I’m just wrapping up my first full week in Warsaw and working on adjusting to a normal work schedule. My first week at the Fulbright Commission was spent working on a wide variety of things including editing their website, planning social media posts, writing and editing guides to life in the U.S. for Fulbright Scholars and EducationUSA students, and updating the alumni database. The most exciting thing I got to do this week was attend the graduation ceremony for the 2016-2017 grantees. I had the opportunity to hear the U.S. Ambassador to Poland speak and I got to talk to some interns from the embassy. It was interesting to hear both Polish and American perspectives on Poland and the U.S. on everything from the price of milk to immigration.
The cost of things is one of the biggest differences between Poland and the U.S. I am consistently shocked by how cheap things are here. I have been eating at restaurants for lunch since lunch deals usually range from 17-25 zloty ($4.50-$6.70) for a sit down meal. My first day at work I went out to lunch with a co-worker and she suggested doing the 22 zloty lunch deal which included soup, salad or a crepe, and dessert and to her that was kind of expensive for lunch. She had lived in Texas for a year, so she was eager to hear about my opinion of Poland compared to the U.S. We discussed things like higher education differences (cost, view of gap year, and grad school), food, and attitudes toward small talk.
I’m still adjusting to a lot of the social norms here. I still forget that I have to request the check at the end of a meal or that water comes in a bottle and costs money at a restaurant. I have to remind myself that I’m no longer in the midwest where people smile at you as they make their way down the street. I have found that people here are excited to engage in meaningful conversation with me. Last night I was on the metro with 2 other interns from UofM and another passenger asked us how long we were in Poland for and what we were up to just because he heard us speaking English.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the next week holds!