Friday, August 21, 2009

What happens in the Motherland stays in the Motherland

Tomorrow I am taking my first trip to Poland, which is the country where all my grandparents were born.* (Hence, I guess it's the Grandmotherland rather than the Motherland.) I am going to be an instructor in a mathematical modelling week in Wroclaw, which is not pronounced in a manner anywhere close to how it's spelled and which alas is nowhere close to any of the places where my grandparents are from. Because I am an instructor, and apparently need to be present both with my students and in meetings simultaneously during a couple of the days (I still haven't figured out how I'm going to manage this), escaping for a day to check those places out is not even remotely an option. Hopefully I'll be able to do that on another occasion, but I already some some interesting facts just by getting the names of places and looking them up on wikipedia, so I'll check things out in more detail online later. I'm hoping that maybe I'll be able to get some good latkas, kreplach, and matzah ball soup while I'm in Poland. :) We shall see.

Also, Poland will become the 8th different European country that I have visited (counting Ireland and Great Britain as European countries, because to an American they are such). I have invitations to visit Belgium and Germany, so those are the most likely candidates for me to visit next. (I also have an invitation to visit Singapore, though I'll really need to think about what timing will be good for that visit and I'd like to try to drop by and hang with friends even though the invitation is an academic one. Hence, there is some nontrivial coordination involved. The invitation to Belgium is also academic, and I have both academic and non-academic invitations for Germany.) Belgium will mostly like be the next country overall because the discussed plan was to try to get there this fall.

* Some of the places where they were born are no longer actually part of Poland.


Justin said...

Wroclaw - pronounced "Breslau" by any chance? :-)

Modern Poland is weird. I'm much more familiar with Polish borders from several centuries ago (yay for historical wargames!). I hadn't realized they actually lost territory since your grandparents day - it's not like any version of Poland has had much territory to lose since the 1700s. I guess it makes sense in a "might makes right" way that the USSR snagged all that land in eastern Poland while they gave Poland various bits of eastern Germany...

Posts like this make me wish I had a job in Europe. I'd probably be much more interested in travel if it was so easy to get to interesting places for conferences. Have fun!

Mason said...

Nope, it's not pronounced that way. The 'w's are pronounced like 'w''s (which I knew), and the 'l' is apparently pronounced like a 'w' and is properly written with some sort of accent. I'll let you know how to pronounce it after I hear it a few more times. One of my Masters students is from Poland, and that's why I heard the right pronunciation today.

They have both gained and lost territory since then. :)

It's certainly true that living in Europe makes it much easier to visit interesting places in Europe. I had never been to Europe at all until Dec. 2005 when I went to Cambridge.