Welcome to Warsaw

And we’re off! We have arrived here in Warsaw, after a very long day of traveling. There were a few minor complications–Bri’s flight was delayed when a plane hit a bird, and then delayed once more while the ground crew tried to catch the bird for half an hour (the bird survived!)–but we are more or less safe and sound in our room at the Student House Ursynow.

We’ve already faced a few linguistic challenges in our short time here in Poland. All of the signs here are in Polish only, which has made navigating the city’s somewhat futuristic public transport system difficult. No one we’ve met at the hostel so far speaks any English, so Bri is getting a chance to practice her Russian.

Overall, the most difficult adjustment is not the 9 hour time difference, or the more or less nomadic lifestyle, or the language barrier, but rather getting used to the fact that we know very little. The sense of being a fish out of water has been pretty strong throughout our first day here. Every interaction, we start from scratch, with minimal knowledge of the customs and norms of interaction in our present location. We’ve been solving all of our problems with a background that is pretty much incongruent with our new surroundings. This can be a little overwhelming, and it’s certainly humbling, but it’s also exciting–we’re traveling through a world of unknown possibilities, challenges, and opportunities. Because we will be covering so much ground in just eight weeks, this state of uncertainty is unlikely to change much, so it looks like we will just have to get acclimated to uncertainty for the duration of our trip.

We’ll end today’s post with a short note on Esperanto culture. Below is a picture of the pins that we will be wearing throughout our trip. Esperantists have traditionally identified themselves by wearing pins with a green star on a white background–the symbol of Esperanto. This helps Esperanto speakers to identify other Esperantists while traveling, enabling spontaneous conversation and connection between fellow travelers. We actually debated for a while about whether or not to wear the pins. Many Esperantists today consider the tradition to be outdated and unnecessary, and a little cult-like. In the end we decided that the possibilities for making serendipitous connections with other travelers and the fact that they look pretty darn cool made it worth the possibility of being a little untrendy. Maybe we can bring back the lapel pin!

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