Sarah applied for an International Travel Bursary to travel across Europe to improve employability skills, particularly confidence as she moves to a career in the Probation Service.
“I am back home after having the amazing opportunity exploring more of Europe. The highlight of my trip was learning about the history of each place I visited and seeing some more of the world.
Auschwitz is a must see for anyone visiting Poland! Being able to stand in the place where such horrible things happened less than 80 years ago is an unforgettable experience, as you can see from my photos. Photo (1) below shows the entrance to Birkenau, another part of the Auschwitz concentration camp that was built because Auschwitz itself was not big enough to fit all 1.3 million people (mostly Jews), between 1940 and 1945. Sufferers of the awful abuse that happened at this camp were brought into the camp in the small cabin that is pictured below (2). This would carry 70 people that would have been traveling from other parts of Europe for numerous days. The ones that survived the journey would be put into lines on their arrival to the camp, these lines decided if they were going to be gassed or would be subject to slave labour. The picture of the shoes (3) is just a fraction of the belongings of those that were sent to be gassed. The last photograph (4) shows the remains of a room where the gassed bodies would be disposed of, this room does not stand today because it was attempted to be destroyed to cover up this horrible war crime.
Parts of Europe offer some of the most beautiful places, I visited Lake Bled in Slovenia which has breath-taking views! Krka Waterfalls in Croatia and the gardens in Austria where the Belvedere palace is situated.
Most of the countries I visited had lots of historic buildings that were great to visit. Prague in particular had beautiful historic buildings. Whilst in Prague I went to the museum of medieval torture museum, it was interesting to see the torture instruments that were used on people that would not even be considered criminals now! Often women who were believed to be witches would be subject to unimaginable methods of pain.
Another amazing part of my trip was visiting Berlin and learning about the divide that east and west Berlin had from 1961 until 1989. In my photograph (right), I am stood between a part of the Berlin wall that stopped the two sides of the city from communicating during the cold war.
Most of my trip contained a huge amount of walking around every place I visited, so I could enjoy as much of Europe as possible in the month I was there. So, it was nice to spend a day in a Budapest thermal bath.
My trip around Europe has given me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the countries I visited at present time, from spending time with local people I met at hostels and venturing around the place. I also visited lots of museums that taught me about historic Europe, as mentioned earlier in my blog. It has been great learning about more of the world, this trip has influenced me to visit Asia, so I can learn even more about different places and cultures.
Since being home, I have realised that one of the things exploring Europe has helped me with is my confidence. I met loads of new people in Europe from all over the world. When at home, I am used to spending my time with the same people. I now feel more confident when meeting new people. This is brilliant at this point in my life as I have just graduated from university and am working towards getting a career within the Probation Service, where I will be meeting new people on an everyday basis.
Also, my trip has definitely helped me to become more organised. From booking international trains, using numerous trains to get to a destination and booking different accommodation for all the countries I visited. I had to document times and places to ensure that I got to each place I needed to be on time.”