2004-05 Outbound to Poland
Date of Birth: May 29, 1986
School: Bartram Trail High
Sponsor: Bartram Trail Rotary Club, District 6970, Florida USA
Host: Łódź Rotary Club, District 2230, Poland
September 15 Journal - "Everything we
ate was great and fresh, like: eggs, cream, cheese, and cottage cheese,
wait one more...eel!"
October 24 Pictures
November 1 Journal - "When it was time
to leave I was carrying the bags with a smoked eel head sticking out of
the bag looking back at me. This is when I knew I really wasn't home."
January 9 Journal & Pictures - "The dog
chopped right down on my hand, I pulled up quickly and she followed. So
now I'm at the point with my hand raised with a dog attached to it."
April 28 Journal & Pictures - "They
don't know how to react because John Paul II has been Pope for as long as
they can remember. Poland was looked on a little better because John Paul
II was Pope."
For the outbound and inbound students of this year, if you
remember me at the first orientation, I was the one with the death grip on
the podium and staring into the eyes of the wild beasts in the audience.
Well back to reality of the real world, my name is Michael
Criswell. I have lived in Jacksonville all my life! (Except one year) Most
of you are thinking that maybe I haven't been to a lot of places, I haven't
moved out of one city. But I have, I have been to several states seeing
family, going camping with the boy scouts, and going on trips with the
family. I have also lived in Texas with my father since my parents are
divorced. This was not the best time of my life, but it was also not the
worst, because I lived through it and I learned from it.
I am hoping that the exchange to POLAND will enhance my
experience and knowledge of the world. "Discovering everything possible" is
my goal in life, I know this is not possible, but I am still optimistic
Departing from Jacksonville, Heading for Poland
September 15 Journal
When I first got out of the airport and saw Warsaw and
Poland I had to ask myself what the hell was I doing here! Poland is not the
place you see in the pictures, at least the ones I was looking at! Here it's
a beautiful mess, you have to either love it or hate it and so far I love
it! You can still see the effects of WWII and things here are not kept up.
I feel like I am at home until I hear someone speak Polish
or when we drive down the road at 140 km an hour on horribly paved roads and
going the wrong way to pass a car, while another is coming your way and you
barely miss it thanks to speed! No, it's not that bad, but it does give you
an adrenaline rush! I will never complain about U.S. drivers again!
I really can't say that I fit in yet or am picking up
things because I have been traveling Poland for the last 3 weeks. The 1st
week I was in my parents' country house and the other two were in Lublin and
in Toruq. I do however have some vocabulary in my head but it comes and goes
as it pleases.
On another note I don't think it's ever possible to escape
walking down an aisle dedicated to 20 different types of mayo and mowing the
Okay, back to the country house, it was wonderful!
Everyday I could walk down the dirt road and go swimming in the lake, it was
cold, but I could do it. Everything we ate was great and fresh, like: eggs,
cream, cheese, and cottage cheese, wait one more...eel! Most of the stuff we
could get down the road is from "our farmers", as my host mom calls them. My
3rd day in Poland my host mom let me wonder Plock for 2 hours BY
MYSELF! At that time all I could say was tak and nie (yes and no).
My 1st day of school was yesterday September 13th.
School went well, but when it was time to go I had to take the tramvi (tram)
back home. I was dropped off by car that morning and the worst thing is I
had to take two tramvis to get home. So I got on #12 and I went until I hit
downtown. I hopped off because the traffic was really bad and I could walk
the rest of the way to the next tramvi. So I hopped onto #11 and kept riding
and riding and riding it..... where am I. I'm in the next town... I know at
some point that it will turn around and go back, so I keep on going and
going and going.... I'm in another town! I know it will turn around sometime
and it finally does. I find myself back in Lodz, I'm SO lost! I saw two
police officers going by on the tramvi so I get off and ask them if they
could help me. They escort me to where some taxis are and I took one home.
The journey home should have cost me $0.25, but the whole journey was around
$5.00. My lil' adventure was about 4 HOURS LONG! No one was happy with me
that night .......after they came back from looking for me.
Well on a good note I think my body finally adjusted to
the Polish food, I just have to watch out for the cabbage! Lol
Other random things.... toilets are different here, you
have to walk around the house in slippers, some people don't use deodorant,
lunch (dinner) is around 2-2:30. My school is one of the best in Lodz and it
does not have a lunchroom so you eat in the halls. There is one other
exchange student in Lodz who lives across town. Lodz is the 2nd
largest city in Poland, their are about 50-60 exchange students total in
Poland. Another thing is strange, you can leave milk out on the counter for
a long time. I think I lost some weight, the scales are European, so don't
get too excited (I know this from experience). I also had to buy a new
camera already because the one I brought with me broke. I have not been able
to find Fuji film 400 anywhere, just Kodak 200. If you want nice pictures I
need Fuji film 400 and higher.
Anyways.....I just wanted to shout to all of my friends I
left behind in the states and to tell my folks that I love them.
Host mom buying mushrooms
Church in Lublin
October 24 Pictures
Me at a pub in Lublin
Myself and 2 nuns in Lublin
View of the lake at
parents' country house
Justyna our guide
Parent's country house
A friend's car (Fiat)
Nat on a boat ride
Maidanek shoes of the prisoners
Me and Chris
at Freedom Plaza
Myself in a train
headed to Toruq
Poland's "leaning tower"
Me after a long
night in Lublin
November 1 Journal
Okay it's been awhile since I have entered a journal
entry. So, after my 1st week in Plock at my parent's country house, I came
back to Łódź for about 2 days, then I left for Lublin for a week
and a half, for a language camp. Yeah, it was a blast, during the day we
would tour Lublin or nearby towns. We even went to a spa. I also got to see
a death camp, near Lublin, called Maidanek that was a really sad part of the
trip. After that we would all head back to our dorms and eat lunch then we
would walk to our lessons, they were about 3 hours everyday. It was hard to
understand because she didn't speak English, this was just an eye opener for
later. At night we could roam "Old Town" which is the older part of Lublin.
We could go there and go to a pub, sit and talk, ya know the normal stuff.
Throughout our stay we had a guide/mom to take care of us during the day,
and sometimes at night. Justyna (guide) even went with us on the train to
Toruq for our Rotary meeting, but she didn't stay and left on the next train
back to Lublin.
The meeting was for another 3 days, and it was right after
the language camp. At the Rotary meeting we all met the other exchange
students within Poland. There are 60 of us in Poland (some were missing). We
all went home on the train, some of us in different directions, but on the
train you meet a lot of different people. You remember the ones that drool
in their sleep and wake up to drool still dangling from their lip, after
this moment laughing was the hardest thing to keep from doing. When I got
home I tried to have a normal routine, but proved impossible.
My class went to London for a week, but I didn't go
because they had already planned it and it was a little short notice for me
and them. The class has one crazy teacher, too bad, he is a History teacher.
I even fell asleep in his class and everyone knew, they tell me that he
doesn't like me. But who cares, he's crazy! There has been a lot of boring
days at school, but I still manage.
On one weekend I helped my host-mom take care of the
graves of her grandfather, mother and father. The first one was stone so I
had scrubbed it and I also went and fetched water. Now her father's grave
was set up like a flower bed, but....there were no flowers in it!! There
were weeds to my waist with concert soil, so I ended up pulling all of them
while she went off to buy flowers. This was an experience no matter good or
I was even invited to a Polish b-day party by someone I
didn't even know, but he knew me. When you turn 18 in Poland it's like
turning 21 in the US. Just use your imagination. The next day I came down
with a stomach virus, I was out all day with it. Before this I had a cough
and the whole family swore I had the flu so I had to stay home for two days.
I wasn't sick, I just had a cough and the runny nose.
What is really good, every day after school I come home to
eat dinner (lunch). You don't eat dinner at school it is more like a snack.
Everything here is so healthy, I even lost weight when Rotary said I would
AHH now is the time I left for Berlin! Okay on the 13th I
got on the train to Warsaw about 2 hours away to meet Abby and some
others.....Warsaw has like 3 stops so on the ticket it tells me the very
last one, I thought Warsaw was supposed to look nice. Wrong, I was to get
off in Central station which I didn't see the sign. So, I got off on the
rundown station on the other side of town. So luckily I got on the train to
Berlin and meet up with Abby, Laura, Felipe and some of the kids from
Mexico. This was a 7-hour train ride and while we were on the train they
decided to tell me that we didn't have reservations for us (Abby and I), but
no one had them for the first night either (good planning). We went to the
Hostel and they didn't have any rooms left so they reserved a room for us on
other side of Berlin. The kids from Mexico decided to leave us and get
another hotel instead. The four of us that were left headed off on the S-Bahn
(tram) to the other side of Berlin to get to our hostel. We all get off the
tram and we all have our luggage. I see a bum's cart and threw all our
luggage into it. I decided to take it for a spin. It was fun!!!! WOOT! We
pulled up in our pimp cart with people outside staring at our ride. I paid
for the hostel and we pulled up to our stairs and parked the cart. Oh, by
the way a hostel is different than a hotel; a hostel is where you have
bunk-beds and you can choose the option to be with strangers. This is when I
found out what a hostel was! This was our private room with 4 bunks, we
didn't have a bathroom, so we have to use a public one. It was really
nice... we're in BERLIN!! Felipe brought all his food b/c it's really
expensive in Berlin. He had a can of pork and we opened it and God was it
nasty!!!! So I opened the window and threw the pork out the window and left
the can on the ledge. We got up around 10:00am and got online to see what we
wanted to do for the day. Ohh the bum took back his cart that night.
At the other hostel that we were to stay at, there was a
sex museum right next to it. So we went to that for about 2 hours, then
around 2:00pm we went on a free tour of Berlin for about 3 hours. We got to
see a lot of things... and our guide was really good... we went back to the
hostel right next to the sex shops in the middle of Berlin, it was a very
nice area, but as soon as you step out off the stairs to the hostel you see
"Bar 69"and a sign "WORLD OF SEX". That's the best place to put a hostel.
Anyways, after all that we did, we waited for the other group that was to
arrive on day (14th). On the 15th the four of us went on a bike tour that
was cool, we did see the same things plus more b/c it was about 17euro plus
a guide and we were on bikes. That night we all went on this Club tour, for
10 euro they take you to 4 clubs/pubs. Let's just say I had a really good
time! On the day of the 16th I went out by myself to explore parts of Berlin
that I didn't see before. I even found a book seller on the side of the road
where I bought a gift for my god parents. This was the day I found out that
I didn't have any money when I tried to withdraw some from my account. Thank
god I bought food for the week. After about 4 hours around Berlin by foot I
came back on the S-Bahn and found that Julie (a girl from Australia) was now
in our room; for 2 nights it was just 3 of us in a 10 person bedroom. Julie
is hard of hearing which is cool b/c because my 2nd language is ASL, but I
knew that Aussie sign was different. So that night her and I talked about
sign and she even taught me some Australian sign while I taught her more of
ASL. Everyone decided to go to the club so I stayed behind, I didn't have
I recommended the tours we went on, so the next day
(17th), I went with her on the free tour to help translate. The guide was
bouncing around to much she couldn't see his lips and I couldn't hear him
very well too, so I translated for her what I learned two days before. She
paid for a couple of things for me because of what I was doing for her and
of course like me, I said "thank you" like a 100 times for something really
inexpensive. I even showed her things that the tour didn't go on. Monday I
was to go home, but I told my host parents I was to be home on Sunday, oops!
Plus, my phone was dead and had some stupid code lock on it and I had no
money! So Monday we were to start heading home on the train at 6:31am,
but..... I was misdirected so many times that I missed the train!! I was so
mad, I had to force a smile on my face to the lady that I bought my ticket
from! I returned to the hostel and sat in the lobby. I had to wait until
12:00pm so I was going to wait for Julie to get up so I could eat with her.
To my surprise I was not the only one that missed the train, Laura and
Felipe missed it too! So I had company. I ate with Julie and we said our
goodbyes and she left to tour more of Berlin. Laura, Felipe and I got on the
train but we had to split up, but I got to see them two times afterwards. I
got home around 9:00pm and was yelled at for an hour, then I took a shower
and stayed up some and went to bed. The next day they let me sleep in and
Ahh, but the best thing is... I got a haircut!! It's been
about two months and I needed one before I left, yeah it was a big mop on my
head. Now I look like every other Polish boy, I have a military cut.
Well again I left town on the 26th of Oct. my host mom and
I left for Krynica Zdrsi she was to stay in a private spa and I was to stay
in a hotel by myself. But during the day she was to leave to go to the next
town in Nowycz at the High Business School (college), one of, or the best in
Poland. She gives lectures to her students. Well for me there isn't much in
Krynica. I think I saw everything in 4 hours, that also included hiking and
getting lost. But this town is famous for its spring water. They have a
place where you can try about 4 different types of spring water. UWAGA!!!
All water tastes really bad, some taste like sulphur and one like salt
water. So I guess this was my time to relax and do nothing and that's what I
did. But on the way back (29th)the trip should have taken 4 hours but we hit
all kinds of traffic. but when there are 30 cars on the road its called a
jam here, I can only laugh if they came to Jacksonville during traffic hour,
Oct. 30th we went for our grocery shopping, but when it
was time to leave I was carrying the bags with a smoked eel head sticking
out of the bag looking back at me. This is when I knew I really wasn't home.
But I have really come accustomed to being here, it feels really normal and
I also feel like part of the family. But I have to leave in December. :-(
Today on Oct. 31, my family went to the cemetery to
celebrate "Saints Day" a day early, we put flowers and candles on all the
graves of their ancestors. Then afterwards more family came to the house to
eat dinner but they all ended up staying till supper. To me it felt more
like Thanksgiving on Halloween, because it took us 6 hours to eat. During
this we talked about memories of the past, we also ate everything off silver
plates, dishes and silverware. It was really fancy, this would be the first
I had a great meal on Halloween.
Well I really want to say THANK YOU Rotary! So far I'm
having a really good time, I'm really happy that Al came to our school and
then me taking the inspired whim to give the contact info to go through with
the program. THANKS again! You too Al! I even had someone tell me that I
have grown up more already [you know how you are ;) ]. Ohh, Al, Anna (my
host-mom) sends her best Greetings!
P.S. I think I have had more fish here than I have ever
had in FL....? :ponders:
January 9 Journal
From the last entry I have witnessed my town erupt into a
riot! I believe every policeman in the town was there with riot gear on. Do
you want to know why this happened? There was a soccer match between two
teams in Lodz. I was in the downtown area when this happened, I could hear
the teams chanting their songs in Polish over the sirens and the traffic
jam. After I witnessed several policemen running in a perfect march I made
sure that my friend Marta got on her bus safely and I left myself.
As some history, there have been many deaths at these
games between the two teams, thank God no one died during this game.
Well I wasn't to move to my next host family until
December 1st, but I was to visit them for a couple of days in Nov. Wednesday
of that week I went out that night with my host sister, we went to "Club
Cube". The next day for the first time I got to ride a horse, I rode English
style. It was fun! Ohh ... ouch! After the horseback riding it took me an
hour to get out of bed. Let's see Saturday, I went to downtown area of Lodz,
the day started out good but as time went by I wasn't feeling so hot, so I
called up one of my host sisters and asked if she could take me home. I
almost didn't make it home, like I said before Polish roads aren't very
good. I slept for about 3 hours and the rest of the time I was puking my
guts up until 3 in the morning. The next day I was still not feeling so
keen, but I got up to move around a bit and the dog attacked me! Yeah you
heard right, the housekeeper is my witness. The dog chopped right down on my
hand, I pulled up quickly and she followed. So now I'm at the point with my
hand raised with a dog attached to it. This is no small dog either! On its
back legs it's taller than me, I'm 5'11 so just use your imagination. So the
housekeeper had to beat the dog off me. Puma, the dog only ripped the top
layer of skin but a few weeks later I still feel where she bit me. Thank God
I was wearing my new coat when Puma bit me - she had to bite though my coat
and to my hand, she tore a little hole in it, but better the coat than my
hand. The next day the housekeeper had a chance to get a whack at me! I was
lying on the conch and reading a book. By psychic ability I got up right
before the vacuum, from the second story, landed right where I was lying.
During this time I stayed longer than I was expected, and all I could think
that this family was out to get me!
Mom sent me a package containing peanut butter, vest,
coat, 2 boxes of corn bread mix, can of pumpkin pie, 1 can of evaporated
milk (for pumpkin pie), 3 books, socks, a pair of jeans, two pairs of sun
glasses (which I don't need now, I haven't seen the sun in a month) Later
when everyone was home, (1st host family) a couple of days later past
Thanksgiving I cooked Thanksgiving for 6 people. Well... It was a lot
harder; maybe the thought of it was harder than it sounds. Well Poland has
nothing really, like the states so I had to make everything from scratch
except pumpkin pie and corn bread! Well I had one thing missing, we didn't
have a turkey! So we had chicken instead, I know this killer recipe that
will never dry out your turkey/ chicken. But in the end, it turned out
great, everyone was stuffed and I was happy. A few days later I left to my
second host family.
While I was still living with my 1st host parents they
left me home alone for two weeks, well the housekeeper came every other day
to check up on me and to see if I had food or not. During this time I saw a
couple of movies at the "Silver screen".
I forgot to tell but this new family lives outside of Lodz
in the village of Biala. Just about everything is grown in their garden out
back. Umm... I have 3 host sisters, Zuzia 16, Ann 19, and Ewa 26. Ewa's flat
is being redone. My host parents (Mamo and Tato), own one of the two Ford
Dealerships in Lodz. Both Grandmas visit often. I feel sorry for my host dad
- he's the only male in the house, even all the pets are female. Tato and I
both have one thing in common so far, we both like to take pictures! He has
a really nice digital (Sony) camera that could make you cry.
One day I skipped school, I know it was wrong but I left
my tooth brush at my last host parents so I had to go get it, but on the way
back to school I've been wanting to stop for months at the market and look
around. The smell of fresh vegetables and smelly old people really made me
happy, I don't know why. But what I do know is that I was in another country
and it was sunny which is rare in Lodz and the total atmosphere was great.
So I left, I was in a better mood when I arrived back to school.
Poland isn't as cold as everyone said it would be, but it
stays around 0-5C or higher around the Lodz area. The only thing that kills
me is the wind!
Like I said I went to the movies a couple of times, most
of them are American. But while I was watching "Sky Captain" I heard some
people talking in English, after the movie I introduced myself and I found
out they were from Kentucky! So we hung out for an hour at the mall. They
were there because of a church group but they travel around a lot.
A funny thing happened, maybe you had to be there, but my
Mamo told Zuzia and I to bring in some pots from the car, Zuzia told me
later "I almost dropped it, I saw a Spiderman" I nearly dropped dead from
laughter. But then I knew how much western culture is influencing the East.
Okay back to more traveling Dec. 15-17 I went with my host
parents to Zackopane. This is a mountainous area of Poland, not the rolling
type mountains that most of Poland has but ones that look very sharp and
jagged. Before we got there we stopped to have a late dinner early supper at
a restaurant. Mamo didn't know what to get me so she got me four soups, a
potato pancake type thing, plus some beef and then she stuffed me with
pierogi. I didn't eat anything until 12:00pm the next day. Ohh Zackopane is
the best place I have been in Poland, it was so pretty! I had a tour guide,
guide me around Zackopane all day on the 16th. He took me up a trail in the
Mt. And then we saw some ski jumps then up one of the oldest cable cars in
Europe. I was about 2km above sea level. I took many pictures and they
turned out great. We had dinner and then saw a couple of museums and more of
Zackopane. I had my own hotel again; my host parents had a meeting with all
the Ford dealerships in Poland. As a gift Mamo bought me a traditional pin
of this region to put on my Rotary Blazer. It was very nice gift, I thanked
her many times.
Saturday the 11th I went with my host parents to a
concert, classical music that is... but it ended up really good. The songs
with the choir were the best. But during this one of the singers fell down/
sat down. I kinda got worried but she seemed okay, but that Monday a girl
from my class introduced herself to me. She said she saw me at the concert
and if I wanted I could get cheaper tickets if I wanted. But to finish her
mother was the one that sat down, her mom did a concert the day before and
was tired from practicing too.
Well my host sister goes to school number 4 and I go to
26. So I decided to try out this school, OMG it is ten times better than the
school I was at. So now I go to school number 4. But the bad thing is I'm
going to miss the friends I made at 26, but I'll have contact with them,
it's just two trams away from school to school.
Well Rotary had another meeting for all the exchange
students. Most of us came. We stayed in Wroclaw, south Poland. We were all
to arrive at the hotel on Friday. The next day they took us around Wroclaw.
The group of us were taken to the Panorama Raclawicka, which is a round
painting but it has a 3-D detail with it and it's kinda trippy to watch one
spot and then walk away from it, don't do this too much it could make you
sick! They took us to the Mathematical Tower; it has a really nice view of
Wroclaw. We were to make things for kids in hospitals but we never got to
give them there gifts, plus not everyone knew about bringing the gifts. We
made ribbon things with international greetings on them to hang on x-mas
trees in the Market Place, then after dinner we were to hang them, then sing
x-mas carols. But we only hung the ribbons, but later that night we found
them all over the Market Place, so it was a waste of time plus a big mess
for someone else. Ohh and we didn't sing, thank God! But as exchange
students we know how to turn anything fun. Really the only thing I have to
complain about is the lack of food! I was starving the whole time. But it
was ten times better than the Torun meeting. Another thing Rotary even gave
us warm wine to drink during the meeting. A lot of people didn't drink it,
but I thought it really good. Lets see the next day I left and Tato picked
me up from the train station.
Well we had to go and pick up Ann from a "Main street" but
we found her at the pub and she really liked this guy. Her father comes in
says hi and sits down with them, let's just say that Tato got an ear full
later in the car about how he embarrassed her. I had a part in the
embarrassment too, but that's way too boring. But when we got home Zuzia
told us she had something better than that. Her father came into the club
and walked over to the DJ and got him to announce, "Zuzia Mieszek, please go
to the exit, your daddy is waiting." Yeah I know I would be the same way.
But later Zuzia shows us 3 video clips of her dancing, Ann and I almost or
did die from laughter.
Christmas came around and that was completely different!
On Christmas Eve you have a 12-course meal with many family members. Then
you have 3 days of Christmas. During this time all you do is eat and eat and
eat some more! Also I think I gained back all my weight that I lost during
my stay in Poland, just in a few days. We also had many pictures taken
during this time and some short videos. Tato didn't know that Ewa was
recording, but he was just in his boxers and then he started to act like a
monkey then to acting like he was showing off his muscles. Then Ewa says
that she was recording, his face went white and closed the bathroom door.
New Years! On the 30th I went to Poznan to see a few
exchange friends. They're all from different countries: India, Canada and
the US. That Thursday it was raining so I didn't get to see Poznan, but we
went to the center for New Years. They had a live concert playing but right
at 10 min. the power went out. So we still had a count down anyways. We had
a bottle of champagne with us so we shook it everywhere and on everyone.
Then we each had a sip, that's how much was left. At the end bottles were
everywhere smashed and people left by the dozens to the buses. So we went on
an over crowded bus, we got off and had a party at a friend's house. The
next day, well by the time everyone got ready we left around 2:00pm and it
starts to get dark around 4:00pm now. So I saw Poznan's lake (it had no
water) in the dark, plus everything was closed too. The next day it just
didn't happen so I still didn't get to see Poznan and everything was still
closed. But there is always next time!
While I was in Poznan I saw that the exchange students
there can speak better Polish than I can, well they have great host families
plus they have class each week which Rotary pays for. Well I don't have any
lessons here. I can see why I'm having trouble here with the language. Even
basic lessons could help me. So I talked with my host dad (Rotary President)
to see what he could do, he said he's going to ask.
Lately I have also picked up yoga, actually I had my
doubts about yoga, but it's really good for you and I'm still attending the
classes. Ohh my host sister Ewa got me into it. She takes the lessons too.
Well this is the latest so far, but it seemed that there
was confusion with my last entry plus some rumors here. If you didn't know
most Europeans are very comfortable with sexual oriented things. But where
our Hostel was, was in the nicest part of Berlin! We had to pay more for
it...etc. But some people thought that my journal entry made a lot of people
mad, plus there was confusion with the rumors. I can see maybe why I made
some people mad, using names in the entry, not completely getting all the
plans straight, but isn't that part of being an exchange student? People
have to learn from their mistakes, most of us can't be told that something
is bad, we have to do it ourselves so we never do it again, or plan better
so things like this don't happen again. So from what I was told by my first
host family is that, Rotary got word that Berlin police had trouble with
Rotary students from Poland. But I can only speak for myself is that I never
had contact with the police in Berlin.
Anyways if you read this whole thing all the way though
you must be really bored by now. Just a tad bit more, I really enjoy this
new family, well my host parents don't speak English and so I'm forced to
really use Polish to communicate with them plus I have siblings to talk
with. I have stuff to do now, plus I can bug my siblings if I'm bored...lol
and I'm making friends faster at this new school than my last one. I guess
it's confidence as well, plus this school is not so into their schoolwork,
it makes it a little easier. Well thanks again Rotary I can't have all this
if it weren't for ya'll! Man I miss my southern accent; I'm picking up a
My first class
Marta and I
Me in the Mt.
April 28 Journal
A couple of months have passed by... but I'm still alive! I
decided that I should update my journal entry since it's been about 4 months...I
did the journal once but I had so much to say that it would bore you to death!
So I now have the shorter version.
16th of January
- I went to Krakow!!! I arrived four hours earlier
than everyone else! So I decide to go and get a heads up on parts of Krakow.
So I went and saw the Square. It had to have been the size of two football
fields or bigger! There was a church on the square and it has to be the
prettiest church I have ever seen in Poland! But it started to get darker so
I went back to the hostel and I ended up watching a movie with the lady that
watches over the hostel. Later I went and picked up the others from the
17th of January - We
saw the Gestapo Prison in Krakow. Then we went back to the square to look
around and in the shops...afterwards my memory got all mixed up in my
journal since I wrote it a week later! The group of us also went to the
Concentration Camp Of Auschwitz. Also to the Wawel Royal Castle and the
Cathedral there. Also the Muzuem of Farmacji (Pharmacy). It was the history
of medicine. We also got to see a few things not a lot of people get to see.
Their were cabinets in one room and we asked to see inside, the guide was
stunned b/c no one not even herself saw what was inside...nothing special,
just some extra medicines that was shown off in other places in the Muzuem.
26th of January -
After six months of being here I finally start Polish
5th of February - That day was not so good
for me! I got really depressed was not really in the mood for anything. This
is my 1st time that I really got depressed with my exchange. That night I
went to Lodz, I almost cried in the car, I had to get things off my mind so
I went to a movie. After the movie I bought a "Times" magazine, the whole
thing was about Happiness, I really needed it! When I was picked up I was in
a better mood!
12th-19th of February -
So I went to Slovakia for a ski trip! Yeah 6 days
of skiing, I about died when I got back home, but I couldn't! It was Ann's
B-day! So a few family members came over as well, but the change in food was
nice instead of snicker bars and cafeteria food!
26th of February -
Ann the other host sister, started to leave and move into
her new flat.
5th of March - I can't remember when all the
stuff was happening to the Pope, but I wrote something in my Journal about
him and how all these weird things are happening in the world...
6th of March -
I went to Nieborow and the Museum of Ludowe. Nieborow is this
really big house about a 1 1/2 hours drive from Biala. The Museum of Ludowe
is a private museum that had a lot of Polish Folk art.
8th of March - I hung out with Ella (other
exchange student) and her friend from the University... later that night we
all went to an 18th b-day party of five people from my class. Woman's Day as
10th of March - My Friend from Poznan came
into town... BAM!!! We hit someone on our way back home... it was cold and
the Police are very slow! So after an hour we decided to take the car to the
police station and settle it there. While Ewa was settling things I showed
my friend around Central.
11th of March - During this time it wasn't
nice to show someone around Lodz because it snowed all weekend! We went to
Poznanski's palace in Lodz and that was my 1st time to step foot in it. I
pass it about twice a day! We even got to play on the piano. The piano
belonged to Artur Rubenstien, a famous pianist and citizen of Poland, the
US, France, and Israel. The best thing was the guide let us bang on it a
couple of times!
12th of March - Ewa took myself and my
friend to two other Museums in Lodz, because it was snowing so bad!
13th of March - My friend's host sister
studies in Lodz and was having her final exam, so I was invited to go and
see the performance. I didn't understand a lot of the words; they spoke too
fast:, but it was really funny! It was a comedy. Also I finished one Journal
book and now I'm starting another.
20th of March -
Palm Sunday! - I went to church with my host parents, but the church
was so crowded that I had to stand, plus I was upstairs on a platform and I
still couldn't see!
23rd of March - Zuzia's B-day! In the
morning I was awoken to sing Zuzia a happy b-day in Polish! After that I got
ready and Ewa told me to clean my room because of Spring cleaning so I went
along with it. Later we went out to Logos, but found it boring because it is
new and we went somewhere else. Ewa picked us up at 11:00pm and we went
26th of March - I went with my host parents
to the church to bless the basket. It is a Polish tradition to take a basket
of food, containing meat, salt and pepper to church. I decided to go to
church in shorts and a short sleeve shirt. I had the whole family laughing
at me, they were saying "it's going to be cold" and things like "people are
going to laugh at you". Well no one laughed and Tato had a theory... It was
an artistic church so everyone thought I was eccentric! Later it was
actually still warm enough to sit outside and catch some rays! I think I
only got a little color!
27th of March - EASTER! Both Bobcias
(grandmas) were over so we had a big breakfast! Around 2:00pm I started to
call people back home. This would be the first time that I spoke with them
since December. I spoke with my mom, my father and ex-step-grandparents.
Well I found out that my ex-stepbrother is in Iraq, fighting the War.
28th of March - "WET MONDAY" This tradition
is to make people wet while in their bed, but you can do it during the day!
So the night before I was trying to be evil, but evilness went away when I
found I had no tape! I rigged a book from the shelf so it would fall off and
then I would know that someone was coming in. Mamo set the alarm off. I
still got wet, but I was too tired to get up! An hour later Bobcia comes in
dumps water on my head, she turns around and walks away rambling about
something in Polish. At the same time I yelled back at her; I have a big
room and she's hard of hearing: "Thanks Bobcia"
31st of March - (Thursday Night) I was told
that I was moving to a new family. Guess when I was moving, Saturday
12:00pm! I was shocked and happy all at the same time! I was to move
families awhile ago, but I gave up on that and thought I was staying with
this family for the rest of the time.
1st of April - In the morning Ewa took me
close to Nieborow a garden/ park next to it. It was really nice to see the
castle also a very, very small church and three other buildings, all in
ruins. Afterwards I went to the city to find everyone a gift, because I was
leaving the next day and my going away dinner was that night!
2nd of April - I got up and got ready and
only had 2 hours to pack! 12:00pm rolls around and no parents to pick me up,
finally at 1:00pm Mamo comes to pick me up and take me to my new host
parents house. Tato met us later. My host parents names are Bozena and
Andrzej Siekierski. I have two host siblings, Gosia and Piotr. Later that
day we went to a Polish Wedding, it was at the largest Cathedral in Lodz.
The people were gathered around a statue of the Pope to pray for him. After
the wedding the Bride and Groom gave respect so the memorial and went on
their way. When we got home we had dinner and talked, later on TV we found
out that the Pope passed away. This time is very hard on Polish people. I
was talking with friends and family they said they don't know how to react
because John Paul II has been Pope for as long as they can remember. Also
Poland was looked on a little better because John Paul II was Pope. Later
that night the President of Poland announced that from then on till Monday
Poland will be in mourning. All around people are all gloomy and saddened by
the Pope's passing.
3rd of April -Gosia (host sister), her
boyfriend and I went on this free culture tour of Lodz. They took us to
Poznanski's palace and then to the 2nd largest Jewish cemetery in the world,
but there we also saw the largest Jewish tomb in the world. Later after the
tour we headed for the Cathedral in Lodz. Many people were there and the
candles grew! Also later that night we went to the church again to put our
own candles, a good 20 feet was covered in glass covered candles, candles
and flowers in every direction of the statue of the Pope.
4th of April -
I went to school, but found out that most of the school went
to the church near our school, but they ended up coming back. My host mom
picked me up from school to show me around their sweater factory. The main
pieces are done on computer. Well by the time we got home they already
started the showing of the Pope. The priests were walking down to the plaza.
We watched and waited when the men carrying the Pope left, there was the
moment of silence I don't think anything moved or breathed just the
tick-tock, tick-tock of our lives passing by. Later that night we went again
to this church, but this was a special service. Everyone holding candles and
the mass of people everywhere, the concrete covered in wax and everyone
coming together. Not a lot of people were looking up at the Cathedral but at
the same time the Pope died (two days before) a bird was flying around the
top of the Cathedral. It was a stunning site!
6th of April -
I went to Warsaw with my host mom and her friend. They are
going to the US in September. After that we went around old town to sightsee
like a normal tourist. One of the most interesting things happened there. I
walked into a church and right before I was about to leave, a mob of young
priests entered. I always thought priests were old and there were a few
young ones, but this was over 50 or more. Then we ate at a really good
restaurant and left.
11th -12th of April -
I went to my 1st school because they had British
days at school, they had a lot of stuff about Britain!
13th of April -
Rotary had a concert at the new concert hall, private
only for Rotary. Some kids played some famous Polish classical music. It was
great! I was dozing off in the 1st half, but the second was a little more
upbeat! And I was not nodding off!
22nd of April -
Early morning: I called my friend for his B-day! Later I
went to Warsaw yet again to go see a new exhibition of Salvador Dali's
works. There was also a performance before the show!
Other random things... I visited a botanical garden near
my house...I watched my host brother race... I went to a car tuning show,
racing, looking at cars and tire burning! One guy burnt his tire all the
way! SPRING IS HERE!
THANKS for going all through that!
P.S. I'm leaving here July 15th.