Editor’s Note: Please enjoy this first article in a two-part series on Nichols College junior Jenna McAssey’s study abroad experience in Krakow, Poland.
By Jenna McAssey ’19
Poland. In reflecting on my time there, I cherish the fact that I’ve not only brought home countless memories but also friendships that will last forever.
My four months abroad was irreplaceable and unforgettable. I could not have chosen a better place in Europe to study, and I hope to be able to return back one day. Throughout my time in Poland, I was able to travel to many different places, try different foods, and have the opportunity to meet people representing different cultures.
My home during the fall 2017 semester was in Krakow, Poland. Krakow is one of the oldest cities in Poland (in fact, Europe) and is absolutely beautiful. It was once the city of the great kings and queens of Poland, and their castle—the Wawel Royal Castle—still stands in homage to them and many historic leaders.
I lived in an apartment right on the edge of the city center with two other Americans. Our apartment was in a prime location, and we had no issues—aside from an older woman who lived in the building.
My roommates and I slowly learned that many of the older ladies were not too friendly to foreigners, especially people who did not speak English. The ladies in our apartment would knock on our door every other night with another problem they had with us and would then proceed to yell at us in Polish (knowing we did not speak the language.) They eventually gave up and decided to print a list of rules translated into English and put them on our door. Afterward, we had contacted our landlord. He said to ignore what they did and told us many of the older couples living in Krakow do not like students, so no matter whom it is, this is what they will do.
The food in Poland is traditional and delicious! I was able to try different types of foods and also had the opportunity to make a variety of pierogi fillings. Pierogi (basically a dumpling or ravioli) is an extremely popular food that is served at practically every restaurant in Poland. In Krakow, my favorite restaurant was nextdoor to my apartment and had 35 flavors of pierogi on its menu. My two favorites were one with fried tomato and mozzarella and one with blueberry cheesecake for dessert.
It was definitely an incredible educational experience to meet people from all over the world and be able to learn about their traditions and beliefs. I made friends from various countries such as Turkey, Germany, Syria, Italy, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Hungary, Belgium and Spain. Since there were only six Americans in our study-abroad program, we integrated with the Erasmus programs (European Universities Exchange Program). Through this program, students in any country throughout or near Europe can study in any other European country for the semester. We were able to participate in all of their events, parties, and programs. I took classes with the Erasmus students and other Americans studying abroad. It was interesting to see the different views, cultures, and daily lives of people from other parts of the world. It was also eye-opening to listen to people’s opinions about the United States, and how we are stereotyped as an American society.
I recommend studying abroad as a college student. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I am happy I chose Poland because it is not a common study abroad destination. This allowed me to open myself up to meeting new people and to be submerged into the culture.
Jenna McAssey is a junior at Nichols College with a double major in criminal justice and psychology. She is also an intern for the Office of Marketing and Communications.