Today was my first full day with my host family, and boy do I feel Polish.
Yesterday, I said farewell to my fellow LE volunteers and five of us took a bus from Krakow to the region of Bieszczady. Not only were we on the bus for six hours, but it was small, extremely crowded, and getting any kind of decent sleep was nearly impossible considering the hills in Poland make for a very rough bus ride. Also, three of us ended up missing the stop because of a miscommunication, so basically not an ideal start to the experience.
Once I met up with my host family, I was pretty overwhelmed. They're extremely nice, but being in a foreign place and with only one member of the family speaking broken English, it was a little daunting. Skyping with my parents last night definitely helped calm my nerves about the entire experience.
Some facts about my host family:
* My host mother and father, Ana and Roman, have seven children, only four of which I have met. The youngest daughter Natalia, 12, is very shy, but appears to know some English. Marissa, 18, is my main translator. She rocks at English, sometimes stumbling here and there, but through her, I'm able to communicate some with the rest of the family. Paul, 24, is also very nice but speaks very little English. Alexandra, or Olah as they call her, has two little boys, Maciuś and Marcin, 6 and 4. Both are absolutely adorable and very energetic. I also met the oldest son's Gregory's wife Kesha and her daughter Anniella, who just happens to be the most polite and independent two year old on the planet (side note: I'm pretty sure I'm butchering majority of these spellings, and they all go by multiple things which makes it tough to keep up with the correct name).
* They live on an ecotourism farm that is basically self-sufficient in every way. While raising chickens, cows, horses, rabbits, cats, and dogs, they grow all their own vegetables, make their own cheese, eat fresh eggs and milk, and often slaughter their own meat. I don't think I've ever eaten better.
* On that note, I'm also just now realizing just how much they eat...they have breakfast, second breakfast, supper and dinner, with snacks and coffee in between meals. It's straight out of the Shire.
Today I woke up feeling far better than yesterday. After breakfast, Marissa, Olah and I went to the market to pick up a few groceries. I was able to see some of the town, and realized it's extremely small and picturesque, like something out of Cinderella. When we got back to the farm, Maciuś, Marcin, Natalia and I played soccer. A lot. Turns out Marcius is a soccer fiend and is constantly sporting his favorite soccer jersey just in case a game ever pops up. They were surprised to find I played fairly well since women don't play as much in Europe. I also managed to bond a little with my host mom by helping her make polish donuts (when Marissa tried explaining them to me, she said "the cookies police eat in their car," which I got a kick out of).
Eventually, I had a meeting with the school directors who informed me I would be teaching FIVE CLASSES, ALL of different levels and ages INCLUDING adults (cue mental freak out moment). But not to worry...I got this...maybe...I hope...
Despite my lack of confidence in my teaching abilities, I'm feeling far more comfortable with the idea of spending the month here than I did yesterday. It's already been an incredible experience and I haven't even started teaching yet!
Until next time,