The worldwide Augustana College experience

“When you say ‘I want to go to America,’ I say ‘Good luck!’”

The hardest languages in the world must be Chinese, some african click tongue, and then Polish. But even if you know one of the first two languages, you’ll still have problems with polish. There are so many ways to say one thing. For instance, there are three ways to say “I am going.” and all of them have different meanings. I can say “….” and a pole will know that I am going by tram. I can also say “idę” and a pole will know that I am going by foot (and then I get a response like “Good luck” like in the title of my journal). But I can also say “chodzę” and poles will know that I go somewhere regularly. However, they all mean “go.”  So it gets confusing.

And before these phrases can even be used, the pronunciation must be perfect otherwise “I want to go” (Chcę iść) can turn into “he wants to go” (Chce iść)  or “please” (Proszę) can turn into “Little pig” (Prosię). And then there’s just a huge problem of communication.

Surprisingly, I am learning a lot of polish. Five weeks ago the only polish I knew was how to say “Do you speak English” (Czy mówisz po angielsku?). But now I know how to ask where someone is from “Skąd jesteś?” and where some one lives “Gdzie mieszkasz?” I also know how to say what I’m interested in “interesuję się polityką” (I am interesting in politics), what i like to do “lubię robić zdjęcia, spotykać się z kolegami, i grać na gitarze” (I like to take photographs, meet with friends, and play the guitar), and i know how to tell everyone and anyone about my family “Moja rodzina jest z Ameryki. Mam matkę, ojca, i dwóch braci” (My family is from America. I have a mother, a father, and two brothers). I can also say where I went last night “wieczorem, poszedłem do restaurajci na kotleta” (Last night, I went to a restaurant for pork) Unfortunately, my teacher thought this was the funniest thing in the world so he started calling me “John Kotleta.” Literally “John Pork.”

And I just learned today how to say that I want to be a yellow banana “Chcę być Żółtym bananem!”

My classes are very fast. We go over things so quickly and then we are on to the next topic before we know it. The pace feels so much quicker than my classes back home. I feel as if I should already be speaking the polish language fluently. But of course I can’t!

My time here has really been an amazing experience. I’ve met so many different kinds of people and experienced so many different kinds of things (no worries, nothing bad!). All of the people I meet are so smart. Languages come to them like religion comes to the Pope. Most of the students here have been learning english and other languages since they were 10 years old. My friend from Germany can speak perfect english.  My friend from Kraków can speak almost perfect english, almost perfect french, perfect polish, and probably some other language he hasn’t told me about yet.

If there is one thing that frustrates me the most while being here, it is this. In America, languages seem to only be an option. American students are given an option to study a language but it doesn’t start until high school. Most students every where else in the world already know our language by the time we are trying to learn theirs.

Anyways, I made my first sunny-side up egg last night and everything is fine!

- John Kotleta

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