Monday, April 12, 2010

Post- Buenos Aires post

I arrived in Viña del Mar from Buenos on Thursday. Since then, I have labeled just about everything in my room and bathroom with its spanish name, spent all afternoon toddling around Café con Letras, and had leche con plátanos for the first time. Ok, so it has not been an eventful four days, but they have been relaxing... and I believe I will be making leche con plátanos for the rest of my life. All you do is put a banana, a bunch of milk, and some sugar in a blender and voila! Try it!

I didn't take very many pictures in Buenos Aires. Five, to be exact. Why? I have come to realize that I have a love/hate relationship with pictures. I love to look at them and use them to spark memory, etc. but photos never quite do the scene justice. I enjoy the moment more if I am just focusing on the moment rather than the focus of my camera. I am kicking myself now for only taking so few pictures, though. Which brings me back to the hate... I do think that the moment is tainted if you have a lens in front of your eye.
Thus, I have a skim-on-pics blog. I will try to be better about this... but am making no guarantees.

Here is what I do have.

My new friend, Coren, and me in the center of town. We went to the Sunday market and saw all kinds of cool things. Who knew "the invisible man" really existed?

Here are Carlin and Coren in the kids section of the El Ateneo bookstore. :) Take a look here, it is quite a store!

One of the other things we did in Buenos Aires was take a look around the Recoleta Cemetary. Samantha went
there. Her crew did do some picture taking. Check it out:

My current life-quandary (and I do realize that in a world of real-life problems, I am a lucky dog to have this be my biggest one) is learning Spanish. I am constantly wavering between feeling no pressure - only excitement to learn, and a feeling of total deluge... like I am never going to get to "fluency," why even try? I know that that is the wrong feeling to have, though. I am here for self-improvement. For myself. No one else. I am here to learn Spanish. In the best way I know of. I am definitely able. I am just having to take a deep breath from time to time, settle down... and make some more flashcards.

So this weekend, the ISA group is having an excursion to La Serena. It will go from Friday to Sunday and should be a lot of fun. We have a good group... it always tends to make for a pretty good time, and La Serena is supposed to be beautiful (just like everything else here). Annnnnndd Friday is my 21st Birthday! Ha, I have always had ideas about how my 21st would go down. I remember talking with my roommates when we were freshman about how all of us had our 21st birthday on weekend days. So I believe this will end up being a little bit of an unconventional American's 21st, but I have nothing to complain about!

P.S. I was inspired to make a post today by my roomie, Johanna. (This is your shout-out, Johanna.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Amor a Buenos Aires de Argentina!!!

Hola, Amigos!

Greetings from Buenos Aires! It is a truly beautiful city... I have watched a Tango show, shopped, met fun people, eaten good food... it has been a good time, hopefully with more to come.

Since it has been more than I while since my last post, I will include...
More about Chile:

Things are gradually getting easier. I can now get around Viña and Valpo rather easily and the Spanish is coming along. Watching movies in English while reading the Spanish subtitles has been really beneficient.

I can see the man on the moon better here... perhaps because the ozone is damaged, but it is beautiful nonetheless.

An excursion through ISA to La Serena is the plan on my birthday weekend. It is supposed to be beautiful. ...Wont exactly be the 21st birthday I have imagined in the past, but that may not be a bad thing. It hit me here a few minutes ago, sitting in my hostel, probably because I have been reading facebook status updates, that I am in a damn good situation. I cannot even imagine being in my little apartment in College Station studying for a test or going to a meeting or something, which is what I would be doing if I had not come here. It is really kind of a euphoric feeling I get when I think about the possibilities that this trip brings about. I found some cool quotes to possibly get you in a sentimental mood like mine: :)

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” - Henry Miller

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” - Paul Theroux

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” - Mark Jenkins

“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” - Carlo Galdoni

So I have been feeling temblores still pretty often since the terremoto, but less and less so as time goes on. One of them comes with a pretty good story. A couple of weeks ago, the new Chilean president was inaugurated in a building just down the street from my university in Valparaiso. I figured, hey, might as well go and check out the little parade situation they have got going on down there. It was really cool. I am very glad that I went. A historical event doesnt happen ´down the street` every day. (The new chilean president, Piñera, is the first right-wing leader since the Pinochet era. Since that time, every president has been a socialist.) Anyway, A tremor happened while I was standing out there. Everybody moved away from the power lines for a minute, but there was no need for alarm because these tremors come so often. After the president came by, I headed back toward the beach area where the buses were. Suddenly, I noticed people running the other way. I just kindof hessitated until I heard the policeman say "tsunami," and I joined the others in running. I am pretty sure that the whole town was running up hills. Like, these people were not wasting time. Even the buses (all of them) were zooming up the hill. I got toward the top and ended up running into a leader of another study abroad group. We went into a house on the hill where one of her American students was staying. It took a long time for the go-ahead to come saying that everything was safe. I stayed there for about 4 hours. You know, when I heard "tsunami" and saw what looked like a scene from Godzilla, I thought that that meant there was a tsunami and that tsunami was on its way to Valparaiso. There was no tsunami. The right conditions for a tsunami to develop were in place but there was never a tsunami spotted. What made that tremor different from others in causing "perfect tsunami conditions," I dont know, but perhaps it will be a different situation if another threat like that comes. I think that the word tsunami just scared everyone and that is why they went crazy rather than merely finding higher ground.

Classes are going well. It is a pretty humorous situation. There are 5 people, the same 5 people, in all of my classes. It is 3 guys from ISA and a Japanese guy. I really like all of my profs and they have made class interesting so far, which I am really impressed with because I dont know how I would feel about preparing a lot for only 5 students.

Chao for now, from Buenos Aires!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Where do I begin?!

A lot has happened in the last week, so I have decided to break this blog into parts. First of all:

*** The Terremoto! ***

Holy crap. This is one to tell the kids. On my second night in Santiago, on the 11th floor of a not-so-new building, I woke up around 2:30AM to a door creaking. My first thought was that one of my room mates was making a lot of noise when she came in after partying. My second thought was "Why the hell is she closing the door so many times?" The movement got stronger, now making a rumbling sound and shaking my bed. I bolted up.
The girl I was sharing a bedroom with sat up in her bed and we looked at each other in shock without saying anything. I was still in a bit of a haze having just woken up, but when my bed started rolling around and the TV fell off of its sturdy shelf and crashed face-down, the word "earthquake" finally came to mind. The picture on the wall fell and we continued to sway and bump around. Hard. Honestly, I wasn't too scared. One, because I felt like I was just on some kind of amusement ride, and two, because I was still in a bit of a haze from being asleep until the earthquake was almost over.

The plan was for the whole ISA group (about 50 American college students) to have three days of orientation in Santiago. The kicker is that we had had a safety orientation that morning. The leaders warned us not to be alarmed in the case of tremors. These "earth tremors," they said, would be considered earthquakes in the US but were totally normal in Chile. Was this a tremor?! Surely not, but it crossed our minds. We went out into the hall, stepped over large chunks of plaster, pointed out horizontal cracks, and braced ourselves during a couple of the 30 (yes 30!) aftershock tremors as we tip-toed down the stairs. After spending a couple of hours with a partly drunk, but mostly just tired-looking group, we went back upstairs. Our leaders really didn't know what to do. Someone even saw them run to each other in the hall and frantically say that they didn't have a protocol for this sort of thing. And why would they? Anyway, the next morning we realized
just how bad the terremoto was. Bad enough
to be the 6th strongest ever recorded. The streets of Santiago were deserted except for a few people
surveying the damage. It was weird to see the quake on CNN
and Santiago was hit bad, but not as bad as
Concepcion. Chile has suffered and is continuing to
suffer. I thought that it was
exciting to experience an earthquake, but that is because I didn't personally get hurt or know who was getting hurt. Much help and many prayers are needed for those in the south of Chile!

***Viña del Mar***

Um, so I may still be in the "honeymoon phase" but I live in an awesome, gorgeous city! Imagine a place with California's weather and ocean, a place where it is impolite not to put your elbows on the dinner table and being 15 minutes late is the socially-accepted norm. Mullets a
nd fannie packs are in, popped collars are out, and songs
like "slim shady" and "We built this city on Rock and Roll" come on the radio. The country's flag is almost identical to that of the great state of Texas, and the men are hot. Does it get any better? Well, maybe if you can speak the language... but that is another topic.


Ugh. Ok, so I can't really complain here because I knew it would happen, but it kinda sucks not knowing the language. Asking for directions is no piece of cake. Imagine a clearly foreign girl getting lost and trying to ask for help using only hand motions. I am sure it is quite a sight to the passers by. :) I am hoping that this problem will wane after some time and classes have passed. It gives me more reason to learn, and I am getting plenty of practice!

***What else?***

After the terremoto, ISA's plans to take the group to Pucon in the south of chile Chile were canceled. School stuff doesnt begin happening until this Wednesday the 10th, so we have had a week and a half of free time. :) (A&M started back nearly 2 months ago. How badass is that?) I have hung out with my host family and their friends, gone to the beach and explored with some other Americans, and danced the night away at "El Huevo." Yep, that means "the egg".
Its a pretty bumpin place. There are 5 dance floors and is apparently the place to go in the Valpo region. I just got back from having a completo with my gringa friend, Kristen. They are huge hot dogs slathered with sourkraut, avocado, tomatoes, and mayo. Totally diet-friendly, of course. I saw the place on No Reservations with Anthony Bordain.
Its a total hole-in-the-wall, but makes a great hot dog! Tomorrow the plan is to go lay on the beach in Reñaca and later head to the sand dunes. ( They rent out "surf boards" for you to surf down the sand dunes on! )

Thursday, February 25, 2010

First Impressions

Well Folks, I am writing this entry from Santiago, Chile! I arrived this morning and met up with the others in ISA-Chile's Spring semester program. There are about 50 of us... representing all parts of the US. We will stay here in Santiago until Sunday, the 28th, then head to our host families' houses. Honestly, I still have not wrapped my head around the fact that I am in this part of the world. I look out the window of this hotel and things look like they do in the northern hemisphere. I have not seen anything too culturally different so far. I suppose that I inadvertently expected a place that I know so little about to feel like a foreign planet. However, I am so excited to be here! The directors seem great. There are a lot of cool places to be seen in this part of the world. The opportunities are endless. :)

One thing that sets me apart from the other students (or most of them, anyways) is that I don't speak any Spanish. This was part of the plan, though. I have always thought it would be such a great adventure to simply be immersed in a culture/language before ever having actually studied it. There are a few reasons that I feel this way. One is that grammar is easier to accept if you are not constantly translating it into your native language. Babies do this. They don't have anything to translate to, and not being given a straight up english definition will do this for me, I hope. Granted, I do not have the malleable brain of a baby, but I am crossing my fingers that this concept woks in my case, too... On second thought, I do some pretty ridiculous stuff from time to time. Maybe I do have the brain of a small child... The second reason is that living here, I will have a reason to immediately learn the language. It can be applied to speak to people that I really need/want to talk to. Foreign language class (especially like the French class I took) in The Woodlands, Texas provides no motivation to actually learn the language. You (or maybe just I) do it for the grade. The final reason is that I DO like to travel and I DON'T really like to study textbooks. It may sound to some like a waste of money, but I see this as life experience. :)

As we were landing this morning, I saw the Andes mountains. I looked down at them and saw some white, fluffy stuff at their base. This didn't make sense to me... the tops of the mountains didn't have snow on them. How could the base be snowy? Also, this is summertime in Chile. Well, I was humbled when I realized that the snow I was looking at were clouds and the "mountains" were actually "mountain tops." Woah. The Andes are pretty freakin' big... Speaking of Andes, I wish I had brought some Andes mints with me so that I could eat an Andes in the Andes. Hm, maybe they sell them here somewhere...

Today, we went sight-seeing. We rode a funicular to the top of the "center of Santiago" and were able to look out at the city. It was beautiful. Santiago is a really big city! I forgot to bring my camera along, though. :/ So far, I have enjoyed getting to know the others in the group. Many of them are also juniors. We kind of did your standard "Where are you from? What is your major?" thing to each other all day. Everybody seems pretty friendly.

Tomorrow, we will do more sight-seeing and have an orientation session on theft and personal safety. This would not be an issue if they just issued out firearms for us to defend ourselves with... ;)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What I miss about Y'all...

I write this post from my favorite place to sit in the whole wide world... the left side of the living room couch in my house in The Woodlands, Texas. I have my laptop on my lap, chair reclined, and a glass of water (with ice!) on the table by my side. Obviously, I have taken a blog break for the last few weeks. Since my last post on July 10, I have had sad goodbyes to say to my students, had a crazy one-day trip to Warsaw, reunited with some of my favorite people in the world, and partied in one of modern history's most watched cities. Although my favorite place to sit is not located in Poland, some other really awesome things are.

1. People

The most important impression I got of Poland was that of the people who live there. I watched how the Poles lived, how they treated me, and how they viewed their own lives. I think that there is only so much that you can learn from landmarks and pretty views, but there is always potential to learn something more from people.

A. "The Neighborhood Kids"

I miss the kids that play on my first host family's street. Not to sound too up-ety here, but I was pretty much an instant star with the neighborhood kids-the younger ones, at least... maybe because I was practically from another planet. We could not speak with each other, but we played volleyball and had running races just about every day. (Several of the little kids did not get the concept of speaking another language. They were speaking to me in Polish and expecting an answer in Polish till the very last day.) A certain good-looking guy, Dominik, caught my eye right away. One day, all of the neighborhood kids were having a running race and went out by the street where Dominik is not supposed to be, unattended. I took his hand and we became a team. We beat the other kids in the race. (A rare feat for a five-year-old when the other kids as old as 12.)

He looked up at me, smiled, said "Emilee," and kissed my hand. The next day, he gave me this weird looking rice/corn snack while I was in the middle of a volleyball game with theother kids. I scarfed it down so that my hands would be free for the game. He saw that I had eaten it and gave me another one. Later he showed me a booboo on his finger… the finger he gave me the rice thing with. J Whenever I would see him out in the street, he would say "Heeyyy Emilee" and come and visit me. Yep, it was pretty much love from the get-go. Give Dominik about 20 years of growing time and he and I will be like peas and carrots. :)

B. My host family

Woah, they gave up a lot for me to stay there and for them to show me around. I think that my mom would get really frustrated just thinking about how she would have to work at getting the house clean before someone came. I enjoyed getting to know the parents in my first family... They are the kind of people that make me really wish I knew Polish. They were very friendly and a lot of fun.

We seemed to have a lot in common. I would love to have a good, free-flowing conversation with them. Is it totally ridiculous that I feel like I know them well even though we haven’t actually talked? No, I don’t think so. (I have learned over the last couple of months that) You can learn about a person without even speaking their language… it just takes more time. I also miss my host sisters, Natalia and Kinga. Kinga is the cutest girl ever! I really miss her asking me if I am tie-red. :) I feel like I know what Natalia is thinking in some situations because it has not been so long since I was 15. If I am remembering correctly, being 15 really sucks from time to time. I wish her the best. That is what she gave me while I was there. I hope she knows that she deserves it. :)

C. School Kids

Ok, I am not going to lie... there were times when I did not really want to plan out the next lesson, or times when I got frustrated with the kids that were "too cool" for the activity I had spent all night preparing. But, I miss them! I really do! Some of them were so sweet. Some gave me little pictures they had drawn or little flowers they had made. Even them saying thank you on the last day meant a lot. There were two girls that came up to me on the last day, and kindof hesitated a little bit and then they said in English: "We love you Emilee" and one of them cried. I almost cried, too. That was like the sweetest thing ever. ever ever! Also, I don't think that I will ever forget the girls in my second class that were soooo excited to go shopping. I would love to hang out with them again. :)

^ This is my third class reciting "Yo? Sup? Y'all in da hood?" after a slang lesson. I only teach quality material.

2. Food

Can anyone make me some Polish Barscz and piorogi, please!? My fave is piorogi ruskie, with piorogi z mieskie in a close second and blueberry piorogi for dessert! I attempted piorogi here at home... with little success. Another thing about their food is that they grow a lot of it themselves. If I didn’t have a black gardening thumb and actually had a yard, I would give this a whirl. Well, maybe even with the black thumb…that food is so good!

3. Three words : Favorable Exchange Rate

Tennis shoes - $5

A nice dinner - $4

Really awesome jeans - $17

A taxi ride - $2

The Zloty is worth 1/3 of a dollar, so shopping in Poland doesn’t feel nearly as guilty.

4. My name in Polish

My name is pronounced “Emeelee” and when you are calling it out, the ending changes, making it “Emeelka.” I love that. J

5. Doda Ice cream

A yogurt and strawberry ice-cream-on-a-stick named after a Polish pop star and shaped like a crown. Delish. Deserves its own category.

I also loved Tarnow and the ability to safely jump on the bus and head into town alone without speaking the language. J

I feel that my traveling experiences as a whole have each given me a new, more precise view of myself, the world, and of my country. There are things I see abroad that I think could better my life or country, and there are things that I am thankful to have in my life at home just as they are. One of those things is a certain mentality that I saw in the Poles. Very few of them that I talked to wanted to see things outside of where they lived, and certainly did not want to ever live in a different place. Their aspirations had more to do with what would make their family happy than anything else. I think that this is just a difference in priorities. In the U.S, careers are on top of or equal to families in importance, which alone is not something that I support, but is important to recognize. Generally speaking, we don’t mind moving for a job, or going to school for a long time after high school. I think that the Polish people have gotten their views of life from their past. They were part of the communist Soviet Union from 1961 to 1989, and I think that they are still getting over of mentalities that they were forced to accept during those times. This is something that I am glad we do not face in the U.S. I think that there is something to be said for taking your time in life and most certainly for holding your family in high esteem, but I think that the Polish people have so much more to offer than what they use. They are some of the nicest people I have ever met and I think that it is a shame if only nurture, rather than nature, is keeping them from dreaming and using their gifts.

I said a very sad goodbye to my two host families and the school principal as I boarded the train to Krakow. It was a great month I had spent in Wola Rzedzinska. (Say that three times fast!) I hope to go back there soon.

Back in Krakow, the group did some clubbing. (Clubs in Krakow make College Station’s “Northgate” look like a po-dunk ant farm.) We toured Krakow’s old Jewish district and saw Oscar Schindler’s factory. (That was pretty fascinating.) We also recapped our time in the villages.

I had wanted to see Warsaw before I left Poland and so did Ginger, another American on the trip. Others all over Krakow and Tarnow had told us that Warsaw was nothing to see (mainly because everything was destroyed in WWII, taking all old,

historically valuable buildings down), but how could a big, European city be “nothing to see?” We made a crazy, quick trip on our last day in Poland. I am really glad that we jumped out there and did go to Warsaw. It was a good time, and there were interesting things to see. Plus, I have seen and walked another city. J

I know I am sounding pretty mushy here, but I am going to miss the other Americans on the trip, too. I can honestly say that there is not one of the 15 of them that I would not like to hang out with. I don’t think that very many groups our size hang out for as long as we did and not get tired of each other or at least have some kind of quarrel.

As far as teaching a foreign language goes, I remember not caring one iota about things like what the French word “chat” meant in English. How many French people was I going to use that with in Texas? Um, none. Maybe if someone that I actually wanted to speak with and only spoke French came to my class, it would light a spark within me to go and study it. I hope that I have been that person for some of my Polish students.

I had an absolutely fabulous, unforgettable time in Poland. I experienced milking a cow for the first time, sailing on a sail boat for the first time, and teaching a class for the first time. I just hope that my kids had a some fun and learned a lot of English, or at least had a spark lit within them.

What a great 5 weeks.

Friday, July 10, 2009


So the first event of Tuesday was a kid jumping out the window. Ok, so we are on the first floor, the kid is 13, and it was really kindof funny looking back, but I was embarassed when the principal came and talked to him and another teacher came and told me that maybe that wasn't a good idea. Ok, duh! We were playing a life-sized board game. I asked the kids to come up with what to do on each space, and one of them said "jump across the window." I told them that they could not do that, but they could sit in the window sill. Oops. Too tempting...

I love my haircut! I was kindof nervous, but the stylist seemed to really know what she was doing and everything turned out well. My hair is now about two inches shorter, and thinned out in layers so it feels much lighter. I also have swept bangs. It turned out just the way I had envisioned. Yay for successful haircuts!

Yesterday after school, my host mother took the host siblings and I too an indoor pool. I haven't been to a public pool just to splash around anytime lately, but I had a really good time. They had a big, waterpark-style slide. Is it sad that I had a ton of fun with this? I went frontwards and backwards, laying down, and sitting up, trying to run into Anna, David or Ola...everything. Later we went to a huge store. Like Walmart super center size or bigger. I got some stuff to make legit chocolate chip cookies for the food lesson next week. (I have not yet seen these in Europe.)

Today, I met the girls in my second class to go shopping in the city. They are all about 12. When I mentioned to them that we could do some shopping when we went into the city, they all screamed like crazy! It was pretty much hilarious. They are at just the right age to take... young enough to where going shopping is a super fun event that they are not "too cool" for, and old enough to know what is going on and feel free to have fun with it. I invited my host siblings and their 16-year-old cousin to come along. They didn't seem to enjoy themselves but I think that they felt obligated to be there. That kinda sucks... I wish that they had not felt that way and just gone on home. One memorable moment was when we were on the bus on our way to the city. There was a guy who started talking to my girls and he was wearing a shirt that said:
and that he was. Like a good teacher, I gave the "he's drunk" signal to them and made sure they didn't give out any names... but that was pretty funny.

Tomorrow, we will go to Zacopane. (I guarantee that that is spelled wrong.) I am not sure what exactly is there, but it is supposed to be beautiful. It is far away and will take all day, so I think that the family is really putting themselves out. That is very nice... just makes me feel kinda bad because there is no way that I can repay them for everything that they have done.

I have slacked off in the picture department so here are some from the past weeks:

Here is my little classes "class monster." They named it "Emily." How endearing. ;)

My little class

View from Dagmara's man's sailboat on Lake Rożnów

Asha and her kids in the Old castle ruins atop a big hill

The view from atop that hill. Um, can you say "good place to take a date?"

Anna and me in Sanok

Some of the the neighborhood kids outside of the Merchut's house

My girls today in the city

-------Some noteworthy things I have discovered about Poland---------

Alcohol - Beer and Vodka are big. You can drink them when you are 18, and they will actually ask for your ID, unlike some other european countries. However, drinking is socially acceptable, and most adults seem to do it quite a bit. I have been offered beer or Vodka almost every day. I like this. Don't judge.

Catholisism - Everyone is Catholic. Like 97% of the population. (An actual statistic) When I went to church with the family last week, it was full and there were people outside. They sat there the whole time. I am pretty sure that they could not tell what was going on. I would have gone home. Why waste your time sitting and picking grass? Is church an obligation thing? A ritual? Not so sure how I feel about this one... it seems like you lose some of christianity when it is a ritual... like everyting. However, this is not my place to judge... I do not know for sure what those people think or believe. I just don't plan to be a part of it myself.

Food - Great. I will be recipe-clad when I arrive in Texas.

History - People seem to be open about talking about communism in Poland and other historical things. You can definitely tell when you come across something left over from then.

People - Generally very warm. The people working in the school and my host families have been absolutely wonderful, but they are not the only ones. People everywhere have been nice... unlike some experiences I had in Hungary...

Style - The girls dress up a lot, especially those in the city. I think that they start from a young age being taught how to dress and that it is important.

Signing off!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

More from Wola Rzędzińska!

sporatic internet access = sporadic blog entry

That means I have lots to tell!

Lets see, so I got to go sailing last week with Piya, her host sister, Dagmara, and Dagmara's boyfriend. He had a sailing liscence, so we went out to a lake about an hour from here and rented a boat. That was a lot of fun! I have never been sailing. Good thing to have tried. I think that I will give learning how to work the sails a shot sometime.

I finished out my first two weeks of school with celebrating the 4th of July with my classes. Piya and I got the ingredients for American flag cakes. (You know, the kind that has blueberry stars and strawberry stripes.) Finding that stuff was a trip. Apparently, fruit is a little more hard to come by in these parts... especially in Wola Rzędzińska. We ended up getting to a larger store to find the sought after supplies, and ended up getting home around 10:30. I then realized that I had gotten myself into another one of those hmm-I'll-cross-my-fingers-now-because-this-was-probably-a-stupid-idea situations. (Those are actually good because if they don't work out, they end up making fabulous stories.) I had some makeshift ingredients, five cakes to bake, and no means by which to measure. (They don't have measuring cups.) Luckily, Natalia and Kinda were glad to help and we got it done pretty fast. Other than a little juice runnage of the frozen blueberries, everything turned out fine, and the kids seemed to enjoy having cake in class. In fact, it was kindof a big deal... the little kids asked for recipes. Even though I knew that that was probably because all things taste amazing when you get to in class, and that this was merely a classic yellow cake recipe, and that these were 7-year-olds , I was a little bit flattered. We colored flags, put them on sticks, and talked about holidays in class.

I left Wola Rzędzińska the next day for LE Poland's "midpoint break" in Sanok. The region that Sanok is in is really beautiful... lots of hills, lots of green-ness. However, there is not a whole lot to do in Sanok. After you look at the hills for a few minutes and enjoy some Piorogi, you have pretty much done what there is to do in Sanok. It was nice being back with the group. Odd, too, to switch from being waited on "like a king"/babysat, to being on your own and speaking English. It was nice. We exchanged lots of teaching ideas. I needed this! I think that pretty much everyone was running out of ideas, and this way we were able to tell each other what worked and what didn't etc. After a relaxing weekend, I was ready to go back to Wola Rzędzińska... mainly because the lustre of Sanok had worn off.

So far this week, we have colored ideal boyfriends or girlfriends and described them, talked about clothing... run around the parking lot playing sharks and minnows clothing/land edition, and picked out words from common songs that they knew. I am really looking forward to doing the food days... one day talking about kinds of food and making paper cookies, the next having a (Walmart-style) food/clothing store.

Monday afternoon, I changed host homes... moving from the Merchut's to the Usien's. This was the original plan... for me to change houses midway though, but I was still a little sad to leave the
Merchut's. I will still see them around, though, so that's good. So far, I have had a a really good time with the Usien's. They had a new toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, and a loofa in the bathroom. They drove me to school today and had Russian style Piorogi ready when I came home. Yum! My favorite! I am a foodie, but anyone would love this stuff. It takes forever to make, too, so that was really cool that she did that.

I met up with Piya, Ginger (another American), Ginger's host sister, and Dagmara in town today. We had a beer and then went shopping a bit. They have this beer here called Redd's. It is really good... definately a woman beer, but very tasty. I bought some shoes. They are pretty cool heels. Shoe shopping is so fabulous when you have a favorable exchange rate!

As we were leaving, I asked Dagmara about places to get a haircut. I made an with a place in town, but when I got home, my host family insisted that I go to a place in Wola Rzędzińska.... they said that it was really good and was no problem... I hope that that doesn't mean they are going to try to pay for it... I will keep my fingers crossed on the turnout of my haircut! I have it tomorrow. We will see.... :)