28 October 2004

How do you say 'fuse' in Polish?

Last night, I turned on my bathroom light, and all the lights went out. Of course, my first thought was a random power outage, which does happen here from time to time, for no apparent reason. Then I realized my radio was still broadcasting the news from BBC (every evening, 7-10pm, I rarely miss it.). OK, so it was just the lights. After further exploration I discovered it was just in my apartment. No big deal, I've blown a fuse. Where the hell is the fuse box?

Since it was almost 10pm, I opted to ignore it for the night & deal with it in the morning. Unfortunately, my mornings have been starting around 6:30 since I started working again, and the sun isn't up until around 7:30, so I dressed in the dark & called my landlord at a more reasonable hour. Of course, I first had to discover the necessary vocabulary to explain the problem to him - lucky me, I work at a language school!

Naturally, being a Polish gentleman, my landlord had to come over himself to fix the problem instead of just telling me where the fusebox is - and let's face it, if he had I may not have understood him anyway. So he came over this afternoon, flipped the switch, replaced the bulb that blew & started the whole thing, and now I have light again. AND, I now know where the fusebox is - in the corridor outside my apartment, of course, where else?

So my new vocabulary word for the day is "bezpiecznik." If you ever find yourself in Poland with a blown fuse, you'll know how to talk about it.

16 October 2004

A Long Overdue Update

Greetings, salutations, and apologies for being out of touch for so long. I've been on an extended vacation, due to the joys of Polish bureacracy - I've spent the past 3 months trying to arrange my work permit, so that I can be legally employed again. The good news is, I get to start work on Monday, the bad news is, I don't get paid until November. But thankfully, I have wonderful, understanding parents who won't let me starve to death in a foreign country. If I were unemployed at home, it might be a different story... ;)

So, what have I been doing for the past however long it's been since I wrote, other than stressing out & complaining about Polish civil servants? (I know you're all asking) Well...

I had 2 visitors from the US, one in July & one in September, which was a lot of fun for me - I always enjoy witnessing someone's first experience of Poland. So that involved some wandering around the country - Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk, Torun (the birthplace of Copernicus), Wroclaw, and some parts of Poznan I hadn't seen before.

I spent time with Hanna, my closest friend here, who just had her first child, a boy, on October 4. She was housebound for a lot of her pregnancy, so I tried to keep her somewhat entertained, hoping she wouldn't go insane staring at the same walls every day.

I bounced from one office to another at the university here in Poznan, getting myself registered for classes to pursue my master's degree in sociolinguistics. I'm doing an extra-mural program, which meets every other weekend, so the class time isn't a lot, but that means most of the work is done on your own. I've only had 2 class meetings so far, but I think I'm going to enjoy it. And what's really fun is having classes with a couple of my students from last year - it's a whole new dynamic, now that we're fellow students!

I signed up for a Polish course, that just started last week. It was kind of frustrating getting registered, first I thought I'd have to take a course that meets 10 hours a week! Then I found a 2-hr/wk course, but it was too advanced for me. So now I have 6 hrs/wk, 2 evenings for 3 hrs at a time. It's a good level, intermediate, and a really good group of people - some from Germany, Spain, Israel,the Ukraine & Russia, as well as one other American who lives 2 buildings away from me! It's nice to get a chance to meet some other ex-pats, and to finally try to figure out Polish grammar!

Somewhere in there, I went back to Walcz for the final exam retakes, for the students who failed their exams last June. Most of them passed this time around, just 2 from 2nd year & 3 from 3rd year didn't make it, but they apparently had yet another chance at the beginning of October - I didn't go back for that one.

So that, in a nutshell, is how I spent my summer vacation. I'll try to keep everyone updated a little more often, now that everything is getting started for the year. Oh, and for those of you in the Seattle area, I'll be home Dec 21-Jan 9, so I can hopefully see most of you then. I know, it's a busy time of year, but I'm coming all the way from Poland, I think you can squeeze me into your schedules! ;)

I hope everyone's doing well, please drop me a line & let me know what you've been up to - as always, I'll do my very best to write back!