A Day in Poland
We are at the end of my first semester in
Poland – how time flew! The experience has brought many new ideas and
ways of living. I felt that to cover most of the adjustments, it would be
best to describe a typical day here in Poland. I chose a Thursday because
it encompasses both school and work.
The day begins at 6:00 AM. Breakfast normally consists of muesli (cereal) with
milk along with coffee to drink. On special occasions, we stop by the
bakery located near my bus stop for a fresh, chocolate filled croissant. We
leave the house at 7:00 AM to make the 15 minute drive to Katowice. Marcin
usually walks me to my bus and stays until the bus leaves at 7:30. He then
makes the 25 minute drive to his work in Tychy.
The bus is a large Greyhound style bus with cushioned seats and air
conditioning. The drivers speak some English but normally it isn’t
needed. I say “Jestem studentka” to tell them I am a student in
order to only pay the 12 zloty ($4) each ride versus 14 zloty. This is usually
followed by a “dzi?kuj?” to say thank you.
I always have the best intentions for the 60-75 minute ride to Krakow. Studying
or reading are among my most ambitious; however, I usually fall asleep.
This isn’t that uncommon as the bus is full of about 50 sleeping
individuals. On one instance, a young man discovered in line that I spoke
English. He asked if he could sit next to me in order to practice his
English. We just made small talk for the ride so he could practice.
Once the bus leaves the highway and enters Krakow, I stand up and walk to the
front. The bus driver stops at a bus stop near the office so I can get off
before the main stop in Krakow. After leaving the bus, I walk a short
distance of about 7 minutes to the office building and arrive about 8:45 AM.
The office building is large with numerous floors. Nexteer’s office occupies a
small space on the first floor – a short walk across the lobby will bring you
to our security badge activated door. Once inside, a small kitchen is located
on your left, a conference room straight ahead and cubicles to your right.
Within the office we have Marcin, Agnieszka, Ewa, Monika S, Iwona,
Andrzej, Aneta, Malgorzata and Monika. I listed the names
to reiterate the Polish naming tradition mentioned in an earlier
I work with Malgorzata who is the purchasing leader for the BMW group at
Nexteer. She is an outstanding person who has really encouraged me
to excel and find my potential. One of characteristics I admire
about her is her strive for improvement. She speaks fluent French and English,
along with her native Polish, as well as a growing knowledge of the Spanish
language. Learning from Gosia (short for Malgorzata) really gave me the
motivation to surpass expectations and reach potential in my future career.
With this working experience, I was able to
explore a different department within Nexteer. With Gosia’s guidance (and
patience!), I was communicating with suppliers globally, helping to organize
and execute a conference for international attendees, along with discover my
strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. Many thanks go to my U.S. boss
for allowing me the opportunity to grow.
At noon, I transform from trainee to student
and begin my route to school. I make the short walk back to the bus stop
where I had been dropped off earlier and wait for the next auto
bus to arrive. My walk and wait usually allow for a quick lunch of a
sandwich and apple. Once the bus arrives, I ride to a nearby bus stop,
get off, climb the stairs to the tram stop and wait for tram number 13.
The tram is normally empty because of the
location of the stop but by the end of the 25 minute ride, it is crowded.
I exit at the tram stop Wawel (named after Wawel Castle in Krakow). This
is my favorite class building because it is located across from the caste in
the king’s old armory. After entering the building, you are presented
with a large, winding staircase which ascends to four floors. My favorite
element is the view through the aged windows in each classroom. Wawel castle
stands large and expansive just outside of the glass centrifuge.
On Thursday, my 1 PM class is Polish
literature taught by a visiting Polish professor from the University of
Chicago. This is a very deep, discussion driven class which I find
extremely enjoyable. The class normally dismisses just in time to allow
me the 10 minutes needed to walk up Grodzka St to the main square where my next
class is located.
Krakow’s Main Square is such a thrilling
experience. The Square consists of a large, open area with a towering
market located in the center. Restaurants, bars and small shops circle
the Square – many with outdoor seating and umbrellas filled with chatting
customers and good smelling food. A blog should be written just of the Square
so I am afraid my few sentences do not do it justice.
My favorite part of walking along the Square
is hearing and smelling the horses as they clomp along the brick paths, pulling
carriages of tourists. When I have extra time on the Square, I enjoy
walking along the line of waiting carriages located on the far side of the area
and seeing the massive creatures with their drivers dressed in traditional
Once I reach the area, I weave through the
crowd to my school building nestled in the surrounding buildings. A small hallway
takes me to a twisting staircase which creaks and moans as I climb the few
levels to my floor. The classroom is set up with too many chair-desks and
barely allows for room to find a seat in the back area. In this
classroom, I sit through 2 hours of Poland and the European Union alongside a
very diverse crowd of students from Spain, Ireland, France, Germany and many
My Polish language class is the last class of
the day and is located on Grodzka Street which means I return to the school
building where I was earlier in the day. My language classes are more
relaxed and talkative than the other lecture-style classes. In my class I
have fellow students from Germany, Russia, Romania and USA. Once the class ends
at 7PM I return to the Wawel tram stop and take Tram 10 to the local mall,
Galeria Krakowska. After the 10 minute tram ride, I walk past the train station
and through the mall. The mall is connected to the train station
platforms and the passage exits at the bus station where my bus (Unibus) leaves
every 30 minutes to Katowice.
The ride home usually consists of talking with
U.S. friends. I have a pre-paid phone which only costs 10 zloty per month
(~$3) for unlimited data usage. This allowed for an app which allowed me
to text with my friends and family back home. My ride home is usually the
perfect time to talk as it was early afternoon in the States.
Marcin would be waiting for me at the bus stop
then we would make the 10 minute drive back home to Sosnowiec. Dinner normally
consists of salad with tomatoes, pickles, cheese and meat alongside a nice warm
mug of tea.
Each day was an adventure to me because of the different customs, people and
food. I really see how an open mind is a must in
order to intertwine with another culture. A big adjustment of mine was
changing my reactions to the different customs from “that’s weird” to