I started to become serious about studying Polish this past year. This was also my first Slavic language that I attempted to learn. Because I had no idea what I was doing, I ultimately ended up going from having what seemed like no resources, to having what seemed like an overwhelming amount of resources (which are finally understandable and no longer long sentences of slurred speech or consonant clusters). But there is one particular resource which I would recommend to Polish learners, and it’s realpolish.pl
There are a lot of reasons I would recommend it. First, it’s all in Polish. In case anyone is put off by that at first, it’s really not impossible once you get used to listening. Piotr speaks very slowly and clearly, and tries to use very basic language to talk about interesting topics. Some of the posts are longer, others are shorter. Piotr recommends listening many to the recordings, and this has been incredibly helpful. It’s also a great opportunity for writing practice. There’s a small but steady community over there who will comment on articles, and Piotr really does respond to everything. By the way, if you write in Polish, he will respond in Polish–which, it should also be mentioned, he is a language learner himself, learning English and Spanish. It’s a very supportive community where you know that you will be able to use what little amount of language you do have. Finally, you do get to learn many interesting things about Poland and the Polish culture and language on the site; he writes about several different topics, and I’ve picked up some great vocabulary from there much sooner than I probably would have.
In short, this is probably the most valuable resource I’ve found for learning Polish. I hope that everyone who is at the awkward beginner stage and looking for materials visits his site and tries to listen to a few recordings.
I’ve written about my quarter life crisis experience before, but reading this article here, http://www.designlovefest.com/2013/06/so-27-is-weird/#comment-71404, I’ve come to think that this is something we aren’t really prepared to experience, and that it takes place over several years rather than the day we hit 25.
For a pretty good period in my life, I tended to spend time with people who were older than I was by a good 10 years. I ultimately heard several times, especially if I was about to hit a “milestone age,” that you’re a very different person between 16-18, 18-21, and 21-25. This always made me feel like I wasn’t really on the right track, because up until 25 I really didn’t feel any different than when I was 18. As strange as it sounds, 24 and 25 seem like a different lifetime ago, even though it was so recent.
I don’t know that this change happened all at once. I think it was really a lot of little things adding up, which after 18 months, you realize that you truly have become a very different person. It’s a very strange period where you start to feel like you really don’t have the experiences to fit in with people older, but at the same time, you realize you’re not who you were at 25. Sometimes it feels like you’re caught between two very different worlds and you’re not sure where you belong. I find this to be a very interesting and fascinating process, because about a year into this I’m finally starting to see that this is the time where you do find out who you are.
I don’t know how long this is going to last, but I hope on the other end I will come out as being better for having experienced this. I’m very interested in seeing if it will be one moment which “ends” the quarter life moments, or if it finishes the way it starts–slowly and gradually.
I happens every year. The students come in, look cautiously around the room to find where they can sit, straighten their new suits, then begin to present their arguments. Of course I’m talking about first year appellate arguments. I had this rite of passage myself, and I’ve come back each year to serve as a judge.
There’s something very enjoyable about being a judge for this kind of event. First, it’s a change from the ordinary; for a few minutes, you get to be the one asking questions, and being somewhat “authoritative.” But beyond that, it provides a great sense of satisfaction. As a judge, you’re not just sitting up there in a robe throwing questions; you’re helping these students at the very beginning of their education to become better attorneys. During oral argument weekend, reality changes. The focus is not on donations, or bar passage rates, or job placement rates; it’s solely on the students and how they perform in the moment. Especially in a time where the future is particularly uncertain, and anxieties are high, it’s even more important for first year students to have some direction and guidance. And it does mean something: four years later, I still remember my own argument, and what a wonderful experience it was.
Thank you, 1Ls, for allowing me to take some part in your journey to becoming attorneys.