Tuesday, December 15, 2015

So you live in Poland; what’s that like?

What’s a Poland? Good question. Poland is a legit place that I feel very lucky to be a part of. Are the stereotypes of vodka, women, and pierogies true? Why yes it is. Are they also quite serious, a little tough to get to know and not big fans of people with massive cackle laughs? Yes to all three. While Poland might not be on the top of your European hit list, let me try and shed a little light on my home for the past four months.

Let me tell you a quick story about my most recent travel gaffe. The majority of poles are catholic so Christmas and Easter are huge here. We have been practising for our Christmas show for the last two weeks and my grade 5 show happened Monday and my grade 4 show happened on Tuesday. I would say both were successful. For my grade 5’s, I wanted to do something a little less traditional so we rehearsed a Christmas mashup to this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3U1vnvfumc. Now listen to it another 80 times and you will be on my level with IM5. After the show, parents brought in food and drinks. My Polish teacher welcomes them in Polish, I say a few things in my broken English and the eating begins. I get passed this:

Great. I’m hungry. Put on some Christmas music, eat my wafer, glad the show is over. Minute or two later, a student comes over, offers me their wafer, wishes me a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. He or she (I forget) tells me that I’m not supposed to eat my wafer but to go around the class, wishing people Merry Christmas and all the best in 2016. My wafer is now about 75% gone. Great. Can someone find me a new wafer? Embarrassing to be sure but I thought it was similar to a catholic communion where you eat what they give you. So this evening, my other Polish teacher asked me if I knew what to do with the wafer. Where was she yesterday? Polish people might find this funnier than you do but the lesson to be learned is if you are unsure about how to act in a new country/situation, give it a minute and act like everyone else. I also like the tradition because it is social and is an easy conversation starter. 

I saw my first wild boar family last week. At first glance I thought it was a bear. I’ve seen bears before in Canada but not wild boars so that was a surprise and a relief. Also had baby boars with it so that spiced up my Tuesday night. Apparently you need to run in a zig zag to elude them. Stupid boars.
Poland is definitely on the cheap side for Europe. Grocery shopping, Uber, alcohol, and most things are cheaper than in Canada. Most young people can speak English but there is a tipping point around 45-50ish and for sure grandparents are no hablo ingles. The amount of students, schools and studying that goes on in Poland is bonkers. Almost everyone who strives for a higher income/lifestyle has a Masters and is probably studying even more. Old or young, education is king. People from abroad and throughout Poland are a big reason I have a job so thanks Poland.

Making friends for me in general is a little tough because I’m not super outgoing and social to new people so by chance, one night we crossed the river into Praga, known as the more dangerous/seedier side of Warsaw to see what’s up. A random Australian and his friends started a conversation with me and another Canadian that I work with and we all hit it off. He works at a hostel in Warsaw so he likes talking to people and a hostel is a good home base to have to try and make new friends so progress is being made in the friend department if anyone out there is worried I’m staying in all weekend catching up on Touched by an Angel.

Two week break coming up next week that I’m greatly anticipating but I have another two week break in February that I’m even more excited for because I will be visiting Toronto, friends and family. Europe and travelling is great but family is what’s up. And snowboarding. And Underground. 
This will be my cheapest Christmas since I’ve been a kid due to lack of family nearby and a wide circle of friends in Poland. Weather has been quite warm which makes my 5 minute bike rides to school even more bearable. I’ve discovered that getting a masseuse to come over and get a hour and a half massage is only about $45ish dollars which I will be maximizing from here on out. Thailand was cheaper but I had to leave my house. Also paid someone under $20 to clean my apartment to a standard way over what I would have for myself and ironed my shirts. It’s the little things that get me about a country.

First few weeks went by a bit slowly but things are picking up now and I’m finding my groove. Will try and post a few more before the end of the year. Hope you killed it in 2015 and 2016 surpasses the expectations that you shouldn’t even have had in the first place. Don’t be a stranger.

“Three things cannot hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I'm a 7. What number are you?

The enneagram is essentially a personality type test that might give you some insight into what kind of a human being you are. When I first heard about enneagrams last year, I was skeptical and it sounded far-fetched and fairly lame. I’ve since come around to loving the idea and think it can help us with our everyday life. It seems incredibly accurate and is a bit mind blowing that a test can tell you things about yourself that you may not have noticed. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time now but haven’t made time but since being home sick the last two days, it has opened some writing time in my schedule. Let’s dive right in.

 There are 9 types. Everyone is a little bit of each type but we have a dominant type along with a wing (or two). No type is inherently male or female; the higher the number does not mean one is better than the other; at different times you may act like a 3 while in other situations you may act more like a 9; there is no “good” or “bad” number; it is also believed that we are born into our types and that we don’t change types throughout our lifetime.  I’m by no means an expert in the enneagram field but I find it fascinating and will do my best to summarize it. So, what are the types? Great question but raise your hand next time to ask a question. While you read, try to guess which type(s) you (and me!) are and I will put a link to the free test after type 9. After you take the test, go back to your number and click on the link to learn more. There is a video that explains what it is like to be your number, how you do in relationships, an overview of your type and tips to make you a better you.

Some of this info is from their website https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions/

Type One—The Reformer: The principled, idealistic type. Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionist. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic. Famous 1's include Plato, Hillary Clinton, Harrison Ford, Martha Stewart. Learn more about 1's https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-1/
Type Two—The Helper: The caring, interpersonal type. Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others. Famous 2's include Stevie Wonder, Elizabeth Taylor and Kenny G. Learn more about 2's https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-2/
Type Three—The Achiever: The adaptable, success-oriented type. Threes are self-assured, attractive, and charming. Ambitious, competent, and energetic, they can also be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. They are diplomatic and poised, but can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. At their Best: self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others. Famous 3's include Will Smith, Bill Clinton, Oprah and Kevin Spacey. Learn more about 3's https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-3/
Type Four—The Individualist: The introspective, romantic type. Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and reserved. They are emotionally honest, creative, and personal, but can also be moody and self-conscious. Withholding themselves from others due to feeling vulnerable and defective, they can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. At their Best: inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences. Famous 4's Edgar Allen Poe, Nicolas Cage, Marlon Brandon and Bob Dylan. Learn more about 4's https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-4/
Type Five—The Investigator: The perceptive, cerebral type. Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way. Learn more about 5's https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-5/
Type Six—The Loyalist: The committed, security-oriented type. Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. Excellent “troubleshooters,” they foresee problems and foster cooperation, but can also become defensive, evasive, and anxious—running on stress while complaining about it. They can be cautious and indecisive, but also reactive, defiant and rebellious. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion. At their Best: internally stable and self-reliant, courageously championing themselves and others. Famous 6's David Letterman, Chris Rock, Mark Twain and Prince Harry. Learn more about 6's https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-6/
Type Seven—The Enthusiast: The busy, productive type. Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. Playful, high-spirited, and practical, they can also misapply their many talents, becoming over-extended, scattered, and undisciplined. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. They typically have problems with impatience and impulsiveness. At their Best: they focus their talents on worthwhile goals, becoming appreciative, joyous, and satisfied. Famous 7's Mozart, Thomas Jefferson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlie Sheen and Larry King. (Some may say the best type..........) Learn more about the best https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-7/
Type Eight—The Challenger: The powerful, aggressive type. Eights are self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At their Best: self-mastering, they use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring. Famous 8's Martin Luther King Jr, Winston Churchill, Picasso and Frank Sinatra. Learn more about 8's https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-8/
Type Nine—The Peacemaker: The easy-going, self-effacing type. Nines are accepting, trusting, and stable. They are usually grounded, supportive, and often creative, but can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent and emotionally distant, simplifying problems and ignoring anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness. At their Best: indomitable and all-embracing, they are able to bring people together and heal conflicts. Famous 9's include Lincoln, Morgan Freeman, Monet and Ringo Starr. Learn more about 9's https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-9/

All Rights ReservedCopyright 2008 The Enneagram Institute
Link to the free test. Just add your email:
Another interesting part of the enneagram is how it affects us in relationships we have. Certain types mesh well with others. If you and someone you are in a relationship both take the test, you can click here https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/practical-applications/ 
and it will tell you how your types interact. That link also explains how different types do in business, parenting, personal growth and what countries have more of which type. Once you know your type and understand them a little more, it’s quite fun to guess what type your friends and family might be. Even guessing new people you meet can become addicting.

After taking the free test, I was a 7 (The Enthusiast) with a 3 (Achiever) and a 9 (Peacemaker) wing. I felt that I was a hard 7. Focuses on fun, avoiding pain, undisciplined and spontaneous. Since taking the test, I see myself as a 7 and tend to seek out 7’s as friends. There is also a $12 test that I always wanted to take but never did that is a more in-depth so just before writing this post, I took it and it was a tie between 7 and 9! A nine! But I’m a 7! 9’s are easy-going, trusting, supportive and stubborn. They can bring people together but avoid conflict. I’m pretty entrenched into my 7 attitude so I haven’t had enough time to explore my 9 habits but I’m still going to call myself a 7 (Stubbornness: such a 9 trait!) Let me know what you think. I’m sorry if this post was even worse than what I usually write but I think learning about ourselves, each other and how we all interact is important. Let me know what number you are and if you think it's accurate or not. Thanks.

Leadership Quote 11

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” Dr. Dyer

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Thursdays are our gateway to the weekend. What better way to start off the weekend than a wrap up post? The answer is no other way. But first:


Yeah right eh? Stayed up till 2am watching it with a fellow Canadian while another Canadian decided sleep was a better option. We are deciding what to do with her passport. I don’t normally miss being at home too often but right now I’m very envious of anyone in the GTA. These late night games are going to be cutting into my sleep and productivity with my classes. I hope they understand it’s part of my culture. They need to learn about cultural sensitivity in my opinion and I’m their teacher so I obviously know best.

Quick thoughts on Krakow:
I dig it. I don’t take tons of pictures because my phone has a scratched lens and I’m not a big real camera person, making people wait around so I can take a few pictures of some chapels. Here’s what I would have taken pictures of:

Just a reminder, when you are in a new country, understand the exchange rate and decimal numbers on atm/card machines. Just a reminder. I'd tell you it was my friend but you wouldn't believe me.

Nothing crazy happened in Krakow but it was my first train ride in Europe that was cheap and an enjoyable time with a few other teachers from my school. Also hit up my first brewery which was a win, laughed a few times and ate a cinnabon. Only a three hour train ride so I anticipate returning once or twice in the near future.

Also a good spot. Shocking? Aren’t you glad you tune into for this wise and sage like advice? Want another shocker? It was expensive! Gasp! I went to meet up with a friend from university and it was definitely worth it. Obviously we saw a Berlin polar bear hockey game. Saw a little thing called the Berlin wall; maybe you’ve heard about it. It’s quite the wall. Did my first bike tour of a city that covered a lot of ground which is great because of my Bertness, I got lost twice (twice) on the Sunday for a walking tour so I didn’t see a few famous places, most notably checkpoint Charlie. I had a few hours but it would have cost me a few euros to get there and I don’t like gambling with flight times however I do love gambling in almost any other scenario. Instead of the walking tour, I took part in my first boat tour that was beautiful and informational. If I took pictures, this is what they would sort of look like:

While I was poorly navigating Berlin’s complex metro system, I started wondering why I wanted to see these landmarks on that walking tour and if I didn’t, would my trip have been a waste? Did I really care or did I just not want to tell people that I went to Berlin and I didn’t see ________. How often have I or yourself seen a sight or taken part in an activity that you weren’t 100% jacked up about but did it in large part to say that you did it? I’m guessing more than I imagine. Is there a lesson to be learned here? Oh, I think so.
I feel like before going to a new place, researching it a bit, talking with people who have been and coming up with a rough idea of how I want to spend my days/hours in that particular spot will give me an outline of the things that catch my interest but if I go to Moscow and don’t see the Kremlin or visit Nigeria and don’t see Zuma rock, is that a big deal? I feel like it isn’t. I go to a new place to chill out, not be rushed and just see what happens. One reason I’m not super down to visit India any time soon is because I hear that even though it’s wild, different and unlike any other place on the planet, going there doesn’t seem like it would help me unwind. I need to unwind from a class filled with students who thinks that me showing them pictures of a forest being destroyed to make products is fake. “Teacher! Not real! From a computer!” Sigh.

So if you go somewhere new or old, don’t let people bully you into doing must see things. Take a random bus somewhere with a new friend, grab a beer and wander around, sleep in your air bnb all day, do whatever that is you want to do at that time. You do you.
Thanksgiving was great. I’m quite thankful for many things. Being Canadian, having a crazy, great amount of friends and family that I love very much, being able to travel, having luscious long eyelashes and being able to go to work and instantly be put into a better mood by a student saying that a tomato and a potato are the same thing or asking me if I have a girlfriend, me asking her what she thinks and her reply is “of courrrrse not”. She knows. Enjoy your weekend.

Thursdays. Are. Sexy. Sexy Thursday.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” 

John D. Rockefeller 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What Tinder has taught me


People love apps. People love love. People love distractions. People love immediate gratification. People love what’s next. People love getting a glimpse into the lives of others. People love attention and validation. People love hooking up. People love getting over other people quickly. People love stories. People love beauty. People love originality. People love to laugh. People love cleverness. People love to swipe.

For those fortunate enough to not know what Tinder is or had this app play a role in your life, it essentially let’s people in your area swipe left if they don’t like what they see or swipe right if they do. If you both swipe right, let the messaging begin. Since moving back to Canada in April 2014, I’ve dabbled here and there. These are my thoughts.

We live in a crazy, amazing, messed up world so Tinder fits right in. It’s absolutely a good way to kill some time, share stories with friends and the possibility of meeting cool people or more. I would say I have met just under 10 people and I never met up with anyone a second time. I’ve never even held a match’s hand! The most memorable Tinder quote I have was when I met up for lunch with a girl shortly after coming back from living in Thailand (which by the way, I miss tremendously daily) and after 20 minutes or so, she says to me “You are very uncooperative”. She really saw to my core that day my friends. She ended the date by saying “Do you not meet very many new people?” My response should have been “I actually meet tons of new people and have the best friends I could ask for so that’s how I know you won’t be one of them” but I’m not quick witted so it ended there. Another lady told me she could tell the second we met that I wasn’t interested. People are quite perceptive and I’m also terrible at pretending. And as a card in Cards Against Humanity says, Pretending to Care goes a long way.

Being a guy on Tinder is a different world that being any woman on Tinder and especially if that women is above average looking. I could easily have a swipe session and not get any matches. A female doing the same could easily rack up over a 100. So if your confidence is low and could use a little boost, a short time on Tinder might turn that around until guys start messaging you what I can only imagine are quite sexual and borderline offensive things. If your first message is Hi, you are dead in the water. If you are a guy, you need to find something interesting about that person or a clever joke. My favourite that I’ve used is “I’m 94% sure this is how my grandparents met. How did yours meet?” Gold. However, if you are a lady, you don’t need to worry about messaging first. He’ll message. They always do.

Other Tinder phenomenons include putting your height in your proflie; having 5 other people on your profile picture which makes swiping a total guessing game; guys writing "no hookups" which I find quite bold; collecting matches but not messaging or replying; being Polish and there are apparently only 4 names for women here; emojis are almost always welcome when used appropriately/inappropriately; Tinder used to be completely free but now you only get a certain amount of swipes but for over $20 a month, you can swipe forever and from different locations; there are books and dating coaches that can help people get more matches and "win" Tinder; I'd say I have lost at Tinder no doubt.

Overall, while swiping is fun and even people in relationships usually want to swipe a few pictures just to see what all of the hype is about, I generally feel that Tinder doesn’t make my life any better and usually just makes me feel slightly less good looking/fun. I’m not sure how much better looking/rich I need to appear in my profile but I feel like there are a lot of monkeys walking around in Warsaw with good looking girls and I have made zero friends outside of work. I have some work to do in that department that doesn’t involve an app but I might just take my grandparent pickup line with me. 

“Two things you will never have to chase: True friends & true love.”

There were tons of other Tinder related pictures I wanted to post but things get dirty quite quickly. If you are interested, just google Chive Tinder and get ready to be horrified. Mom, you don’t need to Google anything. Church might be the right answer. For both of us. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015


I live just outside of Warsaw, Poland. From my apartment, it takes 30 minutes by car and last night it cost me 30 PLN which is $10 Canadian by Uber. I split that with another Canadian teacher so my commute into the city and back cost me $10. That is a deal people. Poland is not expensive. I spent under $40 last night going out which included my taxi, drinks, cover, a hamburger and water. I think I will do just fine here.

I’m into Poland. I did a great job managing my expectations and it has been a pleasant surprise. My school is very clean, safe and organized. There is an American couple and 3 other Ontario teachers teaching at my school. My apartment is big enough for me, clean and a 15 minute walk to my school. I live essentially in a beautiful and potentially enchanted forest. Polish people speak more English than people in Thailand so that has been beneficial. I haven’t noticed how beautiful the women here are because I’ve been busy getting ready for school but I can only imagine that they are around and like having foreigners to gaze at. They have English movies with Polish subtitles so that is another win. Beer is everywhere and cheap. Bicycles are all the rage and buying one was on my list today but a series of poorly executed plans on my part hindered that mission being completed. 

Other things that stand out from my first week in Poland are: they love rollerblading; not as much smoking inside and drinking on the street as in Prague; Polish men seem to love drinking and fighting. I can only imagine that will turn out badly for me one night this year; Warsaw has a metro system that seems to work quite well; they actually do love vodka shots; instead of using a symbol for a man or woman for the washroom, they think that having a triangle and a circle instead clarifies things better.

I won’t get into the details of the story (nothing terrible happened) but whether living at home or abroad, if you are faced with a decision that could have potential negative repercussions, trusting your instincts is primordial. It doesn’t matter what the potential upside might be, once you start deviating from what you think/know is right, trouble will surely follow.

Overall, I feel as if the right choice was made coming to Poland. The next year will surely be an adventure and I’m excited to actually start teaching and having two classes to call my own. If you are ever in Europe, let me know and we can try and make something happen. I’m also missing my Jays hoodie so if anyone knows its whereabouts, I miss it very much. Enjoy the remainder of your summer, stay thirsty and out of the headlines.

“Trust instinct to the end, even though you can give no reason.”

Ralph Emerson