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Posts Tagged ‘europe’

This trip to Europe with my best friend has been in planning for years. It’s been our idle Sunday afternoon’s daydream, our weekly cafe chitchat, bursting with ideas and places we needed to see, our long-term goal, our only definite life-plan. As February 2014 approached, the gap from dream to reality was slowly shrinking.

It became real 8 months ago when we bought our travel backpacks, 5 months ago when we purchased our direct plane tickets from Vancouver to London, gateway to Europe, 3 months ago when we bought our tickets from London to Naples, our official starting point, and a few weeks ago when we walked from one insurance firm to the next, researching our best travel medical insurance options. It’s just over a month away, and it’s become real. Not this dream we’ve had for more over five years, it’s 30+ days away.

The fact that this trip (that’s been my long-term goal for so long) might not happen as we planned it, absolutely devastates me. That it might be canceled or postponed for the sake of an accident frustrates me. It was so perfect, so real now. I wrote up what is probably my last to-do list before the one I’ll write the day before leaving, ready to purchase my last necessities and little commodities for the road. I received a lovely Penguin Books bright orange on-the-road travel water bottle for Christmas, two Canadian-themed tanktops too, ready to flaunt my nationality from border to border. Besides the packing, we are all but ready to go.

And then I went skiing, a favourite sport of mine, on the lovely ski hill our town boasts, 30 fresh cm of powder over night, new skis on the ready—and I had an accident. Knee swollen, pain increasing, there was little the doctor could deduct from my leg that could barely be moved and the x-rays that couldn’t be read. The doctor’s assumption is that I tore my ACL, “snapped” was the word he actually used, an injury that could cost me my job for weeks, an average recovery time of 6-9 months, and an almost definite surgery required. A top verdict of Europe-trip cancellation or long postponement.

First denial. My initial (hopeful) thoughts on the injury were that it was only a bad twist, or perhaps a fracture, with an easy solution of a cast, rest for a month, and more or less back on my feet and ready to backpack Europe before I leave Canada.

That’s not to say it’s not fractured, maybe it’s a fractured patella, or the side of my tibia. But I know what fractures feel like, and granted I’ve never had one on my leg before, the pain isn’t the same. The swelling hasn’t gone down, my mobility is no better at the joint, I can’t bend my leg without causing myself serious pain. I think it’s ligament damage, I just really hope it isn’t a serious one.

I guess I’ve just about mentally prepared myself for receiving the news, the confirmation that is could be, and might be a torn ACL, at my next doctor’s visit in a couple days.

What I’m not prepared for is breaking the news to my best friend (so far I assertively denied any chance that I won’t be up on my feet and healed in a month, totally repulsed by the idea that we would cancel our trip, how dare she even suggest that—via texting). I’m not prepared to call the travel agency and try to bargain my tickets back, to apply for EI, to be told I need surgery, to postpone the trip to past that of what was supposed to be our return date, to stay in Terrace longer and heal, to email and phone all my family and friends on both continents about the accident and cancelation.

No. I don’t want any of that. I want to live what has been my dream for the past five, six, seven years. I’m a believer that everything happens for  a reason. But I can’t understand this one.

Here’s hoping it’ll be alright.

Joanna

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Sometimes I feel like my trip to Poland didn’t exist here. As in, time stopped in Terrace, in BC, in Canada where my friends and family are and kind of went on just for me when I moved to Poland. It was just such a separate event, this big new chapter in my life that didn’t really relate to much of anything else beforehand. And since I’ve been back, for the most part, it felt like life picked up from where it left off when I moved. But that’s not true. A whole fucking year went by, and sometimes I forget how much time that is and how much distance that did put between a lot of my friendships and how things have changed.

I don’t want the past year to be the only chapter of my life spent abroad in Poland. I don’t want that to be my only time living in Europe. The only thing is, I feel like when I leave again, my life will stop here. And I’ve grown really, really attached to the life I have here since I’ve returned. I don’t want it to change without me again.

Actually my situation at home is really frustrating and stressful right now, but that’s not what I mean when I say I’m attached. It’s not the physical daily-routine life at home I love. It’s just being in the place you grew up, around people that have known you or your sisters or your parents since you were five, the backcountry and mountains, and just TERRACE. It’s home. And I feel like I don’t want to leave / that after my Europe trip (coming up in four months!) I do want to come back.

It’s so back and forth. Three years ago, two years ago, a year ago, I wanted to get as far away as possible from Terrace, from BC, from Canada, pursue my ambitions, travel as much as possible, explore Europe, all that. And up until a few months ago I STILL wanted that. And part of me still does. But what’s new, is my attachment to Terrace, and wanting to come back? I never wanted to come back.[1]

One of my friends recently told me not to. He said for years I’ve talked about the European life, and living in Scotland, or Italy or who the hell knows where and that I wasn’t meant for this small town. And that used to ring so true. But now I don’t know.

It’s fucking frustrating how indecisive I am about my future.

~

To be honest, I wanted to give the world an update on the amazing summer I had after I returned, and how I spent a weekend on Haida Gwaii for a music festival which turned out to be one of the best (sort of last-minute) weekends of my life, about my two jobs, and working routine, and a general update on my life and even the weather and how fast summer turned into autumn but how I’m actually enjoying the crispy air and trees changing colours and just things going on but—I just feel too exhausted to do that now. All that’s on my mind is what I wrote up there.

So maybe next time.

Joanna

P.S. I’ve decided, that even though a year goes by immeasurably fast, a year is still a long fucking time. So much happens in just one year. Six months is half of that. Six months will be the length of my trip. How different will six months be?


[1] In the back of my mind I’m telling myself I might devise a plan to let go of all attachment / all things holding me here before the time I have to leave. (Four months.) Everyone knows I don’t like having things holding me back.

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What a month!  Just to look back at this month now = awe. It was an array of emotions, some really mixed feelings, and I am going to go into detail of every one of them.

[It has been a while, and I’m throwing you my excuses straight up—my last month in Poland was spent road-tripping and saying goodbyes to family, most of the time without a greater internet connection.] But here we go!

The first feeling was despair. After leaving Kraków, I felt so lost. I loved my life there, I really did, everything about it. To be leaving was signalling the end of that life. Everyone moved on their separate ways, finding jobs here or there, or moving back to their countries and continents. It was over. And I was sad. I mourned, I really did. I didn’t want to accept it, and I didn’t know how to go about leaving. It seems really melodramatic to look back on now but that is honestly what I felt.

The next feeling was a sudden and rapid emotion that took over my depression—longing for home. Now that everyone had got to go home after uni was over (to their homes across Poland or across the world) I was jealous that I couldn’t be experiencing the same thing. It was over 9 months ago, after all, since I had seen everyone last (with the exception of my dad, who came to visit for Christmas). I felt like I was lulling around, homeless in a sense, going from one family home to the next, living out of my suitcase.

I guess I was just sick of goodbyes and I wanted hellos. Not to say though that I didn’t enjoy the month road-tripping across Poland. It was incredible. It was hard to be longing for home but enjoying the travelling at the same time. It made me go through mood swings as fast as weather changes.

My aunt took Dorothy and I on a road trip up north to the sea, which we did swim in, and it was beautiful, so so beautiful. The sandy beaches with squeaky sand, YES squeaky white sand, the fight against giant waves crashing in to you, the tanning, the smell of the sea, the wind, I loved it all. I love salty waters![1] I love vacation! It was relaxation to the max. We even went on a sandy peninsula and walked by beach to the border with Russia! (The border consisted of a fishing net fence, and a sign, ha!). We also spent a day in Gdańsk, an amazing and beautiful city, and went to Malbork, home to the biggest castle in Europe (by surface area) and holder of the largest bricks in Europe! After returning back to Rzeszów and Wrocław, my time was spent saying last goodbyes, meeting family in other towns and villages nearby (ish), soaking up their presence for the last time and them mine. I don’t want to talk too much about it, because it makes me sad to remember. I miss them.

As the days were growing less by what seems an immeasurable speed, I began to feel that I really didn’t want to leave Poland. Leaving was putting a stamp on the end of my life there, on the Europe-life, a final goodbye to friends, an end of the close connections and communications with my family – most of which, as mentioned earlier, don’t have internet and communicate nearly 100% face to face. (I think I’m going to take up letter writing.)

Then the moods reversed. The growing intensity of just wanting to be home and wanting the goodbyes to be over, came back, stronger. Every night I started to dream about home, just being there, doing the simplest of things. I swear I envisioned myself buying a French Vanilla at Tim Hortons or ‘sex in a pan’ at the Elephant Ear cafe, or speaking to the most random people in passing on the street. I missed small town Terrace. I dreamt at night and daydreamed in the day—it was all I could think about. I was beyond ready for hellos.

With this longing for home however, came a mixed feeling of something like nervousness. I was really worried that people had changed. I had heard most of my friend group had split off for various reasons, I heard reviews that some of my friends had drastically changed, and I was worried that things just wouldn’t be the same with those people I didn’t keep in touch with. A lot can change in a year, I kept thinking. And I wasn’t completely lost as to whether or not I had changed.

Lastly I was not keen for the long ordeal/journey home. I usually love flying, I really do. But this time I was nervous, really nervous, which is really abnormal but that’s the truth. I think it just meant more this time, there were so many unanswered hopes and fears that all the nervousness I had been feeling the past couple weeks transformed into a sudden fear of the flight home[2].

Even while writing this, tears come to my eyes. Tears were in my eyes when I left Poland and they were in my eyes when my plane landed in Terrace, BC, home. Leaving and arriving has never been so hard. I didn’t know what was coming when I left last year, I really didn’t. I was ready for the adventure but I did not expect the end to be so fatally emotional.

Right now, I am so so SO happy. Despite the tears—every tear I’ve cried since I’ve returned home has been a tear of joy. I’ve never been so happy in my life. (I’ve never cried this much, Jesus). There are no words to describe how happy I was to see my family and friends, to see that nothing has changed. I was so worried that things would be different but everything fell back into place like I had never left. I feel so loved and happy and just blessed to have all the people in my life that I do.

That’s basically it. We end there. I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do with this blog. The journey is over. I documented my experiences and feelings as best as I could. And I’m glad I’ll have this all to look back on. Right now, I think I’ll leave the blog be, maybe post a few photos from my road trip once I download them, and go back and post more from the year, or Switzerland, or just keepsakes. When I start off on my Europe trip in six months, I’ll start a new blog. (I really like new blogs for new occasions).

Though I’m not really sure who my random readers from across the world have been, thank you to those who have stuck with me on this escapade from home. Making the move to Poland is something I’ll never forget nor regret—it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Cheers & take care,

Asia

Endnote: There is one more thing I thought of to add to this post. Yesterday I was reading a quote that has been on my fridge for years that I was never really fond of before. “Ships in harbour are safe. But that’s not what ships were built for.” I remember never really liking it, and was never really sure what the author intended. Now though, I can expand. Maybe we feel safest at home, maybe we never want to leave, but humans were made for exploring, to delve in the unknown, to challenge our barriers and perimeters, and I think that anyone who seeks to do that will never be left unsatisfied with the journey that ensues. End sentimental note.


[1] Haha, couldn’t decide if I wanted to say ‘ocean’ or ‘sea’ so I went with ‘salty waters’ lol.

[2] Obviously the fears diminished as soon as I was up in the air—my love of flying will never die.

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I think I’ve decided I want to stay in Europe. Just thoughts I’ve been having lately, it’s hard to sum up. I love the town I grew up in, I love what Canada has to offer, and I think it is a great place to raise a family or to settle down in. It’s peaceful and beautiful and different. And I know people born and raised in Terrace, BC, I know people who want to spend their entire life there, and that is fantastic. But it’s not for me.

But I also feel that a big portion of the youth in my town are wasting their lives[1], and when I’m there, I sometimes include myself in that. When I’m “home” (Terrace), I feel like I forget about my ambitions and dreams, or just feel that they’re so far in the future. But they’re not. They’re now. I want to be living my dreams now. And I don’t think I can do that there. Camping and late nights and partying—I do always have fun back home. But I feel like I’m just going in circles, nowhere. I want that to stop. I want to be focused and, as I said, I want to go after my dreams.

So, back to thought number one, I think I want to stay in Europe. This isn’t a plan, this is just the outcome of a combination of thoughts I’ve been having lately. I know I change my mind a lot, a lot, so a year from today, I might be set on who knows what. But right now this is it.

Travelling. That’s what I want to do. That’s all I want to do. I don’t know how it’s going to be possible yet, but I think I have better opportunities here, in Europe. Where the countries and continents that I want to travel to are closer, where there are cheaper airlines, where there are many languages, where there are people from everywhere—this is where I feel I need to be.

If I could stay here in Krakow this summer, I would. But I’ve done the calculations and if I want to make enough money to travel Europe with Paige next year, February 2014, then I have to go back to Canada to get a higher paying job. Staying here, I would make about 1/3 of what I need and I’d be paying rent somewhere. In Canada, I would make more than enough, the cost of flight tickets included, and I’d be living at home with my family. But that’s okay. I’ll go back to Terrace, for 6 months, work, save enough money, travel Europe for 6 months[2], and then stay. I think. And maybe have a bit more of a plan by the time I get there.

I’ve met some really amazing people here, I think I’ve mentioned before, from all over the world. And everyone has amazing stories. Everyone has dreams that they are pursuing, or are on an unknown journey. I want my life to become that, too. Staying in Terrace, going to UNBC or a nearby university in British Columbia, I don’t think that’s ever been my dream. And it definitely isn’t right now. I’ve been inspired by the people that I’ve met. I want to find my passions, pursue them, and be happy here. The people I’ve met and spent time with—are alive. Whether or not they had a plan when they set out on their journeys, I think they’ve all ended up where they’ve needed to be.

Some people are on my back for not wanting to go to school. Right now, I am clueless as to what I want to pursue in the future, in terms of career. But when I figure that out, if there is schooling required, then that’s what I’ll do. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve met people between the ages of 25-30 that are still travelling and unsure of their future, or that have only began university to lead them to what they want to do—which they discovered on their adventures abroad.

So far, I’ve been doing what I’ve wanted.  I’ve regained what Polish I knew (which was a lot less than I thought it was), learned some new things, gotten to know my family, history, culture, everything I wanted. And I want to continue that. My 6-month Europe trip with my best friend has been in the books for a while. Now, the question is, where to next? I want to keep making choices I’ll be happy with.

Me, being a person of lists, has started to build one for this summer when I return. Things I’ve wanted to do in Terrace the past few years but haven’t gotten around to doing. Considering that it may be my last chance in a while, I am going to give it my best shot, and really try not to waste a single day. There are places I’ve wanted to hike, there are still local sites I want to see, there are languages I want to start learning (meaning I might find time to once I’m back), and there are people I want to spend more time with. I have a lot to do when I get home, and six months to do it in. Two trips I’ve really wanted to do are a Victoria trip and an Alaska trip, but as I’ll be working full time, I’m not sure about those two. But it’s going on the list!

Right. So this is my informal announcement and uncertain plan: I think I might stay in Europe after travelling it next year. Not necessarily Poland; if I want to learn French and Spanish, I think the best way to do that is to immerse myself in the right country. I know I will come back to visit Poland, though, I’m just not sure for how long. Ladeeda!

 

Joanna

P.S. Title refers to the song by Switchfoot, one of the songs I listened to while writing this, look it up!


[1] No, I do not mean you guys, the friends back home that are reading this. But you know who I mean, I think.

[2] The rough country-list-plan right now is: Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, France, England, Scotland, Ireland.

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I must say, this year’s Christmas was one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had, the best in a long time at least. And I don’t think it has differed oh so much tradition-wise from the past few Christmases, maybe my partakedness. (Wow, you know I’m forgetting my English when I start making up words. Traditionwise and partakedness? What is this Joanna!?) [1]

A big part of what made this Christmas awesome, though, was family. I may have mentioned this before, but I’ve missed out on the whole extended family thing my entire life. I’ve never spent a Christmas with any family other than my two parents and two sisters. This year, spending it with my dad (who flew in from Canada), sister (who is here with me in Krakow) my aunt, great-aunt, grandma, and two cousins was something new and it felt really special. Actually the whole week was special. I’ve learned more about my family and their history than I have in the past few months. My dad’s presence in Poland just released a string of reminiscing for my family. I endlessly heard stories about what it was like under communistic Poland, about my dad and aunt’s youth, about my grandma’s and great-aunt’s youth, about even their parents, which I really don’t know much about. I really enjoying listening to their stories, not only because it gives me a better understanding of the way my family came to be, but because it gives me more depth into Poland’s history, particularly during the Cold War period. I took a semester of History last year, focusing on the 1900’s, and thoroughly enjoyed the class. I really do love history. But what’s great is my family, my own parents, lived through those times, and were involved. I also become more insightful, though not as much at the elders of course, of how times have changed. The times are really freaking different these days.

Back to Christmas! And back to the beginning. Christmas already started to feel different months ago. By that, I mean, it didn’t feel like Christmas yet at all. In Canada, you will start seeing ads for Christmas, commercials, products, chocolates, decorations in October. I swear I see my first Christmas commercial every year in September. It’s ridiculous! Christmas is so commercialised, so advertised, so… fake. Movies paint the scene, Santa Claus holds up his Good and Naughty Lists, presents and decorations explode everywhere you look, and Christmas-stress beats down on you. Yes, that is a thing. The shops are filled with people searching for present after present, for months. But particularly dozens of presents for kids.

I’m not saying Poland is an exception to that, but I can attest that it is significantly less. Mountains less. Continents less. Sorry, I do think it is a difference of continents though. North America vs. Europe. And there are some amazing traditions that Poland upholds. I love how filled with tradition Poland is. Granted, my family celebrated Christmas the same way back home, but the atmosphere is different when it’s the whole of the country doing it with you.

I think the whole of Christmas unravels the week before Christmas. You set up your Christmas tree a week earlier at the earliest. We set ours up a day before Christmas. Family starts arriving. We spend time together. And the cooking begins. Cooking, at least by my observation, is the focus. And I enjoyed every part of it. Traditionally, there are 12 courses on Christmas. Granted, there are many to chose from and the number starts to vary towards people’s preferences. And this isn’t your every Sunday kind of dinner, these are your once-a-year meals. On Christmas. So the process takes days to cook everything, to prepare everything. And it’s a time for the whole family to work together, back to back, all day, kneading out that dough for perogies, making those ears for barszcz, baking pies (we brought in some Canadian desserts to the delight of our family), etcetera. It is backbreaking, time consuming, frustrating work, enjoyable, yet stressful. Can we prepare all this food before 5pm? Christmas day (that is, the twenty-fourth, when the big Christmas dinner is held) was insane. Everyone got up hours earlier, and hauled away. I ate breakfast at ten, and I swear I didn’t sit down or eat again till dinner time. We were all so consumed with cooking that I didn’t even notice I was so hungry until we sat down. And that is how it should be. The satisfaction you feel sitting down, to this amazing dinner, that everyone worked towards, was immeasurable.

Except, as soon as we all sat down, we stood up. Because, one of my favourite things about Christmas, it’s time for skladania zycenia! What this basically means is the exchange of wishes between one another. Everyone has a piece of bread (ceremonial bread, alike to the kind a priest breaks over the alter) and one-on-one exchanges greetings. It’s really special. This isn’t your casual, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, this is saying all the things you always wanted to or wished you could say to the person. Your thoughts and feelings tie in to it, and you heartily wish people the best. I came close to tears a few times, and was really moved by some of the things said to me.

Afterwards, we eat this 12-course dinner. Bloated, there is barely energy for dealing with dessert, let alone opening presents. (Unlike the ritual of North America, presents are opened traditionally after dinner on the twenty-fourth.) But we somehow managed. Kolendy, that is, Christmastime carols are sung; and Poland has some really great songs. Old, traditional, religious, and beautiful. Presents are opened z przyjemnoscia. We thank each other (though when I was a child, I believed the Star brought presents), and get back to the singing, talking, laughing, spending time with each other, and celebrating of Christmas.

I really truly felt happy this Christmas. Previous Christmases were spent stressed out and among a family that wasn’t really together a family. This year it felt real, complete, and joyful and, well, like a Christmas I never really knew.

Joanna


[1] *thinks a while* partakedness = participation. Traditionwise……..traditionally? Facepalm.

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Polish! Where do I stand with you these days?  It’s been a while since I mentioned it, and I have been meaning to! Though the post I would have written two weeks ago is considerably different than the one I write today.

At the beginning of my trip, I saw immediate results. I was overall happy with how fast words came back to me, how I could suddenly make whole sentences, and avoid the words “A little, a lot, good, maybe, yes, no, either or.” Seriously that is what the base of what my communication depended on. You’d be surprised how much you can get by with just those.

Past initial improvement… well it’s been trying. Everyone knows I am not a patient person. And I was afraid, even before I came to Poland, that my patience would be put to the test. When I would not be able to call the words to mind, to respond how or say what I wanted to, could I fight my frustration that, before my arrival, usually had the upper hand?

I think I’ve fared well. I will not say I have a lot of patience, but more than before. But I had my first breakdown. It took three months, but it happened. The pressures just caught up to me. Let me back up a bit, and start from the beginning.

A few weeks ago, I finally came to terms with my accent. The fact that I have one, when I didn’t as a kid, really bothered me. I hated how locals could instantly pick me out as foreigner. In a strange way, I felt more Polish in Canada than I did here. Because Polish is my entire ethnicity, 100%, it was easy to say I was Polish in Canada when there was no one to challenge that. I always said I couldn’t speak Polish, but I was still proud of my heritage. Once I got to Poland, I felt like my entire family derived from Canada. Everyone identified me more with Canada, despite my ethnicity. They asked me questions about Canada, they spoke English to me if they knew how, people in my class even called me Joanna after I introduced myself as Asia. It felt like people were trying to block out my learning. And as I said, everyone[1] noticed the accent. Negatively. But as I thought more about it, I liked being a foreigner. I like how everyone thinks Canada is this great, wild, foreign place. (I won’t lie, I like the extra attention.) I liked how my accent shows the work I’m putting in to even learning this language. And after the initial bad response, a couple people said they liked my accent. So. I came to terms with my accent.

On to something more personal. I’m not the same person. When I was in Canada, I was a very loud, blunt person. I was not shy, I liked saying what first came into my mind. And I was confident. And I didn’t so much care what people thought about what I said. But here. Especially at first, I didn’t have the same confidence I did in English, more-so with the negative reactions to my accent. Even after that, I was lacking the quick thinking to come up with words to speak my mind before the moment passed. And I realized, recently, that instead of speaking my mind, furthermore, that instead of showing my frustration that I can’t speak my mind, I just don’t speak. Or vent. Or mumble English profanities under my breath. I am just more quiet than I used to be. I am a subdued version of Joanna. I feel like when people meet me, they only meet a very small part of me, because the other part of me doesn’t know how to be in Polish. And that makes me sad.

Something else. I understand a lot more than I did. A plus! Really, my understanding of new words has grown tremendously. But I feel what I understand and what I know how to say, are on completely unequal levels! What I know how to say, past the initial success, hasn’t been improving as fast. Or much at all.

Returning to the telling of my breakdown. Just as the rising action in a plot is set off by the initial spark, one small thing set me off. My friends made fun of my accent. No, normally when I say something ridiculous, or off, or just totally wrong, I laugh along with them, and learn from the mistake. But I don’t know. Maybe I was in the wrong state of mind, recently having realized that I am a different person, that exact night realizing I just don’t speak my mind like I would like to. Or maybe it was just time for a breakdown. But when they imitated my words for the eleventh time, I snapped. And I booked it out of the room. When I get really angry I cry[2], and I don’t like to do that in front of people. Back home, when I would get worked up about something, I would leave the house, go for a walk, maybe smoke a cigar, listen to loud music, and chill in the forest ten minutes away. I always found a quiet place away from people. And I relaxed.

But there is no fucking place like that here. I don’t have an entire forest at my feet, I don’t even have an isolated alleyway between buildings. I don’t have a private room. I didn’t have a place to go. So I went to the closest people-less place I could think of—the kitchen balcony, and closed the door. One small, empty, open space, three stories up was a private as I could get. And there it was that I broke down. And I will tell you why.

I was mad because I thought I had come to terms with my accent. Apparently I hadn’t. I was mad that I was finally having a breakdown. That no one saw the effort I was putting in to learning the language. That no one saw my improvement. Troche, troszeczke, moze, bardzo, wszystko jedno, tak, nie, dobrze, prosze, dziekuje = that is everything I could say confidently when I first arrived. That no one understood the pressure I was under: that every member in my family is expecting me to be fluent, that they’re all judging my improvement per every visit, that after never having any experience reading or writing in Polish in my life, I am now expected to read, understand, and write my own highschool level texts. That I have been really fucking struggling moving to a place, unable to communicate effectively, and that I have an accent because I haven’t spoken Polish in five years, and even then that was minimal! And that I’m not the fucking same person.

Sorry for swearing. That was a true rhythmic rant there, no restraints on language. Alas, the first breakdown. An angry, crying mess of realizing the difficulties of moving to a new country, into a different culture and accepting a different language.

Anywho, I get over things really fast, and the next day I was fine and dandy and cheerful, with a little niggling headache. We are all allowed breakdowns. And they are normal. Back to happy things!

I am reading Harry Potter! In Polish, I might add. Truthfully, I have missed Harry Potter tremendously. Harry Potter is the series of my childhood. And it felt comfortable to go back to it, and start my Polish-reading-infantry with it. The first fifteen or so pages, were incredibly slow to read. But afterwards, I adjusted to my new pace, perhaps picked it up a bit, and am happy to say I am almost done reading it in a few hours time dedication!

Recently I’ve been thinking about writing small blogposts, or maybe just a couple paragraphs, in Polish. Even in stream-of-conscience format, practice for real life ;) Polish comes to me best when I am listening, well enough when I am writing, but when I am speaking… there is not much there. Reading I think is already helping, but writing outside of school, my own thoughts, might show a bigger improvement….

On a last note. Moving to Poland for a year (granted it’s only been three months) has made me more-so realize I don’t want to live here in the future. Or stay here. I love the culture, the history, I really do. But the people (not the youth, I love the youth, but the elders) are different.

A topic for a different blog post.

Cheers! ;)

Asia

P.S. I really want to see the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It came out the day after I left Canada. And is not appearing in Poland, likely because the book never made it into Polish print either, and a big percentage of this movie’s fans are the book fans… and Emma Watson fans. So I’ll delight myself by making akin titles.


[1] Alright. Not everyone. Everyone except old ladies on the tram. Seriously, they ask me for directions, they rant to me about their daily problems, they don’t see the foreigner.

[2] When I get really sad, I look really angry. It’s this weird backwards thing.

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I’m starting to feel better about things. I know; when did I ever let on that I was feeling not-so-great about things? I sometimes am not honest with myself[1]. That is, I don’t really admit feelings I have. I see two sides to it, and always stick with side one.

1) I am in a completely new place, with new people, new scenery, learning a new language, getting to know my family, my history, in Europe, that thing I’ve always wanted to do. And it’s only been two weeks here, by the time I have to leave, I won’t want to. I’m in another freaking country.

2) I don’t know anyone. The people that I spent 95% of my time with, my friends, aren’t here. Ninety-five percent. Especially towards the end of summer, the time I had to leave, I was constantly out during the day. I felt like my house was for the purpose of sleeping only, and even that wasn’t definite. Basically, it is a little lonely being cooped up in this 9 by 11 room, or whatever it is.

And what side have you heard? Side one. Because that’s all I let myself hear. It’s like, if I admit those negative thoughts are there… it becomes real. So I don’t. I push them away, not so much ignore them, just not accept them[2].  Yeah, it’s probably unhealthy. And better yet, when the feelings I’m ignoring are gone, in this case the negative ones, I can wholly admit they were there in the first place. But only once they’re gone[3]. Yeah, does that ever sound healthy!

Anywho, back to the land of positivity! Basically, I’ve just met some really great people today. And that makes me feel better. Because, so far, the little-over-two-weeks time that I’ve been here… I haven’t really met anyone. And part of me was loving the alone time and finally being able to catch up on all the shows I’ve wanted to watch. But let’s be honest: I’m a people person, and up until now, I haven’t really met anyone that nice, open, friendly… the qualities I kind of thought most university students possessed. Wrong idea? Too optimistic? Anyways, I don’t even know if I’ll hang with these people again, it’s just nice to know that nice people exist. Seriously. I had an awesome evening.

I went to the kitchen to cook some hotdogs…only to discover that the pot—whose residence is strictly the kitchen—was stolen. And even the cutting board! I didn’t bring any cooking utensils or pots with me, I didn’t have the baggage weight to spare. So now how am I supposed to cook dinner for the rest of the year[4]? I asked a couple people moving in and out of the kitchen if they had seen them. Nope. Anyway, one girl offers to lend me her pan, and ta-da! Discussion time. Here are the 5 most popular questions everyone asks everyone in this dormitory:

“Where are you from?”

“What do you speak?”

“What are you studying?

“Why are you studying in Poland?”

Okay so there’s four questions usually asked in either English, Polish, Chinese, Turkish, Belarusian, Ukranian, Russian, and Bulgarian. At question five, people start getting creative.

So she asked me, this complete stranger in the kitchen, to just return her pan when I was done, and she gave me her room number. A half hour passes, I eat my food, wash the pan, and go to return it[5]. Then, on her doorstep, I am offered soup. I step inside, am introduced to her charismatic roommate—who totally reminds me of someone I know, can’t pinpoint who, clashed with a vlogger-personality. That’s the best I could bring it down to. This story is getting boring. Basically I met their two neighbours, the Chinese guy who always cook amazing-looking-food in the kitchen, roommate’s good friend, and others. And eventually, I had a decent conversation with all of them. In English. They all speak excellent English, the slightest of accents, and it’s not anyone’s first language! It felt so nice. Just to converse, naturally, in English, be able to say what I wanted to say, without having to dumb it down for the foreigner[6]. I hope that didn’t come out rude, but since I got here, I’ve met a lot of people who can’t speak Polish; but many of these people know a little bit of English. But in order to communicate, you have to bring down what you want to say to the bare minimum. Think of words you would learn in school, no slang, and speak slowly and clearly. Not my forte.

So, in conclusion. I feel good about things. Contrary to what my great-aunt said, there are some incredibly nice people here and, even though I didn’t earlier mention it, I’m starting to like my teachers more, getting to know my classmates, and I’m even getting used to sharing a bathroom with three other people now[7]. The only difficulty remains in remembering what language everyone speaks. There have been way too many times when I’ve said, “Czesc” to the English-speakers, and “Hi” to the Polish-speakers, among other things.

Asia


[1] I know. That is such a contradiction to what I always say. What the heck.

[2] Never treat people this way.

[3] These feelings are of all varieties. Nope, I’m not angry. What, so not upset with you. No, I do not feel any interest in you whatsoever.  No, it’s fine. [Not so straight up as my examples there… it’s usually like this deep internal battle to deny, deny, deny.] Wow, was that a way too truth-filled footnote or what. This is why you don’t give in to your random writing urges at 1:30am.

[4] You guys know I don’t cook. Hot dogs don’t count, I know. But I had it in my mind to try soup, and chicken breast, and other things. Easy student food.

[5] In between that, I had a very small, but pleasant, conversation with my Polish next door neighbour. This guy I’ve barely talked to, seemed a lot nicer than I thought he was at first. Good realizations.

[6] And be able to use adjectives other than “very” and “really”. Such a good feeling. [See title]

[7] If there’s a chance to use the bathroom, take it.

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