws me off - they did it once with my gazpacho in Spain - don't get me wrong, I love a good hard boiled egg, just not in my soup).

Fun fact: Poles like put ketchup on their pizzas instead of pizza sauce...I might have to check this out.

Today's highlights:

Sondra and I slept in until 9 a.m. this morning, I know, I know, we're pretty wild. We went out with some locals/students last night to this really authentic Swiss restaurant up in the mountains. It was a great experience. The meal started off with cheeses, pickled vegetables, wine, bread and cheeses (also a mustard that I'm going to have to find and bring home with me). These dishes were followed by polenta which is a corn meal-based dish served much like a pasta (think of fried mush only soft like mashed potatoes). The polenta was served with veal which is a typical Swiss meat dish.

This morning we went in to town and stumbled upon a charming antique market. We finally were able to find some souvineers we could afford. We stopped by a tea room and grabbed ourselves some brunch (black forest cake with chocolate shavings and a mozzarella pomodoro sandwhich) and ate it on a bench (it's cheaper if you take your food to go rather than sit at the restaurant's tables). From there we paid a visit to H & M and Migros, the local grocer. The highlight of our grocery visit was discovering the bulk produce in which we could afford to buy massive amount of kiwis, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, looks like we're feeding a family of ten with these bags of produce. Our afternoon consisted of some homework and then a lovely dinner with our new friend, Amy. Amy contributed a local Ticino wine to the meal and we made a delicious tomatoes soup recipe by Jamie Oliver (pappa al pomodoro). We also had a salad, breaded zucchini with shaved parmesean and a cherry chocolate bread pudding shaped like a horse that I made without a recipe (I'm just a little proud of this). Overall, it was a great day. I'm really enjoying our visits to town and the sense of "settled in" that time has brought.

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