“If there is any hesitation at all about Studying Abroad, Just Do It!”

Meet Jacob Parle: Summer Travel Course to Poland! 

unnamed (1)1. What was your favorite experience/part of the Poland trip? 

My favorite experience about this trip was getting the privilege of meeting other students from another county. I may touch on this again in some other questions, but the one thing that was my favorite out of the whole trip was meeting students. It was interesting talking to them and working with them, sharing differences and similarities between us all, and just interacting with them. The sights and places in a country are interesting, but it’s the people of those countries that make it worth while. I never thought I would have gotten that attached to students and the people I met for only a week or less, but I sure did; and that is my favorite experience of all.

2.What did you do academically for your trip? unnamed (2)

We visited countless facilities such as animal production farms, like dairy, poultry, beef cattle, and even a deer farm. As now I am able to connect ideas with farms and facilities in Poland to the United States, it gives me a larger mind-set when thinking about solving problems. We spent about two weeks at two specific Universities in Poland, one in Olztyn, and another in Wroclaw. This is where we were able to tour their Universities and visit their labs/classrooms. This is also where we created a presentation (one presentation at each University) with other students in those Universities. The coolest thing was that we spent most of the time with these same students and we really got to know them well.

3. Did you make friends on the trip? What was it like traveling with ISU faculty and students?

I made friends both from ISU and from Poland. For starters, it is really nice to have an instructor (Jacek) who was born and raised in Poland, and knows his way around effortlessly. Traveling with other students from ISU (from which I had never met before the pre-trip classes) was very fun. I got to know each peer very well, and we all worked together well. Like I said, I made very good friends with Polish students, who were always very friendly and inviting towards myself and my traveling peers. There is plenty of time to have fun with those students socially.

4. How is Poland different from the United States? How is it similar? Did you experience any culture shock? Or were there parts of their culture you really appreciated?

Let me first say, that I really appreciated their culture, in that Poland is not as “tightly-strung” as the United States. People don’t mow their lawns as often; because they don’t care as much about how other people judge them, not because they are necessarily lazy. Polish society also seems as if they are not so geared towards money. Yes, they do want to provide for their families, but society in itself is not NEARLY focused on money as so many Americans are.

I did not have culture shock, besides the language of Polish. I had never been anywhere were a foreign language was spoken all the time around me. That took time getting used to. Besides being “old fashioned” (which I loved about Poland), and having a more conservative society, Poland and the United States are alike in many ways. Both share family values, have meat and potatoes for dinner (even though they may be prepared differently), and both share similar interests in agriculture.

5. Did you have any relaxing/vacation time? What did you do during this time?

We had a lot of time to just take it easy. Everything on the trip was like a vacation to me; from visiting with Polish students to sight seeing and visiting nearby farms/facilities. We did have plenty of opportunities to socialize with Polish students and go to clubs, bars, etc.

“Poland didn’t just open my mind to new ideas of

Agriculture, it opened my mind for people different than

myself, and an understanding for the rest of the world.”

6. What was it like working with students in Poland? How is their college experience different from yours at Iowa State?

As I said earlier, working with the Polish students at the Universities was my top experience from the whole trip. Besides starting and ending later than we in the U.S. do nothing is much different. Professors seem to be more understanding, and college tuition is free for anyone in Poland.

7. Did you see any famous sites/well known places?

We saw many well known sights and places much as: Museums, cathedrals, Auschwitz Death Camp, castles, Oskar Schindler’s factory, many WW2 monuments, Warsaw Jewish ghetto, and many many more.

8. What kinds of new/interesting foods or beverages did you try while on this study abroad trip?

Like I said Poland has a large majority of meat and potatoes. I never passed up anything new to try, and that included eating snail, beat soup, and many other dishes that taste just as good if not better than here in the United States.

9. Why should other students consider going on this trip?

Students interested in animal production systems or animal science should definitely consider going on the trip. Even if you just think Agriculture is a little interesting, but you want a great country to visit for 3 weeks; go on this trip. The people there are amazing, and very easy to get along with. Poland didn’t just open my mind to new ideas of Agriculture, it opened my mind for people different than myself, and an understanding for the rest of the world.unnamed

10. What advice do you have for students who are thinking about studying abroad or are thinking about going on the Poland trip?

Take chances and if there is any hesitation at all about studying abroad, just do it. I love Iowa, and I had gone back and forth about going to Poland for several weeks, and knowing now how much fun I had when I was in Poland, I wouldn’t have ever forgave myself for not going. It would have been a large regret.

11. After this study abroad trip, will you go abroad again? Do you think you will return to Poland or Europe again? 

I would like to study abroad again. The only thing is money. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many scholarship opportunities for study abroad applicants, and I am grateful for the scholarship that I received, but money plays a large factor into tuition/fees now a days. I know for a fact, whether it happens to be another study abroad trip, or traveling later in life, traveling to different places other than the United States is a big priority. That being said, I would love to visit Poland again someday, maybe multiple times. I really did enjoy my experience in Poland; it was a blast.

Are YOU interested in the Poland Travel Course? If so, stop in our office or learn more on our website! http://www.agstudyabroad.iastate.edu/travel_course_2014-15/travel_course_15Sum_Poland.html

This year’s trip will also include a side trip to Lithuania! 

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