My major is set up that in such a way that a year of it is spent doing a project that is sponsored by an industry sponsor. Not only do you have to juggle a Senior Design project but you are also required to take other classes as well to complete you major. My year long project was focused on creating a Vision System. Fancy name, I know. Basically we had to take a picture and compare it to existing algorithms to make sure all components were in the correct location. The trick was making it low cost and easy to reprogram. It was an international team with a group from Gdansk University of Technology (GUT) in Gdansk, Poland. There were four students from Purdue and four students from GUT. I learned a lot, gained a few REALLY good friends, made some enemies and had an amazing time in Poland. The project is set up that two weeks the GUT team goes the United States and two weeks the Purdue team goes to Poland. In Poland the team was present the final project to our company sponsor as well as the university.
We were in Gdansk, Poland which is right on the coast and has perfect weather. It got pretty chilly at night but during the day it was mid-70s. We had some of the most amazing group members that showed us all of the local bars. And I mean ALL of the local bars. Besides the bars we also got to see the beaches and lakes of Poland.
I could honestly write a whole blog post about how amazing my roommate Kasia is and how grateful I am that she was part of the project. She is seriously the kindest and has the biggest heart. She went out of her way to show us amazing views of the city and great local places. One of my favorite places that we visited was this abandoned hospital that has a great view of the pier and Baltic Sea.
We spent two weekends in Poland, one of those weekends we WILLINGLY biked almost 32 miles. We took a ferry with our bikes to a peninsula called Hel. This island is a fairly touristy island but has an amazing bike trail. The bike trail ran along the coast of the island. It was so beautiful to ride bikes in enjoyable weather with not a cloud in the sky and beach by your side. The only downside with not clouds in the sky is the sunburn that follows when you can’t find sunscreen. I have vowed to never travel again without sunscreen. How dare my mom let me leave the country without sunscreen.
We ended the bike ride with a dinner at Kasia’s parents house. They had a beautiful homestead filled with vegetables and animals. They also had outdoor seating for 15 people and prepared us a well deserved dinner.
Kasia’s parents own a restaurant that she actually took me to eat at one night. The food was so delicious. I actually had a dream about the dessert I ate there. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture so there is no proof of the best dessert in the entire world.
On the second weekend that we were in Poland we went to Lake Niegocin. We drove about three hours to go and hang out by the lake. We went on a peddle boat and enjoyed life. Kasia told us stories about how she used to sailboat through the lakes as a child. I really want to go back to Poland and go sail boating. The nice thing about Poland is the land is so preserved. There is plenty of forest and mountains but very Smokey mountain-ish. The landscape is mountainous and yet flat at the same time. Anyone you talk to will say the same thing, “We have the best of both worlds here; mountains and the ocean.”
One thing that is also amazing about Poland is how cheap it is for everything. Drinks at bars are a 1/4th of the cost as the US. I could buy a round of shots at a bar for 9 people for less than $12… at the expensive bars. You could also get a drink, dessert and a decent dinner for $10. It was CRAZY!! Being the cheap ass that I am Poland was perfect for me. 😉
Would I do the project again? If you asked me this question before I went to Poland I would have said no. I actually wrote a reflection before I went and wrote that if I had to do this over again I would change my major. My group members who narcissistic and passive aggressive at a time of my life where the weight of the world was so heavy I could barely get out of bed. My depression was at an all time high. I honestly remember thinking I didn’t know if I could make it till the end of the year. If you ask me now I would go through all the crying and passive aggressive bullshit that my group put me through to meet the people I met. I would endure all of that again to meet Kasia and Adam. These two people I have meet many more people that I would consider some of my best friends. Kasia is honestly one of the most amazing people I have met hands down. I wish everyone had the pleasure to meet her and get to know someone that truly cares for people like herself.
Thank you Kasia for every memory that you gave me in Poland. Thank you for all the laughs and good drinks that you bought. Thank you for showing me you friends and the real Polski life. In literally my lowest point of my life you found a way to pull me up and make me realize that there is still life to be lived. My trip to Poland was exactly what I needed. I might have lost my best friend but that doesn’t mean I should stop living as well. For that I will always remember you and hope to see you soon.