World class

A semester in Poland

Julia Kitlinski-Hong in the Tatra Mountains.
November 30, 2008

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Julia Kitlinski-Hong decided to go to Poland to learn about herself - or at least half of herself. The Emmanuel College senior's mother is of Chinese descent and her father is Polish. Growing up in San Francisco, she was surrounded by Asian cultures, but felt she knew comparatively little about her Eastern European roots. So she jumped at the chance to study for a semester at Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Kitlinski-Hong is blogging about her experiences at

FAMOUS ALUMNI: "The Jagiellonian University is the second-oldest university in Europe and among some of the most famous students to attend were Nicolaus Copernicus and Pope John Paul II."

ALL ABOUT THE TEST: "There is barely any homework during the term, and your whole grade depends on attendance and a final exam. It may seem like you have a lot of free time, but you still have to put aside time to study for the exam in order to pass the course."

PASS (ON) THE SOUP: "I really enjoy pierogi, which are dumplings stuffed with anything ranging from fruit to meat. My personal favorite are the strawberry-filled ones smothered in sugar and sour cream. They bring back memories of my childhood, when my grandmother used to make them from scratch. But I am not an avid meat-eater and one Polish specialty that I steer clear of is czernina, which translates to 'duck blood soup.' Definitely not a big fan."

'THANK YOU . . . WAIT!': "In Poland if you say 'dziekuje,' when you hand the check back to the waitress, it is a signal to keep the change as tip. Once I was waiting for my change for awhile, when I realized that I must have said thank you, unconsciously. That must have made her night!"

ALL THAT JAZZ: "Surprisingly jazz has a huge following here and well-known artists come to play at the jazz clubs and festivals that are held in the city. One of my favorite venues, Piec Art, is located in a cellar and the acoustics are amazing. ( There is also Polish hip-hop. You be the judge:"

THE MALE TRIANGLE: "In Poland the bathroom symbols for men and women are a triangle and a circle, which have no association for me whatsoever. Once I was not paying attention and I walked straight into the men's restroom and of course was completely mortified."