Sebastian Smoliński

Year of BA graduation: 2014

Current occupation: film critic and a doctoral student at the University of Warsaw

How was studying at the ASC like?

It was a bit like “living in America”. As a student, you entered this space where everyone speaks English, there are American books in the library and you can learn a lot about the country and people that fascinate you. I loved that part of the ASC experience.

What did you like most about our Center?

I had the feeling that ASC is different from other departments that I studied at. The Faculty seemed to be more relaxed and creative. For example, I don’t know where else I could attend “The Functions of Food in American Culture and Society” class devised by Prof. Karolina Krasuska and her team. As the name suggests, it was devoted to the food culture in the US. That was a very exciting course.

Your best memories?

I have several of them and they are connected with great teachers that I encountered during my BA program. But maybe the funniest and most unique memory is a part of, again, “The Functions of Food” class. We were asked to do, in pairs, a sort of an anthropological investigation of the Warsaw food scene. I remember visiting two kebab places with my colleague. They were, needless to say, my favorite kebab places back then and it was a pleasure to meet the owners and the staff and get to know their backstories.

What did you like the most about the BA program?

It was the diversity of classes and the possibility to choose your favorite ones.

What skills have you gained while studying that you think you would not acquire anywhere else?

I think the experience of studying in English was essential and really encouraged me to use the language freely and without shyness, even if I am still making mistakes. It’s fantastic that the ASC programs are available for students for free. I think this is a great opportunity for social advancement and for polishing your English in a relatively painless way – painless because it is so interesting and stimulating to study American culture.

What do you do professionally at the moment?

I’m currently a film critic and doctoral student at the ASC but I have done many things since graduating, for example I was working at the Polish-US Fulbright Commission and I was an intern at Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. I’m also collaborating with the New Horizons IFF and American Film Festival as a moderator. The knowledge I acquired at the Center comes handy in these situations, especially when I’m interviewing foreign filmmakers.

In what way the experience of studying at the ASC influenced your future career choices and helped you get to the place where you are today, both professionally and personally?

I think it did, in the way that as a film critic, for example, I am perceived as an expert in US topics. That’s cool and I have “papers” (my B.A. diploma) to confirm that! 🙂

Has someone at the ASC had a particular impact on you and inspired you in some way?

Again, I think several teachers were great, including Prof. William Glass (my BA advisor!), Prof. Agnieszka Graff and Prof. Karolina Krasuska.

Would you choose the program again?

I think so!

To whom would you recommend pursuing a degree in American Studies?

For those of you who would like to go deeper, beyond the surface of American culture, and explore its complexity and paradoxes. This experience can be eye-opening: you would never look at the US in the same way.

What advice would you give to a younger self?

Well, that’s a great question since I graduated from MISH and so the ASC was one of the two places I was pursuing the diploma at. To the younger self, I would say that you can do a bit less and not take too much on your shoulders – sometimes it’s good to take your education slow and have time to really immerse yourself in the topics that interest you – at your own pace. Of course, it’s also good to remember that studying is about spending time with your peers – sometimes conversations and parties with your fellow students may be more enriching than another class that you decided to enroll in.

What are your future career aspirations? 

Obviously, I would like to finish my Ph.D. Keep your fingers crossed! I would also like to experiment with a few film-related projects. Otherwise, to be honest, I am not super-focused on a single career goal.