Another Decade Older? Unbelievable!

I still can’t believe that I turned 20 years old today. It’s crazy how fast time flies. My classes today were rather easier than usual, even though I may not know exactly why, but I do know why for my first class.

Instead of our regular class during the first time slot, the director of the center had everyone take this European Culture test, which the two highest scoring people get a free three-week summer school course and a free trip to Germany to compete further, among a few other prizes. For my classmates and myself, it seemed as if the test didn’t really matter because we don’t really care about winning a summer school course. It also may have been that we did not know very many things on the test, which included things ranging from a sample of different languages to having to name foods and famous people/presidents of different countries. Other than the Polish traditions and a few others including when the Eiffel Tower was built, the typical British breakfast and some Greek history, I did not know about 90% or so material that was on the test, but like I already said, I don’t really care about it. In addition, if I really wanted to study the language and culture at the center again, which will more than likely have to happen I would probably get a partial or full scholarship for the program from the Kosciusko Foundation. It is an organization that gives scholarships to students of Polish heritage to study the language of their parents/ancestors.

My grammar and spelling classes were normal as usual, but afterwards I decided to treat myself to dinner from the Hard Rock. I had to go alone because the girl I had planned to go somewhere for dinner with today totally forgot until I remided her this morning and she said she had other plans, but everything’s fine because we are planning to meet up for dinner/drinks after we get back from break.I had the local burger with fries, a side caesar salad, some mixed drink, the fresh apple cobbler, and coffee. Everything tasted really good, except the burger had some strange sweet sauce that I was not extremely fond of, but here wasn’t very much of it on the burger so it didn’t affect it that much. The mixed drink I had was like a mix between a pina colada and something else that I cannot name,with some mint flavor mixed in. It was really good. The salad had kind of strong flavor from the dressing, but they gave you something like craisins to put on it if you wanted, and that made it all the better. For dessert I had th fresh apple cobbler that was extremely good and the Bailey’s Coffee which was also pretty good.

While I was eating I was texting my mom because last time my dad brought my sister to Poland, the family friends of ours who live here took them to the Hard Rock, so now my mom is the only person in our family who has not eaten at that particular restaurant or even at any Hard Rock in particular. Somehow I convinced her to agree to have us eat there when she comes in July. Which brings me to say that I found out on Sunday as I was talking to my family that my mother is coming back to Poland on June 29th and leaving on July 8th with me, but on a different plane, which my parents at first wanted me to come back on my own to give me some freedom and because it would be too expensive, so I have no idea what changed their minds. I believe she hasn’t told anyone because she told me not to tell the family friends and that she would tell them herself.

Another thing is that the birthday wishes that my parents sent me today were one of the most heartfelt ones they have ever given to me. In addition, they both mentioned something about loving God and always keeping Him at the center of my life, which before today God and faith was never mentioned in out house. We go/went to church every week and I attended youth group pretty much every week and starting this past fall, my sister as a high school sophomore began attending weekly when she didn’t have play going on, which makes me extremely happy. Also, over the past few times that we have texted each other she has been saying some things that are starting to make me believe that our relationship may be getting better and starting to come off the rocks, as it had been to this point. I hope that she continues this and continues to accept the hands and part of my heart that I have been trying to reach out to her for the past few years. This is because she is my one and only sister and I want to have a good relationship with her because after our parents are gone, she will be the only immediate family I will have left. I still hope that our relationship continues to get better because I had a camp counselor once who gave me hope by telling me that while she was still in high school she and her younger brother were the worst of enemies, but by the time she finished her first year of college, they had become the best of friends. This gave me the hope that one day I could have the relationship that they had or even the relationship that my dad and his sister have. Her progress with her last few texts has given me a speck of hope that we will someday in the near future have this kind of relationship.

Sorry for another long post, but I felt like I had a lot to say today. Tomorrow or Thursday may be the last time I will be able to post before Easter/ Tuesday or Wednesday, because I am going to visit family for the holiday in a small town and I don’t know if I’ll be able to have internet there, but I guess we’ll see. I still can’t believe that I am already 20, but that’s all for today.

Last Day of Being 19!

Today once again turned out to be another good day, even if it was not as eventful as the last three have been. I had my morning classes like usual, then during my break I had a lot of writing homework to do, which I almost didn’t finish, but I’m glad I was able to, then I had my afternoon/evening classes. For my film class we went to go see a Polish film at the theater entitled “Body/Ciało”, which tuned out to be pretty good.

It is amazing how fast time goes by, but especially the last five years or so. So much has changed in my life, including the person who I am. I have become the person whom I had always dreamed/wanted to be, because for a while I struggled with depression, but that’s all I’m willing to reveal at the moment.

I still can’t believe that tomorrow I will have officially have lived for a full two decades, which at this point, is sort of amazing to me. It seemed like just last month I was turning 18 or 16 or even 12. I also can’t believe that in a year from tomorrow I will be able to legally purchase and consume alcohol in the states.

Even the last year has been extremely eventful. First, I graduated high school, which as a freshman it seemed like senior year was so far away and that it would be a really long time before it was time for me to be a senior. But of course, freshman year went by extremely fast and each year after that seemed to go by faster than the last. Next, for my graduation present from my parents, I got to tour four different cities with my dad and sister over two weeks for our annual father-daughter “camping trip turned plain vacation”. My sister and I got to stay in Poland for an extra month after our trip and I had an amazing time at the language course that I attended through the same program that I am currently attending. Thirdly, I attended my local community college, even though I was literally dead set against the idea, while at the same time working at my local Meijer’s from November through a week and a half before leaving for my study abroad semester. And finally, now I am here, pretty much living my dream and studying something that I want to pursue further.

I also have many hopes for the coming year, including traveling more and studying psychology and the Polish language and culture at Benedictine College in the fall. If I have other dreams for the next year, then I have not completely realized it yet.

On a completely different note, I would like to take a week where I sort of go through what we do in each of my classes, but this week we have Thursday and Friday off and next week we have Monday and Tuesday off for Easter Break. In addition, the week after that I have midterms so I most likely won’t be able to do it that week. Basically I would have to do it the week of April 20-24, which would already be a full two months in the semester, but oh well, what can I do at this point.

That should be all for today. I’ll update again tomorrow after I get back from my third and final birthday dinner with a girl that I have gotten pretty close with. Coincidentally she just graduated last spring from Benedictine College and majored in psychology. She is basically the reason as to why I have decided to attend Benedictine, because up until this point I had really wanted to attend Spring Hill College, but I believe that God puts people in our lives for specific reasons, and not just to have random people in our lives. Once again, I can’t believe that tomorrow I will be 20 and how fast time flies, not only when you are having fun, but all the time.

Another Good Day and Easter Preparations

So today turned out to be another good day, even though it was not as eventful as yesterday had been. Since it is Saturday, I got to sleep in a little bit longer than I get to on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Then I worked a little bit on my computer and took a shower, with the only bad thing happening being the sink in the bathroom of my dorm room was plugged up so the water took an extremely long time to drain.

Then my family friend’s took me out to dinner (which here is during the time that Americans eat lunch) at a restaurant that their oldest daughter would always go to while she was studying at university (and even though her mom made three meals for her at home and she always had plenty enough food at home, she would still be hungry so she would go out to the restaurant that they took me too). As we were leaving and as we got back to the main square, which the restaurant was like 100 feet from the main square), there was a salsa dancing flash mob going on, so we decided to stay and watch for like five or ten minutes. There were at least 200 people or so participating in the flash mob, but it was cool to see one live, which is kind of ironic in a way for us. Seeing this flash mob is ironic for us because two weeks ago, when I went to this couple’s house to relax from my week, we started out by me showing them this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRti7YgR2u8. Basically it is about the employees of Lot Polish Airlines singing Mama Mia to the 500,000 person to fly on their Dreamliner 787. Then we somehow got into watching different flash mob videos, including the one at Grand Central Station where the people are frozen for five minutes, two dancing ones right here in Kraków, one dancing one in Germany, among a few others. We even stumbled upon a website that stated the top twelve flash mobs of all time.

Another cool thing that happened while I was with them last week was that we got to see part of a fashion show in one of the about four shopping malls in town. This was because we decided to go see a Polish comedy with their friends, and while we were waiting we saw that there was a fashion show going on, so we decided to watch for a bit. It was also interesting in that a famous Polish actress was one of the MC’s of the show and she and the other MC were asking questions about the town and the people who answered correctly got some sort of prize. In addition, as we were leaving after the film, she was taking pictures with people, but we didn’t get a chance to take a picture with her.

Another few good things that happened were that I got officially invited to this couple’s daughter’s wedding and baptism of her child, which I will explain in a later post why this is significant. Also, they were nice enough to buy me five yellow roses, which are beautiful and a white chocolate heart that says “I Love You”, which was nice of them since they have become my second family away from home here in Poland.

Then we went for a walk and talked for a bit, which wasn’t that significant, but it was still a part that made my day all that better. I also had to buy some water, but I accidentally got the wrong kind, but for some reason less of that kind quenches my thirst.

In the main square, and in Poland in general, Easter is a huge holiday since the country is made up of a majority of Catholics. Palm Sunday is tomorrow and here they make very decorative ones that can be anywhere from a few inches to several feet and tomorrow I am going on a trip to a town where there is a contest to see who can make the tallest palm branches and so far there has been one that was over 35 meters high, which is well over 100 feet. I’m excited to see these and will post some pictures tomorrow or Monday. This is completely the opposite of how American Catholics celebrate Palm Sunday, at least in my parish. At my parish, we pick out a palm branch and then during the mass we get them blessed and some families bring them home to save for Ash Wednesday of the next year. Some people are even creative enough to make them into the shape of a cross.

For this trip I have to wake up early and additionally we change out time during the night, so I probably won’t get as much sleep as I would like to, but at least the ride will be about 90 minutes, so I’ll probably sleep a bit during that time.

Today was Good Day!

So today turned out to be a very good day. First off, my class was required to bring in a dish from our home countries, so for both of my classes we were eating and learning about the cuisine’s/kitchen’s of different countries. Then I did some laundry, which was not really that exciting, and then the best part, I went out to a birthday dinner with five out of eight of my classmates.

The first people to present in my class today were a guy and girl from Hungary. They explained what he brought in, because she wouldn’t have her food until after Easter break. He decided to bring in homemade Hungarian alcohol, which we drank around 8:45, when the class started at 8 am. It is called Palinka (I hope I spelled that correctly, even without the accent mark). It is made with different fruits and consists of 50% alcohol because of the sugars in the fruits have to ferment for a minimum of six months. The kind he brought in were made with plums (he actually brought in three different kinds with three different maturities). It was extremely strong, but other than that it tasted pretty good. He said that he made it with his grandpa and his grandpa drinks it for good health. The food that they described is somewhat similar to Polish food, but with more spices and names that are nearly impossible to pronounce. The girl will bring in some kind of Hungarian dessert.

Next went the guy from Canada/America. He is apparently Jewish, so he brought in some sort of sweet macaroni dish, that tasted pretty good, but rather plain. He said that it can also be made with potatoes for more of a main dish. Before we ate, though, he gave us a little bit of a history lesson on Jewish culture and the rules that they have for what they can and can’t eat and when. It was actually pretty interesting. I learned that Orthodox Jews can’t mix milk products with meat products, even in the fridge, which my teacher later explained to us that we would not learn from any textbook, but only from a practicing Jew. That was the end of the first lesson.

At the beginning of the second class, the girl from Russia presented. She brought in a salad made of cut up vegetables and some sort of mayonnaise dressing called Oliva (again, I hope I spelled that correctly) It was extremely similar to the Polish veggie salad that I am extremely used to eating, except that it had potatoes in it and the Polish version doesn’t. In addition, she didn’t add any apples because she doesn’t like them, and the dressing she used/made had a different, sort of more bland taste than the Polish counterpart. Before we ate though, she explained to us that where she is from, which is really close to Asia, the inhabitants eat a lot of seafood and other plants/animals found in the ocean.

Next I went. I brought in the deviled eggs that I described in yesterday’s post. I explained different starters/ appetizers/hors d’oeuvres found in America. I also briefly explained main dishes and the typical food found in my parent’s house/what we usually eat.

After my turn, came the girl from Japan. She decided to make a rice and fish dish that is similar to sushi, but much easier to make and apparently more popular than sushi. It was called Onigiri. It had a lot of rice, and very little fish. She also brought in Japanese sweets, which are not sweets at all, but salty chip type things. Those were also pretty good. She was so prepared that she brought in the spices and the seaweed she used to show us how they looked. She explained to us what one can typically find in a “lunch” box in Japan, which is a little bit of meat and vegetables, among other things, and mainly rice. She also told us that there are about ten different types of white rice depending on what region a person lives in.

Lastly went the other guy from America. He decided to make homemade banana pudding, which turned out extremely good. He described how he made it and what was required of him to make it and that usually it is served in bowls, but he didn’t have bowls, so he brought it in a jar, which still looked pretty appetizing.  He explained to us the different foods found in different regions of the US. For example, the New England region eats a lot of fruits of the sea, among other regions. In addition, we had two girls in their first year of university listening in on our class to learn how to teach the Polish language to foreigners.

After my classes were done, I headed back to my room to relax a bit before I had to start doing laundry at 1 pm. I did laundry until four, and in between the times when I had to put in/take out a load of laundry I worked on my computer and relaxed a bit.

After I was finished with my laundry, I had a little bit more free time until I had to leave to meet up with my group because I invited them to dinner as a gift from my parents for my birthday. They definitely surprised me by two guys showing up with the two girls that I knew were coming and bringing me a large, beautiful bouquet of flowers and a box of really good chocolates. We decided to go to an Italian restaurant in the Jewish district of the town after taking about a half hour to decide where to go and having to ask about three people where they would recommend that we eat. We ate pizza and had a few drinks and talked for a good two hours. Of course I paid, as a generous gift from my parents. As we were leaving it was raining a little bit, but I didn’t really mind because the day had turned out better than I thought it would. Even though I won’t be able to spend my birthday at home with my parents this year, I know that I have people who care about me and make me happy and I will have at least two, maybe three birthday dinners, which I will explain more as they pass.

These are the flowers and the box of chocolates that my class got for me as a birthday present! Aren’t they just so nice? I’m one lucky girl to have the people that I do in my life.

Today turned out to be better than I ever expected it to be and I believe that my birthday this year may turn out to be one of the best ones I’ve had so far, if not the best one. This is because when I celebrate my birthday at home, it’s always with my family and we always go to some restaurant together, and sometimes they get me some small gift, but other than that it remains pretty much the same thing every year, which has become a little bit boring. It’s not that I don’t love or appreciate what my parents try to do, but that it’s the same thing every year, and it is nice to have a change of pace or even people with whom I get to spend my birthday with. That’s all for today, sorry it’s long, but talk to you guys again tomorrow!