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Cambridge students at the University of Warsaw


Cambridge student Alex Wills in Warsaw, August 2018.


In summer 2018, thanks to the generous support of the University of Warsaw, two Cambridge students spent three weeks in the Polish capital taking an intensive course in Polish language and culture.

Alex Wills and Michaela Hine were selected to participate in the course for their outstanding performance in the University of Warsaw Prize for Literary Translation. The two students have written accounts of their time in Warsaw.


Alex Wills:

'After studying Polish during my final year at Cambridge without ever having visited the country, I was delighted to have the opportunity to put my Polish into practice studying at the Polonicum Summer School at the University of Warsaw in August. Having forgotten a lot of my Polish since my exam, I was initially worried that my level would be too low, but the teachers and course organisers quickly put me at ease and I was placed in a class that was appropriate to my level. 

The main change I saw was in my confidence speaking Polish. I was determined to try everything I had learned, and Polish people are always amazed that anyone is learning their language. 'Dlaczego uczysz się polskiego? (why are you learning Polish?)' was a question I heard very regularly!

The course consisted of language teaching in the morning, and then cultural seminars, activities and trips in the afternoons but also gave us plenty of time to explore Warsaw on our own if we decided to. Highlights for me included the Warsaw Uprising Museum, where we had a fantastic guided tour, and a scavenger hunt around the main sights of the city. 

By the end of the course I was confident that I had consolidated the Polish I had learned in Cambridge, as well as hugely improving my spoken language, making new friends, and really making the most of the lively, vibrant city of Warsaw. I left keen to continue my Polish studies, and determined to return and visit more of the country.'


Michaela Hine:

'It was a great privilege to be offered a place on the Polonicum Summer Course. Not only did my Polish improve significantly, but I also had the chance to attend unique seminars on Polish culture and history, as well as interesting excursions around the city. Studying at the University of Warsaw was fantastic: the course was excellently organised, and it was amazing to be studying at the heart of the city's beautiful university. My own personal highlight of the course was Polonicum’s seminar on the Warsaw Ghetto heroes, including Janusz Korczak and Irena Sendler. These inspiring accounts of heroism during the war further enriched my knowledge of the Ghetto uprising, as did attending a tour of the Ghetto wall and visiting the POLIN museum. I have returned to the UK with a greater desire to read more Varsovian accounts of WWII (for instance, I am currently reading about the Żabiński family hiding Jews in their zoo in Warsaw). I am very grateful to the University of Warsaw for giving me this opportunity – it has been an amazing month.'


Cambridge student Michaela Hine in Warsaw, August 2018.