I am a traveler. I am not talking about traveling to hot spots like Paris, Rome or going for short touristic experiences. I am talking about exploring the untouched crevasses of a nation, embracing the culture, and expanding my identity.
One year ago I started traveling, and now I can’t stop.
How Teaching Spanish In Poland Changed My Life
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Thanks to opportunities like volunteering and internships, I’ve been to several places throughout Europe, met many people and learnt more about tolerance and coexistence than I can put into words.
Still, being a Spanish teacher steered my life in a new direction.
When I decided to go to Poland as Spanish teacher, many of the people closest to me wondered if I had gone crazy. My studies weren’t related to teaching, I had no experience in the field, nor do I intend to be a full-time teacher. So here I was, a reckless stupid wandering girl.
But, you know, I had nothing to lose.
It was an 8-week language course with polish students of all ages who had little knowledge of Spanish. I also had to live in the student’s dorm at the local University and share a room with a stranger.
My family wasn’t too fond of this scenario but, although I respect them to the utmost level, something itched inside me and told me to go.
And it was the best decision I could make.
The city I taught in is called Białystok, hidden in the northeast of Poland, next to the border of Belarus.
Medium size, with a population of < 300,000, Białystok has a vibrant and youthful atmosphere and is also just two hours away from Warsaw. So, at a first glance, Bialystok was appealing.
Shortly after our arrival in Białystok, the “Juwenalia Festival” started. This is a huge party where students essentially take over the city. It takes place all over Poland and includes concerts, parties, concerts and parties. I couldn’t ask for anything better. The memories and relationships I made at this week-long festival were the foundation of my love for this country.
In Białystok, despite the size, there are many things to do. My favourites include: hiring a bike and riding around with the city, going to the beach at Dojlidy Lake, jogging in the forest, and training at the Weglowa Street Workout Park.
As the weeks passed by, my students kept asking me “How do you find polish people?”. I could see a glimpse of shame in their eyes. In a way, I felt that they were apologising on behalf of their fellows. So they were extremely surprised when I had nothing but compliments and praises for everyone.. And the truth is, I found charming hearts in the polish people.
Maybe I got lucky and only met the best, but in general, polish people are open, friendly and warm. You can tell that this is a community that went through a lot in history, since they are an example of never giving up and fighting for their goals.
I was lucky to meet amazing people that inspired me to believe in myself. And because I was able to visit other cities in Poland, such as Zakopane, Gdańsk, Krakow, Warsaw and Katowice, I could learn more about the polish history and culture as a whole. Not only that, Poland is a growing country, and all the stereotypes about racism and intolerance that used to relate to them are now a thing of the past, especially in the younger community.
So now, I am looking for ways to move back to Poland. My time in Bialystok left an unexpected aftertaste… Eagerness to go back and experience what, hopefully, Poland has waiting for me.
Over to you! Leave your answers below…
- Are you thinking about teaching Spanish in Poland? Or perhaps you’re interested in teaching another language? Leave all your questions below and Cecilia will help you out!
- Are you currently teaching Spanish in Poland? How is your experience?