Over the past 2-3 months my attitudes have changed several times in regards to this exchange.
I originally came over here with the intention to stay abroad for much longer than the 6 months exchange. If I really loved Poland, I would stay here long enough to learn the language and continue my travels around Europe. When I realized that my love for Poland wasn’t intense enough for a prolonged stay, I decided to travel around Europe working odd jobs to sustain such travels. I mean, I am only 21 years old after all – is what I kept telling myself.
But during these cycles of rethinking my future endeavors there was always something niggling at the back of my mind – and that is the fact that I miss Australia and my family and friends in ways I never thought I would.
Like the saying; you always want what you don’t have. If there’s one lesson I’ve learnt from this exchange that I didn’t expect to, it’s how much I’ve taken my situation at home for granted. Now that I’ve made my decision to return home sooner, rather than later, I cannot wait to be back on home soil and with friends.
But just because I can’t wait to be home, doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying my time here. It has been a while since my last post (but who’s counting?) in which I told my misadventure to Budapest. Since then I have done a lot more travelling with a much higher success rate – so the days of highly embarrassing travel stories may be over for a while. But I’ve just returned from a week in Ireland, where I spent Christmas with a mate and his family. I was extremely excited about this trip as it was travelling without being a tourist. I didn’t go to Dublin or Belfast and I spent only a few days in Cork. Instead, I spent most of my time relaxing in the tiny fishing village of Crosshaven.
During my stay in Crosshaven, Funnel (my mate who, if you remember, shares joint responsibility for the Budapest voyage) showed me around his tiny village, which consists of 3 beaches, 5 pubs and a harbor. It was great to see something that couldn’t be found on a postcard.
Adding to my excitement was the ability to speak English with EVERYONE and to cut down on significant cultural barriers I’d experienced in other countries. However, this was not the case. I had even more trouble understanding the locals there (compared to Eastern Europeans speaking English) and several aspects of Irish culture gave quite a surprise, for example; the idea of ‘last call’ in pubs. The majority of my pubbing/clubbing experience has been in Krakow, where the majority of pubs shut at 6am and some never shut. So getting kicked out of a pub at midnight was a very peculiar experience indeed. But the biggest surprise came in relation to Christmas day.
With Funnel’s Mum over-feeding me and the daily visits to the pub, I was definitely feeling jolly by the time Christmas rolled around. However, no one else was. Whenever I would ask them about their plans on Christmas day, they would reply, “Ugh, Christmas da is going to be so boring. Just sitting around, watching the telly until we have dinner and go to bed.” I wasn’t happy about this. In Australia (in my experience) Christmas day is the biggest and best day when everyone gets together, drinks alcohol, plays cricket and board games and has a merry time. So we combined an Australian and Irish Christmas to have a lazily Merry Christmas.
A highlight of the trip was receiving one of the best gifts/souvenirs I’ve ever had. The family I stayed with run a walking stick business – based on the blackthorn branches the Dad collects on his walks. These walking sticks are given as gifts to U.S. presidents on behalf of the Irish government! And I was given one as a gift! It so beautiful and I felt like royalty hobbling my way through the airports on the way back to Krakow.
Anyway, this has been a bit of a rambling blog, I’ll pick up my act for the next one.