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Alex Riddell (’18,’19M) Fulbright in Poland

College of Arts & Letters Fulbrighter


 
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SUMMARY: Alex Riddell is currently doing an English Teaching Assistantship through Fulbright Poland. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History and Masters of Teaching in secondary education. She minored in women's, gender and sexuality studies, interdisciplinary social sciences, pre-professional secondary education and honors interdisciplinary studies.


By Alex Riddell ('18, '19M)

Recently I moved to Poznan, Poland as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant for 10 months at Adam Mickiewicz University. Poznan is the 5th biggest city in Poland with over 500,000 people. My students have traveled from across Europe and Asia to attend classes at the university.

What does a week in my life look like?

Despite the title of ETA, I solo teach four courses titled English Language (B1 level), English for Teaching and Academic Purposes, and Progression and Power of Women in the United States and the World. My students are all adults that are English Language Learners and are getting a bachelor's degree. I am fully designing my US women‘s history class as well as my English for academic purposes class from scratch which takes up a lot of my time lately as any new teacher knows. My women’s history reveals how women in the US impacted different aspects of American society such as war, music, sports, and judicial branch. In addition to teaching 10 hours a week, I hold office hours twice a week.

My women’s history reveals how women in the US impacted different aspects of American society such as war, music, sports, and judicial branch.

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Making the famous St. Martin’s croissants.

When I am not teaching or holding office hours, I like to explore Poznan and its history. Poznan is one of the oldest cities in Poland which a rich history. My favorite thing to do is go to the old town square at noon to see the two goats on the clock tower hit heads which they have been doing for centuries. I am also traveling as much as possible to see what Europe has to offer. So far I have visited Germany and Czech Republic, but hope to visit at least 10 more countries. I am also eating my way through Poland. Shout out to pierogies which continue to bring me joy whenever I order them.

Sometimes it can be difficult in a country where you do not speak the language that all of your students can speak. I have started learning polish in my beginner level class and it can be a very hard language. My biggest success was when I said “dzien dobry” (good day) to a woman who worked at the museum and she thought I actually spoke polish. I had to adapt to talking to people who work in Poznan by combining Polish, English, and hand signals which has worked well so far.

What have I learned?

Always bring a reusable bag when you go to any store or else you have to pay for a plastic bag. It not only saves the environment, but also your wallet. There are some interesting differences between American people and Polish people. Unlike Americans who always respond with “I’m okay” or “I’m good” when asked how they are doing, Polish people will not lie to you and always tell you how they really are, which I love.

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Headless statues in Cytadela Park

Another thing I have learned is how to enjoy walking everywhere. When I lived at JMU and in NOVA, I drove almost everywhere, but in Poznan everything I could ever want is within walking distance. Although, I am still perfecting the art of walking on different types of stones in heels. The biggest thing I’ve learned is how to thrive in both times of chaos and times of being alone.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is how to thrive in both times of chaos and times of being alone.

Poznan, Poland is a wonderful city and I am so grateful for Fulbright and JMU for giving me this opportunity to expand my horizons and fulfill a lifelong dream of living abroad.

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Published: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Last Updated: Monday, December 16, 2019

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