TAS Testimonials

Adam Zmarzlinski

Adam Zmarzlinski

November 2010: It was an unusual fall day in the small city of Krakow; a warm breeze blew in from the north and the cornucopia of vibrant colors in the tree tops resembled something out of Claude Monet's Seasons collection. I sat on a bench in Krakow's market square, surrounded by the breathtaking 13th century St. Mary's Basilica, numerous children feeding hundreds of the cities pigeons and the magnificent Cloth Hall, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. I was enjoying the moment, oblivious to the fact that the two years of my Master's program at Jagiellonian University, one of Europe's oldest and most prestigious academies, were slowly coming to an end.

And what a glorious two years it had been. With the guidance of Prof. Garry Robson, Prof. Patrick Vaughan and Prof. Christopher Reeves, I was not only blooming academically but practically. The scholarly attention to detail, intensive research-workshops and enlightening lectures, coupled with professionalism of the faculty and office staff, made the Transatlantic Studies Program a perfect fit for what I was look for: a practical, world class student-focused challenge to prepare me for the working world ahead.November 2010: It was an unusual fall day in the small city of Krakow; a warm breeze blew in from the north and the cornucopia of vibrant colors in the tree tops resembled something out of Claude Monet's Seasons collection. I sat on a bench in Krakow's market square, surrounded by the breathtaking 13th century St. Mary's Basilica, numerous children feeding hundreds of the cities pigeons and the magnificent Cloth Hall, a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. I was enjoying the moment, oblivious to the fact that the two years of my Master's program at Jagiellonian University, one of Europe's oldest and most prestigious academies, were slowly coming to an end.

What the program offered academically and practically, it doubled in terms of networking. Having met students from all parts of the world, from Venezuela to Norway, from Germany to Nigeria and a dozen students from the United States, my intellectual scope widened and the personal and professional relationships I made continue to grow.

The location of the program had a huge impact on my decision. While it may sound trivial, Poland's location is ideal for those who wish to travel, or do some self-motivated research—in my case, Europe's (at the time) only breakaway region of Transnistria, for Prof. Wojciech Michnik's wonderful class on Central European Transatlantic Relations. Krakow is also home to numerous organizations such as Google, The Wisława Szymborska Foundation, Amnesty International and The Center for Political Thought, to name a few. So for those interested in expanding their horizons beyond the program, the opportunities are boundless.

I can say with confidence that UJ's Transatlantic Studies Program was a right choice for me. I use the skills gained during my tenure with the program nearly every day, be it professionally in day to day work at the office of Illinois State Senator Christine Radogno or as part of my personal writing ventures. The confidence and contagious motivation from the faculty has inspired me to pursue a Ph.D. in Slavic Studies at University of Illinois. I suggest that if you have any further questions, you should contact the great people working at the TAS program for additional information.

Clinton Tallman

Clinton Tallman

January 15, 2015 (La Porte, IN, USA) Clinton J. Tallman (Class of 2012)

It was always a goal of mine to attain a degree outside of the United States. I worked for several years after completing my undergrad before actively searching for Masters Programs that offered the curriculum I was looking for. The TAS program at Jagiellonian presented courses that perfectly matched my interest in regional politics, history, and culture. Having graduated from TAS in 2012, I continue to encourage others to consider Jagiellonian when they begin looking at graduate schools. The most important aspect of the program for me was the quality of the professors. They challenge you intellectually and help you better understand complex ideas, in addition to being mentors and friends who inspire you to achieve your very best. Enrolling in the TAS program in Krakow was truly one of the most important decisions I've ever made.

The summer after I graduated I started working at The La Lumiere School in La Porte, Indiana, where I teach government and economics to high school students. Recently, in an independent report, La Lumiere was ranked number two in the state for private boarding schools. Every summer we take about twenty students to Prague, Czech Republic for an academic trip focused on Central European history and culture. My wife is Czech and our son was born in Jablonec Nad Nisou this past July. In the future I hope to be able to bring students to Krakow to visit my old stomping grounds.

Tshego Setilo

Tshego Setilo

I had a great and memorable experience as a TAS student. The programme has broadened my knowledge and I really enjoyed it very much. What I enjoyed the most was the interactive sessions with my fellow classmates and lecturers; the materials lecturers provided for us were also valuable because I have gained so much information about transatlantic issues. The ever smiling administrator, Iwona, and the professors also contributed to making my experience a great one. Iwona would really go an extra mile to assist me with anything I needed. 

My TAS qualification has really opened a lot of doors for me as I am currently working as a programme manager for the University Preparation Programme at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa and will also be enrolling for my doctoral studies soon. The programme and living in Poland has changed my life immensely and I would highly recommend it to anyone who would like to study in Krakow (a very beautiful city)!!

Jacqueline Friedl

The TAS experience is a collection of adventures that starts in the classroom and ends in the pub with people you just met who become your best friends. From classroom conversations about the social context of Frankenstein to debates about the political stability of Eurasia, the TAS program is suitable for anyone who has the ambition to learn more and challenge their understanding of the world. Classroom discussions are sometimes drowned out by an uproar of chatter from the main square, but that only stirs more curiosity about your surrounding area. Krakow is rich in cultural heritage and a melting pot of tourists, businessmen, students, locals, and foreigners. After-class activities with fellow students provide the chance to embrace different cultures, traditions, and opinions, as well as the time to fall into the whirlwind that is Polish culture. My TAS experience could not have been substituted by any other location, group of professors, students, and circle friends and acquaintances. During my two years in Krakow, I witnessed a society and a European identity that I was very unfamiliar with and found myself enjoying the challenges of everyday living. I was able to test my patience while struggling to understand non-native English speakers (and while struggling to communicate thoroughly in my conversational Polish). I was also able to practice the art of "effective" communication.

The lessons learned through my frustrations and successes in Krakow are carried with me today as I face the unpredictable future of "Energy Efficiency" and "Economic Sustainability". Through all the people I met, I developed the skills to empathize and dismiss conventionalities, allowing me to think way "outside the box". 

This has proven beneficial in my daily tasks at the Energy Center of Wisconsin, administering and developing programs related to energy efficiency in the Chicago real-estate and commercial market.

Danielle Piatkiewicz

Danielle Piatkiewicz

I came across the TAS Program while attending a summer language and culture program at Jagiellonian University, I instantly fell in love with Krakow and the university and wanted to find a way to extend my stay. The TAS program not only fulfielled my desire to live in Krakow but it offered an array of internationally diverse classes, faculty and students. I found the classes to be challenging and thought provoking especially with the intimate and small scale of our classes. The professors encuraged us to engage in debate with our fellow classmates but also them, this led to some very lively classes and discussion in and outside the classroom. In particular, I really enjoyed the supplementary classes, these were additional courses that complemented our core TAS curriculum- these classes incorporated a variety of topics using media, literature and temporary issues by connecting them to a transatlantic concepts. I also relly enjoyed the thesis writing process, the professors served as wonderful guides and encuraged us to really dive into the topic and material. My thesis process was very personally and professionally rewarding as I later published it with an academic publishing company. Overall the TAS Program gave me the tools and condifence to engage in transatlantic issues and I very much value the time and the relationships I made during my time in the program.

Current profession and location:

I currently work at an international think tank, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). GMF is an organization that seeks to strengthen transatlantic cooperation on regional, national, and global challenges and opportunities in the spirit of the Marshall Plan. I specifically work on the Wider Atlantic and Asia program which takes a more comprehensive approach to US and EU relations beyond the traditional Transatlantic approach where I do a mix of research and analysis but also organize events for our debates and discussions on the topic.

Career Opportunities - Transatlantic Alumni

A Master's degree in cultural studies with major in TransAtlantic studies may not give you an automatic entry into a specific field. However, should you decide to pursue the degree, your course work will include comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach which will provide you with a broad knowledge base and prepare for a multitude of occupations. The curriculum comprises compulsory and optional courses as well as seminars which cover a variety of social sciences, including inter alia: political science, history, economy, sociology, culture and law. Numerous qualities, relevant to future employers and highly valued in the world of work, are developed in the course of our study program.

 

» Tyler Thompson

Early on in my academic career at Texas A&M University I decided that I wanted to pursue a masters degree in cultural studies and international relations, only I had a slightly different idea than my contemporaries on how to pursue that dream.

I had always enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone and meeting new people. I was never let down by the insights that those experiences provided. I knew I had to take this approach towards my graduate career.


How it is that two people, from two different places, can interpret world events differently has always driven my fascination towards the study culture and politics. I felt the urge to venture out, explore the flat, interconnected world of today and to meet new people and listen to what they had to say.


Upon arriving in Krakow, I was surprised by the diverse student body of the Trans-Atlantic Studies program and Jagiellonian University. I was not only gaining the perspectives and personal stories of Americans and Poles, but from people all over the world whether they were from South America, Africa, or Asia.


The value of being submersed in a new, diverse, and unfamiliar environment cannot be overstated, but not enough is said of the benefits to be had from working, side by side, towards a common goal with people from different places and different cultures.

 

» Jeff Maslanik

What can be gained from life abroad? The typical sojourn of an American student or backpacker abroad usually involves a few short weeks within a country, or several countries that more or less comforts their every need. Generally, the trip is accompanied with a slight dash of humility that generally stems from a poor understanding of the language and more often than not a brief bout of dysentery. The American University system is today being leveled on a global playing field.  Commonly, the American University system is considered to be the best and for the most part one could say that it is.  However, the systemic flaw that is nonchalantly tossed around the American campus is that one can gain the same international exposure in the United States as one could abroad. In a matter of fact way of speaking, international exposure can only be gained through international exposure. In terms of cultural exposure the MA in Transatlantic Studies program at Jagiellonian University is unsurpassed by any American University.

Life in Krakow is an adventure. Stepping out of your box and taking that leap of faith will open your world to limitless possibilities, most of which can simply not be experienced within the United States. There is nothing more academically unique, personally gratifying, and eye opening then living in a foreign country, attending the local university and having all ties to the American University cut off from the get go.  A major part of learning is done through personal experience. Arguably, at the graduate level, it seems often to even be more the case.


Krakow or Poland for that matter is a great place to live. I am not going to lie and say that it goes without its discomforts but ultimately it is far and away a great place to study and additionally, a perfect vantage point from which to explore the vastness of Central and Eastern Europe.  There is no better way to experience cultures, languages, and life than being there in person. Eastern-Europe is distinctly unique to the West.  East of Switzerland one can still experience deep cultural immersion that has yet to be fully adapted to those of the West and that of the United States. The program of Transatlantic Studies at Jagiellonian University will not only broaden your horizons culturally but will also give you first person experience in the region that was most drastically affected by the Cold War. Each and every persons experience will differ. The time that I spent Central and Eastern Europe will last with me for the rest of my life. The friendships that were forged, the education that was gained (from a highly qualified and dedicated faculty), and the firsthand cultural experiences, made the journey and the MA all worth the while. I can honestly say attending and completing the MA in Transatlantic Studies at UJ was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

 

» Hanna A. Drozdowski

I have been working for AACSB International since September of 2010 as their Coordinator, Research and Projects in Tampa, Fl. AACSB International is an association of educational institutions, businesses, and other organizations who aim to advance management education worldwide. The organization has over 1300 members representing 83 countries, and awards accreditation to those who fulfill its standards for a quality business program. Currently 643 school in 43 countries hold AACSB accreditation.

There I work on various research projects related to advancing management education as well as on trends in global management education. I help in maintaining the online Resource Centers, coordinating projects requiring research across the organization, as well as am one the organizations Blog authors.

Considering this is an international organization, my studies at the Jagiellonian University have been greatly helpful in bringing an international perspective to the organizations various projects. Also the research skills I have gained through the thesis process have been crucial in helping me excel in current position.

 

» Adam Zakrzewski

We all came together from different parts of the world, each with different views and experiences, to study the same subject - Culture. Although some students were more ripe for culture shock than others, I believe the experience of adjusting to a foreign land is invaluable for personal development.

Life in the classroom featured many discussions and debates. Our class was often in disagreement, and I feel the civilized debates were the best part of the program. It is what I miss the most today. Everyone had their own area of expertise, and together we generated many intellectually stimulating conversations. These discussions often continued outside of the classroom, late into the night at the local cafe or pub, and even outside of Poland.

The willingness of students to arrange international trips with fellow classmates was also a great way to experience and apply what was learned in class. There is nothing quite like studying the Cold War, International Politics and Globalization in the heart of Central Europe.

Overall, the program was an excellent way to make lasting connections with locals,  international students, professionals, and faculty. The program provides an excellent venue to experience what you are studying. The secretary does an excellent job keeping students up to date on local cultural events and guest lecturers. Like most other programs, it is what you put into it but I did not feel limited in what I wanted to research. My thesis adviser was very helpful and I felt well accommodated. The TAS program is very flexible, and the faculty are top notch and diverse. My decision to study TAS at the Jagiellonian University ranks as one of my best choices in life and I am thankful to everyone I met.

 

» Garrett McGinn

I am currently the Western US Director of Special Investigative Services for Digistream Inc., a national investigative firm. The division I work in provides due diligence services primarily to law firms and insurance companies.

I began the position shortly after completing my thesis and returning to the States in mid-2011 and, along with my colleague in New York, am busy growing our division into a national competitor. We have had early success as well as the inevitable challenges as well. We have increased our office staff each month, along with our revenue, and 2012 looks to be a good year for our division and Digistream as a whole. My TAS experience, particularly the time spent on my thesis, has proven valuable in ways that I did not foresee while I was in Poland. We are currently exploring entering the financial industry to market our services, and with the amount of time spent on this topic while writing my thesis, I feel more comfortable creating a product to suit these prospective clients.

In a less tangible, but no less important, sense, my Poland experience taught me broad life lessons which have proven very helpful in molding me as I assume more responsibilities, both in my career and my personal life. I learned to be grateful for the opportunities provided to me, and to develop a healthy risk appetite, something that was necessary for me to make the leap to Poland without even knowing how to say Dzienkuje when I arrived in 2009. That risk appetite has thus far paid off. Finally, I am daily comforted by the many memories of Poland and adventerous travels abroad with my fiance, friends and family during my two years there. From the experience of starting Krakows first lacrosse team with an American friend I met at TAS, to traveling to Transnistria to see Europes last slice of the USSR, there is never a shortage of memories!

 

» Alyse McConnell

I think of TAS often (pretty much everyday), and miss the program, Krakow, and all of my fellow TAS mates more than words can say.  That said, I have been very lucky over the past few years: I was able to get a job during what was literally one of the worst times in recent history to be unemployed in the U.S.  Not only was I able to land a job, I was able to enter a field that I actually enjoy and have a background in: international trade.  

I am currently employed as a research analyst for an international affairs management firm, Bryant Christie Inc (BCI).  BCI helps private companies and non-profit groups open, expand, and access international markets.  Most of our clients are agricultural cooperatives that help individual growers export their horticultural products abroad, so much of my work is focused on analyzing trade data and international regulations regarding the import of fruit and vegetable products.  

In my current position, I write, edit, and publish customized newsletters to provide our clients with updates on various trade-related issues, including changes to foreign markets import requirements, tariffs, shipping protocols, plant health inspection processes, etc.  I also write about more general global policy issues such as recent developments in foreign and domestic free trade agreements and high-level multilateral meetings such as the G20 and the WTOs Doha Development Round.  The research-intensive work I did for my TAS thesis has been especially useful in this position, as I am constantly searching and analyzing online sources for these newsletters and other research projects. Though challenging, I thoroughly enjoy my work and am looking forward to gaining more experience in this field.

My TAS degree undoubtedly helped me get this job, and I am incredibly grateful to have had such an amazing experience in Krakow while gaining a strong skill set that I utilize every day in my new profession.