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Long Study Tour II: Poznan, Poland

All I remember was the rain soaking through my coat, in conspiracy with the wind to chill my bones. We were miserable on that grey morning, as most students are when forced to wake up before the sun. The weather, however, really added to our pain. Feet dragged across the empty streets of Poznan, the fifth largest city in Poland. But I really couldn’t tell you what the top four cities are.

Our professors stopped in front of a small door in the streetcorner, at the end of a row of apartment-like buildings. A white sign next to the door prompted our whereabouts, “Vilda Clinic.” This was to be the first academic visit in Poland. The students hustled inside, filling up the tiny anteroom with wet winter jackets. A lady in a frilly, flowery dress and high heels welcomed us, introducing us to three other elegant people all in white coats. Somehow, we managed to separate into four groups despite the small space.

The visit left an impression on us young American pre-med students who had big hopes and dreams about becoming rich doctors. Lunch was a welcome thought, though we had to face the cold damp outdoors again to get to the restaurant.

In the afternoon, a walking tour had been planned for our class, but not even the professors could muster any enthusiasm for it, as the weather showed no signs of improving. The possibility of canceling it was discussed. However, a few of us had no other plans, couldn’t think of anything better to do, and didn’t want to waste the opportunity for activity. So, I followed the tour guide, along with three others, out into the dank streets of Poznan, skipping over construction that seemed to snake through the entire city at the moment.

I really wanted to know more about this city we were living in for three nights, even though it was only the fifth largest in Poland. Even in under the low skies, its well-paved cobblestoned streets (those not under construction) charmed me, as well as its unassuming red and white buildings, containing the most intricate baroque architecture on the inside. Seriously, Church St. Stanislaus is stunning, but looks like a quaint office building on the outside. Poznan is known for it’s two wooden goats who come out of clock tower and head butt each other everyday at noon. The architect had been instructed to make something that would “make people laugh.”

At the end of the tour, the nice tour guide drove us back to the hotel in her car, and I spent the rest of the evening holed up in a cafe catching up on work.

Day 5

In the morning we had to do our Healthcare Systems Survey, which was basically stopping strangers on the street asking them whether they liked their healthcare system. Long story short, they do not. Pity, becuse it’s still better than America’s (in some ways).

We then headed to the Poznan University of Medical Sciences, where they tried to advertise their med program to us. While I don’t think anyone had their sights set to Poznan after that, there were people who were interested in going to med school in Europe, so the information was valuable.

At the Peirogi Making Workshop, our 24-person class managed to finish 23 bottles of wine, even when some of us didn’t drink. The peirogi we made was good.

Day 6, End

Ended the study tour with a presentation on our surveys, and flew back to Copenhagen.

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