Tuesday Travel Stories: Living in Poland

It’s Tuesday and time to share some travel stories. Today I write about the time that I decided it’d be a good idea to move to Poland. As it turned out, that sudden impulse resulted in a lot of great memories and eventful trips in this fantastic country. I have touched upon the topic here but now it’s time to share the whole story. Enjoy!

 

Tuesday Travel Stories: Poland

As is the case with many travel stories, the best ones are often surprising, unexpected. Some of them are the result of an impulse. In April 2003, I was sitting on a bus, looking at the rain. School was over, it was time to go to university. It was raining, I can remember that, and I felt somewhat down. Then it dawned on me: I could go abroad. In fact, the adventure was calling my name and I could not resist.

Poland – and all of Central Europe – has always held an interest for me. At that time, most of the people I knew had a low opinion about these countries. Maybe it was because of the lack of knowledge. Anyhow, I felt that I want to explore the region before packing my bags for England. Let me be honest, one of the reasons I chose Poland was that it’s not a place everyone wants to live in.

My Polish Adventure, Life in Lublin or życie w Lublinie

Moving to Poland was actually easier than I had expected. I found a language school online. I knew it was respectable because it was run (and still is) by a famous university: the Catholic University of Lublin. The program was very intensive: 25 hours of Polish per week. For eight months. At the time the cost of the language course + accommodation was very good. Also, the program was very efficient. We even had a special class for pronunciation. I kid you not. And that class was great. You see, it’s very easy to mix up the sounds. So, you might end up saying little pig (prosię) instead of please (proszę).

Outside the classroom, we had a great time. I actually lived in a dorm that was run by nuns. We had to be home at midnight and were not allowed to clean our rooms on Sundays. We (the foreigners) had a great time trying to sneak in and out. The people I met were great. We formed a small group and in normal circumstances, we might not have gotten along so well. There was a nun from Madagascar (no, she didn’t go out drinking with us), and a whole lot of other people from around the world.

But oh the fun we had!

One of my clearest memories is our Thursday tradition: we’d gather in a small pub and Joe the American would play the guitar and sing. My standing request was “Wild World” by Cat Stevens. And to accompany all the song, we’d drink a ridiculous amount of szarlotkas. You can eat apple cake or you can drink Polish apple pie cocktails ( Żubrówka vodka + apple juice). And then we’d talk and our heads would spin. And the nuns were probably shaking their heads at us when we were knocking on the front door at 23.59.

It was an eventful year. Poland joined the European Union, for instance. On the main square, the people were cheering. Oh, how the times have changed. I tried to learn Dutch and French alongside Polish. We went to the zoo in Warsaw, skiing in Zakopane, and we also checked out Kazimierz Dolny. Zamość, Sandomierz, Łódź…

And Lublin? What’s it like? I need to take Jesper and Little A there someday. It has probably changed since I last saw it but at that time the Old Town was fairly worn down but charming. There are parks and castle and a concentration camp that reminds us of past horrors. We really enjoyed eating out, as it was very affordable. For us as least. And the shopping was good too.

Come to think of it, maybe I should prepare the family for a trip to Poland soon. Very soon.

Do you have any travel stories to share today?


Do you want to read more about adventures in Poland? We love the country and try to visit it as often as possible. Click on the links below to learn more about some truly fantastic places in Poland!  

And in case you want to study Polish, why not check out the program at KUL here!

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