Time sure is flying! I’ve been at my internship at Fulbright for a week as of yesterday, and I’m really starting to settle in. This week, I started on my main project of building a website for the US Fulbright Grantees to Poland. In the past, Fulbright has given grantees a handbook to read with information about living in Poland. My main job is to build a website with this information and more to make it more easily accessible. I’m quite excited to see how it turns out! So far, it has been very enjoyable, as I get to use some creativity – the office is essentially giving me free reign over the entire project. On the down side, I’m having flashbacks to the school year… definitely have gotten out of the habit of being at my laptop for 8 hours a day.
Earlier this week, I held a webinar for Polish high school students applying to American universities in the fall. In my presentation, I discussed tips for writing a college admissions essay and explained what being a university student is like in America. I really enjoyed this experience, and I’m hoping that some of the students take me up on my offer to answer any of their questions via email!
Something I’ve really been appreciating at my internship is the welcoming atmosphere. The women I work with go to an extra effort to make sure I am comfortable, especially when it comes to communication. Everyone in the office speaks English when I am in the vicinity, and that is something I greatly appreciate – it’s always awkward to not have any clue what is being said in a conversation nearby, I think because there’s always the underlying anxiety of “are they talking about me??”. Everyone also brings in snacks and I’ve gone out for lunch with a few coworkers, so it has been very nice. It is also a unique experience being in a work setting with only women. According to one of my coworkers, it is apparently uncommon for men to take the type of jobs available at Fulbright.
So basically, work is great. On to other things…
I’ve been trying extra hard to go out and explore Warsaw in the evenings. On a few nights, I’ve gotten together with Lizzy and Sam, two other UMich students here in Warsaw, to hang out, but for the most part I’ve been on my own because we all have busy schedules! Over the weekend, I did a lot of exploring in the city. I went to the POLIN Museum, the museum on the history of Polish Jews, on Saturday – it was amazing. I also explored Old Town, the historical and super touristy area of the city. It’s crazy to think that the entire area was razed during the Warsaw Uprising. I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell if I didn’t know, the area looks pretty old. Speaking of the Uprising, I also went to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, which documents the history of the Warsaw Uprising. As a brief overview, the Polish resistance movement fought in the summer of 1944 to kick the Germans out of Warsaw and regain their sovereignty. A city with a population of 1.3 million before the war, Warsaw was decimated following a German victory. There were around 166,000 deaths, and 85% of the buildings and infrastructure in the city was destroyed.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the Uprising. As per tradition, the entire city of Warsaw stops at 17:00 to commemorate the fight and the lives lost. This was an amazing thing to experience – cars stopped, people stopped, everyone stood up, and there was verbal silence while sirens blared and cars honked. For a minute, dozens of people lit flares, filling the air with red light and smoke. Around the memorial where I was watching, a quiet song was sung by the crowds after the minute of silence was over. It was a very powerful and moving experience.