I honestly cannot believe that it has been about a month since I left my home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to come to my home for the next ten months, Bydgoszcz, Poland!
It seems like just yesterday that I was at Milwaukee General Mitchell Airport-my suitcases packed to the brim, saying a tearful goodbye to my beloved family. I remember sharing one last ‘group hug’ with them, and then turning to walk away towards security. I couldn’t have looked back, because I might have ran back to them, too afraid to walk into the great unknown.
But I did it. I kept walking. And, now I am here. Poland-A place and goal that I have been striving for and working towards for over a year.
I have had so many amazing experiences in the short time that I have been here, that I think it will be hard to write about them all, so I will try to write in categories.
The Journey and the Arrival:
My journey to Poland went off surprisingly without a hitch! My luggage was not overweight, none of my flights were cancelled or delayed, and I got to sit at a window seat for each of my three flights! My wonderful host parents met me at the airport and took me for a delicious meal at McDonalds. McDonalds in Poland is a lot better than McDonalds in USA-that is for sure!
I really love my house here in Poland. My bedroom is lovely and I especially love the yard at my house. Since we have moved out of my childhood home back in Milwaukee, I have missed having a beautiful, big yard terribly, so it makes me very happy to have such a beautiful yard here in Poland. My host family grows delicious fruits on trees, including apples, pears, and grapes.
My host family has taken such wonderful care of me. I appreciate all of their help and care so much. It is so amazing to me how all over the world there are such kind people willing to help.
All of the exchange students in Poland gathered in Bydgoszcz to begin the process of learning the Polish language.
It was so wonderful to meet all of the other exchange students. Even though we had just met, I felt as though I had known them for ages. I think that is because we all have the same dream. I befriended so many people and I am so thankful that there are so many wonderful people that I will get to spend time with while I am here in Poland.
We had many adventures on language camp. We got to tour the beautiful city of Bydgoszcz, visit the Polish Army Museum, go hiking, and introduce ourselves to the mayor of Bydgoszcz in Polish.
Perhaps the biggest adventure of all was our attempts to learn the Polish language. We had lessons every day, not only in Polish, but also in Polish history, sports, and music. At the end of camp, there was a test of all that we had learned throughout the week about the Polish language. I ended up doing very well even though I was very nervous! I was ranked 15th with an 82%, which I was very happy with!
I have been attending school in Poland for about two weeks now, and I actually really enjoy it most of the time!
It’s interesting, because I attend an IB school, so all of my classes are taught in English. It is a good thing, because I am actually able to understand and participate in the classes, but it is a bad thing because it makes it a lot more difficult to learn Polish when all of my fellow classmates speak English fluently.
The students are very kind and welcoming. I look forward to getting to know them better and better!
I am taking biology, psychology, English, math, art, and a class called Theory of Knowledge. My fellow exchange students and I also have special Polish classes that we take to help us get better at the language.
School in Poland is very different than school in the United States. My schedule is different each day of the week, and school starts and ends at different times on different days. It’s interesting because in Poland, if a teacher is absent, a substitute isn’t called in, instead, the class is just cancelled.
My favorite place in the school is the library. My friends like to make fun of me for it, but I really like going there to sit on the very nice couch and read some of the English books they have there, such as Harry Potter or any one of Shakespeare’s plays.
Some Memorable Moments at School:
- In math class, the teacher has us go solve problems on the board in front of the whole class, which is something that I have never experienced before. We were expanding the equations and the only way I have ever learned how to do that is the ‘box method’ so I was drawing boxes on the board, much to the immense confusion of my classmates. This was the first day.
- In some classes, it is considered respectful to stand when the teacher enters the classroom. I did not know this.
- My English teacher asked me to answer a question about English grammar. I got it wrong.that provides comfort and a sense of home, but the cities are unlike anything I have ever seen before. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of the immense feeling of joy and wonder that I get when I am standing in the center of the Old Town in a Polish city.
Poland is a truly beautiful country filled with wonderful people.
One thing I have loved is that the natural landscape of Poland is actually quite similar to back home in Wisconsin, and that provides comfort and a sense of home, but the cities are unlike anything I have ever seen before. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of the immense feeling of joy and wonder that I get when I am standing in the center of the Old Town in a Polish city.
Something that I am discovering how to use is public transport. It’s quite the adventure to figure out how to use it, but it gives me an immense amount of pride and satisfaction when I successfully navigate myself-I haven’t got lost yet!
That is my report for September!
Check out my personal blog at toryinpoland.wordpress.com for additional pictures and stories!