My spring semester junior year of college I lived in Poznan, Poland. It was my first time living in Poland. In fact, it was my first time living abroad. While there, I did not have an intense Polish language class, the way I do now. My classes met once a week and were taught in English. I was one of four Americans that I knew of in Poland, so needless to say I had a lot of alone time. I also spent that semester traveling as much as I could. It was an important part of my life and is the reason I developed an interest in Poland and Polish culture.
Granted it was only two years ago but going back this time was... interesting. I realized how much has changed in my life and how much I've changed as a person since my time there. I couldn't help but laugh to myself at moments. I thought about how I managed to get around Poznan hardly knowing the language, except for survival phrases. Not knowing Polish, or the language of a country you happen to be living in, can really affect how you explore and embrace the new environment. Here in Krakow, my Polish is not perfect, however, I know significantly more Polish this time around. Therefore, I explore cafes weekly, walk into shops, and go food shopping without hesitation. I'm not nervous about making a fool of myself as I was when I lived in Poznan. I could physically feel the difference when I was in Poznan this time. The challenges I faced the first time in Poland made me hesitate when I was granted the scholarship that brought me to Krakow. I recalled feeling out of sorts and completely out of my element in Poznan which made me worry and question moving to Krakow. I, of course, accepted this scholarship because I would be stupid not too. I'm thankful I did, because my year here in Krakow has been one of the most fantastic and unbelievable times of my life. This will be a year I will never forget. Ever.
So, even though I felt different this time, Poznan... not so different. Aside from a few American chains, the city is exactly as it was. I love Poznan. It is a beautiful city. It has the charm of Krakow, minus the tourists. Historical buildings and tall business buildings co-exist, creating the perfect combination of history, culture and modern day. Poznan will always have a special place in my heart.