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I just fell in love with Poland

Tales from the Wizards: Megan’s Adventures as a Preschool Teacher in Warsaw

Megan moved to Poland from Johannesburg, South Africa to participate in our Language Assistant Program. After her first year on the program, she shares her stories from a lovely preschool in Warsaw.

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The Polish winter – as a South African, it takes some getting used to 🙂

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I have been in Warsaw for coming up to seven months now, and to say it has all been smooth sailing would be an outright lie. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, and I have no regrets making the decision to move across the world for the third time in the last four years – and for now, this is my home.

 

Being a South African has its perks; but for the most part, those of us who dream of living and working overseas, particularly in Europe, it can be quite the challenge. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to live in both the Netherlands and Sweden before now, but these were only short-term plans and possibilities, and I wanted more! This is where Poland stepped up to the plate and English Wizards welcomed me with open arms.

During my two and a half years living abroad in Europe I’d managed to explore over a dozen European countries, and Poland happened to be one of them. During July 2018 I had spent about two weeks making my way across this wonderful country steeped in history, culture, and delicious pierogi never too far out of reach, wandering around old town squares, jumping on trains, and discovering the major cities…and I fell in love; but not with someone:

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I just fell in love with Poland

I’m not sure what it was about my first trip to Poland, but I just fell in love with the country and all of it’s charms. I was longing to come back.

To this day I’m still not entirely sure why. Maybe it’s a mix of the fascinating history, the charming architecture, the absolute rawness of the country, and the mostly friendly people I’d been in contact with. I’m not sure, but I’ll let you know when I eventually figure it out. One thing was for sure though, once I left Poland and was watching the quaint city of Wrocław gradually vanish out of sight from the airplane window, I knew I had to come back.

While back in South Africa, searching for my next adventure, I found English Wizards. After submitting an application and a few semi-stressful months of Skype interviews, emails, messages, gathering documents and trying to get an appointment at the Polish Embassy in Pretoria, I was pretty much set to become a Language Assistant at a preschool in Warsaw.

I arrived in Warsaw mid-October and I began my new job the very next day. I loved it. The school had me placed with the 3 year olds, and by the end of my first day they’d all crawled into my heart. Despite their lack of English and my complete lack of Polish, we all became buddies. They would come for cuddles, they’d bring the (Polish) books to read (that I would have to make up English stories for), we would sing and dance to the nursery rhymes that were constantly played in the background, and we’d laugh and try to talk to each other.

The first semester went by like a blur. Before I knew it, the new year had arrived (with some seriously loud fireworks right outside my bedroom window) and the school asked if I was interested in teaching the upper level class.

This was going to be a new thing for me: Despite my title of “Language Assistant,” I was set to be in charge of a class. Nevertheless I was amped to begin my new teaching job. The only snag, my co-teacher wouldn’t be there for the first two weeks, so I’d be working with some of the other teachers and staff alternating. It was a bit of a rollercoaster at the beginning, there was a lot to learn and figure out on the job, but in many ways it was a dream come true.

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The best thing about teaching the upper levels – I get to take them on field trips!

I was given a class of 14 kids aged 4-5 years, and to my pleasant surprise all of them could speak at least a basic amount of English, and everyone could understand almost everything that was said to or asked of them. My class was amazing – 14 kids, 2 teachers, 8 nationalities and 10 languages between all of us – how awesome is that?!

Obviously English was spoken around 90% of the time – sometimes things would need to be translated a little so one or two of the kids could understand a bit better, and occasionally the kids would speak Polish amongst themselves. If I ever have to say “English at school, Polish at home” again, it will be too soon!

Days were long, but I loved it. I loved going in every single day. It was exhausting on days when some of the kids just didn’t want to listen or they were in grumpy moods – but we all have our days. But then then there were days when I’d be sitting on the carpet with a bunch of the kids, having just read them a story, they’re trying to climb on top of you to play, and one of them makes their way onto my lap, wraps their little arms around my neck to give you a hug and tells me “Megan, I love you more than chocolate.”

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Just a glimpse of how adorable my kids could get <3

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Moving to the other side of the world is never easy. More so when you move to a country where you don’t speak the language, and the culture is maybe a little different than your own.

Teaching isn’t for everyone, it’s certainly not an easy job, and to try to do it somewhere completely new and almost foreign probably makes it just a little harder. But to have those moments where you’re explaining something on the board and you hear a little voice behind you call your name, and you turn around with a “Yes?” and a sinking feeling thinking you’re going to have to quickly figure out how to explain this differently, only to be answered with an “I love you”, it makes it all worth it in the end.

Dziękuje!

Megan

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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Tales from the Wizards: Megan’s Adventures as a Preschool Teacher in Warsaw