Haverhill's restaurant row along Washington Street isn't just well-known in the region.
It's now known at least as far away as Poland.
Eleven Polish students from Adam Mickiewicz University are enrolled in a four-week English creative writing course at Northern Essex Community College.
When not working on their studies, the students are taking in the city's local culture — with an emphasis on the variety of Haverhill's downtown eateries. Though all the students come from the same university, located in the city of Poznan in Western Poland, each has a different major, ranging from English to law.
Meeting at NECC three times a week for four hours each session, they learn the fine points of writing English papers under the direction of Associate English Professor Thomas Greene.
"Writing in a different language other than Polish is a challenge," said Polish student Anna Araszkiewicz, who is majoring in English and Russian language studies.
Besides writing their 2,500 word fiction pieces and drafting poems, the students are visiting neighboring cities and taking in the American experience. They're currently staying at the Best Western hotel on Lowell Avenue.
So far, they've made stops in Boston, New York City and Portland, Maine, and even have a trip to Canada planned. In addition, Greene also offered them a guided tour of historic downtown Salem, Mass.
Their trips also provide inspiration for their writing. Their trip to New York City, for instance, provided fodder for a poetry assignment.
The students have taken the time to explore downtown Haverhill and hit popular spots such as Washington and Wingate streets, while sampling the local flavor of restaurants such as the Purple Onion and the Peddler's Daughter.
Unfortunately, as student Jan Kukulski discovered, the drinking age in America of 21 compared to Europe's 18 hurt their ability to sample to the locally made beer at The Tap restaurant, which has its own microbrewery.
"That's the cruelest thing," he said.
Besides the difference in drinking ages, the students have had to adjust to other lifestyle changes.
Getting to their destinations, for instance, is a challenge since none of the students drives even in their native land. They've discovered public transportation, unfortunately, isn't up to snuff compared to Poland's, and they have been forced to reschedule their class multiple times just to make sure they're all at the campus at the same time.
Kukulski also said that a lack of sidewalks and crosswalks in some areas makes walking around the city dangerous.
"When crossing the roads," he said, throwing his arms up. "Oh, my God."
The need to find transportation also led to a culture clash when Araszkiewicz didn't understand how interchangeable the words "taxi" and "cab" were.
"First I called for a taxi, then I called for a cab," she said.
One upside to American dining, the students found, is that the portions in U.S, meals are much larger than those served in Europe — meaning a single meal here can carry them for an entire day.
The exchange program is the first of its kind between NECC and Adam Mickiewicz University, which is named for the Polish poet and patriot of the 1800s. The schools hope to expand the program in the future.