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!

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Typical American Cuisine

So today has been kind of a busy day, and this is the first chance that I have had to just sit down and relax. I had my classes like usual from 11:30 to 6:15, but then I had to go grocery shopping, both for myself and for my homework that I had to do for my language class for tomorrow.

This week, our main topic has been about food, cooking and the kitchen in general, so on Tuesday, my teacher assigned us the task of bringing in a dish from our home countries. There are eight of us from six different countries. There’s one guy and one girl from Hungary, who did not even know the other existed before they came to the course and even though they attend the same university back home, there’s a girl from Russia, but all the way on the other side closer to China, there’s a girl from Japan (which I will discuss in a later post the demographics of the course), there’s a girl from France, there’s a guy who lived part of his life in Canada and the rest in the States, and then there’s another guy and myself which are from the States.

The teacher asked us what we were going to bring in because she was curious, but only a few people knew, so I know the guy from Hungary is bringing in some alcohol, the guy from the States is bringing in some sort of dessert, the girl from Japan is making some sort of sushi thing, and I decided to make deviled eggs.

I decided to make deviled eggs because as I was researching typical dishes found in America, I found that it was the easiest thing to make and required the fewest number of ingredients that I was required to buy. I found the recipe on AllRecipes.com, but I had to substitute some sauce for sandwiches for the creamy dressing, because I couldn’t find any salad dressing here. I ate a few of them that were falling apart and they actually turned out pretty good, even though I may have added a little bit too much mustard to them.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow I’ll tell you how my class liked the deviled eggs I made and how the other things my class brought in tasted and explain what they were. I’ll also tell you how my birthday celebration dinner went because today after class I invited everyone to dinner tomorrow, but already three people can’t make it, which makes me a bit sad, but I’ll live. Bye now!

Here’s the link to the recipe I used. I had to use a lot more of the mustard and the dressing than it said, even though I only used six eggs. Enjoy!
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/deviled-eggs/detail.aspx

My Life in Poland, So Far

Today is turning out to be just like any other Wednesday, but in less than a week is my 20th birthday, so I have other things on my mind related to that. Last night, as I was texting my mom, she kept on asking what I was going to do, but I had no idea, and today, my dad surprised me by telling me he was going to add $100 to my bank account so that I could take my class out somewhere for a drink or something (the drinking age is 18, by the way, not 21, so legally I can drink). My class consists of about eight people so I don’t think that will be a problem. We have already gone out once as a group to get to know each other better and we all had a good time and found out a lot of new information about the others.

Other thank figuring out what I am going to do for my birthday, I have to worry about finishing my homework. Today that won’t really be a problem, because I have a three-hour break between my language classes and my elective workshops/lectures, which brings me to what my weeks/days look like.

The days are split up into six block of 90 minutes each with a 15 minute break between each block, starting at 8 am and ending at like 6:15. In the Polish education system, one class hour consists of 45 minutes so each block basically is two credits/points. All of my classes are in Polish unless otherwise, noted.

My Mondays look like this:
8-9:30 Polish Grammar
9:45-11:15 Polish Grammar
11:15-3:00 break to do homework in the library/go to eat something, etc.
3:00-4:30 Pronunciation and Intonation
4:45-7:00 Polish Film (this goes longer because we watch movies and discuss them)

Tuesday’s go like this:
8-11:15 I don’t have any classes, so I can sleep in a little bit
11:30-1* (Mar.24-tbd (at least a month)) Polish Grammar/Vocabulary (before Mar. 24 and after the month or so is over)
1:15-2:45* Vocabulary/Communication(talking)
3-4:30 Spelling (how to correctly spell words and the differences between the many different phonemes, for example the differences between ć(ci) and cz, among many others)
4:30 I have the rest of the afternoon/evening off

My Wednesday’s look like this:
8-9:30 Listening
9:45-11:15 Writing
11:15-3:00 break to do homework in the library/go to eat something, etc.
3-4:30 Poland Under and After Communism (in english)
4:45-7(or later) Theater (we write and will perform a play)

Thursday’s go a little like this:
8-11:15 I don’t have any classes, so I can sleep in a little bit again
11:30-1 Communication and Conversation
1:15-2:45 Reading and Writing
3-4:30 Polish Grammar (in english)
4:45-6:15 Contemporary Poland (everything from how the government runs to the educational system to the church’s role in the country) (overall, my favorite class)

And finally, my Friday’s:
8-9:30* Communication/Polish Grammar
9:45-11:15 Writing & Reading
11:15 I have the rest of the afternoon off, so my weekend starts

* I starred three of the blocks because we have one teacher for grammar and another one for everything else (the last two of each day, except Friday and Tuesday only one). The teacher that we normally have for grammar had to go to the hospital and have surgery for something because he used to smoke for a while, so for the time being we have a different teacher for grammar and the grammar lesson that we usually have on Friday’s got changed to Tuesdays.

Another schedule change that we had last week was that we had an additional language class on Wed. and Fri. because the week of May 19-22 my general teacher is taking a vacation and we have to make up those classes somehow and she doesn’t want us to have another teacher during that week, so we have to make up those lessons sometime. Last Wed. was a little bit of a marathon, but on Friday we got to do sort of scavenger hunt around the main square and nearby streets, so it wasn’t too extremely bad.

Sorry this is a little long, but at least it will give you a little glimpse into my life as a Polish language student.That’s all for today. I’ll probably be back again tomorrow to explain a different aspect about my life as a study abroad student in Kraków.

Welcome to my Life and Blog

Hello everybody. My name is Monika (pronounced Moe-NEE-ka); it’s similar to Monica, but different. I used to hate my name and for a while I had even considered changing it, but now I love it and the uniqueness of it. It is the Polish form of Monica, but I like Monika much better because to me it is prettier and more unique. I have this name because both my parents immigrated from Poland back in the ’80s. I used to also despise my heritage, but now I love and embrace it as much as I can, because my heritage is from a country that has so much culture and history. It is extremely interesting to learn more about where my ancestors came from.

I have wanted to start blogging/writing about my life for a while, but I have never really had the chance to start. That is one reason as to why I decided to start blogging now.

Another reason I decided to start blogging at this point in time is because I am currently studying abroad in Poland, and I tried to find other blogs/vlogs about studying abroad in Poland or even in general, but I could not find too many, so I decided it would be a good idea to possibly share my experiences with the world. I am already about a month into the semester, but I can catch you guys up with what has happened while I have been here so far in a later post.

I will only be studying abroad this spring semester, but as I continue on with my life and encounter different challenges/life events, I would like to change/update my blog and writings to go along with what happens in my life.

A third reason why I am writing this blog is because in my senior year of high school I didn’t have enough classes that fit into my schedule, so I decided to take the Newspaper class at my school on a whim. It turned out that I actually loved writing about my life experiences and writing about things that were happening in the world in general. I also had a few teachers that would always praise me on what I wrote, so that probably helped a little bit as well.

So basically I created this blog to document my life events and to get my ideas out in a creative form and one that I enjoy pursuing. Enjoy!