Five Years From Fulbright

Loved every minute of it!

It’s hard for me to believe, but this month marks five years from when Tucker and I first embarked on a long term, overseas adventure. It’s hard to say when exactly we decided that life abroad was something we wanted for our future, but I do remember asking if we could just stay in Finland indefinitely when we took our first international trip, just after our wedding/university graduation. I was immediately hooked on the adventure, but for Tucker, I think having a set plan and an entire, relatively stable year of not only living but also working in another country gave him the insight he needed, which ended up shifting our life plan pretty drastically.

At both Dalton State and Georgia State we had wanted to study abroad, but it was just way too expensive, even with scholarship help. However, in grad school I learned about Fulbright. An exchange program that provides grants for individual research projects, or in the case of the ETA program, specifically assigned teaching posts. It was obviously an amazing opportunity to not only experience another culture, life abroad, professional development, etc. but to also make money in the process – something extremely valuable to those graduating with student loans. However, before you can apply for a highly competitive Fulbright grant, you first have to choose a country/placement that interests you (and that will hopefully give you a good chance of success). For us, this was another easy choice and an incredible opportunity; we chose Poland.

2015-2016 Cohort

My heritage ties, solid grades, and excellent letters of recommendation (thanks again mentors!) eventually pushed us across the almost year long application/waiting process. We got the “congratulations” email in March, with a departure date in September. It was our first experience with a State Department exchange program, and it made a lasting impression. Meeting my fellow Fulbrighters, the Fulbright Commission staff in Warsaw, and eventually my mentor and colleagues at the University of Łódź completely solidified my respect for cultural exchange and soft diplomacy. I learned so much about Poland, the United States, history, politics, teaching, you name it, but I think what surprised me most was how much I learned about myself.

Tucker in the midst of solving a problem…

Being in a completely new environment always shifts one’s focus, and I would argue that living in a new environment (such as in a new country/culture) shifts it permanently. I absolutely loved that every day was an adventure. Going to the bank, setting up our internet connection, grocery shopping: it was all exciting and gave us new insights into everything from security and privacy to historical ties and familial influence. For problem-solvers like me and Tucker, it was a constant string of puzzles and challenges to work through often with the most amusing results and exciting successes. It also allowed for exceptional personal growth – interpersonal skills, patience, dealing with ambiguity. These skills I now cherish were addressed and honed day after day as an expat. 

Legendary hospitality!

Then there is everything we learned about Poland and about my family and my heritage. Seeing some of the “quirks” of my family represented by an entire culture, experiencing the long-lasting effects of World War II, celebrating Wigilia with new friends, eating as many pierogi and kopytka as humanly possible – we tried to soak in as much as we could. In fact, there are many habits we picked up in Poland that are still a part of our everyday lives. I discovered my love of both herbata (tea) and piwo (beer) in Poland. Tucker and I developed an interest in history and politics that we didn’t really have before. We saw firsthand how important fresh, wholesome food is and we learned how to shed some of our homegrown laziness, both of which have influenced our daily lives ever since.

Another unexpected gain from my time with Fulbright was a shift from a strong interest in teaching language (an obvious passion of mine) to an even stronger passion of teaching and discussing culture as well. After Fulbright I learned about the English Language Fellow Program, which allowed me to continue this combined effort of teaching English/language skills while at the same time learning from each other as our mutual understanding and friendships grew. Tucker and I are now considering taking this idea one step further and potentially joining the foreign service in order to continue developing meaningful intercultural relationships with people from all over the world. Fulbright gave us a glimpse into the many incredibly powerful things exchange programs can do.

Looking back at this seemingly small part of my academic/professional career, it’s clear to see it definitely had a huge impact on my life. It changed the way I view myself and my culture as well as how I see the world. From Fulbright 2015-2016 right up to the craziness that is 2020 and hopefully beyond, I plan to continue sharing my experiences in exchanging culture and shifting perspectives, whether with the help of specially designed programs like Fulbright, through my online teaching of international students, or throughout my life as an expat anywhere in the world. These five years have absolutely flown by, but I will forever be grateful for every step along the way. Thank you, Fulbright, and dziękujemy, Poland.

So thankful

My Posts from Poland

13690599_10210260223090297_1418854365690200827_n (1)Last year around this time Tucker and I were finishing up our year spent in Łódź, Poland. It was an absolutely amazing experience that I did my best to share with all my friends and family via social media. Perhaps one of the most expressive ways I found to share what we were experiencing was through the “Notes” I wrote each month on Facebook. Unfortunately, due of the nature of Facebook, they weren’t terribly easy to find, especially after some time had passed, so as I prepare for our next adventure abroad (and the sharing that will surely follow), I wanted to make my previous posts more accessible. So here are the links to the ten posts I made last year during our time in Poland. Enjoy!

Post 1: My First Impressions of Poland and its People

Post 2: What Am I Doing Here?

Post 3: Christmastime in Poland

Post 4: Cultures in Comparison

Post 5: My Progress Report

Post 6: Stereotypes – What Do Poles Think About Americans?

Post 7: A Taste of Poland

Post 8: Reminisce With Me

Post 9: Our Travels

Post 10: Missing Polska

*Update: It has now been 7 years since I originally wrote these “Notes” and 5 years since I compiled the links here. As to be expected, things have changed since then, and Facebook might not be the best option for accessibility anymore. Therefore, I have created individual pages for each of these posts, which can be found freely on my site as well as in the original, public FB Notes via the links above.

Our Travels (from 2015-2016)

There is no question that Tucker and I have been extremely fortunate this year. It honestly feels like a dream. I’ve talked a lot about Fulbright, the University of Łódź, and all the amazing experiences I’ve had with such wonderful people and organizations supporting me, but I’ve not really discussed the places we’ve been able to go. I have always loved exploring new places, comparing them to what I’ve read or heard from others, and my time in Europe has allowed me to do that and then some. Traveling is an incredible luxury, and unfortunately, it’s not something everyone can do. I hope in the future international travel becomes more accessible because I have learned and developed a great deal through it, and want more people to be able to do the same (if they want to). Anyway, since several friends and family members have expressed interest in our travels, I’ve decided to share some of our experiences this past year: the destinations, of course, but also some lessons and laughs we had along the way.

Łódź, Poland:

One of our first mishaps in Poland (of which there have been many) occurred on our second day in Łódź. We were on our way to meet my supervisor at the university for the first time, but had a slight issue on one of the trams. We really thought we were ready; armed with złoty (Polish currency) and a chipped credit card; however, Poland is both too outdated and too modern for either of those means of payment! On the tram we could only use coins or a tap-and-pay card to buy tickets, neither of which we had. Oops! Normally this wouldn’t be a much of a problem. We would just get off, buy some tickets at a kiosk, and get back on, but (of course) with our luck, the secret transportation police (who seem to follow me) were on the tram watching us as we failed. Once they were sure we had run out of ideas, they yanked us off and gave us a 140 złoty fine ($35). Needless to say, we were late to the meeting…

Warszawa, Poland

Łęczyca, Poland

Kraków, Poland

Gdańsk and Sopot, Poland

Poznań, Poland:

In December we had some time off thanks to the holidays, so one weekend, we impulsively decided to visit Poznań, a city about 3 hours from Łódź. We didn’t know much about Poznań, so on the way there we googled the main attractions and read several suggestions to see the goats. Waking up the next morning in Poznań, it was snowing (yay!), but I was sick (boo!). Runny nose, streaming eyes, chills – it was awful, but I was not going to let that stop me. We bundled up, braved the cold, and walked and ate our way around Poznań. Eventually, it was time to see the goats. We were super excited as we crowded around the Town Hall in the main square with about 50 other goat-seekers. As the clock struck noon, the tiny, mechanical goats slowly came out of their little doors at the top of the tower. They turned towards each other, butted heads a few times (among oohs and ahhs, of course), and then retreated to their home. What did we just witness? Why goats? Is that all they do? So many questions left unanswered.

Łask, Poland

Bergen, Voss, Gudvangen, Flåm, and Myrdal, Norway

Wrocław, Poland

Lisbon and Porto, Portugal – Madrid, Spain – Rome, Italy – Vatican City:

Traveling to new countries can be a tad confusing at times. There can be different ways of doing things or different laws that must be upheld – many of which are unknown to tourists. We experienced a bit of this when we got to Rome. We arrived fairly late, so there was no one to let us into our room. Luckily they left a post-it note on the door with a number to call (odd). We called, and eventually a guy showed up and took us down the street to a different apartment building (also odd). He showed us the room, gave us the key, and then asked for money because Italy imposes a “special tax” on renting rooms. What?! We had already paid for the room, and I wasn’t even sure we were in the right place with the right person anymore – should we really be giving him more money? Well, we did (with no receipt or proof of any kind). But luckily he wasn’t a scammer; Italy really does impose a tourist tax for each night you stay in the country, and it’s generally paid after you arrive. Weird.

Szczecin, Gryfino, Płoty, and Resko, Poland

Wieliczka and Zakopane, Poland:

You know what Atlanta doesn’t have much of? Snow. Obviously, Tucker and I had a few things to learn about Polish winters, but on our trip to Zakopane, a mountain town in the Polish Tatras, we proved to be slow learners. Our goal while in Zakopane was to hike to Lake Morskie Oko. We had a few difficulties getting to the starting point of the hike due to the time of year, and once we were there, I realized I had made a huge mistake. I thought someone had told me it was a two kilometer hike, but it seems they might have said it was a two hour hike. Oops. We also failed to take into account the fact that elevation changes the weather a great deal, so we left to hike 18 kilometers (11 miles) uphill, in the snow…in gym shoes. I’m pretty sure we almost lost toes. After about 20 minutes our shoes were soaked and soon we couldn’t feel our feet at all. That made walking up the steep mountain extremely difficult, not to mention all the slippery snow and ice. But at least now we will forever understand the importance of boots!

Český ráj – (near) Turnov, Czech Republic

Brussels and Ghent, Belgium

Prague and Turnov, Czech Republic

Sieradz and Burzenin, Poland

Kalisz, Poland

Częstochowa, Miedźno, Katowice, and Oświęcim, Poland

Minsk and Mir, Belarus:

One of the coolest experiences we had during our travels was riding an overnight train from Warsaw to Minsk. It was such a great trip for so many reasons, including, but not limited to: our amazing travel companions and the breakfasts we shared, the traditional Belarusian dinner with many, many toasts, and the experience of being lifted into the air as they changed the train wheels at the border. However, by far, my favorite part occurred on the way home. We took another overnight train (this one was a bit older), and upon entering our compartment, it seemed we were missing a bed. We searched around the tiny room looking for the elusive bed until we spotted what looked like a door. Thinking this must be the last fold-out bed, we yanked it open and unexpectedly found ourselves looking at the gentleman in the next compartment, who rather promptly and enthusiastically said “Hello!”. No one could stop laughing!

Mir Castle, Mir, Belarus

Prusinowice, Poland

Reykjavik, Selfoss, Hella, and Vik, Iceland – Belfast, Northern Ireland (UK) – Galway, Cork, Blarney, and Dublin, Ireland

Gdynia, Hel, Lębork, Łeba, and Malbork, Poland

Tallin, Estonia – Riga, Latvia – Vilnius, Lithuania:

I like to be early: early for class, early for appointments, early for buses/trains/planes, etc. However, sometimes it’s just not possible. Particularly when you accidentally add an 8 hour “snooze” to your alarm for the morning (why is that even an option?!). Before our trip to the Baltic States, we were graciously invited to an Independence Day party at the US ambassador to Poland’s house. We didn’t get home from the party until fairly late, and had to catch a bus the next morning at 4:50am. Before going to sleep, I responsibly set my alarm to make sure we woke up with enough time to shower, pack our things, and get to the bus station. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. At 4:34am Tucker woke up to get a drink of water, and realized (much more calmly than I would have) that we were late. Beyond late. He woke me up, and we legitimately threw our stuff in our bags and ran out of the hotel and all the way to the station. Only 16 minutes from waking up to the bus pulling away! We were sweaty, unshowered, and shaking (okay that was just me), but somehow we made it. Now we set alarms on both phones.

Stockholm, Sweden – Skopje, Macedonia – Bratislava, Slovakia – Budapest, Hungary – Vienna, Austria

Berlin and Potsdam, Germany

Rzeszów, Poland – Lviv and Kiev, Ukraine

So, this is where we’ve been this year: 21 countries, 66 cities, collecting endless memories!

I have truly tried to take advantage of every opportunity I’ve been given this year, and traveling in and around Poland was a big part of that. Throughout this process, I know my posts and pictures have been endless, but I hope they have never seemed discouraging or boastful. I wanted to document everything we did this year, so one day Tucker and I can look back and remember all the details of these stories and places, which will surely escape us as time passes. The places we’ve been and the people we’ve met during our travels this year have definitely changed how we view the world, and that is exactly why I love to travel. Here’s hoping this is only the beginning! 🙂

Reminisce With Me

This week my Fulbright grant came to an end, and all the “lasts” are starting to hit me. I taught my last class at the University of Łódź, we had our last conversation club meeting at the American Corner, and this past Friday was the last Fulbright event. With these milestones behind me, I’m find myself treating every experience as the last – the last time we eat at this restaurant, the last time we buy znaczki, the last time we see so-and-so, etc. It’s always difficult to say goodbye, but for so many reasons this experience has been much harder to let go of. Tucker and I have had an incredible time this year. We’ve seen and done more than I could ever have imagined, and the experiences we’ve had and the people we’ve met have truly changed our lives forever. Let’s reminisce!

We arrived in Poland last September jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, but it didn’t keep our jaws from hitting the floor when we were taken to Sarnia 2, m.23, which has truly become our home. The city and the apartment we live in are absolutely beautiful. This has been our view for the past year, and I will sorely miss it!

Next we met the other Fulbrighters in Warsaw, and perhaps finally realized that this was real. We got acquainted rather quickly, getting lost in the underground passages of Centrum and having shots of hazelnut vodka while learning people’s names. Now I feel confident that there’s no amount of vodka that would allow me to forget their names! Hopefully. 🙂

Fulbright Polska 2015-2016

Eventually, we returned to Łódź and got down to business: meeting my new colleagues, beginning classes at the university, studying Polish fervently, etc. Throughout the year we attended many conversation clubs and other events at the American Corner, we visited primary and secondary schools across the country, and even gave conference presentations in Minsk.

School visit in Burzenin

Through each of these experiences I’ve been able to develop as a teacher, a presenter, a researcher, and as a person. There is always so much to discuss and even more to learn! Tucker and I participated in everything possible, and we have never been disappointed. We looked into our futures on Andrzejki Day, we marched in support of women’s rights on Piotrkówska, we shouted “POLSKA! BIAŁO-CZERWONI” at a hockey match, and we even attended a party at the US ambassador to Poland’s house.

In addition to all of these amazing events, we were also lucky enough to spend our free time traveling around Poland. We hiked the Tatras near Zakopane, visited castles in Kraków, Malbork, and Łęczyca, walked along the Baltic sea in Łeba, saw the legendary goats of Pozńan, took a ferry to Hel and back, and so much more! Poland has incredibly beautiful and diverse geography – there is so much to see, and we’ve only just scratched the surface.

Słowiński National Park

And while we were busy completely immersing ourselves in all things Polish, we also had the privilege of making some of the most incredible friends! We really cannot thank everyone enough for welcoming us into your homes, your lives, and your cultures. We have learned so much from you all! I have no doubt we’ll be friends for life, and Tucker and I can’t wait to host you in whatever country we end up in next!

So, what is next? Fulbright is over, but we still have a month left in Poland. And that can mean only one thing – travel! We have three more trips planned, plus as many events as we could squeeze into our last few weeks in Łódź. After that, who knows? Many people have been asking about our plans for the future, but for now, we’re happy to be mulling over our options. We do know that we’ll be back in Atlanta for at least August and September, but after that, it could be anywhere!

My Progress Report

We (Fulbrighters + Tucker) recently reached the halfway point of our grant period and had a great time catching up in Warsaw at our mid-term meeting. While it is extremely difficult to believe we’re over halfway finished, it was really inspiring to hear what my fellow Fulbrighters have accomplished thus far. During our time together we commiserated on how difficult teaching can be, we compared notes on what our cities and schedules are like, and, of course, we had to formally present our personal and professional achievements from this past semester. I’m generally terrible at presenting information about myself, especially when supervisors are watching (i.e. judging), and unfortunately, I feel I lived up to this particular shortcoming at this meeting where I unexpectedly lost my voice right before I had to give my three minute presentation. It wasn’t a great moment, but it’s okay because I really have done some amazing things here, and I’m so happy to share some of them with a different (but equally important) audience…in written form, which is apparently much better for me.

2015-2016 Fulbright Polska ETAs at the mid-term meeting, not at all hungover…

When I think of all the opportunities I’ve been given since the start of my grant, I’m absolutely blown away. I could never have imagined what this experience would do for me as a teacher, a researcher, and as an individual. However, Fulbright is not really about what we can gain, it’s more about what we can share; thus, I’d like to perpetuate the sharing by describing some of my contributions, connections, and developments (so far) in the hope that they will sparks ideas, conversations, or even change in others.

Contributions: One of my main contributions has been in the classes that I teach at the University of Łódź. I’m trained in Applied Linguistics (thanks GSU!), and I absolutely love the language learning process, so spending time with future English teachers, translators, and researchers is a great use of my time. I feel that my teaching style and enthusiasm in the classroom have really had an effect on these students, who are at the end of their degree program and are feeling drained and perhaps a little apathetic. It has been my pleasure to revive them and remind them how awesome the field of linguistics is! Aside from my own students, I’ve also been able to help others in the university’s writing center, ERIC. Writing is not my favorite subject (as with many of these students), but it gets the job done. By focusing on a very practical approach to academic writing, I hope I’ve been able to show them it’s not quite as painful as it seems, and that it has a purpose. I’ve had a great time getting to know these students, and I’m looking forward to another semester with both new and old friends.

Outside the university, I’ve been working to develop a series of workshops for fellow instructors/presenters. I have a different educational and cultural background than my colleagues, and I’ve seen how curious they are to learn about typical presentation methods in the US. Therefore, I’m planning workshops centered around presentation software, audience interaction, and the use of visual aids/technology. Another contribution I am quite proud of is a book chapter on the L2 Writing situation in Poland, which I am co-authoring with my Polish language instructor and friend, Mateusz. We discovered that his job here and my job in the US are mirror images of each other (the only difference being the fact that I teach English and he teaches Polish). So we put our heads and keyboards together and have submitted an abstract, which hopefully will become part of an edited volume focused on non-English L2 writing contexts. Last but not least, my slow-burning contribution is the research I’m conducting on the influence grammatical gender has on societal perceptions of physical gender. I have already met some extremely insightful people and have had wonderful discussions about gender equality and fluidity in Poland. I’m really excited about where this research has taken me thus far, and I can’t wait to continue the process.

Connections: I am very happy with the contributions I have been able to make, but to me the personal connections have been even more valuable. I have been extremely lucky to have made great connections with colleagues and students here in Łódź as well as in several other Polish cities. Many of these connections and friendships have been sparked by school visits. There are students (and teachers) all around Poland who are learning English and love the opportunity to practice and speak with a native English-speaking American. Because of this now global trend, I’ve been invited to visit students all over Poland and to give presentations on everything from Thanksgiving to Higher Education in the US. I absolutely love getting to see so many Poles in their element, and I doubt I’ll ever forget the random questions I’ve been asked (including, of course, the ever popular “What is your favorite color?”). Another amazing way I’ve been able to connect to different groups of people has been through the weekly conversation club I lead at the American Corner. These groups have been such an awesome place for me to ask all my questions about Polish culture and to have some extremely interesting discussions and revelations. Personally, one of my favorites was the complete shock and disgust many people felt after we told them about the excessive number of water fountains in the US.

Of course, not all my connections have been so formal. I have truly made some great friends here in Poland, locals and expats alike! It seems so amazing to me how much we can share just by having fun and hanging out at restaurants, bars, escape games, concerts, trains, wherever. I know Tucker and I will leave here with some life-long connections, and I’m so grateful for that. Another way I keep connected is (gasp) through social media. These posts allow me to continuously share some of my impressions, conversations, and experiences abroad with my friends and family in the US. My written words (plus the plethora of photos I post) is my way of bringing the intercultural knowledge I’m gaining every day back to my home country. There is so much we can learn about each and every culture, but I find the similarities and connections between them the most important of all.

Developments: Something that has really surprised me during my time in Poland is how much I’ve changed and developed as a person. These developments are another important part of this process, and I definitely view them as personal achievements. Being immersed in a new culture often brings about new challenges. During my time in Poland, my independence, confidence, and patience has been tested as it never was in the US. I’m extremely fortunate to have had this experience, which I believe has made me more perceptive and more adaptable than ever before. As a language teacher, I think another important aspect in my development has been living with a language barrier. It’s a completely unique experience to not be able to express yourself clearly and completely when you need to, and while I’ve previously had this feeling in a foreign language classroom, it’s magnified ten-fold in real life.

During this time, I’ve also been lucky enough to partake in some professional development by attending several conferences and multicultural events. The number and diversity of such events has been astounding, and I’m looking forward to attending (and hopefully presenting at) more conferences in the future. In addition to all these amazing experiences I’ve be able to have in Poland, my time in Europe has also afforded me the opportunity to travel to many other countries. In my opinion, travelling to new places is perhaps one of the best ways to grow as an individual. For me, the feeling is almost indescribable. There is so much to explore both in the world and in our own minds, and travelling seems to bring the two together in the most beautiful way. I’m so incredibly lucky to be having these experiences now, and I know that they will categorically shape me and my life forever.

Shockingly (or rather not) I went into more detail than I had intended, yet it still wasn’t quite enough. I wish I could share every experience and every detail because they have been so incredible. I do hope my “progress report” is inspiring and encouraging for others because one thing I’ve realized is that I didn’t have to come to Poland to make contributions, connections, and developments like this. There are so many amazing experiences and open doors ready and waiting for anyone willing to look for them.

What Am I Doing Here?

I’ve been living in Poland for two months now, and I still can’t believe how lucky I am! I will be forever grateful to Fulbright, to the University of Łódź, and to each and every person who helped make this dream a reality (which come to think of it, is quite a lot of people). To most of you reading this, it isn’t surprising that I’m loving every second of living abroad. Many of you have heard me ramble on about the places I’ve been and the places I’d like to go, or maybe we’ve traveled together and you’ve seen my excitement firsthand. Or maybe you’ve had classes with me, where I incessantly and passionately discuss every topic within the realm of language and culture. It’s fairly obvious that I’m in my element just being in a foreign country, but what exactly am I doing with my time spent over here? And why did I choose Poland as my second country of residence? These are just a few questions that I’m asked on a regular basis, so I thought I’d take some time to explain what led me here and what exactly I’ll be doing for the next year.

As many people already know, I am in Poland on a Fulbright grant. What many people might not know is that Fulbright is an amazing program that promotes international exchange by selecting students, teachers, scholars, professionals, researchers, and artists to share their talents and establish mutual understanding between their home and host countries. Fulbright Grantees include some of the most brilliant and ambitious individuals I have ever met, and I am extremely thankful to be a part of this prestigious family.

My role within Fulbright is that of an English teacher, thus most of my time is allocated to the teaching of Philology majors at the University of Łódź. I teach four classes in total: two sessions of Integrated Skills to BA students in their final year of study, and Academic Writing to first year MAs and last year BAs. My students fall into the Philology department, but are divided into different specializations including Linguistics, Methodology, Translation, and Literature. The majority are from Poland, but several are from other European countries and a few from as far away as Colombia. I love getting to know my students, and I am thankful for their positivity and support while I continue to navigate the challenges of teaching in a completely unfamiliar system.

University of Łódź

While my paying job is at the university, I am also here as a representative of Fulbright and of the United States; therefore, I spend a good amount of time volunteering in the community. Most of my volunteering thus far has been within public education – I am a teacher after all! So far I have been able to visit two inner city primary schools in Łódź to talk about US holidays and customs, play games, sing songs, and just be a part of the kids’/teachers’ day. I have also been helping out in the American Corner in Łódź, which is a resource center created by a partnership between the university and the Public Affairs section of the US embassy. In the American Corner I help lead a conversation club each week, where we discuss a variety of topics and subsequently keep our English language skills sharp. I also give presentations on topics related to the United States and the English language, which have allowed me to share my culture and experiences while gleaning information about Poland’s perception of such subjects.

During this time in Poland, Fulbright also gives us time and resources to conduct research. At first, my mind was spinning with all the possibilities, but after many long, thoughtful hours on public transportation, I have decided to research grammatical gender in language and its effect on gender roles and societal perception. I would like to take both a quantitative and qualitative approach with this project: quantitatively measuring grammatical gender in a language and qualitatively assessing the effects through interviews and observations. Obviously I will begin with Polish, which is highly gendered and eventually move on to a moderately gendered language and finally a gender neutral language. I’m hoping to see a correlation between the amount of gender in a language and the fluidity of gender roles and perceptions.

Another goal of mine (partially research-driven) is to learn as much Polish as is possible. I absolutely love the language and am lucky to not only have Polish classes every week, but to also be fully immersed in the culture. It can’t get any better than this! I do have to admit, however, that while the Polish language is a linguist’s dream, it seems to be a learner’s nightmare. Seven grammatical cases, three genders, a multitude of consonant clusters, many conjugation exceptions, and the list goes on. To give you a taste of what I’m working with, here is a list of the 17 grammatical versions of the number “2”: dwa, dwie, dwoje, dwóch (or dwu), dwaj, dwiema, dwom (or dwóm), dwoma, dwojga, dwojgu, dwojgiem, dwójka, dwójki, dwójkę, dwójką, dwójce, i dwójko. Who wants to learn Polish with me?!

Last, but not least on my to-do list is travel. I’m living in Europe! How could I not take advantage of this amazing location? While I’m here, I am hoping to see as much of this continent as I can; however, I am starting with Poland. I chose to apply for a Fulbright grant in Poland for several reasons: my heritage, my love of Slavic languages, its location in the heart of Europe, etc. Everyday I’m here my connection to Poland is increasing; I want to get to know this country and these people as well as I can. To me, that means spending time as they spend time and getting to know the places they know. I am lucky enough to have gone through this process in the United States, and I feel like it gave me a great view of my country and the people who live there. Now I’d like to repeat the process in Poland. So far we’ve visited Warszawa, Łódź, Łęczyca, Kraków, Gdańsk, and Sopot, but there are many more cities on our list!

Łęczyca

Well, that was probably more detail than anyone (except my family) would have wanted! If you’re still reading and have any questions, I’d love to answer them. It’s difficult to share absolutely everything I’m doing over here, but I’m happy to try. Fulbright is a program of international exchange. Half of my job is sharing my experiences with the people I meet in Poland, but the other half is sharing them with you!

Dziękuję za przeczytanie!