I've been putting off this blog post for a while. Tomorrow, I fly home to America and leave beautiful Poland. For those of you who know me, this is tough- my goodbyes are normally filled with more waterworks than Water Country USA. And it's not like elegant, adorable tears that fall perfectly, reflecting the somber emotion of beauty that pull at everyone's heart strings. It's the full fledged sobs, complete with gross nose wiping and a distorted crying face that makes Ron Burgundy's glass case of emotion look like a pleasant experience.
In order to put off this break down of emotion even further, I'll just talk about my last week in Poland and further utilize my procrastination skills acquired in college.
* Early in the week, my mom sent a package to my host family containing gifts for everyone (yay mom! Thank you so much for that! You're the best!). It was adorable watching Maciuś and Marcin (my host nephews) playing with the hacky-sacks, although after a while of attempting to play the game, they gave up and just started throwing them at each other. That works too.
* One day at lunch, Marcin held out his fist to me and said in Polish, "Open Pepsi." I reached over, lifted his thumb up so that he was making a thumbs up, and he goes, "You are sexy." Marysia, Natalka, Olah and I could not stop laughing for a good five minutes. At four years old, he's already a ladies' man.
* Aneta and I started meeting and having our conversations at the local cafe/bar. This is the place where I tried Polish coffee for the first time (so much stronger than American coffee- good thing I had the cuban coffee at Mango Manny's to help prepare me for that amount of espresso in one drink) and where the bartender attempted to communicate with me by using this Polish-English dictionary that Aneta had given me. The only phrases he looked up however were things like "Call me later" and "Beautiful." Great guy, made me promise to send him a post card from America, despite the fact that a post card from Richmond would be like a picture of a fake polar bear and a homeless man in the park (Richmond peeps, AM I RIGHT? HOLLA! *cue cheesy high-five*).
* I almost learned how to count to ten in Polish thanks to my aerobics class. We would each take turns counting to ten while doing crunches until the end of time. Underneath my newly acquired belly fat (I call it my pierogi pudge) are abs of steel that would impress even Taylor Lautner.
* I taught my teen class American slang- the vocab consisted of "killin' it", "hangin' out", "dope", "sup", and "brewskies." According to Cabell, these are no longer good examples of American slang. I'm like that lame dad trying to relate to his hormonal teenage son by saying things like "Your ride is bitchin' homie!" (I probably have actually said this exact sentence at one point...)
* My host family dressed me up in traditional Ukrainian clothing and had a photo shoot in the backyard. The dress was over 100 years old, and the entire time I was terrified of pulling a typical Julie move and ruining it somehow (it's a real fear, I manage to somehow stain, rip, and shrink almost everything I own- my wardrobe makes me look like a pilot-episode extra on Lost, post-plane crash). The pictures came out beautifully, and my host family even gave me a traditional Ukrainian necklace that was made my host sister, Natalka, to keep. I was so overwhelmed by the gift, I of course started crying, but you should see this thing, it's stunning.
Okay, no more procrastination. "Towers" by Bon Iver just popped up on my playlist, and I need to get all my sappiness out before the song ends and something fantastically cliche like "Time of Your Life" by Green Day comes on, and I loose all control of of my emotions.
When I first arrived in Poland, I was a wreck. I had never been abroad before for this long, especially by myself, and I had never taught anyone anything in my life. But the family and friends I have met in this wonderful country made it impossible to fail. They welcomed me, cared for me, helped me, and laughed with me throughout the five weeks.
To my students: Thank you for your patience and enthusiasm as I stumbled through my lesson plans these past few weeks. Thank you for welcoming me into your lives, for laughing at my dumb American jokes, for singing songs to me, for the hugs at the end of each lesson, for the gifts and music and books and ridiculous amounts of chocolate, but most importantly, thank you for embracing me not only as your teacher, but as your friend. You taught me more than you know.
To my fellow LE volunteers: Thank you so much for the kick ass times! I had no idea when I got to Poland that I was about to embark the most amazing month of my life. From the Mad Dogs, to the late night McDonalds and zapiekanke, to the various bars and karaoke, I couldn't have asked for a more amazing group of people to share this experience with. You are all so amazing and smart and kind and full of adventure. There's not many college kids who would be able to do this program, and I have so much respect and love for each of you.
To my host family: I cannot even put into words how grateful I am for you. You were so good to me, and I am so humbled by your kindness and warmth and love. From day one, you have welcomed me into the family as if I have always been a part of it. From taking me on incredible adventures to including me in family functions, I am humbled to have been a part of your lives. I really do consider you to be family and my home away from home.
Thank you Poland, you are stunning.
***Ps. In writing that last part, "Time of Your Life" actually did come on and I had a moment where I stopped typing, and whispered "Seriously? Is this real life?" right before the tears started. The woman working the front desk in my hostel lobby had to ask me if I was okay. Screw you, iTunes and your ironic choice of music for making me look like an American basket case (not that many who know me would argue with that description).
***ACTUAL song of choice (eff you Green Day): "Gone Gone Gone" by Phillip Phillips