Sunday, August 30, 2015

Warsaw



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













Monday, August 24, 2015

P is for Prague


Prague. What can I write in this space that hasn’t been written before? Would it surprise you if I noticed then commented on the fact that Prague has modelesque women every 7 feet in any direction? It's actually insane. It's basically the opposite of what the streets of New Zealand are like. What if I mentioned how historic, full of history and gorgeous scenery Prague possesses?






I’m afraid that growing up in an all-French speaking school has left me unable and ill-equipped to write a post that is up to a certain medieval European standard so I will shoot you straight and swiftly. This may shock some long time readers but I believe Prague to be slightly overrated. There is nothing wrong with Prague. It was my first taste of Europe and has been a solid start to a year (possibly several) on this continent. Does it have beautiful castles?




Does it not have interesting facts like The Rolling Stones paid to light up this magnificent castle because the Czech government couldn’t afford it? Or that they have a rich history of throwing people out of their windows? Sure but every country does that. One of my main beefs with Prague is how much smoking is allowed in restaurants and bars. Those 5 days have taken at least that many days off of my life. #thanksPrague.


I also got lost every day I was there. It lost its novelty on day 4. It’s not that tough of a place to navigate but there is something about the place that just doesn’t make me love it or want to come back to it. 2 days would be enough, 3 if you are feeling like you have an abundance of time to waste. Prague is the first place I took part on a free walking tour and that was decent. Those guides know what’s up and he gave away 5 free beer for answering trivia questions (of course I won one). Other moderately good things about Prague is there number of casinos, beer at Burger King, number of pub crawls, affordable living and I met some cool people at the hostel I was staying at which made the trip worth it. I stayed here for $25 a night.






My flight from Toronto to Montreal to Prague was a breeze. Was the only person in a row of three on the way to Montreal then the plane stopped to pick up passengers so people had to change seats; not the most efficient system. My ticket said middle seat so I  analyzed the situation: a man and his wife and an empty middle seat. Wasn’t too eager to jump into that situation so waited until more passengers came aboard in hopes that an aisle seat would open up. Slowly the airplane fills up with nobody sitting in my original row. I casually sit down, buckle up and just as we are about to take flight, a French guy sits in the other aisle destroying my newest dream of flying to Europe in my own private aisle but those are the breaks sometimes. Update on Warsaw next.  


This is just another reason why The Rolling Stones are better than the Beatles. The Beatles never lit shit.” 
Tour Guide

Monday, August 3, 2015

Harder than last time


I can already feel it. It seems like I am constantly looking at my calendar in disbelief that I will be in Europe in 14 days. I can remember feeling somewhat indifferent about taking off for the first time four years ago with little expectation and the possibility of returning home in a month if things went south quickly. I now have a better grasp of what moving an ocean away entails and is making me more nervous and melancholy. I’ve loved these last 15 months and there is a part of me that feels like I might be making a mistake. Not a mistake of the country (who doesn’t love Poland??!!) or my school but there is something to be said about staying in one place, planting roots and keeping current friendships alive and strong. It’s normal to question yourself, your choices and your path right? I’m not the only one? I understand that in the grand scheme of things I’m still fairly young but 29 turns into 30 then that becomes 35 then I’m 40. Then what? I’ve also possibly made the mistake of not having a family sooner because the earlier you start, the more time you how with those monsters you have created. But I can’t just marry anyone and have a baby with them right? I feel confused and uncertain that I’m maximizing my life. It’s clear that I’m not a financial success at this point; I’m not divorced so I have that going for me. I also believe that once I’m roaming the streets of Prague on the 19th, I will think that I made the right life choice or once I stop working at my current job that isn’t exactly A1, I will feel better about my direction in life.


Moving away isn’t a minor life choice and thinking it through and wondering about different paths has to be a normal train of thought. The worst case scenario is that I don’t love my job or Poland and it is over in 10 months. The best case scenario is that Poland and my school is amazing, I see most of the things I have on my list and I find an amazing two year contract that pays me well and gives me great teaching experience. My reality will probably fall somewhere in the middle of those two options. I hope this doesn’t seem like I’m mad, sad or ungrateful, I know big changes are ahead and I’m just slightly anxious about going at it alone again.


In other events, I got a text a 2am Friday asking if I wanted a free weekend wristband to Veld. Veld is a massive electronic dance music festival with 30 thousand people, dancing and DJ’s. Here is what last year looked like:


A wristband for the weekend is around $300 plus drinks, food and people getting after it once it shuts down around 11pm. I’ve been to festivals and concerts before but this was my first EDM festival and even though it isn’t my go-to genre of music, it sounds incredible with their sound systems and it’s in an open field essentially so there is some room for a bit of personal space. Unless you are right up in the thick of it, then there’s no room. My big takeaways from Veld were:
-It got cancelled Sunday night because of thunderstorms in the area which ended up passing through but they do take safety seriously which I suppose is a good thing but people weren’t happy. I wasn’t happy and didn’t pay 300. I can imagine how people who actually looked forward to this all year felt. They also delayed it for two hours on the Saturday because of some mild clouds. Kinda lame.


-People love partying and just going for it. People, especially girls, treat these festivals like Halloween so there were some provocatively dressed women at this event. People love dressing up and escaping reality.


-Waster was $5-10. Food and other drinks not cheap either. I’m not sure how teenagers can afford it. I can’t.


-EDM is synonymous with drugs because a good percentage of people at these events are high on drugs. It can’t be safe or healthy. They do have security that does a decent job but what they aren’t showing you on the after party video is people tripping out in a field, people in an ambulance or being arrested for selling drugs to kids. Funny how that didn’t make the final cut. 


-Two people died last year.  Zero this year as far as I know. People shouldn't die at festivals. 


-While yes, some people indulge a bit too much, there isn’t much or any violence and there is generally a great vibe of people dancing and having a great time being outside and enjoying life. Not every day is a music video but might as well make it count when given the opportunity.



If you just had a long weekend, I hope it was a fun and safe one. Let’s stay in touch and maximize the rest of our summertime.


“In these times I don't, in a manner of speaking, know what

I want; perhaps I don't want what I know and want what I 

don't know.” 

Marsilio Ficino