As of today, I’ve been here for exactly a month. I am officially halfway through! I had to change rooms in my hostel today, because my floor is being renovated. It kind of sucked, because I had to pack and unpack again, but now it really feels like an official halfway point because I’m in a new space.
Something I’ve been thinking about recently is how my being an American affects my experience abroad. It’s something I don’t think about too much back home, as it’s not something that impacts me day to day. But here, I feel like it gives me some weird kind of automatic privilege. My friend Julia, who I went to school with in New York until third grade when she moved to Warsaw, has talked to me a lot about the differences between American and Polish culture. And she told me that to some people in Poland, Americans are kind of intimidating, because of the US’s massive influence in culture and politics and whatnot. The fact that I’m able to speak English to most people and have it be a normal thing shows how dominant America is. And there are so many viewings of American movies or plays: this past week, I watched outdoor showings of La La Land and Angels in America.
This weekend in Gdansk I stopped at a phone repair shop to get a new screen protector, and I started making some small talk with the guy there. I told him I was from New York, and he responded with amazement. He started talking about how he’d never left Poland, but would love to live in the US. I always forget how the US is seen as this powerful, prosperous place.
So yeah, that’s been on my mind. But quick note about Gdansk — it was awesome! The first day Julia and I walked around the city center, toured this old ship from the 1940s and a building from medieval times that stored ship cargo. We also saw the Polish animators of Loving Vincent being interviewed. The second day we took the train to Sopot, another city along the Baltic Sea, and there we swam and walked along the boardwalk. Super pretty.
The work I have at my internship is really picking up! I’m now starting to choose the tape from interviews we have for the episode about the Polish alchemist, and I also might be able to interview a modern day alchemist myself (if he responds to my email). Last week I helped interview a man who was involved in the anti-Communist movement and the 1968 student rebellions, which was very interesting. I also have an idea for an article to write for culture.pl’s website, which I will bring up at tomorrow’s meeting!
Here are some pictures from Gdansk: