Things I hate (freezing temperatures, signing up for classes) and things I love (cheap train tickets, going to class) part I.
It has been one month since I have arrived in Poland but it feels like I have been here for three years. Three years that I have spent on what feels like Siberia. I knew it was going to be cold in Krakow but I didn’t know that it would hurt to go outside. On the bright side the snow makes everything look beautiful. It is melting now thank goodness but I was forced to (happily) seek refuge in Turkey in order to escape the cold. I went to Izmir to visit my friend from fifth grade that I have not seen in ten years! She welcomed me with open arms to stay with her for a couple of days and her friends and family made me feel like I was back at home. I spent a few days living the life of a typical Turkish young adult, going to cafes, drinking tea, playing some weird game that involves the tiniest dice I have ever seen, and even visiting the last known residence of the Virgin Mary. But most of all I was able to sit outside and drink Turkish coffee without my jacket. Upon my return to Poland I went to visit my family. It took me a whole day to get to Orzysz and I took three trains but it only cost me 31 zloty (which is like ten dollars, students get a 50% discount on all train tickets)! I spent the week basically hibernating: eating non-stop, watching movies with my family, and playing with my goddaughter. I went outside a couple of times to let the dog out. When I returned to Krakow, it still felt strange, although I made it from the train station back to my dorm without using a map or even looking at street signs.
While it is exciting to be in a different country surrounded by strangers, the transition is much harder than I expected. Simple things are often frustrating and learning the basics, such as where to buy toilet paper feels like a daily struggle. Luckily I know the native language which makes daily communication with store clerks and even professors that much easier. Coming from the UW I took for granted how easy it was to sign up for classes. In Poland, in order to register for classes you have to go through an elaborate process that is different for each department. It’s actually not that bad but it includes going to the first day of class hoping that there are enough spaces for everyone, asking the teacher how to register for the class, and then going to some secretary’s office. If you are one of the lucky students, some of your classes might be available through online registration. I think of this experience as necessary in order for me to gain an understand of what it feels like to be a student at JU…you have to be at least smart enough to sign up for classes. Also, everyone here speaks at least two languages. Everyone I talk to is intelligent and serious about their studies. During my first day of class, when the professor asked a question, people replied from the start, there were no awkward silences and it felt like the students actually want to be in class. It is rather refreshing. Even though signing up for classes seems like an impossible challenge, being in them is worth the trouble. I am truly excited to see what I will learn during my semester at JU. Oh and I’m also excited to go to Amsterdam in two weeks.