Sean Clark

In a crowded movie theater beneath Warsaw’s enormous Palace of Science and Culture, I sat with my American roommate and our Polish floor mates. Suddenly, in a particularly intense scene in the movie Atonement, a British soldier screamed, “Who's *expletive* ever been to Poland? They want more empire, give 'em this *expletive*!” Predictably, the dominantly Polish audience fell deathly silent in a mixture of insult and disapproval. But as my roommate and I buried our heads in our jackets to muffle our laughter, I was quickly reminded of how my decision to study abroad in Poland was met by family and friends at home. It was met, quite simply, with confusion.

I chose to study in Warsaw, Poland for a variety of reasons, none of which being the tropical climate, predominantly English speaking people, or desire to be with friends and acquaintances. I viewed Poland, lacking all of these previously mentioned characteristics, as particularly vague and unchartered (by American college student standards, of course). As my roommate in Warsaw accurately put it, “You know those moments in life, where you make a decision without thinking about the reasoning or the consequences but just because it feels right? That’s what this was like.” Lucky for me, Warsaw was right. I saw the “obstacles” of a nontraditional study abroad destination, such as not knowing the native tongue, being ignorant of common customs, and spending my a large portion of my time abroad without other Americans, and viewed them as unique aspects of a sadly temporary experience.

As a peer adviser, I encourage all who are considering an education abroad to KEEP AN OPEN MIND! A study abroad experience holds immeasurable benefits to both educational and personal growth, regardless of where you choose to explore. So get out a world map and throw your caution to the wind. A dart and blindfold wouldn’t hurt either…

If you have any questions about the studying abroad process or would just like to chat about anything travel related, please don’t hesitate to email me at ude.usp|1005cws#ude.usp|1005cws or ude.usp.pi|resivdareep#ude.usp.pi|resivdareep. Thanks and happy travels!

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