This month has been a crazy one to say the least. To start off the New Year right, my host mom’s niece Irmina, decided to take us to see fireworks at the pier in Kołobrzeg for New Years Eve. It was very different compared to the firework experience I am used to in the US. When we arrived, it was over crowed and there were people openly drinking and having a good time. We had to be very careful though because people would set off fireworks in the center of the crowds and it was really unsafe. They don’t enforce the same regulations like we do in the States. I also found it strange that the pier isn’t blocked off when they set off the fireworks, instead people are seen dancing to music and having no care in the world ringing in the New Year. On our way back to the car, someone walking next to us lit off a firecracker, dropped it and ran. This was a poor choice and could have easily hurt anyone. I am now glad that we have more restrictions in the US after an unsettling incident like that.
After a long night, we dragged ourselves out of bed to make brunch. By the time we had already eaten Grandma had come upstairs to say hello. I remember her expressing how happy she was that she had stayed up until midnight to ring in the New Year. She wanted me to call my parents so she could wish them well. We planned to go to Irmina’s sister’s house with the whole family. Grandma, Irmina, and I had all made our way there and at once Grandma said she was not feeling well as I was taking her shoes off. She said she felt very warm and I could feel that she was very faint and weak. I helped her over to the couch and let Irmina know something was wrong.
Calls were being made trying to decided what to do. Eventually, the paramedics were called and minutes after they got there she had died right in front of us. They thankfully revived her and sent her off to a hospital about 40 minutes away. She had a major heart attack. This took everyone by a big surprise.
Two days later, after saying goodbye to her beloved sister, children, and grandchildren she passed away in the hospital. We had the funeral the following Saturday.
On Tuesday the 8th of January, I switched host families. To tell you the truth I was very nervous and I didn’t know what to expect. Things that I heard about the family from someone made me nervous, but I knew I had to make the switch. I was leaving my family who had made me feel so at home. Once I made the switch I had immediately realized that my new family was great in their own way. My host dad immediately wanted to show me all about his passions. My host mom was a little bit harder to get to know at first, but I could still see that she wanted the best for me. My host sister doesn’t open up to new people often, but I’ve noticed little things that I already like about her as well. Overall, I am very pleased with them. I cannot believe I let someone else words make a prejudgment for me.
Before I know it I am off to Austria for a ski trip with Rotary. The moment we were in the region of Alps I was in awe at the beautiful the mountains adorned with snow. This definitely was the break I needed from all that had been going on. Learning how to ski in the Alps with my exchange friends was something I never dreamed of, but its a memory I will never forget.
Although Austria gave me a refreshing break, I was also very tired at the end of the trip. But that doesn’t matter because I had Studniówka the same day I got back. Studniówka is a dance for students in 3rd class which takes place 100 days before exams. To start off the night they dance a traditional dance called Polonez. Each class works hard to choreograph a dance and they each present it on stage. Girls elegantly dance in stunning gowns and boys are all well groomed with crisp suits and ties. After, we all sit down to eat and then the party begins. Fun music is played and everyone jumps around the dance floor with silly expressions. Teachers even joined in at some points. The magical night ended at 4 am. I had such a great time.
I returned to school for a week before we had Feria, a two week break at the end of January. The school week went by so slow and I couldn’t wait for another break. My first host mom had called me and told me that there had been an open spot on her ski trip to Italy. My host parents said it was okay for me to go. I was so excited to go skiing for the second time this year.
On Friday the 25th of January we left for Italy. Once we got there, I could not wait to get on the slopes. The weather was gorgeous and the views were remarkable. I had a lot of time to ski and had a little more freedom than Austria. I always skied with someone, but I didn’t have to stay in one line behind an instructor the entire time. Having never ridden an entire red slope in Austria, this week I had successfully skied down the steepest black slope in the region.
On the last slope of the fourth day I tore my ACL. I was riding down a blue ski slope, made a turn on an icy part of the slope and hit a mogul. The last thing I remember is hearing my knee crunch and being in a lot of pain. Rescue came to transport me down the mountain and I went straight to private clinic to get X-rays and MRIs taken. In the coming days I received a diagnosis that my ACL was torn and that I would need an operation.
This month was full of many downs, but just like the ups I must appreciate each and every one.
Everything this month has been a learning experience and all I can do is stay positive and finish my exchange all the way through the end.