International spotlight: Poland – where history has left its tracks

“Everyone visiting Europe should go to Poland. It is a beautiful place where history has left many tracks, including castles, museums and strong traditions," says Justyna Szatan. “People should not think of Communism and Russia when thinking of Poland.”

Justyna Szatan

Justyna Szatan

Szatan is an international student from John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin in Poland, where she studies philosophy of inanimate nature (a combination of physics, cosmology, astronomy, and astrophysics). One of her professors recommended that she participate in the exchange program with St. Thomas because he had heard many positive experiences from past participants. So, Szatan left her hometown of Bilgoraj (in southeast Poland about 60 miles from Lublin) and came to Minnesota in August. She began studying at the ELS Language Center in September. Ever since doing research on how much students know about Poland, she has been working to teach others about the truths and beauty of her home country.

“I have enjoyed my time here. Everyone is very nice, I have made many friends, and I have learned by getting many answers to my questions," she said. “I thought adjusting here would be much more difficult than it was, which also surprised my family. Sometimes I forget that people are nice and say "hi" without knowing much about me. In Poland, people only say ‘hi’ to people they know.”

Szatan advises prospective international students to come to the University of St. Thomas because it is a place where there are many wonderful people to meet, gain knowledge, and develop one’s self. “I love the O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center and the way St. Thomas links tradition with modern times. I feel at home here and believe other international students will as well,” Szatan said.

After completing her time here in May, Szatan will return to Poland, take a well-deserved vacation, and will begin in October to work on her doctoral degree at Lublin University. She is hoping to eventually be a professor at her university in the Philosophy of Inanimate Nature department. Another goal is to continue speaking English so she does not lose the skills she has learned while here.

“I love my country and cannot wait to go back. I miss my family and friends, and I am definitely missing our food," she remarked. "I look forward to eating pierogis (dumplings), bigos (cabbage, mushrooms, and meat), and golabki (mixture of rice and meat in cabbage leaves).”

To learn more about Szatan and the beauty of Poland, the UST community is invited to attend her CultureLink Tea presentation on Tuesday, March 23. It will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Room 155, Murray-Herrick Campus Center. Tea and Polish treats will be served.