Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Polish is still not good enough...

I'd like to share a short, hopefully entertaining, story about how my roommate Paige and I tried to order pizza.

See, we were hungry but lacked motivation to go out and get food. So what's the American way? For someone to bring food to us. Feeling ambitious and quite brave, Paige called a pizza delivery service. In this brief conversation of Poleng (polish and english) she successfully ordered a pizza.... or so we thought. Two hours later... still no pizza.

Not feeling brave or ambitious, but rather under Paige's influence and guilt tripping I called back. We were planning on ordering a new pizza, under a new number, because trying to locate our original order was a lost a cause. So, when someone answered the phone, I did my best to order in Polish. What was the result? They hung up on me.

Distraught and starving, we were running out of options. Brave the cold? Call a different pizza place? Finally, after serious damage to our self-esteem, our friend Salma called. Mind you, she lives on the other side of the city. When she called, they kindly put someone on the phone who spoke english. Clearly, pizza places hate me and Paige.

An hour later well more like 3 hours later, the pizza arrived. We gave the delivery guy a 5 zloty tip. He was beyond grateful. Oh kind sir, if you only knew.

Suffice it to say, we devoured our pizza. I think it was delicious?

On a completely different note...

Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Uczę się języka polskiego.

Minus the dreary clouds, cold weather and darkness creeping in at ridiculous hours, I do love Poland. Learning the language is proving to be more challenging than previously thought, however, I am relishing in the fun of it as much as I can.

Today I share with you some of my favorite words/phrases.

1. Książka: noun. (Kih-sean-shka... this is best phonetical pronunciation I have for you) It means "book." As is in, "Lubię czytam książkę. I like to read book." I realize the vocab word is spelled differently than the word in my sentence, but, as previously mentioned Polish is a grammar party, so the ending changes for the noun because of what I'm saying and which verb I'm using. And yes, I mean book, not books, because if it were plural, then there would be another ending. "Lubię czytam książki. I like to read books."

2. Skręcić: verb. (Skren-cheech) To turn. "Skręcić w lewo. Turn left." I just like the way it sounds.

3. Jestem głodna jak wilk. (Yestem gwo-d-na yak veelk) "I am hungry like wolf." Its an expression used the same way we use "I'm so hungry I could eat a cow." By the way, if you are a man saying this, you say "Jestem głodny jak wilk." Instead of saying głodna (gwo-d-na) you say głodny (gwo-d-neh.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Polish Christmas Tradition

Poles are very Catholic. Poles love Christmas. Poles have many traditions. My family, identifying partly with our Polish heritage, partake in a few of these traditions, mostly those relating to Christmas Eve. My family always breaks the Opłatek, a communion like wafer symbolizing the importance of family, God and friends. We also eat keep our Christmas Eve meal meatless, indulging in pierogie... many pierogie because as previous learned, you can never just have one. This delicious carbohydrate masterpiece is accompanied with fish, although not the traditional carp. (I think we stick to flounder or some other white fish.)
The traditional eating of carp is one of the newest discoveries I made here in Poland. In fact, it is quite amusing. Carp is a dirty fish, living and swimming in deep, murky, dirty, muddy water. In order to enjoy this fish, it must be cleaned thoroughly, however, a good scrub just is not enough. One way poles clean this fish is by buying it live, a few days before Christmas Eve and keeping in a bucket of clean water.... or a bathtub. Yes, a bathtub. Apparently it is a running joke that children smell before Christmas Eve because keeping the carp in the tub takes precedence over cleanliness.
A recent article posted on Polskie Radio discusses the recent animal cruelty campaign for carps. Poles are now being encouraged to buy carp on ice, claiming the treatment prior to its inevitable fate is cruel. Animal rights activists in Poland pressed hard for the fishes rights, that it now has to be treated like any other vertebrate animal. Read the article here.
Oh Poland. You and your interesting ways. I love them, even if I'll never understand them all. Especially those pertaining to your inability to provide change. No... no I do not have pięćdziesiąt siedem groszy. (57 groszy)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wesołych Świąt

The daily hustle and bustle of Krakow grew these past few weeks no doubt because of the Christmas Market. This festive, delightful, if touristy, attraction lights up the city square each
night with stands full of beautiful ornaments and traditional Polish presents ranging from red beads to honey. One, of course, cannot escape the stands selling delicious delicacies. Kiełbasa, pierogie, and kebabs fill the cold air with their hearty aroma, as well satiating that sudden need for Polish food that appears like magic.

After serious gift shopping for friends and family, (or yourself) those frozen hands, busy sifting through great deals, need to be warmed. So when those newly bought wool gloves just aren't cutting it, there’s always Grzaniec Galicyjski (try to pronounce that one, I dare you.) This delicious, sweet, hot mulled wine is the perfect addition to your sudden indulgence in Christmas spirit. It warms both hands and soul.

The market is full of different characters from all walks of life. While this might be where one hears English spoken more than any other place in Poland, native Poles can also be found, slowly preparing for the biggest holiday in the country. I’ve weaved in and out of the crowds almost every day since it opened in the beginning of December.

My favorite time to go is at night, when the entire market is lit with tinkling lights. Even the small streets leading the center, glow with icicle blue lights and wreaths. Couples holding hands, children running around with their families, and friends laughing over a cup of Grzaniec Galicyjski contribute to the fantasy of Kraków. The horse-drawn carriages only heighten the romantic atmosphere with its occupants closely huddled under blankets for warmth.

A friend and I found ourselves in grumpy moods one evening, having no real desire to do anything but to curl up in a ball and go to sleep. On our way through the city after eating dinner, we were drawn to the market because of the festive music playing and after an hour, we left the market with smiles on our faces and presents in our hands. Christmas is a magical time of year, and while it may make me an unrealistic romantic, I adore it. I can’t wait to be with my family, enjoying champagne and brownies for breakfast.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving... in Poland.

Thankfully, this year I was able to experience an attempt at an American Thanksgiving in Poland. While it was not the same, (I miss the smell of Turkey cooking) I was surprisingly satisfied. There was turkey, stuffing, spinach, soup, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce... and of course mashed potatoes. If there was one part of the meal the Poles could master, its the mashed potatoes.

My dear friends Paige, Caroline and Veronika and I splurged on a delicious meal. As a result our wallets were thinner, but our stomachs were full. It was enjoyable, but I did miss the festivities that take place with the family over Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Hope it was warm, tasty and cozy this year!

Paige's reaction to Pumpkin Pie. This is the first time she's ever eaten it.

It may not look like a lot of food, but I was quite full afterwards.

Paige and Veronika at Dinner.

Wine in hand with a delicious turkey meal before me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dear Dad, about that Polish boyfriend...

A dear friend recently shared an article entitled "Polish men not beautiful, says website." Apparently, on the website, men and women can send photos of themselves which are then analyzed. After serious scrutiny the website directors decide if these people are really "beautiful." I did not know this website existed, although I can't say I'm surprised. According to Greg Hodge, the managing director, Polish and Russian men are the most likely to be rejected. About only 9% of both Polish and Russian men are voted in, opposed the the 39% of Polish women.

I have to say this is quite discouraging, except for my maybe my father. My dream of a sexy, handsome Polish man sweeping off my feet and living happily ever after in Krakow seems so much more unrealistic now.

So for now Dad, I'm safe. The chance of meeting said dream man is currently on hold until the looks of Poland's men take a turn. Perhaps they can start with getting rid of the mullets and fanny packs. Just a thought.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Poland's National Icon

Poland is one of, if not the, most Catholic countries. When you come to Poland you are bound to run into a Church.. or ten. Its what the country is known for, among other things. That being said, when you come to Poland it is absolutely impossible not to see something dedicated to Pope John Paul II, be it a street name, a university, an airport or just a random plaque on a street corner. JP II is bigger than God in this country. Pope John Paul II was an amazing man and will never be forgotten, especially here in Poland. My roommate Paige told me today about how when she goes to visit her family outside of Krakow, there is a picture of Pope Benedict XVI, but in the background of the picture is JP II. Because while Benedict may be our current Pope, John Paul II will always be around, will always be the "real" Pope. Perhaps you'll all get gifts relating to JP II, maybe a mug, a plate, a card, picture, photograph, postcard... you get the picture.

I recently read an article on about how Chile is facing a current dilemma regarding a statue of Pope John Paul II. Apparently, there is an enormous statue, 45 ft. (13.5 m), currently sitting in a warehouse in Chile because The National Monuments Council refuses to approve the location for the statue, claiming "...the statue was too big for the site and would ruin the harmony of the square." The council also claims "...that was too undignified for such a revered figure as the late Pope John Paul." The desired location is currently above an underground car park. The sculptor is deliberating over what to do with this statue now. I think I know the answer.

In my opinion... when in doubt, if it has to do with JP II, just send it to Poland. This country will have absolutely no problem finding a place to put anything commemorating this amazing man. In fact, it would be honor to have the biggest statue ever of John Paul II.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coffee and Bagels?? Yes please.

I was in my Polish Literature class yesterday, when our conversation took a turn to a more historical discussion. We mentioned Jan Sobieski III when my professor all of a sudden said, “Who here likes coffee? Who here cannot go a morning without drinking a cup of coffee?” Majority of the students in my class, including myself, raised our hands high. I do not function in the morning without a cup of joe. It is really quite sad actually.

Well, apparently, it was a Polish man by the name of Jerzy Kulczycki who opened one of the first cafés in Vienna, and apparently one of the first ones in Europe. Kulczycki was gifted coffee beans leftover from the Ottoman Empire during the Battle of Vienna. With these small delicious, highly addicting beans, Kulczycki opened the first café, named Hof zur Blauen Flasche (House under the Blue Bottle.) This little shop became a hot spot in Vienna. He remains a coffee hero, especially to Viennese coffee houses, as well as Polish coffee connoisseurs.

So the next time you are sipping on the delicious cup of coffee (as I am right now), remember, chances are Kulczycki made it possible for you to drink it. Yes, thank Poland for that delicious morning necessity. I know I will.

Also, if you are ever in Krakow, Poland and you happen to be searching for a delicious cup of coffee, under the guidance of my Lit. Professor, go to Pożegnanie z Afryka. This café apparently has the best coffee in all of Krakow, and is reasonably priced. I will surely be venturing there this week and will report back with my thoughts.

Now, with this new found knowledge of Poles and coffee, I want you to picture this. You are sitting at your kitchen table, enjoying that delicious cup of coffee, perhaps in a Kulczycki commemorative mug and what is sitting on the plate next to said mug? Is it a warm, slightly crispy bagel with some cream cheese? Well, if it is you can just call yourself a Polish loving person. Because indeed, Bagels were in fact created by Poles.... in KRAKOW... in the early 17th Century. This carb filled delicacy became a quick staple in Poles diet.

With this new found glory of Polish creations, I hope every morning when are enjoying a wonderful breakfast you raise your mug and bagel to the Poles.

There are bagel stands all over Krakow. My heart belongs to the one right next to my foreign language school. The woman there knows me now and knows what kind of bagel I always choose... z serem (with cheese). Actually, one day it appeared that there were no more bagels with cheese left so I was content with getting a sesame seed bagel, when all of a sudden she looked at me, pulled out a cheese one and said Jeden. Just one left... for me?? She smiled and handed me the bagel. She officially is the best bagel lady in all of Krakow.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

Travelled this weekend to Wroclaw, a beautiful small Polish city. Together with my wonderful travelling buddies, Caroline and Petro, we conquered this city. Literally, by the time we left on Monday morning, we walked practically every inch, at least that which was worth walking. We arrived late Friday night, allowing for full exploration on Saturday and Sunday.

Funny story time, the first morning in our hostel was quite an adventure. Petro, Caroline and I were sitting in the kitchen enjoying our “breakfast snack” when another guy staying in the Hostel came in. He threw some toast into the toaster and left. All of sudden, his toast practically caught on fire filling the entire room with smoke which then triggered the fire alarm. The guy came back into the kitchen, clearly embarrassed and awkward, followed by a disgruntled hostel employee who was clearly not happy about the almost smoky fate of Nathan’s Villa Hostel. It was quite a fantastic way to start off our adventures in Wrocław.

Saturday we meandered through the city, weaving in and out of small cobblestoned streets. The Rynek was the first stop, where we admired the beautiful architecture and clock. After taking several photos we made our way to St. Elizabeth’s. A beautiful church with quite an interesting history. It is the first church I've seen where there were no stain glass windows. The church was bright and beautiful, and the feel is completely different from any other church because of the windows behind the altar. They reach from floor to ceiling. After spending some time in that church, we walked to the Cathedral, another beautiful edifice.

The weather was cold, but we beat it with the help of Chococoffe. A local café, serving delicious chocolate treats. We all chose the same Chococoffee, a scrumptious combination of espresso and melted chocolate. It hit the spot perfectly.

Daily boosts of entertainment of our trip came from the little, almost completely hidden gnomes. Yes, gnomes. A simple word that when uttered results in nothing but laughter. There are 50 hidden all around the city, creating quite the scavenger hunt. Unfortunately we did not find all 50 but relished in the search all the same.

One of the most interesting parts of the trip was visiting the cemetery on All Saints Day. Poland is full of traditions, especially those related to religion. On this day family and friends light candles on the graves of loved ones. No grave is without a candle. While this day may not be as vibrant as the celebration in Mexico, it is beautiful and fascinating all the same. We went at night allowing the full effect of the holiday to hit us. While I’m sure it is beautiful during the day, at night the cemetery is glowing. It is eerie and luminous. The surrounding mood ranges from those enjoying some drinks to those deep in prayer. Everyone visits the cemeteries. The whole country practically shuts down on this holiday.

I enjoyed Wrocław, and will hopefully return again someday, preferably when it is warmer.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In a nutshell

My dear friends I finally have an answer for you. So many ask the question, "So what is Polish really like? Is it really that difficult to learn?" My usual answer consists of a mundane response, leaving no real description of the challenge I, and all other brave souls who try to conquer this language, face on daily basis. "Oh, it is difficult. Yea, really really hard."
Well no more prosaic answers. I officially have the best description one can possibly create about learning Polish. Norman Davies, a British Historian, says it best.
"Everyone visiting Poland has to try and speak the language. After all,
its really not that difficult. In fact, the pronunciation is extremely regular.
All you need is a split palate, a rubber jaw, steel teeth, a forked tongue,
large gaps between your teeth to release the excess saliva, and twenty years
of practice. That's when you can say Kopiec Kościuszki without using an umbrella."

Thank dear sir, for adequately describing the Polish language. In those brief sentences you put into words what I've tried to explain for weeks.

*Norman Davies is a British Historian who lived and studied in Poland. The time he spent here developed into a profound love of the country and its history. This quote is from a guest lecture he gave at The Summer School of Polish Language and Culture at the Jagiellonian University in 1995.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Four foreigners walk into a room....

I love to talk. I love conversations that begin at one end of the spectrum and after a roller coaster ride of engaging discussions finishes at the complete opposite end. When you become so involved with one topic which turns into six and then suddenly it ends with no one remembering how it began. So the other night, some of my friends and I were sitting around in my room. Our conversation was casual, talking first about our personalities. How I tend to be sarcastic and tease people, but in a good natured way. How my friend Robert and I agree that you shouldn't dish it out if you can take it.

When Josephine (my Chinese suite mate) joined in we started talking about what life is like in China. It was very eye opening, since she said that life in America must be better. There much more freedom to do what you want. How in the States you have the right to protest Obama on the National Mall is you feel the need to do so. However, do that in China and you’ll find yourself locked up in jail. She shared how her mom and dad work hard but don’t make the money they deserve and how so much of that money goes back to the government. This conversation made me truly appreciate what I have living in the States. However, I realize America is far from perfect.

We then moved on to talking about education. Again, Josephine shared how the Chinese educational system is rigorous, demanding extremely dedicated students. Education is valued therefore much emphasis is put on succeeding. Robert too shared his experience of education in Romania. What struck me most was the story of an American teacher who spent time teaching in Romania. What surprised this teacher was the dedication of his students. For example, they went out partying late one night but somehow they all managed to make it to class the next day. The teacher fully expected most of them to blow class off, as many of his former students would in the States. This teaching experience was so moving, during his end of the year speech he cried. What does this say about the emphasis put on education in the States? Unfortunately, it is easy to coast by through high school in the states and never really learn anything. I know plenty of people who barely made the grade in High School but still managed to walk down the aisle at graduation, diploma in hand. That being said, there are plenty of great things about the education system in the States. I went to a great high school and was privileged enough to have some dedicated teachers.

The topper to this whole conversation is the fact that we spoke English the entire time. A guy from Romania, a girl from China and two girls from America. Again I feel so privileged that English to some extent is universal language. That when I walk into the store praying someone knows English, my wishes 9 times out of 10 are answered. Not enough emphasis is put on learning a foreign language. I took French for years and while I could survive in Paris, I’ve lost most of it.

I can’t even imagine the challenge some of my classmates must go through on a daily basis. Trying to learn a foreign language in a foreign language. I am the only native English speaker in my Polish class and again it is a privilege to be taught in English. Most of the time the class is taught in Polish but when we are all sitting there with blank stares on our face, completely confused our Professor asks that daily question, Rozumiemy? (Do you understand) and when we clearly do not she switches to English to explain.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I feel Frumpy. Oh, so Frumpy.

Today I dedicate my blog to the fashionable style of Poles, well, Europeans in general. Each day a young woman is dressed fabulous head to toe. Her style beginning with a snazzy haircut. Hair salons can be found on almost any street in Poland. In fact, there is one located on the first floor of my dorm. It seems Poles, especially women, pride themselves on their hair. Of course, with all the gorgeous Polish women there are also those who should walk right back to the hair salon and demand their money back for their butchered job. On that note, I miss and greatly appreciate Linda for her wonderful talent and for just being a fabulous person!
I have yet to see a Polish woman, older than a teenager that is, wear a plain or graphic t-shirt. A nice blouse, sweater or just simple shirt is worn. Jeans are quite popular among most Poles. Thank god, because 99% of the time I am wearing jeans.
But the true topper, are the shoes. I love shoes, so basically I am in heaven. There are boots galore and every woman wears boots. Whether they are adorable ankle boots or sexy knee high leather boots. Heels of course are also popular. I rarely see women wearing sneakers, and if I do, they are fashionable sneakers, not white exercise sneakers.

All the fashion here makes me feel so frumpy and plain. It's reached a point where I don't even want to walk to the kitchen to cook dinner in my gray sweatpants and t-shirt. However, were I home in the States this wouldn't be a second thought. In some ways, I am happy for this change. It forces me to take a second glance in the mirror on the way out the door just to make sure I look presentable for the day. Americans are frumpy. There I said it. We are. But ya know, sometimes I really enjoy my baggy sweatpants and worn out t-shirt.

While I find the fashion here wonderful, there are still some things I don't understand. For example, its fashionable here to wear tights underneath shorts. And they are not just plain neutral color tights. They are patterned and colorful stockings. I don't think its ugly, but I don't quite think I could pull it off nor am I eager to try.

Well, hopefully, my style will improve and become glamorous while here and I can spread it back to the States once I come home! ;-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Now this is the Poland I remember.

This week has been entertaining to say the least, and I am looking forward to another fun, if gloomy, weekend. If you didn't already know, it snowed this week in Poland. Not to any great amount, but still, it is only October. And according to Pani Beata (my Polish professor) this is quite unusual. I hope this week did not serve as a foreshadowing of the looming winter to come. Fingers crossed.

On a happy note, I am still as happy as can be in this country despite its bizarre weather trends. Thursday night my dorm "Piast" held an 'integration party.' Basically it was a way for everyone in the dorm to get to know one another. Beer, dancing and eclectic music. woot woot!

As previously mentioned my goal is to not only inform you of my day to day activities, but to educate you on life here in Poland as well.

Today, I leave you with two tips of advice.

Tip 1: Always, always and always give your seat to any Babcia (older woman) that may come onto your tram. Not only is it the nice thing to do, but she will literally stand over you and stare or practically sit on you until you get up and move. I've seen both occur.

Tip 2: Always, always and always give exact change whenever possible. This annoys me to no end. Especially when I am scrambling with whatever I bought at the end of the checkout line. If you don't just give it right away, the cashier will more than likely ask for it anyway. So, when in line get your change purse ready.

Much Love.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"I don't know the role I'm playing. I only know it's mine, non-convertible."

While I love to share what I do on a daily basis here in this lovely country, my love expands beyond my daily encounters. Therefore, it is through my blog that I will educate you on this country's enriching history and culture. You were briefly introduced to some fine Polish cuisine but it is now time to leave behind the stomach and fill the mind. Therefore, I now introduce you to...

Polish Poet of the Day: Wisława Szymborska

A winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1996) Szymborska's poetry captivates the hearts of Poles, or quite frankly any person who reads her work. It was in my Polish Literature class at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan that I was first introduced to her work. As a child her family moved to Krakow, where she still lives today (according to my literature professor she lives near my dorm.) She studied in Krakow at Jagiellonian University (where I study), focusing on Polish language and literature. She engaged in the local writing scene in the city where she was introduced and later influenced by Czesław Miłosz. (another praised and talented Polish writer) Szymborska's poem's focuses on individuals as well their role in society. Her work has been translated into most European languages. I encourage you to read her work.

The Joy of Writing

Where through the written forest runs that written doe?
Is it to drink from the written water,
which will copy her gentle mouth like a carbon paper?
Why does she raise her head, is it something she hears?
Poised on four fragile legs borrowed from truth
she pricks up her ears under my fingers.
Stillness -- this world also rustles across the paper
and parts the branches brought forth by the word "forest."

Above the blank page lurking, set to spring
are letters that may compose themselves all wrong,
besieging sentences
from which there is no rescue.

In a drop of ink there's a goodly reserve
of huntsmen with eyes squinting to take aim,
ready to dash down the steep pen,
surround the doe and level their guns.

They forget that this is not real life.
Other law, black on white, here hold sway.
The twinkling of an eye will last as long as I wish,
will consent to be divided into small eternities
full of bullets stopped in flight.
Forever, if I command it, nothing will happen here.
Against my will no leaf will fall
nor blade of grass bend under the full stop of a hoof.

Is there than such a world
over which I rule sole ad absolute?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence perpetuated at my command?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
The revenge of a mortal hand.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A good appetite needs no sauce. (Polish proverb)

Ah, yes Poland. Known for its beer, vodka and pierogies. The first time I lived in this wonderful country I was introduced to various Polish cuisine. Traditional Polish food such as pierogi or Gołąbki can be found in most retaurants or households. Then, there are those tasty delights befitting to the category commonly known as "drunk food." So without further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to...

Polish Delicacy of the Day: The Zapiekanka

A beautiful baguette (25- 20 cm) sliced in half only to be covered in toppings ranging from cheese to kebab meat. You are free to keep it simple with just cheese, but please, do not forgo the garlic sauce if given the chance. My apologies to the Polish Proverb, however, I enjoy my sauce with or without a good appetite. Popular toppings include mushrooms, onions, kebab meat, pineapple, olives or feta cheese.
My personal favorite is one topped with cheese, garlic sauce and fried onions. You may be thinking to yourself, that doesn't seem very Polish. What is this? I could make it at home! While this may be true, you will never understand the true glory of this food until you eat one in Poland (drunk or sober, as it does serve as a quick snack or lunch) Its similar to the Philly Cheesesteak, until you eat one in Philly, you really haven't eaten one. I enjoy zapiekankas both in a clear and fuzzy state of mind. Either way, its alway delicious.
Affordably priced anywhere from 3 to 7 zloty. They can be found on almost any street corner in Poland.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

You never have one pierogi.

Before I dive into the past week of my life, let me explain the title of this blog. For those of you who may or may not know the Polish language is a great big grammar party. What you say and how you say it depends entirely on who you are talking to, what you are talking about, and what the weather is like outside. Ok.. so the last one is not true, but you get the picture. So, my friend Paige was in her Polish class and they were talking about numbers and counting. For example, Jeden bilety is one ticket. Well, someone asked how you say one Pierogi... and the teacher became so flustered and said "we do not say this.... you never have one pierogi... we have no way of saying this because we never experience this." Ahhh Poland... i heart you. While you may lack in many things, you never lack in quality cuisine.

Ok. So my classes started this week and so far they have been pretty damn awesome. Difficult but awesome. Polish is impossible haha but I'm having fun trying to learn. My schedule is nice because I only have to wake up early twice a week. And as we all know, I am not a morning person so this schedule is perfect! :-)

I love it here. Point blank. The people I've met are all nice and out going. My nights here have consisted of playing pool, drinking beer or staying in for girls night with my roommate... and yes, we watch Gossip girl. There are several Americans, however, I have met people from Romania, China, South Korea, Turkey, Holland and Switzerland. My roommate Paige and I are getting along fantastically. My suite mate Josephine (from China) is hilarious and so sweet. She cracks me up on a daily basis. She is still without a roommate so currently it is just the three of us! Our room is ridiculously small yet we somehow manage to make it work!! Yay!

So during the week I stay with the same group of people for my Polish language class. While I love all the people in my class... it is slightly a hilarious situation. Six people from my class are from South Korea, three are from Turkey and two are from China. Basically you look around and its dark hair, dark, hair, dark hair, dark hair... BLONDE!!! I can't help but sing "One of these things is not like the other" everyday! hahaha. I feel bad for my professors because they are having a difficult time pronouncing the names of my classmates. Obviously they have no problem remembering mine... this sometimes however serves as a disadvantage. Also, in light of recent grammar teachings, I've taken on the name Laura Mikulska. Because in fact, Mikulski.... well, makes me a man. Thoughts on permanently changing it for good?

Other than my Polish language class I am taking two other Polish studies courses. One is history and the other is literature. I am so excited for my literature class. I recognize the names of the authors, poets etc. etc. which is great. I've read some of their work, but everything laid out in our syllabus is new. History should be interesting as well. The class will focus primarily on the 19th and 20th century but we are skimming through everything. Props to my Dad because the history books he sent me to Poland with are suggested texts for both my literature and history class!!! Go Ojciec!!!!

Sorry this entry is long, I hope to update it regularly from now on since my roommate has just informed me we do have internet in our room!! Yay!

Until then.

much love.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Class Schedule

So my class schedule is going to be intense however I am extremely excited!

On Monday and Friday I have class from 8:30 am to about noon. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I have class from noon to 3:15 pm in addition to class from 3:20 to 5:00 on Wednesday. All my classes aside from the one on Wednesday evening are solely dedicated to the Polish language. Each hour focuses on a different aspect of the language such as Grammar, Vocabulary, Speaking, Listening and Reading Comprehension. Grammar tends to fill most of the time slots because Polish is extremely difficult grammatically. My Wednesday evening class is an Introduction to Polish History taught in English.

Its going to be a lot of busy work. Apparently they only speak in Polish when teaching the language. That will make life interesting but then again I suppose that is the best way to learn Polish.

Friday, October 2, 2009

And so it starts....

Last night, after walking around in several circles a couple of us went to a bar in Kazimierz which is the Jewish quarter of the city. The bar was lit with just candles creating a very cozy and comfortable setting. And of course no night in Poland would be complete without some Polish piwo (beer). Getting to know everyone in the program has been interesting. Its nice to hear all the different reasons as to why people decided to come to Poland.

So today I met everyone who is going to be in my Polish language class. There is about ten of us. Its going to be pretty intense. On Monday and Fridays I have class from 8:30am to Noon. Then on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I have class from about Noon to 5:00 pm. All but one focus on the language. I will also be taking a Polish history class!!! Below is a picture of Wawel Hill! This is what I see everyday from my classroom window! Absolutely gorgeous!

Today and the past couple of days have been quite delightful. I've explored the city some more and met some pretty cool people who are in the same program. We went to get some lunch, then went to a place called More Than a Cookie where they have delicious desserts and coffee. For 5 zloty you can get a coffee and if you bring back the same cup you can get free refills all day! I think I found my new heaven. Haha!

There is an Ikea not to far from my dorm so I plan on heading there to get some things to liven up my pretty bleak dorm room.

I'm really excited for classes to start on Monday even though there are going to be pretty intense!! Once they do I will be sure to give updates regarding my progress.

Much love.

Check out pictures on Facebook! I'll also post some more on here too!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ahh, the Polish mentality

Obviously, something was going to go wrong while here. I couldn't just be on cloud nine forever.

It really isn't so horrible, but my key wasn't working to get into my room. Lovely. After several attempts by more than one person my door refused to open. So I went down to the administrative office where I waited for no lie, an hour, only for them to tell that I had to go to the front reception desk.

So I told them that my key wasn't working and they told me to just jam it really hard into the lock. I told them I did so the woman came up stairs with me and we finally figured out a trick to get it open. woot. But then a man showed up and sprayed some WD-40 on the key and into the lock and it actually worked. So for now I can get into and out of my room my quite easily. But the whole process and reminded me how entertaining the Polish mentality can be.

"Just jam and push really very hard and try to twist key."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Flustered American Girl Seeks Dormitory

Greetings from Poland. I am safe and sound within my dorm room.

Arriving here was actually quite easy. My flight left on time from JFK and I didn't have anyone in my entire row so I could lounge out while I was on my way to Dublin. I had a brief layover in Dublin and then passed out on the flight to Krakow. I hate jet lag.
I thankfully did not have to take a cab to my dorm, I was adventurous and took a bus. It was easy and dropped me off right in front of my dorm for 3 zloty. Once inside I ran into another American who is here on the same scholarship. Yay! Also, my roommate is from Texas. Woot woot!

I have a balcony that connects to the room next to me as well as sharing a bathroom. We have a little foyer before you enter our room. Overall everything has been smooth. I'm tired, obviously, but no major injuries to report. I will post pictures soon!

So until something more exciting happens...

much love.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


So I'm leaving tomorrow for Poland!! I can't wait! I'm really excited and also super nervous/anxious. As soon as I am settled I will be sure to give a more exciting update about my new life adventure!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Officially Booked!

Its official. I leave Sunday September 27 for Poland! Yay!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Getting Ready

This is just the first of hopefully many posts about my adventures in Poland. I'll be leaving the good Ol' U.S. of A at the end on September. Once I get there, these posts will be more frequent and interesting. Enjoy!