OCOTBER in POLAND has been intense, busy, wonderful, and full of new experiences. Sharing music with audiences and students here in Poland has been the familiar experience and it acts as a sort of anchor. Teaching started on October 3 with my undergraduate seminar called "The Musical Legacy of Immigration" - about the origins of American music. I have a great class of 20 interesting students. During the 2nd week of October we went to Warsaw, and I had two performances there on the 16th and 18th; the first at Nowy Swiat Muzyki and the 2nd at the Chopin Salon, where a lot of the Warsaw Fulbrighters were in attendance. On my day off we had a wonderful time seeing the "golden leaves" at Łazienki Park, where the famous summer Chopin concerts are held. On the 24th I had the great opportunity of giving a lecture-performance for the CULTURE VULTURE club of the English Department at my university, Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań. My presentation was called "NIGHT MUSIC: Perspectives on the work of Frederic Chopin and Kazuo Ishiguro."
IN GETTING READY FOR THE FULBRIGHT there was so much preparation this past summer - lectures and classes, my music for performances, getting physicals and shots and doctor/dentist visits, seeing friends - that we didn't give too much thought to the idea of what it would be like to live in Poland for nearly a year. We have had some wonderful visits to Poland, but it is a very different thing from living here!
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES - while many more Polish people speak English than in past years, there are still many others who don't - and many signs are only in Polish. So, it is sometimes hard to know what to do in very common place situations - taking a train (not all that common in truth, where we live), buying tickets, checking out at the grocery store, reading notices posted in the apartment building lobby, etc. I am currently taking Polish class 6 hours a week - and for the first time I feel that just maybe there's a future possibility that I might actually be able to speak it someday--:) "Trzymam kciuky!" (meaning, "I'm covering my thumbs" - the Polish equivalent of "I'm crossing my fingers" for good luck!).
Every day we walk A LOT. Every day we go to the grocery store. And then we walk some more...but this is actually a great thing! Yes, there are buses and trams, but WALKING + WALKING = CAKE AND MORE CAKE (one of the best parts of living in Poland!) Many simple tasks take more effort to accomplish than in America where life is so easy because you just hop in your car and go- and that is definitely different for us. At the same time, the Polish people we have encountered who are hard working (which is all of them) seem to be enjoying life and people more - they have time for conversation, for making music, for showing strangers where to go. For instance, we have had this experience repeatedly--when we have asked for directions, rather than just telling us, people have actually stopped what they were doing to take us where we needed to go ---- whether that was a book store or a coffee machine.
TRAVEL IS of course, a great way to reflect about things like what is and is not working in our lives, what we like and do not like about where we live, etc. Certainly there are many things that we miss in North Carolina and the U.S. that perhaps, we have taken for granted. At the same time, it is wonderful to be in a safe place where people aren't quite so stressed or hurried as in our typical lives. We are learning from this, and while of course still missing our friends and loved ones, we are also so incredibly grateful for this unique experience. Thanks for reading - and please enjoy some beautiful October moments in the pictures below! ....................all photos courtesy of my very talented and patient husband, Wendell Myers - wendellmyers.com
(This site pamelahowland.com is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of its author Pamela Howland and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.)