Gina, Outbound to Poland

So I have been in Poland for a little bit over 5 months and A LOT has happened since the last time I wrote you guys. I have already switched families. Switching families is a very odd experience because i have spent over 3 months with a family becoming a part of their family and then to switch it is very hard. I would have never imagined that within 3 months I will build this relationship and become this family’s daughter. My first host family and I shared many amazing moments like cooking while singing to music, going to plays and concerts, and even traveling Poland. One day, I went to a concert with my host mom and she had my CD signed saying “ The best daughter in the whole world from mama” . I have been with my second host family for a month or so, and I haven’t quite built the connection I had with my first but that is ok. I still keep in contact with my first host family and I hope that will continue for years to come.

So the holidays have also come and gone. First came Thanksgiving, another exchange student from the US and I made a whole Thanksgiving dinner for our first host parents. For our Thanksgiving we made a WHOLE turkey, which was so challenging. We also made stuffing, mash potatoes, pumpkin pie, and OUR version of mac and cheese from scratch. Before we served the dinner we explained the history of Thanksgiving and everything was perfect.Then came Christmas, a Polish Christmas is very different from how I would spend Christmas in the States. A Polish Christmas starts on the 24 of December, they do not eat any meat, it is a lot of fish and Kapusta. During the Christmas season the exchange students of Lodz learned a couple Polish Christmas songs, which was so much fun. I loved singing alongside them.

There comes a point in your exchange where it no longer is like a trip or a vacation but normal life. So every day we go to school eat dinner watch movies, and that can become kind of a routine. So being in Poland is ALWAYS important to find a way to do something with other exchange student because going home and spending time in your home isn’t going to help. So I took the time to do face masks with my host sister, go watch the last Jedi trailer with one of my friends, going to the movies and binging TV shows with another friend, learning guitar from a friend but the most impactful is cooking. I didn’t know until I came on exchange how much I love cooking. Andres, Carli, Yasmin and I would pick a dish and we would try to replicate it. We would buy soda and turn the music on and dance around the kitchen as we cook. Cooking is something so simple but it truly helps you get to know your friends.

So when it comes to living another country the language is SO important. I understand Polish for the most part but my Polish is still VERY cavemen ( cavewomen) -ish. Everyone learns at their one pace and it is completely normal. Just keep at it and don’t be afraid to make mistakes because you always will.

One of my favorite parts about exchange is the family that you build with your Polish and Exchange student friends. My friends truly have become family, I care about them so much and I hope I can keep the relationship with all of them long after exchange.

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