Vina, outbound to Poland

Dzien dobry! I have been in Poland for about 5 weeks now and so much has happened it’s still hard for me to believe I’m really here. I just want to say that Poland is beautiful and breathtaking. There are so many beautiful places to see, history to learn, people to meet, and new food to try you won’t run out of things to do! To say that I got lucky doesn’t do justice for everything I have already experienced.

In 5 weeks, I have visited beautiful towns/cities: Ciechocinek, Malbork, Torun, Warsaw, and of course, exploring my city Bydgoszcz. I have completed my 10 day language camp, visited the Malbork Castle which is the largest castle in the world, cruised on the Vistula River, seen the fascinating light shows in Torun, visited Old Town in Warsaw, and went to the Mrozu concert here in Bydgoszcz (he’s a popular Polish singer)! I also went to Bulgaria for a week with my host family where I spent my 18th birthday. Yes , in just 5 weeks!

Some of you future exchangers are probably wondering how the school is like here in Poland so let me help you out. Liceums are the high schools here so you will most likely be in the first year class which isn’t really a problem because you won’t understand much of what they are saying. A lot of the students speak English but may be shy to approach so you will just have to try to talk to them first. They may seem closed off, but once you start trying to talk to them in Polish they will help you out because they love the fact you are trying to learn their language! Just keep trying and eventually you will understand more.

The classes are 45 minutes long for each subject and you will stay with the same students when you go to the next class. We also have 10 minute breaks in between classes to eat lunch, then after the 4th class you will have 15-20 minute breaks. Our days end on different times depending on our schedule, so on Monday – Wednesday I get out at 15 :25, Thursday at 17:25, and Friday at 12:30. I really like my school, it’s in the middle of the city not too far from my home and there are lots of nearby shops and cafes to check out. I have also made a lot of friends in the first few weeks in school. It may seem intimidating to approach the students, but you just have to get over that fear and talk to them! Before you know it, you will be making plans to go to the mall or cafes or cinemas!

Now, let me talk about my host family. I absolutely adore them! They have been so loving and caring since I got here that I don’t even want to think about when I have to move on to my next host family. My host dad, Marcin, and sister, Marcelina speak English pretty well, and my host mom, Agnieszka is still learning. She teaches me Polish while she’s learning English. I also had another sister, Julia, and she went on her exchange to Australia while I was at my language camp. In the short 5 days we spent together, we have gotten really close and I’m happy to be able to call her my sister.

My host parents work a lot during the week, but we eat dinner together to talk about our days and what happened at school. There is always something new to talk and laugh about. On weekends is family time which I love because no matter how busy we are during the week we still find time to spend together. My host grandparents are also the cutest! You are never hungry around them and they are all so loving and caring. My grandmas here will give me random hugs and kisses on the cheek and it just makes me feel really loved.

Going on exchange has been one of the best choices I have ever made in my life. Yes, it is scary to leave home, start a new life in a new country and not know the language, BUT it is also growing up and stepping out of your comfort zone and saying to yourself, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m really here.” Not in a “shocked” way, but more like an “I’m glad I made the right decision”. If you are considering going on exchange, I’d say go for it. And if people ask you why, reply with, “Why not?”

Thank you for reading my journal and a big thank you to Rotary, my sponsors at St. Petersburg West Rotary club, and of course, my loving family back home. I wouldn’t be on this adventure without all of your support and for that I am forever grateful.

So I will end this first journal with one of my favorite quotes:
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” –St. Augustine
Greetings from Poland! Until next time!

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