I cannot believe I am having to write this blog again, one week since last doing so! The weeks are really beginning to fly in and I’m quickly realising I need to make the most of my time here now before it’s time to return home again! So far I feel like I’m getting the most out of this experience as possible even though I’m quite sure it’s not the ‘average’ Erasmus experience. Many of the Erasmus students spend most of their time with each other, which is great and I love getting to know them all as well, but I’m really grateful that I’m getting more of an insight into ‘real’ Polish life; I spend a lot of time with native Poles, I get to experience life in a Polish family and in a Polish Church, and I have people to prepare traditional Polish meals for me! In all of these situations I hear the Polish language spoken and have the opportunity to practice what little I have learned myself. The language hasn’t been a barrier here for the most part because so many people speak English and because I’m so often with someone who can translate for me! In all other occasions I just resort to hand signals and other gestures!
Personally I think I adapt quite well being out of my comfort zone. I think I just get over it and get on with life. This is where I’ll be for the foreseeable future so I had to get used to it! Yes, the food isn’t the same as home, the pillows are a funny size, people speak a different & difficult language and it’ll snows one day and I’ll need my sunglasses the next but if I wanted to experience the same things I’ve always been used to I would have just stayed at home. For me, the important thing is that I love people and I love getting to know people and spending time with them, and here I can do that with ones from all over Europe. The photos within the text here show how basic the facilities in the kitchen are and the view from the kitchen window.
I’ve found that living here isn’t all that different for some of the other foreign students, for example, friends from Germany and Hungary simply got in a car and drove here! The Lithuanian girls are used to the freezing temperatures (although those days are behind us, I hope), and the Spanish ones, well, they have each other!! In saying that, I’m not complaining. I’m glad to be from somewhere so different (and great!) and we do share at least one common interest, much to my liking – potatoes! Time is a wonderful thing as it passes: it allows me to build lasting friendships, it lets me feel more at home in a foreign place and it helps me get on the right tram! I’m not sure that much will change other than these things now that I’ve ‘settled in’ here, but I look forward to the many different things I will do before I leave.
This week was my first with my full complement of classes, but as that only amounted to ten hours I still had plenty of time to do other things and experience more of the culture here! At the beginning of the week I finally got my student ‘card’ which I have to carry around with me all the time because I need it to make my student transport card valid. This would not be an issue if it was actually a card but instead it’s a little more old-fashioned and similar to a little book. However, I think it’s nice and different and it will be a great little souvenir of my time here; I will just have to buy a bigger wallet to keep it in! Things are quite relaxed in terms of university but I think this is only true for Erasmus students as the locals seem to be under quite a lot of pressure with their studies. Polish class is difficult! It is a completely international bunch of people so, of course, the teacher can only speak in Polish. This, however, is a problem as we’re being taught Polish for beginners in Polish! I have a nice relationship with the teacher though and always make sure to sit beside here as she helps me out in English sometimes! It’s very funny because she refuses to speak to anyone else in English, even though they all understand a little, just in case they get even more confused with the Polish! Although it is difficult, this class has allowed me to get to know more people. One guy from Mauritius and his Polish fiancé have been really kind to me. I’m thankful that people seem to like to look after me here – it may well be the case that I look young compared to all the other foreigners, I’m not sure!
This week I got to taste lots of traditional Polish food. One evening Cristian and Amaia, both Basque, took me to a normal Polish café where I had the local tomato soup which came with rice in it, meat croquettes called ‘krokiety’ and delicious mashed potatoes (something I was missing!). I washed all that down with some lovely cactus juice which was actually very good! I have been trying different foods here but I can get most things I’m used to since I found the nearby Tesco :-) . Whilst I’m on the subject of food, I also had my first McDonalds here, a place I don’t wish to frequent, but it was a great night where I met many new Erasmus students. We had all gone to the Opera Theatre to see (or strictly speaking, hear) Straszny Dwor as the Erasmus students had got free tickets to the opera! It was a great, new experience for me but unfortunately I didn’t understand anything! Thankfully someone was able to tell me what was going on in the breaks! Before going to the opera I met up with Magda who continues to be a great help to me as one of the few people I knew here prior to my arrival. We played pool in a place very close to my halls and I found out what the Polish think ‘nachos’ are.
I realised this week that I should start budgeting! I’m not great at handling money and I’ve been to far too many coffee shops, cafés and restaurants already. Sometimes it is just as cheap to find a small café and buy your food that way as it is to buy it in a supermarket and cook it for yourself…and personally I think food tastes better when someone else has made it! Going out with people to eat is a great way to spend more time with them and develop relationships, even if you have just spent a fortune on textbooks for Polish class. For my parents’ peace of mind, I will keep an eye on my spending and cut back a little where possible…if possible! I felt it was ‘money well spent’ on my tickets to see Avatar in 3D, finally! It was shown in the biggest cinema I have ever been in, which surprised me. The Polish have some really glamorous places but I guess that is to be expected of a city of Poznań’s size. On Friday evening, Anna and I went to the weirdest little café which was full of cats, not real cats but pictures and decorations and such things, however they had great caramel hot chocolate!
As for the weekend, the only thing I really could discuss is the traditional Polish food I had, however I don’t know what any of it was called and my description of it would most likely be long and boring, not to mention incomprehensible anyway so I won’t even try. All that I will say is that I rather like Polish food and look forward to trying whatever else Cristian orders for me when we are out or, indeed, what he cooks for me himself! I’m trying to get more involved in my church here so on Sunday I attended the Sunday school teachers’ meeting and will start helping out there in the next few weeks. I’ve also offered my services as a flautist so will be joining the worship band soon too. One girl in the church found out I’m training to be a teacher and wants me to take her class here sometimes so I’m excited about the prospect of that if I can, especially as I haven’t started teaching practice officially as organised by the university. I’m also thinking about teaching English here as I have quite a bit of free time and wouldn’t mind the extra cash to fund my lifestyle here! All of this experience will be useful and I can’t wait to get back into school. Below you can see how the view from my window has changed in recent days compared to the first picture I posted! So this ridiculously long blog is a result of me trying to follow the blog guidance but you'd better get used to it as the ‘professional blog’ is yet to begin! Goodbye for now!