Friday, January 7, 2011

Five Months In Poland and Still Loving It!

Wroclaw's Old City Hall Clock
I cannot believe that it has been five months already!  Time has flown by so quickly, that I have found myself thinking that I needed to post on this blog, but something always came up that prevented me from posting.  However, today I decided that it was time to post and give you an opportunity to catch up with what has been happening in my life since landing in this awesome country!

Here are the summaries of the posts that I have been collecting and never got around to posting  them!

Wroclaw International School
September:  School is in session and my head is still swimming with everything that needs to get done by "yesterday."  The weather is still fantastically warm and full of sunshine.  It almost feels like an Indian Summer.  The city is thriving with students and gone are the quiet tram trips around the city.  I have to admit, I like students of all kinds, maybe it is because I have always thought of myself as a student.

I have finally signed a contract with the local gym to attend fitness classes there.  The gym is located about one block away from the school, so on the days that I want to go to the gym, I just walk there.  The name of the gym is Fitness Academy.   I know that my doctors back in the USA will be happy with that decision and to top it off, I have a gym buddy.  His name is Erik and he is an awesome Science teacher at our school.  We have promised each other to keep motivated in this decision.  Erik is going to be a great gym buddy because he always wants to go to the gym!  However, I now need to go shopping for workout clothes since my household goods are not here yet and I can't go to the gym looking like a hobo.

Attended the PTA's Welcome Back Potluck.  As a joke, Erik and I brought in the traditional American meal to the table:  a bucket of KFC and a store bought Apple Pie from Coffee Heaven.  It doesn't get more American than that.  We were the butt of jokes for that one, but everyone now knows that I get lost between the refrigerator and the stove and no one expected me to bake for this occassion!  The event was well attended.  As the event was dying down, a group of us decided to go to the movies and see the romantic comedy "Going the Distance" at the Helios Movie Theater.   On the way to the movies, the weather got chilly, and I had to stop at the local mall and pick up a jacket to survive the evening.  The movie was funny and it was a great way to end the evening.  I must confess that I felt a little homesick for Larry after watching the movie and I just hope that he gets here soon before too long.  I miss him terribly.

The Newbies
I cannot be any luckier with this decision of coming to work for WIS.  The staff is fantastic and although there is a bunch of things to get done, we are a happy bunch and we enjoy each others company at work and outside of work.

The cats have arrived from NJ!  I cannot be any more happier other than having Larry here tomorrow.  They survived the trip rather well and are adjusting to their new surroundings.  I was so relieved to see them come through the door in good spirits and very hungry!

October:  One of my favorite months of the year!  I don't know why, but October just gets my romantic juices going.  I cannot wait for the leaves to start to change and start wearing sweaters!  Speaking of the weather, you can feel that Fall is on its way out and Winter is trying to get here.  I hope the snow doesn't get here too soon.  I keep hearing from other teachers to expect snow by Halloween!  That means that I really need to get a decent coat and a pair of boots pretty soon.  Our household goods are not here yet!  Argh!

However, it looks like Larry will be here by the end of the month and that indeed is good news.  He has a lot to do at the apartment back in NJ and lots to put in storage and he is doing this by himself before he can hop on a plane and get here!  I cannot wait to show him the sites and have him here with me and the cats.

Larry is scheduled to arrive on Oct 20th.  I will go and pick him up at the airport from school.  His timing is just perfect!  I have a Fall Holiday from Oct 22 to Nov 1st.  That will give me some time to spend with him and get him acclimated to this new city.  I am sooo happy!

November:  Erik and I keep going to the gym as often as our schedules allow.  I still love my fit ball classes and I am thinking of adding a cycling class along the way.  Maybe I will start to tone up a bit, since I have lost quite a few pounds since getting here to Wroclaw.

Larry is adjusting well and the cats are settled in and we have started taking Polish Language lessons with the Link School.  Polish is very challenging but our teacher Annia makes it fun.  It is a very musical language and considered one the three most difficult languages to learn.  Just in case you are curious as to the other two most difficult languages to learn:  Mandarin Chinese and Russian.

Thanksgiving at the Tree House
We are hosting a Thanksgiving Get-Together at our Tree House (the name that we have given to our apartment).  I managed to find three turkeys.  Two of my colleagues (Nancy and Erik) will each cook one and I will be cooking the other one with help from Heidi.  During the cooking of the turkey, you guessed it, I burned my hand!  Thanks to Misun, I will not have a nasty scar on my hand.  She gave me a derma pad to use on the injury for a week.  It looks worse than it really is, but it is healing rather nicely.  I have vowed not to cook again until next Thanksgiving.

All in all the gathering was fun and we had our fill of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and deserts.  We might need to host another gathering soon!

November also was a traveling month for me.  I went to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for my Multiple Sclerosis check up and get my medicines refilled there.  I would have like to have stayed longer to go on a side trip, but I only had a long weekend to get the medical stuff taken care of before I had to return to work.

In addition, I was sent to Nice, France to attend the European Council of International Schools annual conference.  For many of you who are teachers in NJ, this is the equivalent of our NJEA convention in Atlantic City but way better!  I attended a lot of the Apple workshops and I am in love with their equipment, software, and products!  When I grow up, I want to be an Apple Mentor Educator!

Nice was rainy but no complaints here!  I was in France near Monaco and had a blast.  A little rain was not going to dampen my mood.  The food and wine was fantastic!  I  was there for the unveiling of the 2010 Beaujolais and managed to bring a bottle of it home.  It was the "in" wine to drink while in Nice, so I had it with dinner every night!

Winter WOW!
December:  This was a very intense and fast month.  The workload to get our Middle Years Programme Authorization Visit by the International Baccalaureate Organization is at an all time high.  The Winter WOW celebration is being organized by the PTA.  And sometime this month, ATUT (our Polish Sister School) will turn 20 years old.  It has been a month of crazy organizational work and running around trying to get everything finished before the Winter Break.  We are scheduled to be on Winter Break on December 17 and many if not all of our faculty  and staff will be leaving Poland to visit with friends and relatives abroad.  All was going to plan until the last day of school, when we were hit with many airport closings and many of our teachers were stranded in various airports across Europe.  However, they all arrived at their planned destinations with some difficulties, but happy to be reunited with friends and family.

Wroclaw's Christmas Market
Larry and I decided to stay in Wroclaw for the Winter Break.  Needless to say, we ventured out a few times to the Christmas Market to have the signature sausage sandwich, pierogies, hot wine, and I had my first taste of hot beer.  At first I was reluctant to try the hot beer, but one must be adventurous when living as an expat.

I discovered that hot beer is an acquired taste which one gets to acquire pretty quickly after the first two sips and it is used as a medical remedy to keep a cold from developing into a serious illness.  So the next time you have the sniffles, try this recipe out:  1cup of beer, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice, with a dash of ginger and cinnamon to taste.  Put it in the microwave until it is piping hot and add a bit of butter to the mix.  Apparently, it kills the sniffles on the spot.  I can testify that once I had my little mug of hot beer, I  did not experienced a runny nose at all.   So, who knows?!  If you try this remedy, let me know how it worked for you!

I am also a legal resident of Poland now.  I have the equivalent of a "green card" called a Residency Card that allows me to come and go in Poland without any questions being asked.  I am also enrolled in their pension system, pay taxes, and get free medical coverage from the Government System and it is supplemented by private health insurance from the school.  All in all, not a bad deal!

Larry has been processed and we should hear about his status as a legal resident too sometime by the end of January.

By the way, the thirty-seven boxes full of household goods arrived two days before our Winter Break!  What timing!  I just hope that it will be all unpacked and placed where it needs to go.  Hopefully, the guest bedroom will be ready once again for guests and the living room will be back to normal before Meredith comes over to visit!

Happy New Year 2011!
January:  Winter Break will come to an end this Sunday and by the end of  the week, all of the paperwork for the International Baccalaureate Organization Authorization Visit will be uploaded to their site, and I can take a bit of a breather in that department.  Our faculty has worked very hard at getting everything done, so we can have a successful visit in March.  Between now and then, there are a few irons in the fire that I will need to take care of while the fire is still burning hot!:
  • Preparation continues for the MYP Authorization Visit
  • Complete inventory of the Library Media Center at the Z Campus
  • Complete inventory of the Library Media Center at the B Campus
  • Work with the students on their community service project with many thanks to the Red Sandal Society and BTHS Teen Book Club and Staff for providing materials for our project! -- Pictures are soon to follow!
  • Posting on the 365 Project -- Yes, I know, I'm not a photographer, but the idea of taking one picture a day and posting it for an entire year is very intriguing to me.  And who knows, maybe I will learn to take better pictures along the way!
  • Taking up the Edublogs Teacher Challenge so I can beef up my tech skills and hopefully have better postings that are worthwhile your reading time spent here with me.
  • Looking forward to reading books with my new Kindle from Amazon,  a gift from the Three Kings!
One would think that I just get myself into stuff all the time, but I just love learning and keeping busy.  It is very hard for me to "disengage" during school holidays, so I always build in a transition to ease into a vacation and out of one.  For example, this blog is my way of easing out of the Winter Break and into the swing of things this coming Monday.

Needless to say, I am still loving my job and this wonderful country!

I have been asked several times about what books I have been reading or have read lately, so here is the list:

Have Read (in no particular order listed):

  • Ghosts of War by Ryan Smithson
  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  • King of the Screwups by K.L. Going
  • The Understudy by David Nicholls
  • The Alchemist by Michael Scott
  • The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
  • Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett -(This was an unabridged audio book)
  • The Bookman's Promise by John Dunning (a Cliff Janeway Novel)
  • Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey
  • Body of Lies by Iris Johansen (an Eve Duncan Novel)
  • Jennifer Government by Max Barry - For the third time!
Currently Reading:
  • The Bookman's Last Fling by John Dunning (a Cliff Janeway Novel)
  • Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris (a Sookie Stackhouse Novel) - (Unabridged audio book) -  And missing True Blood on TV!!
If you want to discuss any of these titles or if you have any recommendations, please share them here with me!

Beer with Raspberry Syrup
Anyway, that is all I have for you at this time.  I hope that you keep coming back and catching up with me as I continue this wonderful adventure with Larry and the cats.  In the meantime, I'm going to have a Tyskie with Malinowy.  Nas drovia!

Until next time, keep warm and keep reading those books!


  1. I'm so glad to hear you're doing well and loving your latest assignment! Please keep the stories and photos coming! (Especially the details about food and beer!)

  2. your little ones look like they are loving it as much as you!!!
    you're an inspiration to all...

    looking forward to the next post :)