Why Poland?

Old Market Square, Poznań
Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D

. . . is one of the most frequent questions I receive about my upcoming European travels. And it’s a fair question, even if the tone in which it is asked occasionally comes closer to incredulity than to mere curiosity. Poland? Really? Despite the country’s historical charm and architectural beauty, and my own personal connection of being quarter-Polish, Poland might seem a little off the beaten track of international destinations. According to recent data, about 75,000 international students per year come to Poland, compared to 400,000 in Germany and 350,000 in France. So why Poland?

Before I answer that question, you may be hung up on a more basic one: What? Poland? Yes, Poland. Quite briefly, I’ll be studying at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, through the end of June, and I am set to depart the USA in just over 24 hours. This semester abroad is coordinated through my Ph.D. program at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and it is funded by the European Union. That’s what has allowed a miserly graduate student like myself to cobble together a few pennies and hop on a plane.

But the question remains: why Poland? A few reasons:

  • Semiotics. Adam Mickiewicz University boasts multiple scholars of international renown in the discipline of semiotics, the philosophical study of signs. This will be a valuable contribution to my developing understanding of the philosophy of communication.
  • The Psalms. A local Reformed pastor in Poznań is undertaking a project to set the Psalms to music in Polish, using the tunes of the Genevan Psalter. Of course this taps into my longstanding interests More on this exciting project later.
  • Dutch. You read that right. Adam Mickiewicz University is one of relatively few places in the world, outside the Netherlands, with an entire program devoted to the Dutch language. I’ll be learning Dutch not just because I’ve always wanted to, but also because it is the only foreign language coordinated through the English department at the university. Learning Dutch, in English, in Poland–if it sounds confusing, it is. But it’s an unusual and exciting opportunity.

Besides these reasons, Poland is a beautiful country with kind and friendly people, some of whom are related to me, and this program represents a chance to get to know a strangely familiar and familiarly strange corner of God’s world.

Poznań is a medium-size city in western Poland, about halfway between Berlin and Warsaw. I’ll be living in university housing, within easy walking distance of the city center and classes . . . and hopefully within walking distance of a few nice pipe organs as well . . .

I will use this site to post occasional photos and updates for family and friends who would like to follow along with my progress this spring. You may click the button at left to receive updates via email.

I thank God for all the encouragement I have already received–from Adam Mickiewicz University, from the Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies at Duquesne University, from my family and church families, and from many dear friends, and I look forward to seeing what this spring has in store.

Dziękuję (Thank you) i dobranoc (and good night),

Michael