Time to Learn Polish

It seems like just yesterday that I was writing up my personal statement and my CV to submit through the FIE office for the internship portion of my program. I remember getting it checked over by professors and friends, completely nervous as I had no idea of what specific internship I would be undertaking when I arrived in London.

Yet so much has happened in the first half of my semester that November in Madison seems so long ago. I knew the internship was approaching, but it didn’t really hit me that it would be actually starting soon. Until I got the email from my advisor saying what my internship would be.

I would be interning as a marketing/PR intern for London’s Polish Cultural Institute.

This was outstanding news for me because my favorite history to study is Polish, Lithuanian, and other history from Eastern Europe (as I discussed a bit in my Lithuania post). I have always loved learning about culture and the arts — and these passions were directly aligned with PCI’s mission.

There was one major problem though: I don’t speak Polish!

Everyone in my office is Polish and speaks Polish except me. While everyone else I know doing an internship on this program are discussing the difficulties of adjusting to working in a British environment, I have had to completely switch gears to adapt to a uniquely Polish environment.

Maybe this wasn’t exactly what I had expected when I first submitted those documents in November, but so far it has been an extremely unique experience. Having the opportunity to work in a cultural center in the heart of London is exactly what I wanted to gain from my study abroad experience, so it truly feels surreal to actually be doing it for real instead of imagining what it would be like.

This does not, however, make it easy. Because PCI is located in the same building as the Polish Embassy, stepping into my office feels like I’ve completely left the UK and have just entered Poland. Many things around the office are labeled in Polish (including the espresso maker, which I operate solely based on root memorization) and once when my computer was glitching, I tried to figure out how to create mailing labels on a computer whose language set to Polish and that I couldn’t figure out how to change.

Each week presents new smaller challenges like this that I’ve grown more accustomed to each day (and as my non-existent Polish skilsl become sort of existent? With a little credit to Duolingo…). As PCI’s film festival Kinoteka draws closer, I’m excited to attend and help out with the festival’s screenings and events. A little known fact: Poland has a really fantastic cinema industry with some interesting new films being showcased at this festival. It’s amazing that I’m able to see these for myself very soon!

I’m also just thrilled I can finally say “Dzień dobry!” correctly.