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Director of Global Initiatives & International Programs
mkucser@cedarcrest.edu
610-606-4666 x 4551

Kristi (Young) Ball
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kmyoung@cedacrest.edu
610-606-4666 X 4082 or 3413

Michelle Chavez

Michelle’s Polish Adventures

Michelle Chavez '17 is a New Media/Film Studies major currently studying abroad in Poland.

Michelle's mother is from Poland. Michelle was last there as a child. She knew one day that she would love to return to learn the language and the heritage and live where her mother once lived. She is so thankful that she has been given the opportunity to immerse herself in this new and exciting culture! Follow her journey below.

December 5

Cześć!

This past week I unfortunately got sick, so while I did not travel anywhere, I did make sure to see a couple films at the Warsaw Jewish Film Festival. The entire festival was free to attend and was only a couple tram stops away from where I live, so I figured why not. I saw three in total, two of which were documentaries and another that was a fictional story from Argentina.

What I also found out was Wednesday was St. Andrews Day, or Andrzejki as it is called in Polish, a bit of a traditional, silly celebration that revolved around fortune-telling and games. I attended an event on Tuesday about it, and while I did not participate in the games, it was great learning about this smaller tradition and what it stands for.

One of the most well-known celebrations includes pouring wax through a key into cold water, then using the formed wax as a tool to tell the future. Alternatively, you can use lead instead and keep that for a whole year to compare the results of your previous fortune and new fortune.

In terms of my Polish language development, I am gaining a better appreciation for the intricacies of the language as my courses are introducing more grammar aspects into our class. The best part about my growing language skills is being able to think of what I want to say in Polish, rather than thinking of the word in English then translating it.

While I would love to keep traveling around and seeing more of the culture and history, the break this weekend was necessary to help me refocus my efforts and focus on learning the language. I found some Polish music artists and TV shows that I like and plan to keep up this discovery.

And lastly, happy December to everyone!

Polish Word of the Week: Chory (pronounced "H-o-ry")
The flu season is coming around, and people are bound to get sick. So if you want to let someone know you are sick, tell them "Jestem chory" for the masculine version or "Jestem chora" for the feminine version.

Polish "Fun Fact" of the Week:
In the language, there are about 6 different noun cases, three genders for adjectives, numerous verb conjugations based on tense, numbers, and even gender of the speaker, and of course, no articles. While the sentence structure is basically the same as that in English, there is far more to consider when speaking Polish. On the bright side, there are very few exceptions to the rules, with those exceptions typically still following the rules of the language.

Do jutra!
Michelle Chavez

P.S. More photos will be posted to my travel blog.

November 28

Cześć!

The city we have all been waiting for; Krakow! What an amazing city it is too! This time I did not travel by myself, but I went with my on-site coordinator, so I didn't get to see everything that I wanted to necessarily, but I did see enough to give me a good taste of what Krakow is about.

Once we arrived by train in the city on Saturday, we found a free walking tour of Old Town. Hoping on, we learned a lot of basic, general historic facts about the major points of the city, calling to attention various architecture styles, myths, and relevance. Some places that I wanted to see included;

Krakow

The oldest building in Krakow, built in the 10th century and helped serve as a defense against invasion,

Wawel Castle

Wawel Castle, which holds the caskets of the dead Kings,Queens, and other major figures in Polish history and of course

The Dragon of Wawel

The Dragon of Wawel (sans flames, unfortunately).

Outside of the tour, we spent a lot of time wandering around old town, eating delicious food, and seeing an orchestra live in one of the many historic, beautiful churches. It was still quite busy even outside of the summer months, bringing the city to life. The only time it was quite was early the next morning on Sunday.

On Sunday we went to Schindler's Factory, which is not in Old Town, but a bit outside of it. Schindler's Factory is a museum on site of the famous factory that is dedicated to showing the War from Krakow's perspective as a GG region during WW2. There was a short 40 minute documentary about the Jewish people who worked at the factory that was nice to watch.

After, we unfortunately could not take a tour of the Jewish quarters, or Kazimierz, but we did walk around the area a bit searching for old synagogues to look at. We capped the trip on Sunday by visiting Wawel again, this time going into the museum and depths of the churches and castle to see the tombs and incredible artwork inside.

During the week, two film festivals happened; Five Flavors and Warsaw Jewish Film Festival. I also attended a Warsaw Social event where I got to draw and talk to a group of amazing people, one of which ended up being another American!

As much as I would love to keep up my weekend trips, I might take a break this weekend and instead see film festival movies non-stop or attend more social events, or even get started on my short film project that I have been working on. In fact, the Christmas markets might be opening this weekend, so we shall see!

Polish Word of the Week: żydowski (pronounced "zy-dov-ski")
The Jewish people have a very long tradition in Poland, and Krakow was no different. So now you know how to say jewish in Polish. If you are looking to refer to someone as Jewish, that would be żydzi.

Polish "Fun Fact" of the Week:
Poland, at its founding, had one of the largest populations of Jewish people living in the country due to their religious tolerance and policies. It was one of the few countries that had something like a "Bill of Rights" for Jewish people that was enforced by the Kings of Poland. It wasn't until the Partitions of Poland when the script changed for Jewish people living in the country.

Do jutra!
Michelle Chavez

P.S. More photos will be posted to my travel blog.

 

November 17, 2016

Cześć!

I have officially passed the two month mark with my stay in Poland. What an amazing mark to reach while here. The days are getting shorter already and there has been snowfall this past week, starting the transition into the brutal winter I've been warned about.

Of course, I took my weekend off of practicing Polish and experiencing the culture to head to London, the headquarters of English so to speak. It was mostly a visit to a friend studying abroad there, but we did wander around the city, her explaining some of the more significant buildings and letting me take numerous pictures and selfies with the place.

England 1

While both the US and UK speak English, it was still quite the cultural change between the two, even in casual situations. For example, tea. I love tea and drink it way too much, so of course I was ready to have some authentic English Breakfast and Earl Grey. When I asked for tea, they also would bring a small bit of actual milk to add to my tea!

England 2

Of course, that's just one of the many small instances that I noticed while staying in the UK. And of course, I saw many iconic buildings and sites, such as Big Ben and the Underground. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to try some of the iconic food from London, but when you are short on time (and cash) you have to make some cuts to the original plan.

Just as it was with Berlin, returning to Poland was comforting in a sense. Seeing Polish around me and overhearing people on the phone just makes sense at this point. One good part about having a mom from Poland, I can continue to attempt this beautiful language when I return to the US.

I think in celebration of my two months abroad, I will try to find myself some Bigos, but I'm not getting my hopes up. My professor said bigos from restaurant will never quite taste as good as homemade bigos.

Polish Word of the Week: Anglia (pronounced "Ann-glee-a")

We all love England, so share your love of the place by knowing how to say it in Polish. Bonus tip, London in Polish is Londyn.

Polish "Fun Fact" of the Week:
While WW2 was going on, the Polish Government in-exile was stationed in London after France fell to Nazi Germany, where the government remained during the years 1940 to 1990. The reason for the exiled government was to hold onto Poland's international presence and continue to support a democratic Poland.

Do jutra!
Michelle Chavez

P.S. More photos will be posted to my travel blog.


Novenber 10, 2016

Cześć!

As we all know, elections happened yesterday in the US. I already had submitted my absentee ballot, but every people who knew me would ask "Did you vote today?" I had to explain the concept of an absentee ballot and how we don't vote at the embassy, but none the less was surprised how tuned in the people in Poland were about the US election. Most people that I've talked to always end up asking about the election and sharing their thoughts on the candidates. Even today, after the election results came in, I had my professor come up to me and share his condolences about the election turnout.

While I would really rather not make this focused on politics, especially after election day, I think it is not only important to talk about politics freely, but also to show that the US election does not only affect the people from the US. In our increasingly globalized world, I think we as US citizens tend to forget there is a whole world of people just like us outside our borders look to the US to lead the way to change. And I'm not just talking about the presidential election, but our legislative body, our national and international companies, and so forth. That's one thing I've gained a better understanding of studying abroad, just how much the world is looking at the US and what that means for me as a US citizen.

But, let's move on to a better, happier topic; my weekend trip to Toruń!

Torun

I left on Saturday in the morning and arrived shortly after 9 AM in the town, while most of the shops and cafes were still closed and the town was still asleep. During this time, I toured around the town, stopping to take some pictures of the town before crowds started to appear.

After I went to the various museums located in the Old Town of Toruń, learning about the booming gingerbread making industry that sprung up from there, the travel collection of indigenous people around the world, and collection of East Asian art and creation.

The museums close early, so after I found myself again wandering around, walking along the river side and looking at the walls that enclose the city and the ruins of the old castle. I took a lot of pictures of the statues littered around the city, eventually stopping at a restaurant to have some Kopytka, a type of potato dumpling that is to die for.

Torun

The next day I found myself eating some pączki and learning about the history of Toruń as a northwest Polish city and Copernicus, you know, the guy who gave the radical idea that the Earth orbited the sun, rather than the other way around. After getting a quick bite of some baked pierogi then hopped right back on the bus back to Warsaw.

The city is quite beautiful and highly photogenic, I have many great pictures to upload onto my travel blog. If you are every available to travel, certainly take some time to stop by Toruń. The weekend markets, the hustle and bustle of people, the buildings and statues everywhere all add to the flavors of the Old Town, making it a relaxing weekend getaway for me.

While I found myself getting frustrated every time I tried to speak Polish in the town, I remember that I am still learning, and practice makes perfect. No matter how much the language trips me up, the food eludes me, or the culture confuses me, I am still able to experience it all in the first place, letting me open my mind to new ways of thinking and living.

Polish Word of the Week: Niepodległość (pronounced '"nie-pod-leg-woshch)
Since not only did we have our election, but Poland's Independence Day (Dzień Niepodległości) is coming up this Friday on the 11th of November. Now you can run down the streets yelling "Independence" in Polish and impress the other side.

Polish "Fun Fact" of the Week:
In the town of Toruń, and many towns around it, were part of the partition to Prussia during the Third Partition of Poland. Because of this, the architecture in the area was heavily influenced by the German style.

Do jutra!
Michelle Chavez

P.S. More photos will be posted to my travel blog. There you will also find the #PolishHeritageMonth tweets I've been posting on my Twitter, @metamish. Vlog may or may not happen.


November 3, 2016

Cześć!

This week was the week I left Poland. While some might say that I should be spending all my time exploring every nook and cranny of Poland, pretty much everyone I've talk to about going abroad had said it was a good idea. So I went to Berlin and met up with my good and long-time friend Morgan. Together we explored Berlin and learned more about the Holocaust, Berlin, Germany, and film.

Berlin

I took a night bus to get to Berlin and back to Warsaw, spending two days in the city. We explored the area and wandered about, then found museums such as the Topography of Terror, Film Museum, and The Story of Berlin, all of which I highly recommend. We saw the remaining 250 m of the Berlin Wall still standing, Checkpoint Charlie, the Tiergarten Soviet War Memorial, and the Brandenburg Gate at Pariser Platz. And of course, we tried Currywurst.

Immediately after, I was back on the road to Lomza to participate in a culturally significant holiday, "Wszystkich Swietych" or All Saint's Day. Unlike in the US where it's limited to a catholic celebration in the form of mass or Mexico's Dia de los Muertos celebration and joyful party, Wszystkich Swietych is a more of a solemn day for nostalgia and reminiscing on those that have passed on. The celebration includes visiting the cemetery, cleaning the graves, and leaving flowers and lit candles. It was a beautiful sight seeing hundreds of people bustling in and out of the cemetery, and even more wonderful seeing the cemetery at night with the hundreds or thousands of lit candles glowing in the dark.

Cemetery

Wednesday passed by in a flurry of classes and studying Polish in between downtime I had. It was a good day, and ended with a compliment from one of my classmate's native Polak friend, who said I had a good accent and pronunciation, despite a very slow and simple conversation. Just goes to show that every minute I put into learning Polish is paying off.

While traveling outside of Poland is amazing, I found myself wanting to go back to Poland. I can only imagine how much more difficult it'll be for me when it's time to finally go back to the US.

Polish Word of the Week: Niemcy (pronounced '"Nee-em-ci')
More because I want to talk about the reason Germany is called Niemcy rather than some variation of Deutschland. Way back in the day, Polish people obviously spoke Polish, which is a Slavic language. The neighbors on the east, while not speaking the same language, spoke a language similar enough to understand what they were saying. However, their neighbors on the west (Germany) did not speak a Slavic language, but a Germanic one. This made it impossible to communicate with them. For this reason, the Polish people used the word "mute", a word based also off the concept of "nie" - no and "m" which is derived from "mowic" -to speak. So the German people are those that "do not speak" our language.

Polish "Fun Fact" of the Week:
This week I tried kabanos for the first time and I finally understand why people love Slim Jims so much. kabanos is a type of Kielbasa, known for it's long but thin appearance. It was very popular in the past (as well as now!) for its long shelf life and ability to take on long journies or hiking trips as a snack. It also happens to be a source of dispute between Poland and Germany when Poland joined the EU. Only after Poland was able to provide historical documents proving the origin of kabanos in Poland were they able to get an EU classification of Guaranteed Traditional Specialty, basically ensuring that anything sold under the kabanos name would be made according to the Polish tradition.

Do jutra!
Michelle Chavez

P.S. More photos will be posted to my travel blog. There you will also find the #PolishHeritageMonth tweets I've been posting on my Twitter, @metamish. I am still in the process of editing a vlog, so perhaps you'll find one this Sunday or Monday?



Cześć!

I missed yesterday's deadline because I was busy making new friends, the theme for this week's email update on how my study abroad is going.

Of course, when classes started I had made some friends who I often will go to lunch with after class or meet up to watch a film. But since I do not live in the dorms or have quite the same course load as them, I don't get to see them often or hang out. So I was mostly at home, either watching classic movies I've never seen or practicing Polish by myself.

While it certainly isn't a bad thing, I felt like I was only wasting my time in Poland. I should be going out with friends at night and talking to native speakers to improve my Polish and learn more about the culture. And my school friend agreed, I should be doing more with my time. She showed me a couple Facebook pages and organizations that promote events in Warsaw and, a week later, I found myself at one of these events.

It was there that I met a few people, one of which I saw at a later event! Not only did I have a great time dancing and talking to new people, but I also came out of my shell and socialized with people I've never met before. Later I went to eat out with some friends. Then when I went to see a contemporary Polish film with English subtitles, I met another fan of cinema.

Yesterday, I went to a language mingle event where I met people from Laos, Egypt, Uzbekistan, and Cambodia. I also met a native Polish person. I met up again with the person I met previously who is from India. We talked about film, religion, culture, food, and meditation. We agreed to all hang out again for a film night so that we can watch films from various countries and have a potluck.

And all of this is possible not just because of the internet and social media, but also because I decided and made an effort to engage in the culture and people surrounding me. I feel much more confident going to a new restaurant or cafe with someone else, which is what happened on Sunday when I tried gołąbki, or pigs in a blanket as Americans usually refer to it as.

I'm still going to go to museums by myself, like I did this past Saturday at the Wojska Polskiego Museum, where I saw medieval battle armor and took a picture of all the women's uniforms they had on display. But I am also going to try to get out more often with friends to enjoy food and events with. While it took some time, I am finally starting to adjust to the city and interact with it.

Polish Word of the Week: Przyjaźń (pronounced 'Pzi-ja-szni')
In honor of the new friendships I've made, you get to learn how to say friendship. I was going to do friend, but I'm pretty sure there are two ways to say friend, one for a male friend and one for a female friend.

Polish "Fun Fact" of the Week:
Poland used to have a very strong friendship with Lithuania, when, in July of 1569, the two states joined together officially to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. While the two countries were already united due to a marriage between the Polish Queen and the Grand Duke of Lithuania in 1386. The union lasted until the Third Partition of Poland in 1795. Before the end of the union, the Commonwealth was able to become the first country in Europe with a constitution and second in the world when they enacted the Constitution in May of 1791, shortly before the Polish Partitions began.


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