Welcome to Poland- The dawn of On-Arrival 3

I don’t know why the thought of somebody peeing next to a car disgusts me that much for it is nothing more different than peeing next to a tree. But anyway, we won’t lose time by talking about who pees how and in which way.

For their return of our three beloved group members we had the idea of baking some muffins and then afterwards going to their flat and hang out together, which worked out perfectly and seeing them again made clear that the whole group was completed again, resulting in joy and the long wanted moments to spite out mentioned tasteless gum.

But this deceiving happiness kept only on for 1 day, due to the fact that Emelyn and Maria were the ones which would go next to their On-Arrival training, leaving me this time alone in my flat, without anyone else. Most of the former volunteers might say, that this is one of the best things to happen but let me tell you that I am totally disapproving in that one under the condition that you like your flatmate. I enjoy every minute of being with Emelyn in our flat and knowing that she is not going to be with me for the whole next week made me nauseous. It was week celebrating kind of the return of your old gum, this time it sticks on your shoe and every step you take feels weird so you somehow have to change your pair of shoes or get rid of the old gum for good.

While Emelyn and Guapa, her new name in my contacts, were in Warsaw we had one last shooting with Ania, making us forget about the disgusting gum on our shoes and making clear, that the first volunteer was about to leave. The whole shooting was a blast and I guess Fabian went again out of his comfort zone. It was during this session that we realized that in one of Krakow’s parks, next to the Wawel-castle in fact, stands a statue of a dog, honoring its loyalty to his owner in Hachiko styled manner. It was the fairly sad story, nevertheless beautiful, of a dog waiting for its never returning owner, ending in the death of the dog (Yeah, I know we all wish our pets would live forever but we gotta face the truth here).

Surprisingly Ania is not only an expert if it comes to photography but also if it comes to making people laugh, meaning she is a laugh yoga trainer. Before everybody freaks out and asks now what laugh yoga is supposed to be, let me teach you something: Use google we are not here to explain you everything like come on.

But we are nice people, so I’ll explain it briefly. It is yoga for laughing, meaning you do exercise which are supposed to make you laugh #fun. In that hour of yoga, we celebrated the farewell of Ania.

Now it might sound way more like we were laughing and happy that she had to leave but no, totally wrong way of looking at it. We celebrated the time we had together which was filled of laughter and joy instead of this one moment of goodbye and sadness which was about to happen. Therefore, laugh yoga was the first part, going for a beer the second one.

Before I came to Poland I liked UNO, not the organization (it’s nice too though)  but the simple card game with the colors and numbers, malicious “take-so-and-so-much-cards” and direction changers, turning the whole game inside out showing who was attentive during the game and who not. But let me tell you that you can differentiate countries only buy the way they play UNO, their way of frying eggs or their diner time, making  it nearly impossible to find a all-satisfying way to play the game together, acquiring amazingly well developed skills in diplomacy and patience just to be crushed by the beer Ania spilled accidently over all of the cards when we were 2 rounds into it. I mean that was not bad and we did not care much but it was the first moment when I realized that this game is too exhausting and that people can be really weird if it comes to playing after new rules.

The rest of the night was really fun, topped but the waffles we got from the restaurant as a gift of the house. It is not difficult to make one happy by giving him just food, especially if he’s an always-hungry volunteer, living from its poor cooking skills, consisting out of noodles, eggs, bread and bought tomato sauce. Only one person would argue with that and that is Guapa, the pickiest eater in whole freaking Spain, Poland and maybe even Europe. But you know what? She was in Warsaw, so it is not important.  At that day we also met a new volunteer from another organization here in Krakow. Martha. Martha from Germany, first appearance made in Theos, Fabians and Dylans On-Arrival.

the dog and us
it is supposed to be the eagle of polands code of arms flag ^^

Welcome to Poland- The dawn of On-Arrival 2

While Fabian, Theo and Dylan took off for their on Arrival training we tried to fill the grid they left, making it one of the longest weeks of our project, t least for me and Pia. I finally understand now how a dog must feel seeing the person he appreciates the most leaving for something to buy. You know it might’ve been only 10 minutes but for it, it feels like one week. So, this week without our three boys felt like at least a month.

During this time two new volunteers arrived. Rocio from Spain, best compared to snow-white with her deep black hair and snowish bright skin and Anthi from Greece, easily to be detected by her hair which always is put up into a bun and with her perfect nails, which she knows how to do by herself by the way. The special thing is, that Anthi already knew how to speak polish, due to studies she completed here.

If you have been attentive you may have realized that we got three new volunteers in one week, two of them from Spain, one from Greece, making Spanish now the most spoken language in the group, though they always try to speak English if we are around. If you are together with so many different people from different countries each speaking another language you have to set up some rules for the social interaction. First of all, you have to find a lingua franca, helping you to make information and personal exchange possible, in that case English. Furthermore one should try to speak as less his own language as possible when others are around, nobody has problem, when you speak in your language if it is a conversation between you and the significant other, but if somebody would like to join, don’t exclude him from doing so.

The week drifted by, tough as an old piece of gum in your mouth. You chew and chew, but it is kind of tasteless and you want to spit it out, because something is missing. Though there is a little something which makes everything a little bit happier and we discovered that on Friday night for us. She calls herself “Partying” and always comes with her best friend “booze” aka “Alcohol”. On that evening we went out for the first time, entering a certain establishment which favors especially the equality of gay and lesbian people. Guess what we had a lot of fun in there. Gay clubs are something totally different, somehow everyone is totally accepted in there and none cares about you or who you’re kissing. All of the just want to have a good time and maybe meet somebody and that is what really fascinates me about those places. The LGBTQ+ community had to fight for a long time against homophobia and discrimination, even worse it still has to fight against it, making these places a safe piece of heaven for each person. In comparison to normal clubs which treated the community quite bad back in the days, Pride takes everyone as he is, celebrating life and diversity together and focusing on a with-each-other policy, instead of an exclusion of straight people for the things they’ve done or still are doing. At least that should be the intention.

The girls and me had an amazing time there until the moment a certain smell started to develop. Out of respect for maybe minor readers let me say that it smelled like a mixture of sweat and the male private parts, perfectly synonymized by Pia as the smell of Ketchup.

Leaving the club one of the most normal urges emerged in the girls, the need to pee, letting them wonder where to go in the center of Krakow, leading to the idea to just pee next to a car, resulting in a small cultural shock for me, the German.

 

Anthi and Emelyn while going out
Rocio in zakopane
Maria, Rocio, Pia and Emelyn ready to go to the club

Pamelas experience

Starting over. Closing a chapter of your life and beginning a new one.

When I applied for the ESC in Poland, I didn’t think I would get accepted. I applied mindlessly. Just because. I applied because the idea of the future was weighing on me and I wanted to show to myself that I was doing something about it. Also, because volunteering has been on my bucket list for a while. So, when I got the mail that I was accepted as a volunteer, I couldn’t believe it! I was beyond excited.

I have been living in Krakow for two months now and I already feel that this experience is going to be completely different from everything I’ve experienced before. At the end of the day, this is exactly what I was looking for: an adventure.

I landed in Krakow on the 1st of October. Sunny, warm weather and no clouds in the sky (only for the first hour, then it changed, as it is normal here). I was picked up from the airport by Anja, one of the coordinators. In the bus, from the airport to the main station, I could see multiple billboards, written in Polish (of course) and I quickly realized that I didn’t know the language, so it was like reading gibberish. It is pretty weird to move to a city where, when you go to a bar you don’t know what to order, because you simply have no idea what it’s written on the menu – though be sure that this is not going to be a problem anymore once you start learning Polish. Anja brought me to the apartment I am staying at and I met my flatmates. I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed by all the information I had acquired until that moment. My roommate told me she had cooked something for me and that made me feel welcomed. What a nice gesture for someone she doesn’t even know, I thought. She then told me the other volunteers were waiting for us in a bar and were curious to meet me. Though I was pretty tired, I decided to go because I was curious to meet them too. The meeting was pleasant, and I felt welcomed in the group. That evening, before going back home, I went grocery shopping and two volunteers were kind enough to come with me. In the grocery store not only, everything was written in polish but the prices were different because in Poland you pay with zlotys instead of euros. That was so confusing (and after two months it still kinda is) but I managed to buy the stuff I needed and took the bus home. When at the end of my first day in Krakow, I finally laid my head on the pillow, I was exhausted.

Starting over is hard. That’s why a lot of people like to stay in their bubble of comfort and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Though if you choose to get out of your comfort zone, you should be proud of yourself. In my opinion only like this, you are able to grow and get to know yourself better (besides other wonderful things such as: meeting people from all over the world, learn a new language, experience a new culture, become more independent etc.).

 

My first two months in Krakow were amazing, scary, exciting and confusing all at the same time and I couldn’t be happier with the way this experience is going. Surely, I am thrilled for the next months to come.

 

Welcome to Poland- The dawn of On-Arrival 1

Speaking of our time here in Krakow requires the mentioning of Ania, a polish girl from Warsaw which accompanied us in the first 3 weeks, by taking pictures of Krakow and us volunteers. We had a lot of fun posing and once in our life felt like super models. Of course I don’t want to implify that we won’t feel like that in the future, because maybe one of us will be walking for Victoria’s secret, you never know, but let’s put it that way, that in this year the chances are quite low to be discovered by a scout, while you are laying on the main market square, taking the perfect volunteer pictures. It really was a fight to get everybody down to the floor, especially Fabian, who was freaking out about some bird leftovers, that had dryed ages ago and probably already became part of the stone they were laying on.
You know the whole shooting was fairly funny and joyful, taking those cliché pictures of people jumping, holding hands and so on. If you ever tried to jump with all the people in the same time, while holding hands, you will maybe realize, that it is not the best idea to put somebody of Pias size next to me or Theo, because if you do it might happen that, due to the height difference, you rip the arm of the smaller person off. It’s just a tip, take it or leave it I won’t tell anyone how to take their pictures but in favor of the smaller person you maybe should consider that.
One of my favorite sentences out of that time is “I want to get out of my comfort zone” said by senior Bajen, which’s name was changed in my phone to Principito, next to the Catalan Sunshine. When one is saying things like that one has to live with the consequences, meaning that you have to get out of it and if you refuse to you will be reminded, that you came here for that. Of course, it is always a joke and never to be taken to seriously, though we took care, that he left it. Making a pyramid out of people on the most touristic place in whole Krakow is just the beginning and quite boring in comparison to our future adventures, but it is the first step of getting there.
Welcome to the lesson, Professor Karl is speaking:
“If you are somewhere else where no one knows you, your comfort zone expands already drastically but if you are with the right people everything seems to be in that zone making you do stuff you usually would never do and furthermore you start to enjoy what you’re doing, even though you never would’ve done that before, thus you’ll do it more often, resulting in a permanent expansion of mentioned zone, leading to its widening in general, even when the causing factors are gone. This is described as the effect of being abroad and kind of as the effect of majoring, meaning to care less about what people who don’t know you think of you”
Hope that helped you understanding more your friends when they go abroad and suddenly return totally different than before.
As the week flew by, we prepared to get to know a new volunteer. From Spain, Zaragoza. In fact, the same city Fabian is from. We all met in the flat of Fabian and Theo to have our traditional food evening, this time for real, making crepes and caramel sauce a la Emelyn. I love our food evenings because you always talk about anything and everything, falling back into the philosopher state we like so much. This time the question if boys and girls can really be friends or not and I will say in the beginning that we won’t get into this discussion here.
Maria arrived together with Dylan and soon we realized that she is definitely not from Zaragoza, loves wine more than anything else, that she is a teacher and loves LA ROSALIA. Maria is a girl with a strong character, knowing who she is and what she wants, ready to fight everyone if she has to. She does not take your shit and if you mess with her, she can get really serious, but luckily there haven’t been serious fights yet. Already on the first evening we laughed a lot together, while she sat wrapped up in her thick jacket with brown hair flowing down her shoulders and a tired but relieved facial expression you always have after a long trip, showing the weight which was taken away from you as soon as you reached your destination.
As the evening went on, we spoke about the next big adventure breaking like dawn over us. The On-Arrival training. Fabian, Dylan and Theo were the first ones who should experience this phenomenon and they couldn’t wait to start, while we others stayed in Krakow, waiting for news and missing our 3 boys immeasurably.

on the main market square

 

a pyramid out of people
our beautiful guapa from Spain
Maria

Beginning of a new adventure- welcome to Poland Part 4

Of course, one can’t only live of only physical nourishment, one must quench the thirst of his intellect too, only to be achieved by visiting a museum. Well I’m not going to lie, we just went in there because it was free and we didn’t know what to do on that Sunday, so we decided, as the intellectuals we are, to visit the Matejko house in Krakow. I have to admit, that I don’t know anything about him and still don’t know much (but we are here in Poland so we will learn more about him). It was quite amusing being in this old house, looking at the rebuild rooms and learning more about how he lived. Though the most fascinating thing in this house, at least it appeared to me like that, were the plants, which immediately had to be checked out by Pia and me to convince us if they are real or not. I don’t know if those plants were the most exclusive thing in this museum, but the security woman seemed to think so, whistling through the whole room, warning us, that we are not allowed to touch them. It was really weird, because I still would like to know if those plants are real or not, but she was so quick in getting us off the plants, I can’t remember any more if they were fake or real. We left the house quite fast though. I don’t understand why, usually I find it somewhat interesting to be in someone else’s house. You can learn a lot about people the way they place their furniture, what kind of blankets they use or how the flat is decorated. One gains a quick glance into the mind of the person one is visiting, which makes it so special and thrilling to visit those other’s houses, thus it helps you to maybe get a detailed picture of somebody who died long ago, like Matejko.
We decided to leave Matejko alone and to see more of the city center and went up to the Wawel castle, enjoying the warm sun brushing over our skin, well knowing that it is already September and that we soon have to introduce ourselves to the scarfs and sweaters, which were just waiting for us. On our way around this humongous complex we saw him. A human sized, dark green colored dragon, walking through the crowds of visitors, until he stopped in front of us, just to be examined, touched and in the end photographed. Sometimes you have to enjoy the moment to capture it’s real beauty in the head and heart instead of your apple iCloud, but this time we had to show the world afterwards, that we befriended with a real dragon and also the codex of the tourists had to be followed. First article, paragraph two is saying: “Take a picture of absolutely everything, embarrass yourself in front of everybody and buy a souvenir”, though we are not such strict followers of this codex, sometimes it feels good to do the right thing as tourist. May it be to jump through the soap bubbles, which suddenly started to float around us, only to dissolve within heartbeats, as soon as we touched them or by filling your belly with tons of pierogi. It is not bad to do touristic things when you are a tourist, that is why you are one in fact, to do them, but soon we realized, we are not tourists, we are volunteers who will stay here for the next ten months, sharing flats, food and experiences, watching sunsets and telling stories. Laughing and crying together, discuss and exchange opinions. So much is happening and that only within a few days.
You start to ask yourself how this could happen, and you realize that it is easier to be the one who you truly are with people who don’t know you. They don’t know the you before, they don’t know the old you and they can’t be disappointed about your “changes”, they won’t say, that they can’t recognize you or that they don’t like your new friends, because they don’t know you at all and somehow this feeling gives you the bravery to break free of those restrictions which keep you locked in your old self helping to create something longer lasting than those soap bubbles floating in the air. Welcome abroad, welcome somewhere else, welcome into a whole new world, with the real you, not the new you, but the real one. Welcome to Poland.

here he is the dragooooon

us in the matejko house