hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

September 20, 2012

Students from Poland get taste of America

By Alex Lippa

---- — For the second straight year, Northern Essex Community College has visitors from abroad attending the school for the month of September. The college is hosting 14 students from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznari, Poland.

“We thought it would be a good idea to come to the States, and immerse ourselves in the culture while learning the language,” said Hanna Pluta, a law and European studies major.

The students are taking an English class as well as classes on American culture, geography, history and biology. They take classes in the morning and then have the rest of the day to themselves to explore the area.

“They learn quite a lot,” said Michael Speidel, a professor at Northern Essex who hails from Poland. “They go to class from nine in the morning to one in the afternoon and then go back to the hotel and study like typical students.”

The students are currently staying at the Comfort Suites on River Street.

Spiedel believes the experience is much more valuable than just taking classes.

“It’s interesting and exciting for them,” he said Speidel. “Not only do they get to improve their English, but they get the opportunity to experience what America is like.”

The students have already gone on trips to visit Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., and came away with mixed reviews of the cities.

“There’s just too many cars in New York,” said Marcin Pakula, a cognitive science major. “It’s hard for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around.”

While the rapidness of New York may have been a negative, their trip to Boston, where they enjoyed the shops and restaurants, was a much more pleasant experience.

“Boston is such a nice city and atmosphere,” said Pluta. “You can actually feel how friendly and helpful people are. There isn’t as big of a rush in Boston. In New York you feel like you are squeezed.”

Pluta said classes here are much different than in Poland.

“In Europe, we basically have lectures and we just listen and take notes,” she said. “These classes are more conversational discussion classes.”

Pluta and Pakula said that they haven’t explored much of Haverhill yet, except to take the commuter rail into Boston, but found one spot in Haverhill that seemed familiar.

“They have their own little Irish pub,” said Pluta, referring to the Peddler’s Daughter on Wingate Street.