July 27, 2013
Travel Journal (Day 10)
Today consisted mostly of travel. We had to go from Zakopane, Poland, to Budapest, Hungary. To do so, we had to catch a bus in Zakopane to Poprad, Slovakia, and then a bus from Poprad to Budapest, with a train change at Košice, Slovakia. From Zakopane to Poprad was two hours, then about five or six more hours from Poprad to Budapest.
This part of the tour contributes to teaching students how to travel abroad. The majority of the class we teach focuses on the cultural and historical experiences that the students will then write about, but we also want to help students learn how to travel abroad, which means how to buy tickets, catch trains, deal with delays, and hustle.
We experienced this on our first stint from Poprad to Košice. The train was late arriving to Poprad by about 15 minutes or so. We were supposed to leave Poprad at 4:30pm but did not get out until about 4:47pm. Our connecting train was scheduled to leave Košice at 6:00pm. Had our first train been on time, we would have made that no prob, but with the delay, we would have watched our connecting train to Budapest pull out. So, we talked to the conductor in our car, and he called the station at Košice asking them to hold the train for us. We explained to the students that this sometimes happens, so you have to move and act and seek help. Of course, we had to be ready to hop off the bus and hustle to our next track to catch the waiting train as well.
Another issue happened on the way to Košice. We had some people in our seats mistakenly, so we showed the students how to politely confirm that they were in our seats and possibly help them find their own seats or at least find the conductor for help. Both of these impromptu lessons allowed us to show students some more ins and outs of traveling. They learned much about just basic travel problem solving.
Once we finally settled into our final train, our group of 16 was spread about the car, which meant several students sat next to strangers. I watched as at first they were unsure of themselves and then finally opened up to their fellow travelers. I could not help but smile at their cultural exchanges. They were so into their conversations. One of our students was seated across from a Spanish speaking traveler who also spoke some English. She is studying Spanish, so she used the opportunity to practice her skills as did he. He was patient with her current limited knowledge of the language and helped her when she struggled to find a word, and she did the same for him as he wanted to practice his English. It was really cool to witness.
I so enjoy watching these students open up. For some, this trip is their first experience leaving Oklahoma, flying, taking a train, and making decisions on their own. These students will show the most change by the end of the trip. They will feel the greatest impact and go back home with the itch for more. Well, all of them will feel the itch for more. Perhaps, my wandering soul rubs off of them a little.
Tomorrow we have a big day in Budapest. Until then, though, later!
Image Credit: Alexandra Lande / Shutterstock