I am finishing up my second week at the POLIN Museum and I have been editing professor’s biographies and abstracts because I will have to make an informational booklet about everything that will be going on during the two week course. So far, I do not mind working here because everyone is very nice, but I am still getting used to people always speaking Polish around me. The museum is very large so it is hard for me to meet everyone that is working here because we are separated by departments. Even the Education Department is separated because it is so large so I am in the basement with my mentor, but it is not bad because there is a large window to let in sunlight. I think the way that everything is set up makes the atmosphere more laid back, which I am still getting used to because in the US I was always working at a fast paced to make sure everything was done. However, my mentor assures me that I can do my work at my own pace because she does not want to overwhelm me. I like the overall environment because I am not afraid to ask questions or make mistakes because it is not intimidating. Also, many people wear business casual clothing and this also impacts the atmosphere because the museum does not feel strict, but more open to ideas and conversation. I appreciate the kind of environment that is set up here, but for my future career I am hoping to do more hands on work rather than desk work because I want to directly impact people on a daily basis.
The only thing that I am still getting used to here in Poland, is that everything that I want to do like museums and other historical sites close around 6 pm everyday. This makes it difficult for me to go out and experience different things in Warsaw because I normally do not get out of work until 5 pm so there is not enough time for me explore. However, my mentor gave me Wednesday off so I could go do things that have been on my bucket list. On Wednesday, I went grocery shopping and I am still surprised by how cheap everything is here because I spend about $10 on things like fruits and veggies, meat, bread, etc. Also, I now understand why people here are skinnier than people in America because when you go to the grocery store they do not have many processed food items. There aren’t fruit snacks (which I actually miss a lot), 100 different types of granola bars, pop tarts, etc. Except, I really do not mind this because it has helped me eat healthier since I can only choose from the fruits, vegetables, and meat. Plus, there are farmers that sell their products on the side of the side of the street for a very good price, which is where I normally buy my produce. I haven’t really been going out to eat because I have missed cooking for myself (never thought I would say that) since I have been traveling for a month and a half without a kitchen before my internship. Except, Abby tells me that it is very cheap to go out for meals here because you can get a fairly large lunch and drink for less than $5.
Honestly, I am still overwhelmed with the fact that I am living in Warsaw for ten weeks because there is so much history here and I just walk past it everyday on my way to work. I am trying to make the most of my time here because there is something new to be found everyday. I have been talking to my landlord (who lives in one of the rooms in the flat) and he was telling me all about our apartment buildings history. It was built when Poland was under the Soviet occupation and although it is a very ugly building, it gives hundreds of people cheap living accommodations in the city center. Also, he was telling me about how people will buy houses and properties and find little nooks and crannies that were used to hide people during WWII. However, some people would buy these buildings and try to demolish them for a more modern look, but people would protest this because of it being apart of their history.
On my day off, I went to the Warsaw Zoo (although I am normally opposed to going to zoos because I do not like the idea of animals being stuck in cages) because of the film The Zookeeper’s Wife, which I believe that everyone should see because it was amazing to see how normal Polish people lived throughout the war. Anyways, when I saw that the same zoo was still being used today I put it on my bucket list of things to do because I wanted to see it for myself. Obviously, it isn’t the same as when it reopened in 1949, but knowing that over 300 Jews were saved because of the owners made it different than any old zoo. Except, everything was in Polish (and I am still getting used to that) so I got lost for about three hours and I eventually found my way out. Then, I explored the bank of the Vistula river and I went back to the Old Town where I went on a walking tour. In my opinion, Old Town is by far the best place to go in Warsaw because it is situated right next to all of these modern buildings, but you feel like you’re in the 1900’s. I am still avoiding public transportation because I somehow always get lost, but I like walking more anyways because you get a chance to actually look around you and see what is going on. On my day off, I walked for over 12 miles in 5 hours because I find it more relaxing. Soon, I am going to sign up for an account that allows you to rent bikes for .25/hour, which is a hard deal to beat when you are in a rush.
Earlier this week, I went through a small midlife crisis because I was talking to my boss (Melanie) about how I got denied from Belarus, which put me 3 days over my visa. I was thinking about how this probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal when I was going home, but I was definitely wrong because they are very strict in Poland. So, Melanie helped me figure out where to go that isn’t in the Schengen area and that is…. Ukraine!!! I booked a fairly cheap flight to Kiev for six days in mid-July where I will be doing work from there. Now, I will not get banned from the EU so that is fairly good news because I plan on returning sometime soon.
This weekend I will be going to Sweden and I will be posting a separate blog for that!