Saturday, December 07, 2013

Jestem Wanderer's Wandering Daughter

Dzien dobry!

All my bags are packed and I'm ready to leave Poland, how and where the past 2 months went, I wonder. It feels like only yesterday that this bed I'm sitting on felt new, this huge square pillow so uncomfortable and weird. It feels just like yesterday that I got on the plane all nerves and excitement, not knowing where I'll live, what this place'll really be like, not knowing so much.

There's so much to be said about how it's been, and so this is going to be a very long post. I should have been more actively blogging so I don't have to sit here now and think about 2 months' stock full of memories but here I am, sleep eludes me, so let's do this!

In my second week, after I'd settled in, after this, work did start, and I went to a school half an hour away from my dorm, teaching 2 classes of 1.5 hours each from Tuesday to Friday for 2 weeks. My first day there was interesting; me and Donna (my roommate and fellow Exchange Participant), didn't really have an idea of the specifics of what we needed to teach. Our project - AIESEC's Speak With Us was about having speaking exercises with highschoolers in preparation for their important Matura exam (kind of like boards in India or A levels.) So we walked into each of our classes after meeting the English teachers there - 2 lovely women, twin sisters actually, and I was actually confused about who was who for the first few days lol til the blaringly obvious difference in hairstyles was noticed. For the first day, we just introduced ourselves, and made the kids introduce themselves. I decided that since we were given the total freedom to do what we pleased in class so long as it encouraged them to speak: games, lots and lots of games would be fun apart from the prescribed 'describe the Matura flashcards' activity. Then on, for every class I played a game with my students, and continued a same pattern of games + grammar learning + flashcards + story writing + riddles for the rest of my classes. Which concluded yesterday. But enough of this serious teaching stuff.

On our 2nd weekend there, we went to AIESEC Rzeszow's Local Committee Conference (LCC) to Hadle Szkalrskie, a half an hour bus ride away from Rzeszow. We met the new EPs from another project when there for the first time - 2 girls from Egypt and 1 girl from Sri Lanka. This small village was so beautiful, I really don't have the words. We were staying in a wooden lodge and for the 2 days there, the AIESECers planned a lot of EP activities and presentations so we were indoors pretty much all day. I got to try Rosol for the first time there, and also black sugarless coffee and loved it! We made a lot of new friends and had a really lovely time. The little cottages were by a lake and the tallest pine trees and it was so breathtaking, my words would really never do it justice. I can see it now in my mind; so quiet and so serene. I also saw a horse! All in all, the LCC was pretty awesome, I danced a lot on our last night there, trying to ape the AIESEC jigs and one of the songs was a Bollywood one! I actually want to go back to Mumbai and join and be a proper active member now. We also played Boat Race, an awesome beer chugging game and my team made it to the finals too.

After the LCC, we EPs had united and how! We made a Facebook group entitled "EP Travels" and then on planned and went to Krakow and Prague.

The next weekend, we set off to Krakow, and it was a trip of mixed emotions. We stayed in a nice little hostel called Goodbye Lenin Revolution that took us such a long time to find from the bus station and once settled in, we went out to the Old Town Square and took pictures of the grand old buildings and went on a guided tour for it and neighbouring areas. This city is actually on the list of Top 25 best cities in the world. A lot of students live here as it's full of universities. So it's a very young, hip town, and ironically of a lot of historical importance. It was the original capital of Poland and a lot of Polish people still prefer Krakow to
Warsaw in a lot of ways. The next day, we set off on a day trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau. That day stands out in my memory of this entire experience so vividly. I will never forget the camps, the pictures of those long dead, and their intimate belongings (like HAIR) in the most horrifying exhibits I will ever see. If you ever really want to understand the extent of human suffering, if you ever really truly want to be able to believe, or rather be taken so totally aback by the cruelty, the absolute abject apathy of mankind, this place is the place for that revelation. At night, we went by the street called "Kupa"- meaning "shit" and tried Zapiekanka, and I got mine Hawaiin style! The next day we went on a Free Walking Tour of the Jewish Quarter, Old Town and got to see the Wawel Castle and Dragon! It was amazing. It was just our luck that a few hours before we had to leave, it started to rain.

Some weekends the Sri Lankan girl would come over for sleepovers and we'd stay up and watch horror movies, such fun, joining two of our single beds to make one big bed for us to all sleep in, and going on adventures in the day time.

On another weekend, we went to a nice little cafe at the Market Square and drank hot beer and wine and had a lot of laughs with a new friend we met at the LCC. It was a fun night and we were out till late and had to cab it home because buses here last ply around 11 PM. Another time, we met other friends and went to a pub for karaoke night. I got my freak on and sung some Shakira songs. That was also a fun night, really sweet and friendly people and so warm and easy to be around. I will miss them!

My students were all such dears too; I could not have dreamed or asked for a more attentive, eager to participate, and fun group of teenagers. I met some pretty phenomenal kids and I am definitely going to stay in touch with them for the rest of my life. I already have a favourite, and she's such a great girl. She's smart, mature, and so creative and sweet. She gave me an orange (my favourite fruit btw) and wrote on it the sweetest things. I don't know how I'll ever have the heart to eat it, but I have to, I'd rather eat it than see it rot. I actually cried for joy when she gave it to me so unexpectedly. I used to do this activity in my classes where I would give my students 5 random words and make them write a story, and this girl I'm talking about, Magda, started to write a full fledged story in continuation of the assignment/activity. I'm going to post the story in it's original form for y'all to read soon.

We went to Prague by our faithful dependable PolskiBus and we were only going to be there for 27 hours so we planned our itinerary down to the hour so no time would be wasted. We got into a bus on Thursday night to Warsaw, and another one and reached Prague Friday evening. I couldn't believe that we actually were in a different country in just a day's bus journey. Enroute we passed Wroclaw and Lodz and I fell in love with Wroclaw. I wish I had more time and money so I could go explore that city too. It looked also very old, much like Krakow, and I hope to go see it the next time I'm in Europe. Prague was lovely. Once we checked into Old Prague Hostel, not a very confusing path from the bus stop thankfully, and set off on a prowl, famished and ready to eat anything that was still for long enough. Luckily we found a nice Asian restaurant, and I finally got to try Sushi for the first time, and I actually liked it. I tried Wasabi too and I also liked it. Then we walked around the city, and you have to see Prague in the night, or there really is no point going there. The lights make everything look so much more amazing than in just daylight. We were so stunned by the beauty of some buildings, so much grandeur, it really felt then like we were in the heart of Europe. We walked into the night all the way to Charles Bridge and then reached the hostel exhausted. The next day we had an early start, we headed to shop for some souvenirs and then went for a free Sandeman's walking tour of the Old Town and Wenceslas Square, with a really animated and theatrical old Irish man as our guide before heading out on a river cruise. The city is so pretty and I think there're tourists all year round. Tourists everywhere we looked. After the cruise we walked to the Prague castle and I had some fun trying to grab the attention of this cute guard outside and tried to get him to smile to no avail but he apparently winked at me on our way out lol. Then we went to St. Nicholas Church and tried Langos and some hot wine again.

We then had to get back to the hostel, get our bags and head to the bus station and we reached Warsaw Sunday morning, and spent all day there, more walking around, in the Old Town there, I posed with some super complacent birds - one on my head and one on my hand, and I tried Burger King for the first time at Centrum mall, before taking the bus back home. Home. No longer my home. Can't believe this is my last night in this room.

Last night, me and Donna went to the next dorm building to hang with some friends and it started snowing so heavily for the first time. We got so excited we immediately got downstairs and decided to go to Tesco for some Spanish mandarins (that are so small and sweet, I'm taking 6 of them and my one special big orange along with lots of other food to London) at 1 AM. We were children again, having snowball fights in the middle of the road. The excitement in the air was contagious and it really felt like a dream considering earlier that day me and Donna were talking about how it should snow properly before I left so that we could make snow angels. And so I did, and we also made a little snow man. We got home around 4 AM and I could only sleep at 5 AM because I was still so psyched about the awesome snowfall.

Today we had a farewell party with all the EPs and main AIESEC managers. We had pizza (really spicy and nice after the longest time) and we were interviewed and I came on TV for the first time, SEE! and said our final goodbyes to everyone.

The wind is still so strong and it's very cold tonight and it's been snowing on and off today as well. This time tomorrow I will be on my way to Warsaw and staying up despite not having slept enough just so I can get the ice-cream that PolskiBus likes to give its passengers at 4 AM for some reason. I'm very excited for London. But right now I'm also a little blue. Having to say goodbye always sucks. I'm going to miss Rzeszow (I can finally say it right), I am going to miss Donna, I am going to miss all the lovely food - pierogi, kielbasa, goumki, rosol, I am going to miss the friends I made here, the quiet, the beauty of this place, the way the sky looks at all times, the way buses run so beautifully on time, PMS (Polish Man Smell) - even though 90% of it is the horrible kind, Filon freaks partying all the time, cooking (rather watching Donna cook) and using the awesome modern stove (kamna in Czech!), all our fun visits to Biedronka trying to figure out which new food to try - from flavoured yoghurt, to type of cheese and bread, to random impulse buys (mostly chocolate ;P), waiting for the green light while my toes froze before we would cross the road (how civilized lol), buying studenski tickets for everything as much as possible, walking to school, to Millenium Hall, going to Dara, meeting our manager, planning trips, budgeting plans that always failed at the sight of good food, and so many more memories.

I shall end this super long post here now and call it a night. I've been typing for an hour now I think. Longest time spent actually composing in this window as normally I type on my phone and then transfer to the laptop. I'll post pictures on this later. Or maybe I won't post pictures. Maybe a link to album when I am home.

I'm saving all my socks for London and so I'm having to wear my gloves as socks and this is what it looks like right now, which is so poetic because it looks like I am waving goodbye (albeit with my feet)

Goodbye Poland. :) :( :) And dziekuje for everything you've given me. See you soon!

"I'm lost and alone and I'm fair and I'm free
You am what you is and I are who I be
What I'm lacking in strength I make up for in smarts
You keep your stability I'll keep my heart
Hop the next bus and run for the border
I am the wander's wandering daughter
So long it's been good to know ya
I've got to be moving along"


  1. Hi Kamna! This is Kristine from Bubble of Blah. I've been meaning to post a comment here on your blog since we last talked over email and have only found the time to do it now. I hope that you had a great time in London. I also listened to some of your SoundCLoud recordings and I must say you sing well. :D Do tell me how your trip went, okay? Take care always!

    1. Hi Kristine! Thanks for viewing and commenting on my blog :) I am still in London and having a great time indeed! Thank you! I'm glad you liked my singing. You take care too and happy travels!