On March 22nd, 2018 we had a trip to Częstochowa. It was very memorable – especially to visit the Sanctuary. After the event, I decided to ask some of the Erasmus students about what they think about this day and what kind of feelings the trip has left them with.
Did you like the visit? Name the best and the worst.
Ivaylo Hubenov from Smolyan, Bulgaria: I enjoyed the visit to Częstochowa. The monastery was really beautiful and it is something you do not see every day. Another cool thing was the Lemo Lemoniada Lemon and the game of Makao we played there together.
Laura Mollard-Dumont from Grenoble, France: It was great because every trip is an exciting experience for me, as you get to know more of the country in which you live and you can see some truly beautiful places… I will say that if the visit to the Sanctuaries would have been in English it could have been even better, but anyway, there was wonderful stuff to see even without the explanations!
Margarita Arredondas Vidal from Ponferrada, Spain: I liked the Sanctuary. There were a lot of people and I felt peace because it’s a very holy place. Still, I would have liked to have the details in English because we were very tired and we didn’t understand anything so it ended up being a bit boring. I didn’t like the city at all – maybe it’s better in summer with all that sunshine, but unfortunately, it was so sad walking along the long streets with almost no people around us the day we visited.
Akin Kiliç from Kahramanmaras, Turkey: I liked the visit, and I liked Cestochowa. I have never seen a Christian Sanctuary before so I can’t be certain, but I imagine it was a big one in comparison to the others. I must add though, it would have been perfect if we had an English speaking guide with us, but it was still okay.
All of you have different religions. Do you think that spending time with people of other religions is worth it?
(I.H): Of course! Spending time with people of other religions is definitely worth it. Just because someone believes in something other than you, it does not mean he or she is an awful person or something like that.
(L.MD): I like to talk with people who are open about the religion. As an atheist myself, it’s interesting to understand how people believe in something, to find out the reasons why and to see how deep they are in this religion. But sometimes it may be hard because I disagree completely about some concepts of religion. But of course, you have to always be careful what you say if you don’t want to hurt the feelings of the others. So I would say it’s interesting, but it is definitely not easy.
(M.A.V): Yes, for sure it is. It’s a way to open up your mind and be more tolerant. We should realize that our point of view or religion is not the only one, so we must respect all of them. Also, I think it is an enriching experience because we learn about another traditions and cultures.
(A.K): I am Muslim and I love religions because it is an open matter for everyone. I want my friends to see my religion’s places. And I can recommend every person in this world to see Poland. Maybe it isn’t the first recommend place for me, but it is most definitely worth it. The most beautiful thing is that all of us are from the different countries and we represent various religions – and some of us are not religious at all – but we still see each other as equal human beings.
Do you know some Sanctuaries in your country? Talk about them. Could be Christian or not.
(I.H): In my hometown, you can find the third largest church in Bulgaria – the Church of Saint Visarion of Smolyan (you can find more info here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Saint_Vissarion_of_Smolyan ) .
(L.MD): To be honest, I don’t know if we have this kind of Sanctuaries, but we have monasteries. I have one in my village in the forest; it’s really beautiful and peaceful. It’s called „Le monastère de la Grand Chartreuse”, which could be translated as „The monastery of the Big Chartreuse”.
(M.A.V): While my favorite Sanctuary is not in my country, I really feel a connection to it as it is “mine”. I am talking about the Fatima Sanctuary in Portugal. I have been there several times and I really love going there any time I can. I feel at peace with myself, and this is a feeling I can’t explain, but it feels very good and pleasant. I like it because always, no matter the season of the year, there are a lot of people from a huge number of countries visiting, and you can see how much love they have for the Virgin of Fatima. There are also some who make a kind of sacrifice, like walking on their knees, because they recovered from an illness – it’s a really emotional sight.
Can you recommend some places to visit in Poland for other students?
(I.H): I recommend visiting the cities of Gdańsk, Gdynia and Poznań.
(L.MD): I visited Mikołajki and Giżycko this winter and it was really beautiful – so peaceful, with lot of forests and so many lakes. But I would advise to go there in summer or at least spring because it was completely empty in winter…
My next trip will be to the Słowiński National Park because some friends advised me to visit this place. It’s like a desert near Gdańsk. And I really want to see the buffalo in the forest in the East of Poland.
(M.A.V): I think anyone who comes to Poland must visit Auschwitz – the concentration camp. Even if it’s hard to be there, I think it is an obligatory visit for any tourist. We have to realize what happened there, how Jewish people suffered, and we cannot forget about it: for the sake of all people who died, but also for us, because if we forget our mistakes we will end up making them again. When it comes to the cities, my favorite one is Gdańsk for sure, but also the Baltic Sea that you can visit as well. Near this city is Westerplatte, the place where the Second War World was started. Any city in Poland has something special, the historical background, the culture… So I think any important town is great to visit, like Poznań, Wroclaw, Krakow… and of course the capital – Warsaw.