Max American student in Gdansk
Who are you? Briefly describe yourself (where do you come from, what do you study, etc.)
Hello, my name is Max and I'm a 22 year old law student in Gdansk, Poland. I come from Palo Alto, California, USA where I lived until I was 18 years old.
What has surprised you in Poland?
I was really surprised by the immense leap Poland made forward compared to when I used to come here as a child. In the 1990's there were holes everywhere where a developer decided to build but then went bankrupt. I really expected there to be no end to this and it seemed normal, but when I came in 2009 there were new buildings literally in every part of the city. Also I remember how "Maluch" cars were popular and now it's rare to even see one.
How did you come up with the idea of studying in Poland?
It was kind of a family decision. My grandfather was a professor at the medical university in Gdansk (where I started at first), and my father and his sister studied there as well. It could be said that I followed in their footsteps. Medicine was also interesting for me at the time, but after a while I became burned out. I liked Poland so much however I decided to stay and try my luck at law school.
Do you remember the first days of studying in Poland? Describe the struggles you went through:
I didn't have many struggles as I had a basic grasp of the language already thanks to my parents however the school itself was a shock for me. I think the worst is that in Poland universities are kind of a promotional platform for professors whereas in the United States professors understand the importance of educating a new generation.
Tell us about the differences between studies in Poland and studies in the United States of America
I kind of hinted at this earlier, but the biggest difference is the relationship between professor and student. In the U.S. you can address the professor by their first name and they are a lot more accessible. In Poland, they go on vacation when they please, they will make an appointment and not show up which is just unimaginable in the U.S.
What do you like about studying in Poland?
I love the fact that there are tons of students in every city. It's really easy to make new friends and find fun things to do. Also everyone is really open and I find that Polish people either like or are very curious of foreigners as wherever they hear English they will hop in and join the conversation.
Do you know any famous people from Poland?
Of course! The biggest names that stand out in recent times are of course Pope John Paul II and Lech Walesa. Other than that Poland has had a big effect on shaping the United States with Kosciuszko helping us out quite a bit!
Describe the places in Poland, that have a positive influence on you:
Stocznia in Gdansk is a huge influence. I often go for walks around there and when the sun is setting and I look at the big cranes it's amazing. It's because of the historical factor mostly. When I imagine what went on here not even 30 years ago it's chilling to know that I'm walking on the same streets where a whole nation was on strike to take control of its future.
Tell us about the country you've always wanted to visit, but still haven't:
In general Asia. I've never even been on the continent and it's such a different culture. China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore are all countries I want to visit sometime in the future.
Are you a member of any student's club or organization? Tell us something about it:
Not really. I hang out with a lot of them, but officially I'm not a member in any way. A big shout out however to Phi Delta Epsilon at the Medical University of Gdansk however! If I'd still be studying medicine I'd try my luck to be in there with them.
Would you like to come back to Poland in the future? Why?
Yes. I actually imagine my future working in Poland. I have grown to love the country, especially Gdansk and I hope to stay here for as long as possible. There are a lot of things I'd like to change for the better and I feel like I have the ideas to do so.
If you run your own business or work anywhere, please tell us something about it (what is it, how many hours weekly do you work, etc.)
Recently I started a blog aimed at foreigners, students and tourists in or looking to visit Gdansk. It's written in English and it goes over some cool stuff that's going on in Gdansk. The main thing is that what I write about is local events rather than big tourist attractions. Hopefully thanks to this others will be able to experience Gdansk like I have and fall in love with the amazing atmosphere! You can check it out at: American4Gdansk.wordpress.com.