Now a professor, Polish exchange student returns to visit Northeastern
Łukasz Gołota may have attended Northeastern Illinois University for only a short period of time, but the University left a lasting impression.
An undergraduate exchange student from Poland in 2006, Gołota has since earned degrees in both International Relations and Law, and traveled to countries such as Turkey, China and Italy. He now is a professor at the University of Warsaw.
Gołota returned to Northeastern in March to attend the International Programs Mobility Fair, where he encouraged students to study abroad in Poland and emphasized the importance of international relations and mobility. We took the opportunity to catch up.
Welcome back to Northeastern Illinois University! What does it feel like to be back?
It was 2006 when I went here. Oh my god, nine years ago! Whenever I’m in Chicago every two years, it’s like traveling to the past. The past that was full of good emotion, knowledge. It was complete in all fields—studies, hanging out, sight-seeing. I love it here.
Chicago is a great city for all of that.
Chicago is the most beautiful American city. I travel a lot around the U.S.A. Chicago is an absolutely prime, prime place. Northeastern Illinois University is the place where it all happened for me—emotion, studies, research. Those possibilities enriched me incredibly. When I came here to the States, I went back home a completely new man.
How long were you here?
Eight months. It was during the spring and summer. So, two semesters.
What kind of work are you doing now?
I graduated with a degree in International Relations and Law at the University of Warsaw, which is like the Harvard of Eastern Europe. When I went back to Poland, I completed all degrees and I decided to start a Ph.D. I was hired by the university in the political economics section. So I started teaching students international economics, world trade systems and even English.
Now, you’ve traveled all over the word—Istanbul, Madrid and Barcelona. What can you say about those experiences?
I like the world. I like the places. I like to talk to people. I like to get to know people. History. Culture. Food. The taste of everything. The taste of places. That is what I love most about traveling the world. There is no better way of studying international relations than mobility. Talking with people and understanding people. This is the problem, for example, lack of knowledge causes problems in international affairs: Russia, Ukraine, Syria and the Islamic State. We would not be closed off on ideas of the rest of the world if we had more knowledge. My goal is to share the knowledge and experiences.
What brings you to Northeastern’s Mobility Fair?
I want to encourage students to study abroad at the University of Warsaw. It is the best university in Eastern Europe, if I could say. Over 1,500 international students study in Warsaw. It is a good offer that I think will enrich possibilities for the students because it is the entrance for the European Union, entrance for Eastern dimension. I think that studying in Warsaw—an extremely dynamic city—high-quality teaching will create a new level of imagination for students. They will come back completely different. We offer really good English programs. We are trying to convince American students that the world is waiting for them.
What does the study abroad program for the University of Warsaw offer for Northeastern students?
We are focused on International Relations, so this includes economic dimension, historical dimension, cultural dimension. But, the best thing we have at the University of Warsaw is the students. The knowledge of the world comes not from the books, but from themselves. They are learning from themselves. That’s why we are counting on American students. They will learn from us and also share their experiences with others. We need to strengthen this American factor in Eastern Europe.
Would you say your time at Northeastern has influenced what you are doing today with this program?
My time at Northeastern was very special. I was able to connect with students from different cultures and learn from that. All of that was valuable for me. My studies here helped make me the professor that I am today. That is what we are trying to inspire in this program. We have students coming from all over the world. Studying abroad, but particularly in Warsaw, will enrich the lives of these students. Like my time at Northeastern, I know students will have a positive experience at Warsaw.