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I spent an unforgettable year in Warsaw on a U.S. Student Research Grant. The knowledge and experience I gained during that time continue to enrich all aspects of my life; I sometimes joke that Fulbright is the gift that has never stopped giving…
In Warsaw I was affiliated with the interdisciplinary Centre for Environmental Studies (Uniwersyteckie Centrum Badań nad Środowiskiem Przyrodniczym) at the University of Warsaw. My research on sustainable development policy eventually formed the material for my master’s thesis on how Poland implements European Union (EU) industrial pollution laws.
After my Fulbright grant year, I decided I wasn’t quite ready to leave Poland…I had met so many extraordinary people, and I remained fascinated by this place—with all of its endearing paradoxes, difficult history, rich culture, and ever-changing political and economic system. Plus my Polish language skills were crystallizing at last! So I spent an additional year in Warsaw teaching English at a private high school.
My exposure to culture and education in a post-Soviet, European context inspired me to deepen my understanding of changing socio-economic systems and the challenges associated with solving complex environmental problems. This led me to pursue graduate study in geography at the University of Washington in Seattle. I am now well on my way to completing my PhD. In fact, as I write this testimonial, I am in Poland again—this time doing field research in various cities for my dissertation on environmental activism in Poland.
The Fulbright grant gave me a genuine chance to nurture my distinct combination of interests: environmental protection, and Polish language and culture. I see my time as a Fulbrighter in Poland as the foundation for an exhilarating intellectual and personal adventure which continues to this day.
Tiffany Grobelski is a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington Department of Geography in Seattle, WA. She was a U.S. Student Researcher at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Environmental Studies at the University of Warsaw.