Isaac, outbound to Poland

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Today is November 12, 2016. The last few days have been incredible. Somehow living in the current European Capital of Culture has come to feel rather normal. Of course I don’t mean normal in a boring way, just that I truly feel like Wrocław is my home. I spend almost every day in this beautiful city and I can’t imagine not having it so close to me. But of course I have plenty of time before I need to worry about that.

Yesterday was Independence Day here in Poland, and it’s honestly one of the biggest, wildest parties I’ve ever seen. I went to the old main square (the Rynek) to see my friends from Mexico, Carlos and Ana. It was Ana’s 18th birthday so we wanted to go to the city and spend the day together. I arrived at the Rynek and I could see their excitement from 50 meters away. When I finally got to them, they told me to look up at the sky, already dark by mid-afternoon. I looked up and for the first time I saw little pieces of snow falling down in slow motion. It was the first time for all of us, so we stood there for 15 minutes just catching the snow on our gloves and on our noses. I hope I never forget how we all felt. The cold is pretty new for all of us, but it felt totally worth it to see snow on a night like that.
We walked around the Rynek and came to a huge gathering of people yelling loudly and showing pride in the strength of their country. People everywhere carried huge flags and celebrated. (A lot of the celebration seemed to involve vodka, but of course it’s not a Polish party without it.)

Today I met again with my friends. Carlos and Ana were there, along with Jeremias and Chris (who also live in Wrocław) and Delfina from Argentina who’s here for Ana’s birthday. I got to the Rynek again and it was barely snowing, which perfectly fit with the construction happening in the Rynek. Right now they’re building the Christmas Market, which, according to the pictures I’ve seen, is a perfect winter wonderland straight out of a Christmas cartoon. I’m already so ready for Christmas. (Next month all the exchange students will be coming here to Wrocław for a weekend of Christmas Celebration and I’m so excited to see them.) As I was walking through the Rynek it looked like most people had smiles on their faces, which isn’t super common in public in Poland. I think maybe everyone is starting to feel the Christmas spirit.

Today the other students and I went bowling, accidentally took a tram that almost took us outside the city limits, saw the stadium where Śląsk Wrocław (one of the worst football clubs in Poland, go Śląsk!) plays, spent a couple hours in a coffee shop, and went about the town.

I cant explain how much fun I’m having. These other students are like family to me. I know we’ll always have each others’ backs. I can’t imagine life without them. Right now I’m on the 845 bus headed home. It’s 10 PM, meaning it’s been dark for almost six hours now—something I’m only going to be able to get used to because Wrocław is so pretty at night.
I’m getting pretty near to my stop now where my host dad Zbyszek will pick me up. I’m so happy to have him and my host mom Morena. They’ve truly been amazing host parents and I’m so thankful to have them in my life. I’ll be going to a new family in early January but it’s going to be very hard for me. I really feel like they’re an actual new set of parents for me.

Speaking of parents, hi Mom and Dad. I’m sorry if I ever miss your texts or calls, but I want you to know that I really love you and miss you. You too, Tiana. Tell Grandma and Grammie that I think about them every day. And to my friends back home, I hope you guys are doing great. Going on exchange would’ve been so much harder if you all hadn’t been so supportive, and I really love you for that.

And speaking of friends, I just wanted to take some time to talk about my friend Jasiu. The first day of school back in September, Jasiu and another friend of ours Milena took Ana and I out to the city to make us feel welcome. Since then Jasiu and I have spent a lot of time together after school and on the weekends. To tell the truth, I would be having a much more difficult time if it weren’t for him. He’s been so nice and welcoming, and I’m really thankful that he’s been such a good friend. Just like you told me, you always have a place in my home, Jasiu.

I’ll be at my stop in a minute or two. I hope you all are doing wonderfully. Lots of love to Rotary Club of Kings Bay. I would love to talk to you soon! I find myself really missing the Wednesday afternoon meetings (and of course the wonderful fried chicken lunches).
I’m in my room now, and it’s nice and warm—something I’ve learned to really value while living in a place where is been 32 Fahrenheit for the last few days. I’ll go down and make us some tea now. It’s good to spend time with my new family and the end of a long day.

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