Poland Stories and Tips

Week 25, 26 & 27 - A Dream Come True (POLAND)

Oliwa Cathedral Photo, Gdansk, Poland

Well my Poland trip is now over. I was pretty sad to be leaving as I would have liked another 3 months there at least, but unfortunately it wasn't possible!

Although I was sad at leaving, I was a little surprised when some of my students cried! I'm pretty sure it was tears of happiness so they don't have to listen to the rubbish I was teaching them anymore! I did manage to slip in a lesson though on Polish hooligans before I left, as I was sure this was vocabulary that they would definitely need in the future, especially in the summer when the World Cup is on, as from what I saw and heard while I was over there, Polish hooligans are going to be causing havoc!!!

So my last 2 weeks were pretty eventful, starting off with a night at the airport before Candace left. After sleeping at many airports in the past few months (because I’m too stingy to pay for a hotel room), I must say that this was the worse airport I have ever slept at. It was like being in "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest." We were made to sleep in this tiny part of the airport with 5 other people and no security at all. Each of these 5 people looked like they had escaped from a mental asylum. One guy in the corner was carefully counting sheets of toilet paper, while another was aimlessly walking around in circles with his head at right angles to his body. Obviously not much sleep was gained, and then I had the luxury of a 9-hour train journey back home, where I woke up numerous times to find saliva dribbling down my face! Beautiful!

My last 2 weeks of teaching past smoothly, and I have very much enjoyed my time teaching in Poland, something I never thought I would have the confidence to do in the past. I think it was made easier though that my classes were only normally around 5 people, and they had all paid to learn, so there weren’t really any naughty students to teach!! Plus I could choose my own lesson plans, which I think made it more interesting!!

Before I left, I finally got to experience a culture that the Polish are famous for - drinking vodka! It was one of my students 40th birthday party, so I was finally introduced to a traditional Polish party, which involved eating and drinking vodka all night long. This wasn't normal vodka though. It was 95% spirit mixed with a bit of water and honey, so I have no idea what the final percentage was, but it was very strong stuff!

I have never drunk so much vodka in all my life. I was scared that I would do 'a Maneds' and wake up in hospital, but luckily there was no hangover next morning. For those of you who don't know the legend that is Maneds, he is a friend from University that drank 15 double vodka's in 30 minutes, then disappeared for the rest of the night, only to reappear in the morning, dressed in a hospital nitey after having his stomach pumped! Luckily I knew my limits and wasn't prepared to follow suit!!

It was a quality party, although it wasn't until I was getting tipsy that I thought I could understand the Polish that everyone was speaking. There was also some live music as well, as my student is in a half decent local band called 5th Quarter. Unfortunately my shouts for them to play the snooker theme tune fell on deaf ears. I think there were a couple of reasons for this: (a) nobody could understand the drunken English guy, and (b) no one knew what this "sport" of snooker was!!

The next day was my farewell party, so I was quite happy when I awoke the following morning with no hangover. The party was quality and totally different to the party the night before, mainly due to the fact that it was with parents and their young children, so no alcohol was allowed. Instead we played a few games, one of which I was blindfolded then had to guess who the student was. A very embarrassing game indeed!

The party also had traditional music and traditional dancing by the Kaszubian ethnic group of Polish people that make up the population in the area where I live. As expected I was made to get up and dance in front of everyone (there is video evidence as well, which I haven't seen by I am sure it must be shocking). But what was more shocking than my dancing, was the fact that everyone thought I was actually good, and the dancing group offered me a place in their group (if you think of Morris dancing then you get an idea to this type of dancing!!) Obviously I was flattered but then I was actually gutted when I found out they were being serious! Apparently they are struggling to find male dancers and need some quick as they are internationally renowned and have international dancing events in Slovenia, Slovakia and Strasbourg in then summer!

If only I was staying in Poland a few more months, I could have realized a life long ambition, to be seen as a good dancer! A dream come true, and it would have surely looked good on my CV!

Other than that I visited a couple of the nearby cities again of Gdansk and Gdynia as well as going to a place called Westerplatte, which was the place where the 2nd World War started. It was quite interesting, and the fact that it took the 4,000 strong German army 7 days to beat the 225-strong Polish army—losing 700 soldiers to Poland's 15 is quite remarkable. Anyway, enough of the boring history talk!

In my last week I also had the pleasure of a guided tour around a French fry factory, as many of my older students work here. It was quite an informative trip. I could bore you all for hours about the makings of a French fry, but I don't think it would go down very well, but if any of you ever have any questions about French Fries then you now know who to speak to!!

Well I think that about wraps up my last 2 weeks in Poland. It was sad to leave, and I almost thought I wasn't going to leave when I was escorted by Polish police at the airport to check the contents of my bag, but luckily there had been a mistake and it wasn't my bag they wanted to search.

I now have 2 weeks or so in England, so I am hoping to catch up with the majority of my friends before leaving again, this time to America and South America.

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