The pace has slowly started to pick up, and I’m coming up on my third week in Krakow! The Sunday after returning back from Czestochowa was a free day, so most of us slept in before heading downtown for Sunday Mass. Krakow has so many beautiful churches, and I’m hoping to go to Mass at a different church every Sunday, and throughout the week some too! Last Sunday I went to the Dominican Church for Mass, and my friends and I were blown away by the beauty. We had walked through the church once, but having Mass there was a whole other level. The Dominican brothers sang throughout the whole Mass and the Church was filled with such beautiful music. At the back of the Church is a beautiful depiction of the Holy Trinity which I loved looking at as I prayed.
It’s been interesting attending Mass mainly in Polish because I don’t necessarily know what exact words are being said, but the Liturgy of the Mass is the same universally, so I always know what is happening and where we are in the Mass. I want to eventually know the Polish responses, but for right now I’ve said them under my breath in English. It’s such a comfort to have this consistency of the Mass, because it is the same wherever I go, even when everything else in my life is changing and different.
After Mass, we got paczki, which is a Polish jelly-filled doughnut. I got a large “pacz-burger” because why not! You could say I’m trying to fully enter into the Polish experience 🙂
On Monday we had a short orientation at the university for all international students attending UPJPII, so we got to meet students from all over the world! After learning a bit about the library and school, we headed to another Polish night class. I went out with a few friends after class to a brewery as well and split a flight of beer with my roommate. We went to bed pretty quick that night, because it had been a long, but fun day in the city!
On Tuesday I got to learn about some Cracovian history. There is an old tradition of making obwarsanki, a bread that is twisted into a circle and is specific to Krakow, Poland. We had an orientation event where they taught us how to twist the bread, after which they baked it for us and we got to eat the obwarsanki we made ourselves! You can find obwarsanki stands on every corner, so I can’t wait to have more while I’m here in Krakow. After spending some time at a coffee shop to get some work done, we headed to another night Polish class.
Wednesday and Thursday were about the same, with the mornings open to work and shop, and then more Polish class at night. Thursday morning, our director Joe gave us a more in-depth tour through the chapel we live next door to. It was amazing to realize how many beautiful hidden places to pray there were, just next door to me. There are rocks from holy sites in Israel, like Bethlehem and Christ’s tomb, as well as the cassock John Paul II was wearing when he was shot in an assassination attempt. Seeing the cassock really struck a chord with me. I realized more deeply that this man was real, and he suffered for the Church and the people he loved. He even forgave the man who shot him that day, something I’m not sure I would be able to do.
Thursday night, the JP2 Project hosted a party for international students and friends, where we had paczki and charcuterie board over good conversation. I was able to connect with my friend Joanna, who I had met through an online Catholic women’s community. We were able to talk in person for the first time and get to know each other more, which was such a blessing!
On Friday I had my first Theology of the Body class, the class I am most looking forward to being here. We began with some introductions to understanding anthropology, since Theology of the Body is theological anthropology. I’m very excited to dive more into this subject and learn more about who God created me and all of humanity to be, and how that changes the way we live and evangelize. I went to another coffee shop afterward to get some work done and have some tea. I have to say, Europe is turning me into a tea person! I’ve loved coffee for a while now, but I’ve had a lot of tea since I’ve arrived here, because it’s offered all the time, and I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy it! After that, I went to my last night Polish class. My brain was very tired after a long week of learning Polish, so I crashed and slept a lot that night.
On Saturday I went to lunch with my friends Joanna and Analise and just enjoyed the city, and eventually ended up at another coffee shop where, you guessed it, I had more tea, and I’m still sitting here writing this blog for you all right now!
It was nice having a more consistent schedule this week and heading into more of a routine. I’ve also been blown away by realizing how much history has happened here, not just in all of Poland, but specifically in Krakow. It’s been amazing to see John Paul II everywhere in churches and statues, and just his spirit that has encouraged others I’ve encountered since being here. I’m really trying to quiet myself so that I can receive whatever the Lord has in store for me during this short season. He called me here for a reason, I’m confident of that, and I can’t wait to learn what that reason is.
I’m praying for you all, please pray for me! Czesc!