Poland Stories and Tips

Week 18 - It Was Only a Matter of Time! (POLAND)

Leba Beach Photo, Poland, Europe

Well it has happened in every other country that I have been to, so I am sure that it came as no shock to me that yet again I have been mistaken for a woman! It was only a matter of time before it happened! This time though I was walking home with one of my students and a van pulled up and a guy stuck his head out and shouted "hello chicks" in Polish. I definitely took it as a compliment! Strangely enough though this time they didn’t think I was a "chick" because of my feminine legs, or even my lesbian Alex Park haircut, but instead it was because of my coat, as men in Poland don't wear coats as long as mine! Very strange indeed! My student found the whole experience very amusing, but being an old pro at being mistaken for the opposite sex, I wasn't fazed by it at all!!!

My Polish has been improving very well, although I think I need to pay particular attention to my pronunciation, as I can see it getting me in some trouble if I’m not careful. One person's name I have been mispronuncing so that I am actually calling her "rice pudding" instead of her name. Another guy I have been saying his name completely wrong, and the word that I have actually been saying means "prostitute" in Polish. I don’t know if he enjoyed being called that or not! I also haven’t mastered the art of saying good-bye either, and instead of saying good-bye, I am actually saying to people "to prison," which would explain the few strange looks that I have been receiving!

Apart from these embarrassing moments, last night I also enjoyed my first drunken escapade on the streets of Lebork. Three pints was all it took. It was quite an amusing evening as I was befriended by a drunken 72-year-old man, who spoke nothing but German to me for 2 hours, and I actually managed to understand most of what he was saying, which was a surprise! I also learned my first Polish swear words, which I thought would be amusing to say rather loudly on the way home much to the annoyance of my student who I had gone out drinking with!

Other than this, I participated in a very enjoyable day trip to the seaside, to a place called Leba on the Baltic coast with three of my students. Leba is famous for its sand dunes, which I admit were a sight to behold, but when seeing these involved a 10-mile walk in the midst of a Polish winter, and then it took the shine off it slightly! It was strange to see the sea frozen as well, and I actually think I prefer seeing Leba in the winter as I have only ever seen beaches in the summer and have never seen the sea frozen before!!

I also enjoyed a couple of sessions of volleyball and basketball with some more of my students, but I have had to come to terms that I am past it in terms physical fitness, even with my marathon running! Not only am I out-sprinted by a 16-year-old girl every weekend when out running, but to have 14-year-old girls running rings around you at basketball is certainly not good for morale!

My teaching has been a little easier this week. The highlight I think was playing spin the bottle with one group, where I made them answer such questions as "what would you rather lose: a hand or a foot?" I’m not quite sure where you would fit this game in to their long term English development, but it was fun nonetheless. Other highlights included miming what bra, knickers, vomit, and diarrhea were to my students, as I didn’t know the words for them in Polish. Quite embarrassing indeed!!

This week should be very entertaining. I am off to an aqua park on Monday. The world has not seen my naked torso since 2002, and although that’s the way I’d like to keep it, I didn't really have a choice in the matter but to go. On Wednesday I get to go on another day trip to an aquarium in a nearby city, and then on Thursday I am supposed to be going sledging, as we have a lot of snow here at the moment. I promise you, though, that not all my teaching weeks have been this easy!

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