Now let’s get serious folks. This blog really isn’t about pop culture at all. It is time to talk about the po(o)p culture of Europe. Aka bathrooms. This might sound weird, but it is an important observation that affected me everywhere I traveled on CR.
The first difference in Europe is that you are required to pay to use the bathroom in many locations. Public bathrooms usually cost a Euro and private bathrooms require you to purchase an item before use. This concept is very interesting because if you need to go to the bathroom you WILL pay. There is no question about whether or not you want to make the purchase of going to the bathroom, you just have to go. It does deter people from overusing and overcrowding the bathrooms through. Fellow CR members were very picky on when and where they would go to the bathroom and would practically burst their bladders to save a Euro. Mad respect. I think my favorite moment is when I received a receipt after my bathroom payment. Might be the most odd purchase I have made, but all I know is that receipt will be framed in the dorm room next year.
Now this one is interesting. I have noticed that the countries we have explored are very environmentally conscious. This is clearly exhibited by the flushing mechanisms. Many bathrooms have an option of a flush with less power (#1) or a flush with a little more power (#2). This gives users the option to save water each time they use the restroom. I have seen this occasionally in America, but not to the extent that I’ve noticed in Europe. The action that one can take to flush include pulling a string, pressing a button, and stepping on a button. The typical American way of pulling a small lever is much less common over in Europe. This was a small but very interesting cultural difference. This small change reminded that bathrooms are different all over the world, some countries with no bathrooms or ways to flush at all. It is important to see and experience cultural differences in both small and big ways to better understand the privileges in your own culture. I take for granted the opportunity to simply go to the bathroom. I am thankful that CR has opened my eyes to one of the simple yet impactful aspects of culture.
Bathroom Robbery in Riomaggiore
One night after dinner in Riomaggiore I went back to the room with my roommates Kynnedi, Sarah, and Chloe. Upon arrival, we discovered that our bathroom window was wide open and the room was a mess! We had been robbed! We quickly ran around the room to check for our belongings. Nothing had been stolen though…interesting. We did some more investigating and found out that is was the same person that stole Brent’s jeans off the balcony! His name was The Wind. Turns out we just didn’t shut the window all the way and the wind just blew everything over. As for the room being a mess, that was completely our fault and we take fully responsibility. *Disclaimer: We were most definitely not robbed and the places we stay on CR are very safe!!*
You haven’t fully experienced life until you visit the James Bond 007 bathroom at the top of the Swiss Alps. Before we even got into the bathroom, Kevin accidentally walked into the women’s restroom. He quickly realized when he saw girls washing their hands in the sink and ran out and into the men’s room. Classic Kevin. Once you walk past the sliding door, you are greeted by multiple voices from loud speakers in each stall. They each had a different voice and and were talking about very random action scenes. It made the entire bathroom experience memorable. The shadows painted on the stalls looked like real people. All men were painted in the women’s restroom and all women on the male stalls. There were also bidets in every stall…quite the luxury experience!!
While we were in Germany I also stumbled across some interesting signage in the bathroom stall. This sign was shocking! It really wrecked my plans of standing on the toilet like I normally do. Everything I had ever known was turned upside down. Very disappointing Germany!
I have a love hate relationship with some of the European toilet paper selections. First of all, the texture of some is more consistent with receipt paper than normal toilet paper. But toilet paper is toilet paper so I will take what I can get! My favorite type of toilet paper was when it came in individual pieces that you pulled out as opposed to an entire roll. This way users could pull the exact amount that they wanted and didn’t have to worry about the roll going out of control and flying into someone else’s stall. This not only saved paper, but also saved time. Overall I feel like I have used toilet paper in a more efficient and environmentally friendly way since I have been in Europe. Currently saving the plant one toilet paper at a time!
This one is a huge cultural difference compared to America. The standard toilet is pretty similar… but the German pisser is a completely different experience. As team charlie was walking through Berlin, we came across this little booth with the silhouette of a little boy peeing. It seemed weird to just have this picture in the middle of the city, so being the curious gal I am, I wandered over to the booth to explore. My discoveries were fascinating, but I needed a wing-woman to help. So I recruited Sarah to go into the booth to gain more insight. On the outside it seemed as if it was a bathroom/porta potty in the middle of the city. Very convenient. Sarah reported back to say that there was nothing in there. Impossible!! That just couldn’t be right. I had to see myself. Turns out she was right. There was literally nothing but a small drain in the middle. Then I came to a realization that the function of the pisser was a place where men could pee on the ground in the middle of the city with absolutely no shame. You would never see something like this in America and I was fascinated. It may be weird, but it was cool to stumble upon a little slice of German culture through the pisser.
If you know me, then you know that I LOVE baths. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that our hotel in Florence had a luxurious bathtub. After an amazing 4.5 hour dinner, we headed back to the hotel. Emma and Taylor immediately passed out, but I had other plans. I turned the knob on the bath and warm water filled the tub. I poured soap into the water and watched as bubbles filled up to the top. It was magical. I jumped in and laid my head back on the pillow attached to the tub. A pillow!!! That was the most comfortable bath I had ever experienced. I soaked in the warmth and listened to some dope worship music. I was so at peace and truly thankful for something as simple as this bathtub. I have no idea how much time had passed, but I eventually drained the tub and slipped into the hotel robe and slippers. I felt like royalty. The next morning I was rejuvenated and on top of the world… well actually I was on top of the Duomo but you get the point!! On our last day in Florence I said farewell to our bath and headed to Rome.
When we arrived in Rome, Dr. P gave us our room assignments. There sadly was no bath at this hotel. I was hanging out in the lobby and Dr. P handed a group of us his room key and told us to go look at his room. We opened the door, walked in, and discovered a bathtub. No actually it was not just a bathtub. It was an entire jacuzzi in the middle of his hotel room. WITH COLOR CHANGING LIGHTS!! We were very jealous but more amazed that he wasn’t already in the bath relaxing! Dr. P works so hard to make the dream of CR a reality. I am extremely thankful for his constant sacrifices to make this life-changing experience happen year after year. So I can’t think of anyone more deserving of that hotel room jacuzzi than him!!
Oh man this topic gives me PTSD. To understand where my trauma originated from we have to go back to the first night in Berlin. After 20+ hours of travel, we arrived to TXL airport. We were PUMPED to find Dr. P in the starbucks…an iconic first meeting spot in Berlin. We waited at the baggage claim to collect our belongings. Waiting…waiting…still waiting. At this point we had become best friends with a woman who graduated from Baylor. We put our rivalries aside and bonded over the roadblock that we were facing. This was the first official CR roadblock. Our spirits were very high and the excitement of being on CR made us laugh about our bags being lost. In true CR fashion, we got the unexpected. We greeted Dr. P not at the starbucks, but through the security glass at baggage claim. Proof that CR11 was not going to settle for the expected.
We discovered that night that our bags were still in London, so we arrived to our hotel with only what we carried on the aircraft…aka headphones and a passport. I hopped in the shower after a long day of travel. This was going to be the most refreshing shower ever! I turned the knob and next thing I know the shower literally attacked me. Freezing water shot from the walls and I slipped and fell on the soaking floor. Kynnedi started dying laughing on the other side of the wall as I reached back into the line of fire to stop the attack. Quite the way to start off Berlin! The reason this attack was so tragic was because of the design of the shower. The water not only shot out directly on me, it also got all over the ground because the shower door did not close. It was not very practical and water got everywhere. It was interesting because this design of the door not closing was pretty consistent across Germany.
However, the showers in Germany were not the only ones with pent up anger. Our shower in Florence also had some personal issues. Here is a quote from Emma that explains the incident from the inside.
“We had just gotten back to the hotel after a really long day exploring the city of Florence. It was super hot and I just really felt like I needed to take a shower. My roommates that week in Florence were Claire and Taylor, but Taylor was still out exploring at this time. Claire and I were hanging out in the room with Lauren and I hopped in for a quick shower. As I was showering, I glanced up and noticed that you could mess with the shower head to change the settings. So I started to twist it and it rotated through the classic settings that most shower heads have. But I twisted it once more and as I moved it, a single stream on the corner of the shower head started twisting. Then the ENTIRE shower head started twisting. So it was as if I was getting attacked by the shower head and the water started squirting me in my eyes so I couldn’t see anything. At this same time, Lauren barged in because she wanted to go to the bathroom. To her surprise, she found me yelling bloody murder as if I was getting attacked by a water demon. Crazy things out there folks. You have to stay away from those spinning shower heads. I haven’t seen one since, but in the end all was well.”Emma Kight, CR11 and victim in the Florence shower attack
I think Emma’s encounter with the shower says it all. Stay safe out there and always take precautions when using showers in Europe.
These are just some random observations that I have made throughout my time abroad. I am extremely thankful to have the opportunity to even use a bathroom, take a shower, and have running water. I understand that is not the case for everyone around the world. I have become more aware of the small privileges that we do not even realize, like bathrooms. There are so many people that do not have access to the small luxuries that we take advantage of every single day. It is a humbling experience to take a step back and realize all of these little blessings in life. It is important to start every day with an attitude of gratitude. It truly makes every single thing in life a little more blissful 🙂