2017 Study Abroad Essay 2 Sarah Robinson

My impressions and comparisons of the interpersonal relationships are largely constructed from personal encounters and are still evolving. Determining when these instances of interpersonal relationships are in factor was difficult at first but after taking a step back and analyzing the situation as a whole it was obvious that these interactions were a constant variable in the duration of our stay in Poland. Interpersonal relationships are a social factor that brings a group of people together on the assumption or realization that they share a common characteristic. Some of the interpersonal relationships that were most meaningful in our stay in Poland were language, our area of study, and food.

We took the wrong train on the way to Torun and were happy to have our guide Andrew see that we got on the correct train on the way back to Bydgoszcz.

During the first part of our stay in Poland is was intimidating that we didn’t speak the same language as the majority of people around us. The professors and classmates came to the conclusion that learning the language was easier for me, although I may have learned more vocabulary words the application of this language was extremely difficult. I have taken almost 8 years of Spanish classes and would like to think that this is the reason for the language was easier for me to comprehend. Not because I knew the Polish language but because I had developed study and association patters in my application of Spanish that made the initial learning process of vocabulary terms easier. In the first part of our stay we didn’t stray far from our new family, our professors from UTP, mainly because there were very few people in Bydgoszcz that knew the language or were confident enough to speak to us. This relationship created a security blanket for us. We often endured hardships because of the language barrier including an altercation with the police on a tram, and figuring out how to get on the correct train at the train station. We eventually overcame many of these obstacles just in time to relocate. During the second part of our trip in Krakow it immediately became evident that a majority of the people spoke English. This made our stay in Krakow less stressful, although it didn’t feel as much like a foreign country. In traveling to Zakrzówek, a lake in Krakow, Danielle and I first felt out of place thinking that this was a secret place which the locals kept to themselves.

Zakrzówek, where we met an abundance of people that were eager to speak to us in English.

After awkwardly sitting on a path because of how crowded the lake was we were pleased to hear English. After some of the locals left the area we found ourselves talking to a large amount of people from various parts of the world that all spoke English (Spain, Egypt, Australia, South Africa, Netherlands, Ireland, Britain, Poland, and Germany). Being able to speak the same language gave us security and a way to connect with different groups of people.


In establishing a common ground in the language that we

A German style building that was built with French money (reprimandation) from a war.

spoke we were able to create additional interpersonal relationships with the people around us, for example the area in which we study. Starting on the foundation of English we were able to create additional interpersonal relationships. Being that we were here for a globalization class that focused on agricultural factors it became clear that this relationship would not be built on this ground. However, when a majority of the professors learned that I was a history major this relationship was immediately formed. I took a World War Two class this last semester and learned a lot about the effects of the war on Poland, including its occupation by Russia. The professors were eager to tell of the history of Poland and often gave their personal accounts of how the Russian occupation of Poland affected them. For example one of our professors told us how she had to work and save her money all summer, gain travel visa, and then travel to Paris to purchase jeans because the specific type of jeans that she wanted were not in the ration of clothing allotted by the Russian government. Being able to create this relationship or common ground enabled me to learn on a firsthand account the effects of history.

Our first traditional meal from Poland. Pork, sauerkraut, and potatoes.

While studying history led to interpersonal relationships the influence of this history led to another, food. In my class Ancient Greek Civilizations we briefly discussed the globalization and effects of food fluctuation depending on whom the dominant civilization was and what time period it was during. There were often times when large amount of certain foods were taken from certain areas or when there was a trade embargo put on these areas. This led me to think about how similar circumstances effected the current consumption and types of food in Poland. Their diet consisted a mostly of pork, potatoes, and cabbage, we were able to bond over our meals. We often found ourselves sitting down to a late lunch with our professor of the day and creating relationships through the food.

Smalec, a lard spread.

I was not the only one whom had not tried cabbage before, which is one of the food items that is a major part of their diet. Our professors enjoyed placing mystery foods in front of us and watching us try them. While these food items are often things that I would not have tried in American I found myself enjoying it and learning how their custom of eating it was. For example we ate Smalec, or the equivalent of pig lard as a spread on bread and tarnished with salt, pepper, and pickles. We enjoyed having Simon show us how they ate this and I believe that we all enjoyed it and found it delicious. Finding a common ground in the food we ate allowed our meal times to be something that we looked forward too and enjoyed.

The impressions and comparisons of interpersonal relationships between Americans and Europeans are largely the same. We are all people and have created environments that while they may be different in some ways are still largely the same. While we may not speak the same language, eat the same food, or study the same things we are often able to put aside these differences and find similarities in the things we do, like our language, what we eat, and what we study. While this may seem contradictory it is often that people miss the common link in people from a different place, we are all mammals and often find ourselves searching for these interpersonal relationships that allow us to become closer and connected to other people.

UTP proffesors

Creating interpersonal relationships with the people that we were around came as a natural occurrence. We often found ourselves engaging in these relationships even though we were unaware that they were happening. Language, our field of study, and food were great ways for us to create and hopefully sustain relationships with the friends that we made in Poland.

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