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Tales From the Wizards: 8 Months in Poland by Candice Nadasen

May 5, 2021

It has been 8 months since I set foot in Poland. As I look back at the past few months, it makes me think of the happy times and the challenging times.

 

August

Arriving in Kraków  felt surreal. I felt so blessed to have been able to travel despite the back breaking 48-hour journey on a repatriation flight. It was the end of summer and the weather was very warm and made me feel happy.

Getting settled into my new home was easy! I started working at a preschool on my third day in Krakow, I moved into a flat the same week and the rest just fell into place.

September 

My flat, situated in the heart of Kazimierz was a 25 minutes’ walk to the preschool I worked at. It was a beautiful journey crossing the river to get to work each morning and again in the afternoon. Kazimerz proved to be quite a social place to live in. I enjoyed the various restaurants and bars we frequented as well as the good buzz the place gave off.

With the city center a mere seven-minute walk away and tram stations close by, it was easy to get around anywhere really. I was slowly adapting to my new life in Poland. The language barrier was challenging and not always a pleasant experience, however with the help of Google Translate, I was able to get what I needed most times.

Adapting to the Europe lifestyle was relatively easier than I expected. Obtaining the required PESEL number was an easy process provided you had a Polish speaking person to do all the talking for you. A concept that seems easy enough but one I had to get used too was changing from outdoor shoes to indoor ones. It did not make sense to me at the time but now I understand why……

The highlight of my month was meeting my Polish students. The ages of the students varied from 3 years old to adults which makes teaching quite different but gives me so much more opportunity to learn. Walks along the Vistula river quickly became a daily habit which I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated.

The Vistula River swans can often be seen swimming and eating next to Wawel Castle

October

The beginning of October brought around a slight chill in the air and a beautiful start to Autumn. Having adjusted to my new lifestyle, I felt more confident in my everyday life. Celebrating a birthday in a new city was exciting. Walks became more beautiful as the leaves started changing colors. Truly spectacular to see all the different Autumn colors!

November

An incredibly quiet month. To say it was chilly would have been an understatement.

I tried learning Polish but it was just too difficult, so I gave that up and depended solely on Google Translate to help me get by.

I visited Krakus Mound one day and stumbled upon a very colorful graveyard. It was the first week of November where Catholic people around the world celebrated All Saints’ Day  (Wszystkich Swietych in Polish) and remembered deceased family and friends. It was an incredibly beautiful sight to see.

Cmentarz Podgórski – situated on the hill next to Krakus Mound

December

When my friends first heard that I was moving to Poland, they warned me about the ghastly European winters. I went on a shopping spree for adequate Winter clothing. After breaking the bank, I was as equipped as I could be to take on my first European Winter. One of the things I did enjoy was the snow! It was a magical experience and one I will not forget for a long time to come.

With December comes Christmas which was as different as one would expect. Sadly, I did not get to experience the full extent of Christmas markets and the normal Christmas traditions. Even though it was very cold, my friends and I still took to the streets for winter walks and Gluhwein. The Polish tradition of Christmas Nativity Scene which can be found in and around the city Centre. The intricate details of each piece were astounding and a sight to behold.

As we approached Christmas, I got to experience a Rorate caeli  as well as Wigilia which I celebrated with friends. 

The trails surrounding Zakopane are filled with beauty at every turn that will make you feel like you’re in a winter wonderland

January

I hit the new year running what with preschools being open through out the festive season. I started feeling claustrophobic in the city and decided to take a trip to the mountains. A friend suggested I go to Morskie Oko to see the frozen lake. After a 2-hour bus ride to Zakopane and another 20-minute bus ride, we arrived in Morksie Oko.

We were well prepared with food and sufficient warm clothing. It was beautiful but a long walk to the top; 18 kilometers which took us over just four hours and thirty minutes. Once we reached the top, it was freezing cold but so very beautiful! Seeing a frozen lake was a first for me and it was magnificent. The walk back down was every eventful what with the snow melting and the slipping and sliding. I highly recommend a visit to Morskie Oko!

Enjoy the walk to the famous Morskie Oko lake in the Tatra Mountains just outside of Zakopane

February

Weather wise, it was a shock to my system. We started hitting subzero temperatures. I was still getting used to seeing daylight after 8am and it ending after 3pm each day. It felt like I would leave home in darkness and arrive home at night. Even the Vistula River would be partially frozen some mornings. Counting the weeks until winter ends and we can welcome spring! It was a little too cold to be outside for long periods of time.

Avoid common mistakes when moving to Poland – like not packing enough warm clothes!

March

I received my first dose of the COVID vaccination. It was a good feeling to know that in ten weeks, once I receive my second vaccination, I will be able to feel a bit safer and have a little bit of freedom to travel when it is safe to do so. Winter was finally easing up and Spring was around the corner.

The banks of the Vistula river – a very popular place to be during spring

April

We welcomed in a very chilly and wet spring and we even experienced some snow! Whilst I was undeniably grateful to be working during these times, I started feeling mentally exhausted by not having much of an opportunity to socialize. Sure, I had made a few friends here and there. However, one can only be outdoors so much and the weather was not great.

With Summer around the corner, I am hopeful that with better weather and having he ability to travel again, I will get to experience Krakow for the beautiful city it is famous for being.

This is a guest post as part of our “Tales from the Wizards” series, where our Wizards take over the blog and share their stories of life in Poland.

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