2017 Study Abroad Essay 3 Sarah Robinson

Impressions of the Polish society and culture are

Playing of a traditional horn call made before or after a hunt.

concluded on personal experiences from being in Poland and from a recollection of general history. While Poland has many similar attributes that we have in America it does possess its own characteristics. These characteristics that are in my mind are  explained partially by their history. Comparing the social and cultural characteristics of Poland from the United States gives perspective to the similarities and differences between our custom’s. This essay will begin by identifying what culture is, and comparing Poland to the United States. It will then follow with a similar analysis of society. Finally, the essay will end with a hypothesis of how Polish people view Americans, and how my perspective changes with the emersion in their culture and society.



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

Culture can be defined in a variety of different areas. Considering the culture of Poland, I would like to identify that we are discussing attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguish them from other people. Culture is transmitted through language, objects, ritual, institutions, and from generation to generation.Poland’s culture has been continuously evolving due to their rich history. From multiple history classes that I have taken, but most specifically my World War Two class, the continuous shifting of Poland’s government and standings in the world in just the past 100 years is obvious. Poland was under Prussian rule, gained their independence after the First World War, fought a war with Czechoslovakia in 1919, immediately followed with a war with Russia in 1919-1921, in 1939 Poland was split between Germany and Russia, after World War Two Poland was left to Russian communism, and was not released until the 1990s when it became a democracy, and finally joined NATTO in 1999,

Dybowski Castle Ruins

and the EU in 2004. The culture that survives in Poland today is not what would have been found there 100 years ago. The country has been influenced and molded by too many outside forces. The culture that is seen today is a composite of these factors. Parts of the Polish culture that was obvious was their language, buildings, and food. Their language was Polish, which is probably one of the few constant factors that survived the whiplash the Poland experienced in the last 100 years.Their buildings reflected multiple time periods, from castles, to traditional buildings, to communistic style apartment buildings. Their food is something that I believe was influenced greatly by the Communist occupation.The food consisted largely of pork, potatoes, and sauerkraut. While I feel that much of Poland’s culture is similar to Americas culture there are also aspects that are largely different. For example, we noticed that the people made time to be with their families and were very religious, this can also be found in America, however differences lay in the language, their opinion on world views, and the great amount of history that has recently influenced their daily lives.





The culture that is found in Poland has greatly influenced their society. Society is defined as people that live in a general area that share laws, traditions, religion, and values. In my Spanish class we were taught to look for differences in culture and society, and to reflect on how this is different from our own. While we learned to do this specifically for countries that speak Spanish, this skill was easily translated to other countries,

St. Andrew’s Church

like Poland. The Polish society practiced Catholicism, there were Catholic churches on nearly every street. In speaking to multiple professors and even a few other people like taxi drivers we were able to concur that the Polish people were pro-democracy, and pro-trump, but did not necessarily agree with the EU’s policies. I found that the people of Poland had a more collective view on multiple aspects than America does.  It appeared that they largely practiced one religion, and generally agreed on a political view, while Americans rarely agree on politics, or religion, and often fight over smaller things that are less noteworthy and I believe would appear unnecessary to the Polish people.


While I have been able to form a conclusion of Polish culture and society, how the Polish people would view Americans is a much more difficult analysis to make. In my Historical Methods class, we learned that in analyzing different historical works you have to identify specific factors of this work and give yourself perspective in how these factors affect the work. By giving myself perspective and including personal experiences conclusions can be drawn. We talked to many people whom were intrigued in learning about our daily life and wanted to gain more information on how things were similar or different to how they were in Poland. I don’t believe that the Polish people disliked us or felt any type of hostility towards us. There is only one instance that leads me to the conclusion that they may have thought us to be ignorant. This was when we experienced some police officers who thought we were stealing a ride on the tram, when in reality we were scanning our tickets incorrectly. After one of the officers realized we were Americans and that we were scanning our tickets they simply brushed us off. While observing their general assumptions about us, I was able to adjust my initial beliefs of how Poland was going to be. While initially I was anxious about the differences in language, and the tales of how to be aware of pickpockets I found that I had no reason to be worried. Despite the language barrier we were able to communicate and the people were eager and happy to assist us. I felt as though I were being pessimistic in my initial analysis of how I assumed international travel were to be, I also believe this will aide in future international travels.

Saying goodbye to Leszek, our taxi driver in Bydgoszcz, whom we became attached to despite our language barrier.

While looking at the culture and society of Poland I was able to observe differences and similarities. Poland’s rich and quickly changing history has given it an evolving culture and society that has been influenced by various other factors that the United States had been largely sheltered from. The views of the Polish people of Americans is most likely similar to the initial conclusion that I had before experiencing their culture, unsure and based off of other people’s accounts. The cultures and societies of Poland and the United States are similar and different and leads me to concur that in future international travels I should either wait until arrival, or to do scholarly research to form hypothesis on the unknown culture and society.

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