4 weeks of Polish adventures….

It has been 4 weeks since I arrived in Poland (it will have been a month on Wednesday!), and in this time I have done, seen, and learnt a lot more about Poland than I knew in the first place. So here is a list of not very abbreviated dot points about my adventures and misadventures over the past few weeks. Mainly focusing on learning Polish culture and teaching.

  1. I know that I have mentioned it before, but getting used todrinking bottled water rather than tap water has been a massive change to home. Furthermore, trying to explain to waiters that I would like still, cold water seems to always result in a problem.
  2. Having dinner at lunch and lunch at dinner. So in Poland the biggest meal of the day, called dinner, is eaten when us Aussies would generally eat our lunch. Consequently, they have a small meal called ‘super’ when we would usually eat our dinner. I am particularly fond on the Polish tradition of have soup first and then the main meal. I tend to have lunch at school so have been able to try a number of different Polish meals (while not really knowing what I am eating).
  3. The shopping centres are open until like 10pmevery night! This is awesome, just because I don’t have to feel rushed to get all my shopping done before 5 (not that I have actually been doing that much shopping but the thought still stands).
  4. People don’t stop at pedestrian crossings. It’s basically a massive game of chicken. Taxis are the worst. I feel like I may die every time I go near a road.
  5. The Poles are very self-conscious about their English and only the very confident will talk in English. With this said, the majority of Polish people can at least understand English. So don’t go slagging off at someone in English thinking they can’t understand you, it is more than likely that they can and that you will get your butt kicked.
  6. Alcohol is very cheap and very accessible. You rarely get asked for ID when going in to clubs, or when buying alcohol. Furthermore, there shopping centres have so much alcohol for sale, in some supermarkets I swear that there is more alcohol than other goods!
  7. Fat Thursday. A day when stuffing your face with Ponczki (Polish doughnuts) is a cultural experience. Need I say more?
Ponczki
 
 
School adventures so far:
1.      accidentally locked a student inside a classroom the other day. The entire class laughed hysterically, I will admit that while it was embarrassing it was much more hilarious.
2.      Walking into the wrong classrooms
3.      Some of the native English speaking students love nothing more than to have an English conversation. I had a great conversation with a 7 year old about her pet leprechaun and the general existence of faeries. Of course this was in between completing English tasks….
4.      Students are so excited to have us there, they always smile and say ‘Hello’. The younger students also love to give hugs.
5.      The students speak amazing English, they are super shy about it and many of the older students don’t say a word because they are scared that they will make a mistake.
6.      One of the scariest things is when one of the English teachers asks me about English grammar. Then I become shy because I don’t want to make a mistake because that would be just awkward…
7.      One of the cutest things is when I give a lesson on Australia and talk about ‘Gang Gangs’, ‘Bungendore’, and “Coolamon”. They think they are the most ridiculous words and laugh every time I say them.
8.      I have had to say “Hi my name is Sammy and I’m an 18 year old from Australia….” So many times that I sometimes I sound like a robot or simply forget facts about myself and stand there looking like an idiot.
 

 

Anyway, that’s a brief overview of my Polish experience this first month. Some of the points I have talked about before, but they are pretty important parts of my current life. Hope life is treating all you wonderful people back home well!
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Krakow

This weekend was our first weekend away from Warsaw since arriving. A few of the gap family went to Krakow for 3 days. We caught the Polskibus there- would really recommend this to anyone who planned on traveling in Poland, it is cheap, comfortable, and has WiFi that works intermittently. We stayed in a hostel called ‘Pink Panther’, it is about 2 minutes from the Market Square, has free WiFi, free continental breakfast, has good showers, and an overall nice atmosphere. As expected there was a mix of lovely and some not so nice people. But we did have a lot of fun!

Krakow itself is such a beautiful city! Unlike Warsaw, Krakow was relatively untouched by the war and as a result the central part, ‘Old Town’ , is actually old (unlike Warsaw’s which was rebuilt after the war). The city has a very romantic feel to it, i especially loved walking around on the walking tour, as well as simply making our way to the train/bus station/mall (essentially all were in the same building). Walking around the square on Tuesday night was also beautiful, however Krakow is very much a student, party city so there were some very shady characters. I wouldn’t walk around by myself at night but in groups it is fine.

The party scene picked up on Friday and Saturday night, needless to say we went out to some bars and clubs. We also went to Karaoke on Saturday night which was loads of fun. I would point out that Polish alcohol is much stronger that the stuff we have at home, so yeah…

We visited Auschwitz, very emotionally intense. Some of the exhibits were just so heartbreaking. I learnt so much more about the camp and how the prisoners where treated. Absolutely horrendous. I don’t know exactly how to explain the experience other than interesting and necessary. Definitely a must if you are in the area.

We also did a free walking tour at the recommendation of two of the guys in our dorm, so glad we listened to them! It took 2 hours and showed us all the key points in Krakow. Definitely keen to explore some more when if I go again. I also saw the ‘legendary’ Krakow dragon, yes it even breaths fire. I loved the architecture, history, and legends that are throughout the city.

Well here are some pictures 🙂

Two weeks in Poland

Cześć! Blog post number two coming from the faraway land called Poland! I have been in Poland for almost two weeks now, but it feels like so much longer. This week was my first week with my host family. Well I actually spent this week with both of my host families as my first host family was away until the 2nd so I stayed at my second hosts house for a couple of days. Both families are absolutely lovely, and are friends with each other which make life somewhat easier. I also started teaching at the school on Monday. The school is over a hundred years old and its history is extensive. Interestingly it was a hospital on the frontline during WW2. The only downside is that there are about 4 levels all of which require the use of 2 flights of stairs to access… Looks like I won’t be needing a gym membership!
The ‘Bubble Mall’ is the nickname given to ‘Zloty Tarasy’, which is essentially the central mall in Warsaw. Typical mall, but has become a point of reference for quite a few Warsaw-based volunteers.
So far my explorations of Warsaw have been limited but I have finally seen the Old Town! The Old town is essentially a depiction of what Warsaw looked like before it Warsaw was destroyed in WW2. It is very interesting and more what I would have expected Warsaw to look like before I arrived! Warsaw itself is easy to get around and I am slowly getting used to the public transport system. It so strange for me coming from country Australia where I had to drive everywhere and now being able to just jump on a tram, train, bus or even simply walk to where I need to go.

Key facts from this week!
1.      In Poland they don’t drink tap water. Instead they buy water from the supermarket. This is quite strange to get used to, especially considering there isn’t anything wrong with the water.
2.      English music plays in shops and malls. It feels as though you could be at home. Furthermore, pretty much everyone speaks some level of English.
3.      I bought ice cream/gelato for 5 zloty! Like that is a single coin and costs about $2AUD. Everything is going to seem so expensive when I get home.
4.      Booked to go to Krakow next this coming weekend, accommodation is costing roughly $30AUD. With free breakfast and karaoke!
5.      Transport via the ‘Polskibus’ is really convenient and you have free WIFI on the bus. The train takes half the time but free WiFi…..

6.      I am with a mobile provider called ‘Plus’ and they send me so many messages each day just promoting their services. Which would be more handy if they were in English….

Co to jest? (what is it)

Dzień dobry! Good morning/afternoon! This is pretty much the extent of my Polish at the current point in time. Poland is so beautiful, I am loving pretty much every aspect that I have experienced so far. Yes, I am even enjoying the cold. The atmosphere becomes almost romantic the minute it starts to snow. And waking up to see the sun streaming in (although very rare so far) through snow covered trees is an incredible sight. The winter fashion is also a plus. Rather than write up a long post about everything I have done so far, I thought I would just write out some key points about what I have learnt, loved, found strange, and so on.

  1. Stating the obvious… IT IS SO BLOODY COLD. I love and hate this fact. I love it because there is snow and I get to wear awesome clothes. But I hate it because it is so cold. It also gets frustrating having to constantly dress and undress every time I go outside or inside. I have already lost my beanie because of this.
  2. Everything is so cheap. We worked out that 10PNL is roughly $3AUD. Putting it in perspective I bought a winter coat for 120 PNL which equals about $40… I would have paid $100 easily for it easily in Australia. #feelingrich
  3. Polish people really do love to drink. It’s true. VODKA VODKA VODKA. I haven’t had as much cabbage though. They also have good ciders and beer (yes mum I have started drinking some beer…).
  4. Polish people are scary drivers. I have never been so scared in my life. It is normal to go 30kms over the limit… Enough said
  5. There is free WiFi everywhere which is amazing. Like seriously, Australia needs to catch up.
  6. THE GUYS ARE FREAKING GORGEOUS. Ignore every person who ever tells you that Polish guys are unattractive. They have this awesome Slavic look going and its just gorgeous. The rumours that Polish women are gorgeous are true.
  7. The Pole’s have really good food. The chocolate croissants are to die for, as is the chocolate. Perogi is also super delicious

 So basically I am really enjoying it so far. Yes there have been some moments of homesickness, and ‘why the hell am I here’. But its still pretty cool. (no pun intended)