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Settling In, Learning My Way Around

September 9, 2012

I’ve been in Żory a week now. I’ve had my training and observed some lessons. I brought home the books we use at the school and I’m beginning to go through them in order. It will help to know what grammar and vocabulary students have or haven’t encountered, at a given stage. There are also many different ways to analyze, explain, and demonstrate English grammar, and I need to become used to the way it’s done in the Avalon method.

The street where I live. It’s really kind of an alley.

Downtown Żory is built around a sort of plaza or square, called in Polish a rynek. The streets are all cobblestone. I’m really grateful to Agnieszka (from the school) for helping me get a place in this part of town.

I’m hoping my work permit will be ready tomorrow, so that I can make a visa run over the Czech border, and start teaching this week. I will go to Ostrava, which is 53 km/33 miles. I’ll probably go by bus; I spotted the station on my walk yesterday. It looks like getting a ticket could be a bit complicated, but I can ask the school secretary to help me with it.  They’re very helpful with things like that.

The school where I work.

Other than that, I’ve mostly been setting up my apartment and taking walks to explore the town. I think I’ve got it now and won’t be getting lost anymore. I’ve done a little socializing with the other teachers and I met some teachers from one of the other schools in town. Everyone has been very friendly and welcoming.

My little flat. I love having a small place. It keeps me from accumulating possessions.

There’s a great old cemetery attached to the Catholic church in the center of town. Some of the graves go back to the 1820s

I’ve been listening to a Polish news radio station. I’m still only catching cognates, loan words and a few very common Polish words, but I’m starting to sort of hear the syllables, if that makes sense. And then I’ve been going through an online pronunciation guide. I try to pronounce the word and then play the clip and see how close I was. When I see words a lot, I write them down and look them up. I bought a notebook for my Polish studies.

These are what they call blocks of flats. I would say this is the most common type of housing here.

Also, since I’ve a good wifi connection in my flat, I’ve been scouring the web for music, something I haven’t done in a while. I’ve downloaded quite a bit of blues from blogs and a lot of post-punk, experimental, Japanese, and just plain wacko stuff from the great folks at Skin Graft Records. I haven’t touched my guitar, oddly enough.  I’ve just been listening to a lot of different stuff. I saw some live music in a bar in Żory the other night. It was mostly electronic dance stuff, which does not interest me in the least, but it was cool to see that there is a place for live music here. I’m sure at some point I’ll work up an act and get out there.

The Żory post office. One day, I will know enough Polish to go in there and mail something to America.  That day has not yet come.

I’m also rebooting my diet and exercise routine. I bought a scale and discovered that I’ve gained about 10 lbs. since coming to Europe. We’ll be nipping that in the bud, thank you very much.  As Sheriff John Brown said, kill it before it grows. So I have resolved not to drink beer unless I am out with friends. I bought some healthy food and a few cooking implements and my calorie count is getting back under control. I’ve walked every day.

In fact, that’s what I’m going to do right now. I’m about to walk a good 6 or 8 km. I tend not to get out and about until rather late in the day. I’ve only got about two hours of light left.

UPDATE:  I walked 8.7 km.  (That’s 5.4 miles to the metrically challenged.)  I found out that Auchan, the big grocery store, closes an hour earlier on Sunday, but that’s okay; it was mostly about the exercise.

My walk, today, as it would have been seen from space, had I left behind me a trail of bright, blue paint, several meters wide.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. ErosLane permalink
    September 9, 2012 4:47 pm

    Your area of Zory looks so beautiful! Even your modest apartment looks warm, welcoming & liveable. Love the cemetery as well. Looks like a grand place to have lunch (something I do here in the States from time-to-time).

    • September 9, 2012 6:24 pm

      Cemeteries are rather restful.. Can’t say I’ve ever lunched in one, but I like the idea.

      • September 9, 2012 6:35 pm

        Wait until you see the cemeteries on November 1st….beautiful!

      • September 9, 2012 6:39 pm

        Oh, cool, do they have some kind of All Souls’ Day traditions?

      • September 9, 2012 6:45 pm

        Picnicking in the cemetery is awesome. A bunch of friends I met in my travels and I bought some bread and cheese in Paris and had a picnic on Jim Morrison’s grave. You can tell when you are getting closer to his grave because the graffiti starts getting thicker and thicker. But I like to picnic in lesser-known cemeteries also. I found some of my ancestors in a couple of abandoned cemeteries that were overgrown and in the middle of the woods in New Hampshire; I had to clear overgrowth to see and take pictures of the graves. One guy i found in one was a Revolutionary War veteran. I fantasize about someday going to some teeny little out-of-the-way cemetery and collecting all the info on the gravestones and putting it on the web.

      • ErosLane permalink
        September 11, 2012 6:42 am

        Actually, a hundred plus years ago, folks would Sunday picnic in the newfangled park/cemetaries that were created. In fact, the inspiration for Central Park came from the one in Boston I do believe. New York just took the idea and took the buried bodies and statuary out of the equation!

  2. Noorbeert Beeaaveer permalink
    September 9, 2012 5:13 pm

    It’s a very picturesque place. I love that they paint the buildings in interesting colours, and the cobbles are great. It certainly makes a change from grey concrete.

    I can’t believe you’ve moved to the land of Lech and you’re not drinking beer. That’s like moving into Willy Wonka’s chocolate room and deciding that you’re cutting back on sugar. :oD

    • September 9, 2012 6:25 pm

      Oh, I will drink plenty of Lech,fear ye not. I’m just not going to sit at home, drinking it by myself, and getting fat, which is something I am perfectly capable of doing.

      • Noorbeert Beeaaveer permalink
        September 9, 2012 6:58 pm

        You’ve basically just described my entire Sunday.

  3. Katie Morrison permalink
    September 9, 2012 6:19 pm

    That cemetery looks amazing.
    Looks like you are gonna need some little organizing shelflets/cubby hole type things you could stack vertically on your desk space to the left of the laptop.I love that long thin desk against the wall idea. The town looks nice. I like the old buildings and the streets. And your apartment is cute as pie.

    • September 9, 2012 6:28 pm

      I’m going to try to avoid buying organizing units… that’s how it starts. I just need to straighten up my stuff.

      I love the layout of my room, too, with the desk along the wall. A room is basically utilitarian to me, so I like the space used with maximum efficiency.

      I’ll take another picture after I straighten up. Must. Document. Everything.

  4. September 9, 2012 6:31 pm

    Please start developing your electronica persona. 🙂

    • September 9, 2012 6:41 pm

      Never say never. I’ve done stranger things in my time than morph into a Polish beatbot.

      EDIT: I just thought of the term Botnik, and that kind of makes me want to develop a persona in support of it.

  5. Sibyl White permalink
    September 10, 2012 1:28 pm

    Walking map displays! Love that you are getting going again. Guess the shoes are good to go now. Getting the care pkg ready today.

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