First day of school in Poland: do you know…?

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1st of September: first day of school in Poland.

So, what’s so special? What’s different from other countries?

Three days ago we went to school to have some info about what to expect, what the girls would need ect.., usual questions. The answer we got was:don’t worry, come on the 1st of September at 9am and you will be told what to do next.

So, ok. It’s been a long summer but we can wait for three more days, I guess. Little Miss Fussy is getting really nervous, with big tantrums and headaches. We try to calm her down, reassuring her that everything it’s going to be ok, but this doesn’t really seem to be of any help.

Today is the day.

9am, we arrive at school.

In the school yard there are children and parents, all looking cheerful and super happy to see each others again. We look for the sign posts with the names of our children classes – 4A, 2A. After a few minutes we spot them and we take the girls to their teachers. Little Miss Fussy is so nervous she can’t say a word, her arms are so rigid you could say she’s a statue. Little Miss Daydream is more relaxed, she is curious about the other kids, you can see from her eyes that she is looking at their clothes and hair and any single thing that catches her eyes.  What I notice is that all the kids wear blue and white clothes, very smart indeed. My girls are wearing casual clothes of the wrong colours but nobody seems to notice.  The head teacher starts talking and welcomes everybody back to school, introduces all the staff members and teachers (quite a long list!). Then it’s time for the national anthem and other important Polish songs. Finally the kids are taken into school, in their classroom…and the parents too!!! I had no clue I was going into the classroom with my kids. We had to sit and listen to the teacher giving out timetables and instructions for the new school year. 30 minutes later we got dismissed together with the kids. See you tomorrow! What??? I thought the school was going to start today but that’s not how it works in Poland. Now I know🙂

 

Note to myself

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On the 21st of June 2016 I arrived in Warsaw with my husband and our three kids.

The city has welcomed us beautifully with lovely weather, great parks to go for a stroll and a play, stunning old town and very kind people.

warsaw

I’m not new to the city anymore but I haven’t started to look for new friends, not yet, I don’t feel ready. I’m still too attached to the friends I left in Australia and part of me feels like she’s not going to find such good friends again. Time will help me and guide me, I’m sure.

School is starting next week and I am really looking forward to it. Two whole months without any interaction with other people apart from saying Dzień Dobry and Do widzenia is taking out the worst of us all. The kids keep on fighting for no reasons and I’m going insane. They need to go to school not only to learn but much more to socialize and have fun with other kids their age. I need to have some much-needed “me time” to stop and think about what’s next for me; however, before I can do that, I need to see my kids settled down in their new school and happy with their teachers and peers.

It’s still a long journey and I’m sure there is going to be a stressful time ahead of us but hopeful in six months time we’ll all feel better.

Note to myself: next time we move, avoid arriving at the new place during summer time and spend more than two months without human interactions apart from family members (it’s insane!).

Recurrent mistake in my expat life

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No, not again!!!

It’s not the first time it happens to me and maybe it also happened to many other expats like me.

My kids have been asking for muffins for a few days now and mummy has to bake them, right? So yesterday I was ready to bake them but when I was checking the ingredients I was missing one: butter.

This morning we had to go to some boring offices to get official documents and the kids behaved so well that on the way home we stopped at the local shop next to our home to buy some butter.

As the shop is tiny and there isn’t much of a selection, I found in the fridge two packages, one with the label masło, 100 grams

and one with the label smalec,  200 grams

I wasn’t too sure which one was what, so I asked a young guy in English if he could help me but he didn’t speak English or maybe he got scared of me, who knows. Anyway as I couldn’t choose I ended up buying both the packages.

When I arrived at home I realized that smalec is the Polish for lard. I couldn’t possibly bake muffins with lard, so I simply used 100 grams of butter and made 12 muffins instead of 24, not too bad.

The first time I arrived home with lard instead of butter was in the UK, it was probably the first time I went to the supermarket and I didn’t even read the label because I would have never thought lard was sold in a package similar to the butter one.

From this experience I have learnt:

  1. masło = butter, smalec = lard
  2. I can bake 12 muffins with 100 gr. butter
  3. I should use my phone to translate words to help with my shopping

I’m really curious to know what Polish people use lard for, as they sell bigger quantities of lard than butter. I might learn some new recipes!🙂

 

 

My very first Polish lesson

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If you’re an expat,one of the best things you can do to get the feeling of the Country you’re living in,it’s to try and learn the language. Not only it will help you to better communicate with the people around you but it will also give you a better understanding of the culture, history and place where you’re living.

On Wednesday I had my very first Polish lesson.

In a school,

group of 4 adults,

a teacher speaking mostly Polish,

and…

I missed the first 3 lessons of the beginners course.

Yes, I started at lesson number 4 because I didn’t want to wait until the next course started at the end of September.

How did it go?

Well, pretty well, until they started revising number 0-10 and doing some maths with numbers up to 29. I must have had the most confused faced you have ever seen.

I felt all the numbers were tongue twisters and the most confusing ones were

9 = dziewięć

10= dziesięć

polish numbers

Now, after a few days I can say I can tell numbers from 0 to 29, a bit slowly and with a few mistakes but I am pretty happy with it.

Tomorrow I have my second lesson and I feel a bit nervous about it but I also can’t wait to learn a bit more.

 

New city, new adventure

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OMG, it’s been ages since my last post!!!

I left Italy 4 weeks ago together with my husband and three children.

In Italy the kids have been amazing, their end of school year reports were over the top and what filled my heart most were the words from both my  girls’ teachers: “It’s been a pleasure having your girl in the classroom, she is a real treasure”. What could be better for a mother’s ears?!

Now we’re in Warsaw, Poland.

First impressions:

  1. Polish people are very kind and friendly – they even give their seats on the bus when they see me with my kids!
  2. The city is very clean and tidy – I couldn’t say the same about Italy
  3. The weather? It’s summertime and it’s absolutely lovely, sunny but not too hot🙂
  4. Food? I can find absolutely everything in the superstore plus there are lots of fruit stalls around the city selling fresh and super amazing cherries, apricots, strawberries…
  5. The language is not easy at all to understand from my Italian/English background but I’m slowly learning a few words and I’m planning to have Polish lessons ASAP.
  6. It’s funny how international stores like ROSSMANN, TESCO, OKAIDI, CARREFOUR, TESCO, INTIMISSIMI and so many others make me feel more at ease about living in a new city
  7. School: we decided for a Polish school for our girls. We met the headmaster, who although she spoke only Polish, she was very welcoming and she claimed the girls we’ll be fine with their Polish after about one year of school. That would be great!
  8. Reading the bookWarsaw boy” has been very helpful in order to understand a little bit of the history of this city.
  9. ….
  10. ….

I can’t wait to live and write about my life in this interesting city.

Reading my children’s mind

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Any parent would love to know their children’s thoughts, what’s on their mind, how their brains work.

Specifically, I’d love to know how my children’s brains are managing their languages, in which language they think/speak/dream etc…

My children’s background:

Child #1: 8 y.o. , so far lived in 5 Countries and exposed to 4 languages

Child #2: 6 yo, same as above

Child #3: 3 yo, lived in 3 Countries, exposed to 3 languages.

Countries where we lived: UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia.

Currently living in Italy, moving to Poland in a few months.

That’s a lot of travelling and exposure to different languages and cultures, I would say.

Now it happens that child #1 loves English, it’s deep in her heart but in the last three months she has been going to school in Italy and she is kind of forcing herself to speak Italian all the time. She’s just probably trying to fit in or maybe she doesn’t see the point of using English when nobody but her family can understand her. Her writing and reading skills in Italian are amazing, not to mention listening and speaking.

Child #2 loves Italian; she is funny because up to now she has never lived in Italy but she has always preferred this language. She is doing great with her reading and writing in Italian and it seems as if learning to read in Italian hasn’t affected negatively her reading skills in English, it has made them even stronger! The interesting fact is that sometimes she comes up speaking English to her sister but this doesn’t last long as her sister switch it back to Italian (her sister leads the conversation and chooses the language they speak).

Child #3 loves Italian. He’s a real chatterbox in Italian and going to kindergarten in Italy has made him even more chattier. He has never sp0ken English apart for a few words but he perfectly understand it and whenever we use English he replies in Italian, translating whatever we just said.

It’s absolutely fascinating for me observing my children, how different they are and how amazingly they adapt to each Country where we live. I’m now worried about finding the right school for them in Warsaw, in a magical world it would be great if they could learn Polish and keep on using English and Italian but….we’ll see, I’m sure they’ll find their way.

 

In between

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I have been living in Italy with my kids for three months, a place in between Australia and Poland. A place I once called home, where grandparents live, a place where to wait untill we find a new house in Warsaw.

inbetween

What’s like to be living in a space in between?

It’s not easy to tell.

  1.  we are all missing daddy (Mr. Bingles), who has already started working in Warsaw. Living apart is not easy for anybody.
  2. I feel like I am in a kind of limbo. My house in Australia is not my house anymore and I’m longing to have a new house in Warsaw.
  3. Our belongings are still in a container, just arrived in Gdańsk, and I’m wondering if they’re all in one piece or if something has gone lost.
  4. kids have been sick in turn for the last two months, they’ve never been so sick before, WHY??? Something wrong with Italian air?
  5. The girls have surprised me settling in in their Italian school amazingly well. Little Miss Fussy (8y.o) has now replaced her English with Italian chats when she comes home from school.  One month ago she would have spoken English as soon as she came home.  Little Miss Daydream (6y.0) is finding school here pretty easy and I was very surprised the other day when she read me a book in English without problems even though she kind of stopped reading in English when we arrived in Italy. She is probably applying her Italian reading knowledge into English; it’s so fascinating to witness her development and I would so much want to know how on earth her brain works.  Little Mr. Copycat (3y.o) has settled down kind of easily in the Italian kindergarden altough he has never been apart from me before; he has never cried!
  6. Time is strange, I feel like it’s already March and we are leaving in June but at the same time it’s going too slow and Little Mr. Copycat keeps on asking “when are we moving to Poland, mummy?”.  It’s complicated to get a 3 year old understand how many more days he’ll have to wait.
  7. I’m worrying about moving the kids again, having to say goodbye and start all over again but at the same time I feel excited about a new start.
  8. I can’t wait to have a place to call HOME again
  9. I’m worried about my new life in Warsaw..how long will it take to find new friends?
  10. Will the salary be enough for us?

There are so many more things going on in my mind at the moment.

I’m feeling worried, as always.

I’m feeling positive because it helps, a lot.

First day at school in Italy

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We moved from Melbourne to Milan (a small village near Milan) less than a month ago.  Christmas holidays has been great with our families and friends.

Yesterday my kids started a new page of their lives: going to Italian school.

We were all a bit nervous AND curious AND excited.

We kissed the girls goodbye at 8.30am.

At 4.30pm, after a long day thinking about them, we waited at the school gate, trying to read their faces as soon as they came out. They were happy faces, a bit tired. They started talking in English as if they  needed to breath again after 8 hours of only Italian.

“So how was school? Did you like it?”

“Yes, only two problem: the canteen was yucky and the toilets…well there is no toilet, only a hole!!!”

turca

I smiled and I tried to reassure them that we can solve these “problems”.

 

Melbourne-Uluru (and back): 4 states, 3 kids, 2 adults and 1 tent

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The moment we decided to move back to Europe was also the time when we decided we had to explore a little bit more Australia.

Something we didn’t want to miss out was the desert, without any doubt. Which better way than driving through it to have a memorable experience?!

The first idea was to rent a camper but being a family of 5 and wanting cheap options didn’t get along well, so we opted out for an 8 seat-van and a tent.

Our trip from Melbourne to Uluru has been memorable for the following reasons:

  1. driving through 4 states with 3 kids and a tent; people’s comments “are you crazy?”
  2. driving for more than 5,000km in 11 days
  3. watching amazing sunsets
  4. seeing Australian animals in their natural habitat
  5. learning that the desert changes and can bloom during spring time
  6. having lunch in a roadhouse is a unique experience
  7. sleeping in a dugout: simply great!
  8. my husband buying me a pair of opal earrings, what a surprise!
  9. road trains: I loved them!
  10. my kids quietly listening to audio books for long hours drives.

You can read our trip day by day in the following posts:

day1  day2  day3  day4  day5  day6  day7  day8  day9  day10  day11

If you’re wondering how much does all of this costs:

  • petrol = $ 750
  • 10 nights in camp sites = $ 638 (including the night in the dugout and the one in the cabin)
  • hiring a 8 seater van = $1400
  • food and extras = it’s up to you😉

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