I arrived in Poland on August 15 after a grueling 24 hours of delayed flights and waiting. My second host family picked me up from the airport in Warsaw and brought me to my new home in Grudziądz. My host sister was able to show me around my new home before she had to leave for Canada as an exchange student herself. I was then transferred to my first host family where I was made welcome by my three little host siblings and my host parents.
I left for Bydgoszcz on August 21st for my language camp and to meet the other exchange students for the first time. What ensued was a 9 day long camp of Polish lessons to begin to learn the Polish language. We had three teachers and were broken up into three groups: Niebieski, Zielony, and źółty. I was in group niebieski. We also received lessons on Polish history, music, and athletics. In addition to this, we were brought to see the Malbork Castle and learned of the great history behind it. I was able to make many friends as a result of this camp.
School started two days after the language camp. I was very nervous leading up to the first day, however, my teachers welcomed me despite not being able to understand me. It took about two weeks for me to make any friends in my class because many of them were scared to use their English to talk to me. These two weeks were lonely and stressful because I was not sure if I was going to be able to make any friends. Eventually I made great friends both in and outside of my school.
On September 16th, I went to Torun for my first Rotary orientation with the rest of the exchange students. I was able to see all my friends again just for the weekend. During this orientation, we were able to tour Torun and saw much of the old town.
The following week on September 21, my class at school brought me to Intergracia, where the first class goes on a hike to a specific location and then has a sort of party where each class presents a skit about their class. My class boasted me as the exchange student, dressing me up as the Statue of Liberty with a flower crown and a toga. I was able to make more friends in my class and overall it was a wonderful time.
On September 25, some of my Polish friends took me to „Nightskating In Grudziądz”. However, because I cannot rollerblade, I had to bike. The city officials who were there to protect the people from traffic asked me to be part of their group for the night as an honorary American.
During this time, my host family signed me up for singing lessons. The teacher had learned all his English just from listening to American songs. He was very excited to have me and is helping me to develop my singing voice for me to perform here.
I have also had the chance to see other cities such as Warszawa, Gdansk and Poznan through school trips and to see my exchange friends. I have bean able to explore the old town and a couple of museums in my visits to these cities.
In October, my host parents gave me an early birthday present as a hike in the Polish mountains with a student trip from Bydgoszcz. We left on October 23 and returned on October 29. During that time two other exchange students and I managed to climb to the top of a mountain to our hostel along with the rest of the class. I was lucky in that I knew it was a hiking trip and prepared accordingly. However, my two friends were not so lucky and brought suitcases that they had to carry up an entire mountain. Our chaperones found it hilarious and soon laughed at our antics the entire trip. In the next couple of days we climbed up and down numerous times and ended up at a relaxing water park and eventually and overnight train back home.
In November, I witnessed All Saints Day, Polish Independence Day, and Andrzejki. Each occasion was wonderful.
On All Saints Day where I got to see the tight bonds of family in Poland and how my own host family welcomed me in so graciously. It included big family dinners and leaving candles and flowers by graves of relatives.
Polish Independence Day, November 11, was heartening to see all the strong displays of patriotism and remembrance.
On the 25th of November I was able to make a modest Thanksgiving dinner with the help of my host parents and my mom on skype. I made three pies, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. Although I didn’t make the turkey itself, it turned out wonderfully. My host family seemed to enjoy it even though my host grandmother said she wanted the recipe so she could make it with a barbecue instead.
Shorty after Thanksgiving, my host grandparents took me to Warsaw to see an evolution of ballet performed in the Grand Theater. It is supposedly the largest stage in Europe. The performance included Chopin, Bolero, and Chroma.
I couldn’t be happier in my new country. My biggest difficulties so far has only been the language barrier, but I work hard everyday to learn Polish.
Pierwszy tydzień wyglądał tak, że spotkałam moje dwie rodziny zastępcze i poznawałam Grudziądz. Zrobiłam to zdjęcie na szczycie wieży. Byłam tam z Igą, a teraz jest Kanadzie.
Byłam w Bydgoszczy przez dziewięć dni. Uczyłam się tam języka polskiego. poznałam tam innych uczestników wymiany. Każdego dnia uczyliśmy się polskiego i intergrowaliśmy się.
Kiedy byłam w Bydgoszczy ludzie z Rotary Klub zabrali nas do Malborka. To był fajny dzień. Widziałam zamek w środku i na zewnątrz.
W Warszawie byłam z ludźmi z wymiany. Potem byłam tam jeszcze z Klasową wycieczką, Widziałam starówkę, Pałac Kultury i Nauki, Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego.
W Toruniu widziałam Muzeum Piernika, robiliśmy włane pierniki z ludźmi z wymiany, widziałam starówkę, płynęliśmy statkiem, żeby zobaczyć cały Toruń. Byłam w Toruniu Kilka razy. Toruń to piękne miasto. Byłam zaskoczona, że starówka jest taka duża.
Dzien intergracji był bardzo fajny, spędziłam czas z moją klasą. Byłam przebrana za Statuę Wolności.
W górach byłam pięć dni. Widoki były pięknę, ale było ciężko, bo musieliśmy się wspinac. Byłam tam z moimi przyjaciółkami z wymiany. Pływałyśmy w basenie.
Byłam na cmentarzu moją rodziną zastępczą. Odwiedziliśmy świeczkina grobach. Widok palących się świeczek był piękny.