2017 Study Abroad Essay 1 Ragan Cummings

Expectations and concerns…. Normally these are two things that most people would have when studying abroad and leaving their home country for the first time.  I, however, do not really have any. I suppose I should say I do not have many expectations, because I certainly have a few concerns. I am trying my best to be as open minded as I possibly can while I am over here. The only Thing that I had in my mind was a little bit of knowledge of the culture, very vague knowledge of Poland’s history and a slight concern for traveling internationally.

My expectations of the culture here just came from Dr. McGahan, Dr. Lambert and my mom’s experience in Europe.  Our professors told us that the people of Poland were very nice and that some of them would try and speak English to us.  When we went to the market we had a question on what the differences were between two types of bacon that looked very similar. We asked this lady who was nearby; I say nearby, but she was right behind me when I turned around from picking up the bacon and I almost ran over her, anyway, we asked her if she spoke English and she said yes.  She helped us with our bacon inquiry and we learned that she is a professor at the University in the Agriculture Department and she knows our Polish professor Szymon or as we call him Simon. We attempted to tell her “thank you” in Polish and she seemed to get a kick out of that. She seemed to meet my expectation of the culture just based on what Dr. McGahan has told us. My mom told me that if you are nice and try to communicatee with them they will usually be nice in return.  However, the lady at the checkout was much less forgiving of our language barrier.  My concerns are that the language is going to be an issue especially with the older generation, I feel as if they get angry when we don’t know what they are saying. The food is something that I really do not know what to expect other than pork and a lot of it!  As far as the preparation of it I have no idea what to expect but I am trying my best to keep an open mind and try new things daily.

Historically I do not know a whole lot about Poland. I actually knew so little about Poland that had to google where it was on the map. I know that they had one of if not THE largest concentration camps during World War II.  Dr. McGahan told us that Poland was important in the Middle Ages and traded a lot during that time. He told us that the Teutonic Knights were the ones that built the castles and controlled the highways and trade posts for the Lord of the Land during that time.  I haven’t studied history since I was in high school so I am rusty on my Polish timeline. I have this concern though that Poland is becoming a country whose history seems to be fading from people’s minds.  The city here is beautiful and filled with old buildings and roads, I think that if we are not careful the rest of the world will forget about Poland and the vital role it has played. I would really hate for people to only remember that Poland is where Auschwitz is and not realize that there is much more good history to learn about. I am looking forward to learning the Polish history both good and bad.

The international travel I was scared would be completely terrible. It did not go quite as I had hoped it would but I did manage to get through all the securities without being taken to a little room. I have always been nervous about going through another country’s airport because the movies always make them seem hectic and with the signs being in a different language that scared me.  It was a relief for the signs to have English sub written.  I made it through and I think that I will be alright in the future.  Buying the ticket for the tram was interesting and defiantly not something I am used to.  The ride on the tram was fun and uneventful. I hadn’t ridden on a train since a high school trip to Dallas so it was cool to get back on one.

I tried exceptionally hard to, frankly, not think about this trip before I came.  I didn’t want any preconceived notions or expectations. I want to be able to be openminded and not be thinking about all the expectations I have in my head. I can have a very wild imagination from time to time so I tried to just keep it from going crazy putting irrational thoughts in my head. Honestly, I didn’t want to get here with these high expectations and be disappointed. I just wanted to be able to come with a fresh outlook.  I tried to not have any concerns because I know how I am, like I said I have a wild imagination that can get out of hand if I let it. If I think too much about something and start worrying I won’t do it. I did not want Poland to be like that. I want to be able to immerse myself in Poland and in the culture without be concerned about every little thing. I want this trip to be a chance for me to experience the world and not be afraid of it like I have been in the past. This trip to me is about trying to get out of my comfort-zone.

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