Annika Dyczkowski ’25
In honor of striking architecture, breathtaking history, and good food, the Tripodhad the pleasure of sitting down with Anne Levia ’24 to discuss her experience visiting Poland over spring break.
Levia is a member of the women’s ice hockey team, The Pipes acapella group, and is an anthropology and religious studies major, with a minor in Japanese. She visited Poland, “a beautiful country,” Levia emphasizes, to see extended family and places she “hasn’t seen in a long time.” The country’s master’s programs in anthropology also pique her interest; she is intrigued by the opportunities for ethnographic research, where she would conduct studies that aim to “understand people and their culture in a social context based on [the country’s] economic and political climate.”
She spent most of her time in Warsaw and Gdańsk. In Warsaw, she explored Old Town, a neighborhood in the city enriched by its historical artifacts circa WWII. Here, she enjoyed meeting new people and exploring new locations and restaurants, which Levia delineates “were definitely targeted at younger audiences.” She recalls a restored factory that was reconstructed into a variety of food stalls and bars “similar to Parkville Market.” Levia also saw Tosca, an Italian opera performance composed in the 19th century.
While in Gdańsk, Levia stayed with her grandmother, who has an apartment in Old Town that Levia describes as “perfectly located.” Here, she did a lot of walking through Old Town and visited many museums. The Uphagen House is one example: Previously owned by a wealthy merchant family and reconstructed after WWII, the house was rebuilt to illustrate the history of the war. While at Artus Court, a government building turned museum, Levia admired the thematic rooms with seasonal art painted in each room’s high arches. The city is also known internationally for its amber trade, a mineral found in the Baltic Sea; Levia paid a visit to the Amber Church in town, with an altar and wall in the main room composed entirely of amber. While walking on the beach in the city, Levia also recalls finding “little pieces of amber in the sand.”
The restaurants and food options in Poland were also something Levia was highly anticipating, particularly steak tartar, “I think I ate about two pounds,” she says laughing. Her favorite restaurant was Chleb i Wino, an extremely popular establishment in Gdańsk; with the help of her grandmother who lives in the city, she made her reservation here months in advance. She also recalls the popularity of bakeries selling foods like paczki and pierogi; Levia’s personal favorite from Polish bakeries is blueberry pierogi. The country is generally also respected for its meats, cheeses, and veggies, she expresses.
Regarding her anthropology major, Levia asserts that her visit “tied together [her] multicultural understanding and knowledge.” She hopes to visit many other European countries in the future. The museums expanded her perception of the country’s history and cultural values. “It helped me learn about culture and societies that I’m not familiar with.”
Her personal experience also helped her comprehend unfamiliar cultural norms, like family addressing their aunts and uncles on a first name basis, “It was a culture shock, for sure, but saying ‘aunt’ or ‘uncle’ makes them feel old.” She finds that most people in Warsaw and Gdańsk spoke English, but she also took the initiative to learn basic Polish words and phrases to speak with Polish people in their native language. Levia says one of her “goals for the future” is to become fluent in Polish, not only to hold conversations, but because of her family lineage and affiliation with the country and its language.
One memory Levia says she will never forget is her time spent in Gdańsk, “It didn’t feel real, it was that gorgeous.” When asked what she gained from the trip, Levia says she found further pride and appreciation in being Polish, as well as a “newfound love for the architecture and people.”