I graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 2012. I triple majored in Legal Studies, Political Science, and Slavic Languages and Literature. I was abroad on my Fulbright grant for the 2012-2013 academic year as an affiliate of the Law Department of Jagiellonian University in Krakow.
My research in Poland was one chapter of an ongoing project at the nexus of society, politics, law, and religion. As the year wore on, my research took a backseat to my community involvement.
I worked with an NGO called Polistrefa to promote diversity in Poland through workshops and community outreach. I was also active in my affiliate department, helping a few professors coach law student teams for competitions, such as the Jessup International Law Moot Court.
Poland was an obvious choice for me because of the unique relationship between the church on the one hand, and the state and society on the other. I also knew that my near-native fluency in Polish would allow me to connect with my community and make better use of resources.
Poland, and especially Krakow, is a great place to work and play. Culture, theater, art, history, nature – everything is accessible. Poles are among the most gracious people you’ll ever meet. I made life-long friendships with Polish professors and students as well as my fellow Fulbright scholars.
I cannot recommend Fulbright Poland highly enough. As cliché as it sounds, any extended experience abroad changes your life. You do not just learn about the country and city you live in; you discover yourself. Poland is an ideally challenging environment where West Europe meets East Europe – it is superficially familiar, but upon closer inspection, fundamentally different. It’s worth a year of your life.