Where did five months go…

So today was my last day and I realise that over the past 5 months’ worth of teaching I have learnt so much and shared so little on this blog! In fact this blog became much more of a travel blog than intended (but I guess this is a good thing as it means I did travel a fair bit!) so I have decided to do a post on what my working/volunteering life has been like. I started out with few responsibilities other than turn up to school and go to the classes I was scheduled to attend. After about a month I was asked to start preparing my own lessons. Here are some things that I really enjoyed, hated, worried about, remember etc about being a teacher (yes I’m putting them in dot points): 

  • Being told to teach a bunch of kids would have been scary enough for me when I was in Australia, especially considering my teaching experience is limited to a one week intensive TEFL course, so being in a country where I don’t speak the language or really understand their curriculum or know how to teach the language I’ve been speaking all my life, was actually terrifying.
  • The good news is that I got more confident as time went by, yesterday I even taught a bunch of energetic eight year olds about Kookuburras WITHOUT having a polish speaking teacher in the room!
  • I found that teaching by myself, without a supervising teacher, to be much easier than with a teacher in the room. When I was by myself I felt more confident in my abilities and authority over the class, and I think the kids also viewed me more like a teacher at these times too. All the teachers I worked with were amazing at engaging students and it was easy to feel intimidated by them!
  • Consequently, I tended to feel happier about the lessons I did on my own than while supervised.
  • Sometimes lessons would crash and burn, and essentially leave me wondering why I came to Poland in the first place. I remember have some classes where the students just wouldn’t listen to me, or I just wasn’t prepared enough to cope.
  • IMPROVISATION is your best friend as a teacher. The amount of times I turned up only to be told I was subbing, or to find out that the kids already knew about the topic I was teaching, has taught me how to come up with at least some form of game to pass the remaining ten minutes of class, or  with an entirely new lesson plan.
  • Teachers do have favourite students and classes. I often found myself dreading some classes while getting excited about others. I also had a 4-5 favourite students who always made sure the rest of the class behaved and would greet me in the halls.
  • Sometimes all it takes to make your day is when a 7 year old little Polish girl who barely understands English runs up to you and says ‘Hello Samantha, how are you?” and patiently waits for a response even though she doesn’t understand a word you say.
  • One of the scariest things I encounter was being headbutted by a 6 year old in 0 class as she launched at me screaming ‘I love you!’
  • I now am confident enough to manage a group of 6 year old girls who are dubbed the most troublesome class in the school.
  • 16 year old girls do not change from country to country, and still manage to be intimidating. The best course of action is to our sarcasm them, which in this case was harder than one might think.
  • I can officially navigate Microsoft word in Polish (mainly because I know all the shortcuts and they are the same in Polish as English).
  • Sometimes it’s best not to ask what you are eating until AFTER you finish it or not at all, especially when it comes to a school cafeteria.
  • Pasta and strawberry yoghurt, potato cakes covered in sugar, and crepes with sweet cheese are seen as acceptable lunch meals for children.
  • I refuse to ever eat cabbage or beetroot ever again (okay this may be more of a Poland lesson in general).
  • Most of all though, the thing about being a teacher was learning to both always and never be prepared for anything and everything.
  • And lastly, if in doubt, play hot seat (or have a music lesson where the kids show you all different versions of ‘Let it Go’ on youtube, I mean what I never did that…)

So there are some of my notes on what my life was like at school. I decided to end it there (though I could go on forever) because I think those are the most important things. I absolutely loved my time at this school, the students and staff where incredible. And I did learn that it is a good thing that I never intended on being a teacher, because while I love kids teaching really isn’t for me! 
I will miss these crazy people so much! Thank you so much to
students, to Jon my awesome placement partner, and to
Michelle, Melanie, Mirabelle, Zosia, and Lucja my
amazing host sisters. And of course to Izabel, Joanna and
Alek my host parents and the teachers at my school. 

Why I have come to believe in an always sunny Australia

*Wrote this a few days ago when I was feeling a bit apprehensive about going home. I find that people tend to believe that we should be excited to get home, but it can also be quite a scary idea at times.*

I’m from Canberra. That should be enough to let anyone in Australia realise that I’m from the (relatively unknown) land of public servants, museums, and crappy weather. Yet since being abroad for the past 4.5 months I have found myself becoming more and more convinced that Australia is really the land of sunshine. See I do remember the cold winter days, the rain, the hail, and the snow on the last day of winter two years back. I remember how bitter the wind was when it comes of the mountains and how we always seemed to underdress for school. But more than this I fondly recall the memories of summer. Running to the dam on the too hot days, or more accurately taking the dogs to the dam and getting pushed in by a not so helpful brother, and being too afraid to touch the bottom because of the yabbies that were, in theory, still crawling around the bottom. I remember spending evenings eating dinner outside and overspraying myself with bug spray which never seemed to entirely do the job. I remember running around on the lawn after the sun had set and the temperature was finally cool enough to be outside. I remember the hot nights which had me questioning the logic behind pyjamas. I actually miss it more than I thought I would but I’m not ready to go back. I think the distance makes it all seem so ideal but then I remember different things about my life back home. I realise that I don’t want to go back to how I used to live, so many of the things I used to think and do seem so unimportant now. I have become accustomed to a life that I have created.

 

Right now I live in Warsaw, a city that has so much history and has been through so much to become what it is today. The people here are friendly once you get to know them, but can come off as a bit rude or angry from a distance. I have learnt to love that fast pace of it all and to appreciate public transport. Contrary to popular belief Poland does actually get warm, it is meant to be 30 degrees Celsius this weekend, but the difference between here and Australia is that on the cold days of winter it is always cloudy. At home it’s very deceptive, freezing days with clear blue skies, but here winter seems to drone on forever and even though it actually wasn’t too much colder than a Canberra winter the clouded skies made it so much more depressing. In more recent days the coming of spring has brought out a whole new side of Warsaw. I remember quite a few weeks ago on the first warm day we had this year, a few of us ventured to the old town to find it bustling with people, a sight we were not accustomed to. We didn’t even realise there were this many people living in Warsaw but now that summer is coming (21stJune) there is so much more to this city than I thought. I have gotten lost in places that I go to everyday simply because the warming weather has changed them so much. While I’m most certainly ready to move on from teaching (it’s not for me) and ready to explore Europe some more, I don’t want to leave this city that has become home for the past 4 (almost 5) months. Maybe I’m afraid of going out into the big wide world, but mainly I think it’s because I’m afraid to move far away from all the people I have met and those who I have come to care about immensely, and maybe it’s because I’m afraid I won’t ever come back.

Krakow Take Two!

To keep my travels up I decided to go back to Krakow, the first place out of Warsaw which I visited at the beginning of this trip, for the weekend that just past. It was quite a last minute decision but definitely a good one. I stayed in a hostel call Mosquito Hostel and for those of you who know me, yes I was absolutely a bit nervous about whether there’d be any mosquitoes… I didn’t particularly fancy swelling up like a pineapple! Thankfully there were none and the hostel was actually incredible. The rooms were great, beds were comfy, the lockers were big enough to fit a suitcase (my 35L backpack fit in very easily), the free breakfast was delicious, and the overall atmosphere of the hostel is best described as relaxed party. You could get involved if you wanted but at the same time you could have an early night and not be too disturbed! I participated in the hostels organised event on the Saturday night (free polish vodka tasting) and went out to a couple of places with them as well. It was a great night and I met some awesome people!
‘The Last Super’ carved in salt in the cathedral. Not surprisingly
the miners were very religious so there are a lot of carvings
that have a religious background. We were repeatedly told that
the artists behind these works were just ‘talented miners not
artists’. Pretty incredible!

I visited the Wieliczka Salt mine and did the English ‘Tourist Route’ tour. For 64zloty (student discount, thank you ISIC card!) it was most certainly worth it. The tour went for 1hour 45minutes and the whole time we spent in the mine was about 3hours. The tour took us through 3 of the 9 floors (I think) and gave us an extensive history of the mines as well as taught us some folklore about the creation of the salt mines etc. We climbed down about 420 steps and the whole way we were walking in salt corridors on salt floors. They even had some multimedia presentations to add interest (though I only found the last one any good!). The sheer scale of the mines as well as the amount of salt that is still there was mind blowing. There were all these salt statues and pictures that had been created by the miners (not trained artists). They were fairly incredible! There were also heaps of gnomes around because apparently they came out at night and finished off the miners work/ protected the miners! Definitely worth a visit!

Some street art by ‘Blue’ and an unknown artist that we saw
whilst on the Jewish Quarter Tour

On the second day I did the free Jewish Quarter Tour. Basically it took us over to the Jewish area and told us about the history of the Jews in Krakow. We visited the outsides of a couple of Synagogues, including the oldest one in Krakow, and our guide gave us an extensive history of each. We also heard stories about individual people and events that happened there. One such story was that after a new Synagogue was built some teenage boys wanted to rob it and the community found out about this plan so worked on a way to protect the synagogue. The synagogue was next to a grave yard and it was thought that it was from this direction that the boys would try enter so all the women and girls dressed up in white dresses and walked around the graveyard all night! Sure enough the boys were scarred out of their minds and ran away! The tour was really good and I would definitely recommend it!

As usual Krakow is a beautiful city full of history and atmosphere! Loved pretty much every minute of it (minus the cold and rain). That’s all from me! Off to Berlin tonight so will post some photographs on this post next week. Enjoy yours week/end!

*So turns out my photographs from this trip are actually pretty ordinary so hopefully the above two will keep you satisfied otherwise google should help!*

Relaxing in the Polish Mountains

The cabin we stayed in.
So this past weekend (last weekend not this current one) I was lucky enough to be invited to visit the mountains with my host family! We stayed in their friend’s cabin in apparently one of the wildest areas of Poland. The house it’s self was lovely with basic amenities (no electricity, wood fire to heat water etc.) but this added to the charm. While at first I was a tad apprehensive about no electricity, it was actually a very relaxing way to live, plus gave me a well needed detox from technology! The house was the furthest out in our area and was an hour’s walk away from the Slovakian boarder. I hear this walk is very beautiful but the day we chose was very foggy so I saw very little scenery but I still made it to the border!
The first Graveyard we visited
The mountains themselves were so different to the mountains I’m used to seeing in Australia. There were some many different shades of green that I was almost convinced I was looking at a painting. I is quite frankly one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, and I hear that in the autumn it becomes even more so. Most of my days I spent relaxing in the house or on the veranda reading a book or sketching whatever came to mind. My host family took me on two walks up the mountains to visit some WWI graveyards. The first one was on the top of a really steep mountain that made me wish I had kept up my fitness regime. It was well worth it though! The graveyard had these huge memorial towers surrounded by a circle of graves. The second graveyard was just up the mountain next to our cabin and reminded me a bit of the graveyards I had visited in Japan. Both were very peaceful and had an air of respect to them.
SLOVAKIA

Trip to Slovakia:

Due to the close proximity to Slovakia my host family were kind enough to take me there on a day trip! We visited two towns (which I should probably ask about their names but I’m too busy eating Milka chocolate to move) which were quite different to places I have seen in Poland. In the first town we checked out the Old Town square which was reminiscent of Polish Old Towns but still had a charm of its own. The weather that day was beautiful and the Old Town was almost empty giving it a very relaxing feel. We even got ice-cream and didn’t freeze to death with it! I got to visit an old church (which cost money to get into…) which had alters dating back to the 1400, possibly even older as I didn’t look at all of them. We then took a stroll around the area, visited a couple more churches, and enjoyed the sunshine before moving onto town #2.
A building in the second town we visited
Town #2 was much more of a tourist place as it was home to some mineral springs with water that was meant to be really healthy for you. People were wondering around everywhere with bottles which they intended on filling up from the two different springs. Each spring had different water, one smelt like rotten egg and the other was salty in taste. Not exactly what I would carry around in my water bottle but it was very popular! This was quite a beautiful town, the whole area we walked through was basically a mixture of a park and town. It had obvious hints of communism with some huge buildings which had been purpose build for communist government officials. There were also buildings from before the communist era (a type of palace I think) which were quite stunning. The drive through the mountains, and over the border, was also amazing.

At the end of the 6 days I didn’t want to return to Warsaw. There is something about the isolation and ruggedness of these mountains that just made me want to stay there forever. I have found myself on multiple occasions wishing that I was back there! This trip was by far one of the best things I have done in Poland. 
Left: I found this area quite beautiful! 

Norway!

The New Architecture of Oslo. They look a bit like Lego
 houses from a distance. This view is from the Opera
House, but there is also a great view arriving
from the airport!
So I can’t think of a catchy title of this so let’s just get straight to the point and say I went to Oslo, Norway! Wow, I never thought I would actually go to Norway because, well, who goes to Norway? It was actually a rather spontaneous decision when a friend (another gapper) messaged me asking if I was interested, and I, being the slightly travel obsessed person that I have become, said ‘hell yes!’ While not the most popular tourist destination, we chose to visit Oslo (the capital) because well that’s where the cheap flights would take us, and quite frankly we knew nothing about it. We stayed at an awesome little hostel ‘Anker Hostel’ which was pretty central, clean, modern, good Wi-Fi (somewhat sketchy in the rooms but hey you are in a hostel it’s not going to kill you to head to the common room!), super friendly staff, and a good atmosphere. We played quite possibly the weirdest game of UNO with the staff on our first night!
Being cool at the Royal Palace!

It’s important to note that Norway is the world’s most expensive place, even more so if you are a volunteer/student traveller who has been living in Poland for three months, but luckily there was heaps of free things to see/do, as well as the handy Oslo Pass, to keep us occupied for two days. I would definitely suggest getting an ISIC card (if you are eligible) before going as it enabled me to get discounts on pretty much everything (especially relevant if you are flying budget on Ryanair and get to Rygge airport as you will need to catch public transport to Oslo and the ISIC card gets you a good discount on the Rygge Ekspressen bus!). It also got me a notable 20% discount for the Oslo Pass (this discount is only available from the Information Centre).
OPERA HOUSE! While I don’t look particularly
impressed, I absolutely loved this place. When this
picture was taken I was soaking wet from the rain!
We decided to do one day walking around Oslo and another touring some of the museums that we got free entrance to with the Oslo Pass. We hit up the Oslo Cathedral on our first day, and being so centrally located it would be a mistake to miss it! While not nearly as impressive as places I visited in Paris, it certainly had a unique charm and some beautiful paintings that covered the roof. The great thing about Oslo is that everything is well and truly within walking distance, so day one involved a bit of walking. We accidently found ourselves at the Opera House, a result of my horrible map reading skills, which was quite possibly my favourite sight. Very reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House, the building was white and very architecturally interesting, it was also much more ‘user-friendly’ meaning that you could pretty much walk all over it! The first time we were there it was raining but I thought that the grey clouds added a dramatic flair but it was also very impressive against blue skies.
Because we had too…
We did a free tour of the Norwegian Parliament building, which was absolutely incredible. The guide was very engaging and knowledgeable, I not only learnt a lot about the Parliament but also about Norwegian history and people! It was here that we were also finally given the answers about these awesome pants, dubbed ‘the Norway pants’ by us, worn by all these young Norwegians. Apparently they are part of the Norwegian schoolies traditions, where they wear these pants and part for a month before their final exams. Not a bad system! We also checked out the Royal Palace where we watched the changing of the guard and had some fun with the Royal guards who I swear were younger then we were. Made one smile when we waved goodbye to him! We then hit up the Arkershus Fortress and Castle, and visited the Resistance Museum located within the fortress. I, for one, really enjoyed strolling around this area as it was very different to anything I had seen in Australia! That night we were lucky enough to meet some Norwegians who were staying at the hostel and showed us a karaoke bar/club that turned out to be very popular.
Vigeland/ Frogner Park
The next day, after certain people who had stayed up to watch the sun rise (not me) dragged them out of bed (which I was quite impressed by), we headed over to the museum area of Oslo which was on a peninsula type thing. We had activated our passes the previous day and caught but 30 from our hostel which took us straight to the front of the Kontiki Museum, a museum documenting the life of an explorer. We also checked out the Fram museum (basically the museum is a ship), the Maritime museum, Viking ship museum, and lastly the Norwegian Folk museum (a huge open air museum that documented changes in houses over the centuries). All of which were included in our Oslo Pass! We then went to Frogner, also called Vigeland, Park which is famous for being the world’s largest sculpture park made by one person. There certainly were heaps of sculptures, many of which were quite disturbing but very interesting all the same. Definitely check it out, preferably when you aren’t hungover and lacking in sleep, as it is huge!
Our flight home was eventful, first being delayed 20 minutes and then having to circle for another 20 minutes before landing due to heavy fog. We did eventually make it back to Warsaw where we stayed at the Warsaw Central Hostel, as it was 1:30am and trains back home stopped at 0020. The hostel was nice enough for the night, and it was close to my school which was a bonus! It’s safe to say teaching the next day was a bit difficult, and a few students inquired to why I looked a bit rough! All in all it was a pretty good weekend. Oh I forgot to mention, they gave out free Oreos on the street in Oslo!
Missing you all back home 🙂

Just some pictures of me with Squirrels…

 A week ago I ventured out to Lazienki Park for the first time. The park is known for the ‘Palace on the water’ which is essentially a beautiful palace which looks like it is floating on water. Anyway the high light of the day for me was seeing squirrels for the first time! So cute, and so brave these little rodents were everywhere and keen to interact if you pretended to have food! Warsaw is beautiful in spring!

7 Cakes later… a Polish Easter!

Mazurek

As pretty much everyone is aware, it was Easter three weekends ago. Many of the volunteers chose to take advantage of the 5 day weekend (that’s right we got Thursday off as well) and travel, I however decided to stay in Poland with my new host family and experience the traditional Polish Easter. I had been told that Easter was the most important celebration in Poland (more important the Christmas) which makes complete sense considering it is a primarily catholic country. Celebrations started on ‘Great Thursday’ where my host family attended a five hour church service (I was invited but politely declined), another service was held on Good Friday (only about three hours, I also did not attend). On Saturday the cooking began, my host sister Łucja and I were put in charge of decorating the mazurek, a type of Polish cake made with a base of short pastry and a variety of different fillings. We had seven different kinds, of which we decorated six together. Unfortunately for some of the cakes both Łucja and I are not the most artistic so while we had a couple of successes we also had some rather tragic failures. Not that we minded, as long as they tasted good who was going to care! We had a load of fun and decided that we should really get paid to do it professionally (if only cake decorating paid well and we were good at it!).

Another part of Saturday was Święconka meaning the blessing of the Easter baskets. This is a very important and enduring Polish tradition where a small amount of food, traditionally eggs, salt and pepper, bread, and sometimes meats as well as any foods (varying between families) are placed in a small basket and taken to church to be blessed by the priest. I was lucky enough to accompany my host sister Zosia to the local church in our village to experience this tradition. Sure enough there were people everywhere with baskets ready to be blessed. I was definitely surprised by the amount of people at the church (partly because I didn’t know that many people lived in the village). Basically we cued up and paid the fare (a small donation), then the priest said a prayer before dipping what looks like a broom into the holy water and throwing it over the baskets (and not-so-accidentally over the surrounding crowd also). It was a pretty good insight into how important tradition is in Polish society.
The basket ready to be blessed
That night I was invited to go to a special Easter eve church service with my host family, before I really understood what this commitment would mean I eagerly agreed, after all I thought it would be a great cultural experience (which in the end it was). I was shocked to later find out that this church service involved being at church from 10pm Saturday evening and the service ending at around 3am Sunday morning. Yep, that’s 5 hours of church guys, at one time. I did still agree to go, and I am glad I did. It’s difficult to describe the service and a I feel as though I would be doing a disservice if I tried, however I will mention my favourite part. At the beginning of the service all of the lights were turned out for about 5 minutes (I was told this was to represent the sin/ darkness within everyone) then the Priest walked into the room with a candle which was used to light some other candles which people were holding, the flame (or light) was then ‘passed’ to everyone in the room. It was really beautiful.
Breakfast time (at 1pm…)
In the end we left for home at about 4:30am, after dancing and eating food, and arrived home at 5:30am (we had to pick up my host sister from Old Town).  Easter Sunday was somewhat less eventful as we were all so exhausted from the day before. My host family were lovely enough to allow me to invite one of the other volunteers to Easter breakfast (which was at 1pm…) as she did not have a host family! The food was fantastic. Easter Monday, or as it is known in Poland as Śmigus-Dyngus, or Wet Monday, was somewhat more eventful. When I got up that morning my host mum was ready with a bowl of water to splash me with, and then later on that day the priest, who happens to be a family friend, took great joy in spraying my host sister and I with water from a spray bottle. Essentially it’s a day for water fights. I was pre-warned not to go out walking, especially in the city, as many youth find it amusing to through buckets of water over passers-by, not my idea of fun when in is 10 degrees! We had dinner with my host family’s extended family which was just a livelier version of Easter breakfast, but I also was able to meet some more people which is always lovely!  
Needless to say we were eating Easter leftovers for the next few days, the hardest decision of my day usually involved deciding which mazurek i wanted to eat! Sorry for the long post.

                                                                         

The Tri-Cities

The tri-cities of Poland consist of Gdansk, Sopot, and Gdynia, and are three coastal cities backing onto the Baltic Sea. They are also cities that I would highly recommend any one visits if they come to Poland! The main purpose of this trip was to celebrate one of my beautiful friends, Adelaide, 18th birthday, so while we did see some of the sights, our objectives were much more birthday like. However, as there were only 4 of us we did manage to see quite a bit.

We stayed in a strange little hostel close to the river, a last minute option as our booking to another hostel hadn’t been made properly. All in all this hostel suited us quite well as we were able to walk along the river to get to the Old Town and nightlife areas. The first day we hit the Solidarity Museum which documents the Solidarity movement and Poland’s struggle to move away from communism. The museum takes you through from the Shipyard strikes to the removal of communism, and is a real eye opener regarding the struggles that Poland has had to go through even after the war. The museum its self is really well designed, ticket prices include an audio guide, and each exhibit is interactive. One of the most notable pieces for me was sitting in the back of a police truck and watching real footage of martial law in action.
We stayed in Gdansk but hit all three cities in one day, granted we didn’t see all each had to off but to me simply walking by the seaside was the highlight of the weekend! We started out at wharf in Gdansk where we all admired the sea for the first time in a long while (except for Addie who is lucky enough to live in this beautiful city), we also ran down to the shore to dip our fingers in the icy water in typical tourist style. And the water certainly was icy. We then walked the 5 or so kilometres from Gdansk to Sopot along a path that followed the coast line. It was really beautiful and the weather was amazing. Sopot was absolutely gorgeous, we walked along the Sopot Pier which is the longest wooden pier in Europe, and totally worth the walk (even if your feet are dying after 5 kilometres of walking in completely unsupportive shoes).

We caught the train to Gdynia where we went to an amazing pierogi restaurant Pierozekon the wharf which was amazing! I ordered chicken and rice pierogi baked in tomato sauce with mozzarella as well as a raspberry and ginger tea. Both were delicious and very reasonably priced! Once again we wandered around the wharf and saw a number of different ships, as well as some monuments and statues. A very beautiful city but not as big as the other two.

Nightlife:
As I said it was an 18th birthday celebration meaning we most certainly hit the clubs on Saturday night (more precisely Sunday morning as her birthday was on Sunday). We started out at a bar called Red Light Bar (quite literally it was a bar with red lights, not the other red light kind). We then moved onto a club called Parliament which was where we remained until 5:30am. It was a multi storey club with good drinks (and prices) and a great dance floor with fun music. Both are located around the Old Town. There are also heaps of other places to choose from, pick up the ‘Gdansk Fun Guide’ and it will give you heaps of ideas!

So the was my weekend! I also changed host families on Sunday however that will be another post for another time. Hope you are all enjoying life back home! Xx

Poznan!

So this past weekend I traveled to the city of Poznan with my host family. This trip was different to previous trips as instead of staying in hostels I was actually seeing the city from a ‘family’ point of view. I was doing things that people who know the city do more so than a tourist. I stayed with my host family at their Grandparent’s house. The ‘house’ was actually a tiny, communist-style flat with two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom and kitchen. It would probably fit into my living room at home! Simply staying here was a great experience as it showed me another way of life for Polish people. I spent the majority of the weekend hanging out with my host sisters as it was also my last weekend with this host family (I change families this coming Sunday but am in Gdansk for the weekend). We hung out at the park, went to get ice cream, and strolled through the forest. It was all very relaxing and enjoyable.
I did, of course, still manage to get a tourist’s view of the city and visited the Stary Ryneck (Old Town) on Saturday, which was also the first day of spring. The Old Town was gorgeous, there were these ‘Fish Sellers Houses’ which were basically colourful houses but they were super cute. As it was the first day of spring there was some kind of market and celebration so the Old Town was bustling with people doing all sorts of things, it was also a relatively small Old Town compared to others I have seen. I also went to the Poznan Military Museum which was really interesting. Unfortunately the majority was in Polish so I understood very little, and I wasn’t going to force Melanie (my host sister) to translate everything. Both of us thoroughly enjoyed the bottom level which was a replica of the trenches during the war (I suspect WWII). We went through the museum twice! The best thing was it is free on Saturdays! I definitely recommend.

I can’t comment on the nightlife as I didn’t experience it, but by all accounts it has one of the best nightlife’s in Poland! I will update this if I return (which I plan on doing). Next on the agenda is Gdansk, Paris, and Amsterdam! Stay tuned lovelies Xx
Panorama of the area I stayed in Poznan!

Teaching in Poland!

What my 4’s know about Australia!

So considering it has been almost 2 months since I arrived in Poland I think it is fair time for me to actually write about what I have been doing: teaching! I think I have written a bit about my school adventures so far (locking students in classrooms etc) but I haven’t really written much about what I do. The school I am at is a Private Catholic School for Girls (it accepted its first class of boys this year), and is called the Cecylia Plater- Zyberk Schools, but students and teachers simply call it ‘Platerki’. The school itself is housed in an old building which has an extensive history, I’m told it was used as a hospital during the war! It is also very centrally located about a 20 minute walk to Centrum (central train station).

A gift from a student

The kids start school when they are 6 years old, until possibly this year they started at 7 years old. I teach mainly the younger children aged 6 to about 14 (I think). In the younger classes (0, 1, 2, 3) I tend to take on more of an assistive role, simply acting as a native speaker or extra set of hands. These kids are full of energy and often learning is the least of their priorities compared to running around like crazy! I really admire the teachers who take these classes as they are so patient and organised. The kids are really cute though and it is common for at least on of them to run up to me in the hallways and give me a big hug. Whenever I walk into the room I am greeted with a loud ‘Hello’, or ‘Good morning/afternoon’ which always brings a smile to my face.

Front of the school!

Jonathan (partner volunteer) and I have more recently begun to run classes with the older students (4, 5, 6). We are often called in to sub different classes when the English teachers are sick or on school trips. I have had to quickly get used to preparing lessons at a moment’s notice and learning how to adapt ideas to different classes. It has happened that I have come to school prepared for one class and found out that I would be teaching an entirely different one! Games are often a good option as the students work so hard that they appreciate a bit of fun! Hot seat, hangman, and 2 truths and 1 lie are all super popular.

So far the students seem to like me which is a huge plus! Just the other day I got given a bookmark by one of my 4’s saying ‘You are Hero’ accompanied by a floating cape, legs, and head. Not sure what happened to my body but it’s cute all the same! On student’s name days or birthdays they bring in sweets and always rush to give me one. Little things like this really make my day. So that’s an over view of my teaching life!