The opportunity to travel has probably been the most impactful element of my years at the University of Edinburgh. My year abroad studying in Sweden and now my two-month internship that I spent in Warsaw have truly made me grow as a person through the learning and life experiences that I found there.
Family and friends were initially a little perplexed that after finishing my degree in Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies I was now preparing to fly to Warsaw, Poland. After all, Polish is by no means similar to my chosen degree language of Swedish, or to English for that matter. The reason that I had chosen an internship in Warsaw was that I had found the perfect opportunity in VocApp, a language app company, which so exactly allowed me to implement and expand my skills learnt from studying. My role as an intern was to include the translation, creation and proofreading of courses into Swedish and Spanish (and a little Danish) alongside the development and marketing of the app, both of which required tasks rather pertinent to Linguistics, such as coding and data analysis.
Before I left for Warsaw, I was excited to soon be living in such an unknown and historically interesting capital city. However, I was apprehensive about several things. Firstly, there was the realisation of what my responsibilities at VocApp would actually be – these language courses that I would be creating would ultimately be used by paying users of the app, who would be studying the language from my input. Furthermore, I would be contributing to the app’s marketing, something that is vitally important and potentially risky for a young start-up company like VocApp. I was also worried yet curious about how pronounced the language barrier would be when living in Poland. I was unsure how many people there would speak English and to what level and I hoped that I would be able to pick up enough of the language so that I wouldn’t feel too stuck or excluded from getting to know the Poles I met.
Luckily, I needn’t have worried. Almost everyone I met spoke English and was generally very generous in helping me and advising me in what I should see and try in their wonderful city. Of course, as a linguist, I was still determined to pick up some Polish and although it was difficult I learned a handful of essential words and phrases, the most useful of these for meeting new friends being ‘Na zdrowie!‘ (Cheers!). At the company I learnt everything they had promised and more: coding generative grammars, using digital marketing tools, translating, proofreading, app interface translation and beyond. However, the best part of the experience for me was living in such a beautiful, contrastive and thriving city and the diverse and inspiring people that I met there. I am very grateful to have been given this chance to grow both professionally and as a person.