Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: First Day of Classes...

So i was planning on continuing to write about my adventures from the first three weeks, but i cant help but quickly write about my first day of classes here at Opole University. There have only been a few moment when i've stopped and actually thought, "Oh God Leah, what are you doing in Poland??!!" And i will say that this morning was one of those moments. First, let me give you an idea of the fashion here in Poland....two words...Runway Model. I'm not even kidding, they value appearance very highly and dressing for class is something to be carefully considered. Now....for all the readers out there...you know how i dress, and it doesnt come anywhere near the beautiful European styles. BUT, Leah thought that this would be a great opportunity to not only practice Polish language, but Polish style as well, meaning: heels. Not just ordinary heels, the very fashionable high boot (that comes to your knee) with the heel that resemebles a surgical needle. So last night, my roommate, Agata (who is great and speaks english well) and I took the bus to the mall where i would get my first lesson in European fashion 101. (this class is not for the fashionably handicapped such as myself). The first thing i learned was that i wear a shoe size somewhere between 39 and 40, quite a ways from my usual 8 1/2. After some time, and trying on numerous styles and sizes of boots, we finally found a pair that i liked, and miraculously i was able to zip them over my leg which is another thing i learned: not only do the heels on the shoes resemble surgical needles, but also the ordinary female leg is the size of my wrist (maybe i exaggerate, but seirously). I was so excited to finally have a nice pair of boots that we decided to do a bit more shopping, where i bought a great sweater to match, i wasnt about to touch the European pant sizes, my American digit is already high enough, i didnt need a number in the 30s or 40s to make me feel anymore out of place. This brings us to the story of the first day of classes...
I was told that i would only have two classes on Tuesday: Contemporary International Terrorism and Religion in International Relations, both in the same building which was very close to my dorm. I was pumped, two great classes on subjects that facinate me! I woke up extra early to get ready for class, showered, did my hair, and put on my new sweater and fantastic European boots which looked great with the brown leather purse my sister had bought me in a generous last attempt to sharpen my image before leaving the States, i was more than ready! Or so i thought...
Now, i must interject for a brief note. When one has never worn heels of such style, one should:
A. practice walking in them for apporoximatly 1 to 2 hours prior to making any important appearances.
B. practice walking in them on ANY OTHER surface besides snow...

I left the dorm, my confidence increasing with every click of the heel. Opole University, here comes the foreigner!! Just as i rounded the corner of the building, i suddenly lost the smooth strut as my boots slid on the icy snow, and before i knew what was happening, i was on the ground...as the girl that was walking right behind me just walked around the foreign mess lying on the ground. I couldnt help but laugh...Leah, your an idiot, but its okay, there werent too many people around. I quickly get up, dust off the snow, and try to pull my confidence out of the snow where it also fell in a dirty messy pile. I try to pull off the "i've been going to Opole for years and know exactly what i'm doing" look, and start to feel okay when i approach the front of the building. There were students congregating near the doors, waiting for classes to start, and was about to go introduce myself, when...yes...once again, i lost my footing on the slippery snow and ended up on the ground. This time, i was sure that everyone saw. "hehe ohh look at the foreigner who is trying to walk in Polish boots, silly girl" Nobody said anything, i'm not sure if they even cared, it may happen all the time (it HAS too with EVERYONE wearing heels!) So again, i pulled myself together, left what remained of my confidence in the snow, and headed straight for the class. Upon entering the class, i introduced myself to the professor only to be greeted with a hand shake and head nod. Oh no...was i in the right class? She knows i dont speak any Polish right??? The class begins, and as i had feared, absolutely every part of it was in Polish...i must have had the stupidest look on my face, most likely like a dear caught in the headlights. After class, i approached her and polietly asked if any of the class was going to be in English, and suprisingly, she spoke a decent amount of English and informed me that No, the lectures were going to be taught in Polish, but all the texts were in English. She suggested that if i would come to the lectures, then i would learn how to speak Polish....(a almost laughed, but realized she wasnt joking). I left the class feeling a bit defeated... it was definatly one of those moments when i asked myself What the Heck i was doing in Poland. My next class was in 2 hours, and i was determined to make it a better experience, with no trips to the polish snow mush. Luckily, when the time came, i made it to my next class. Again, i introduced myself to the professor and this time, i was warmly greeted with English and an excited smile. She was very welcoming and excited to have me in her class. To begin the class, she introduced me to the class as "The New American Student", and i said a few words about where i came from and what i'm doing in Opole. A class full of smiles and wide eyes resounded their welcome back. The professor instructed the students that she would be conducting 95% of the class in English and to expect things to be a bit more difficult now that they had a native speaker present. She was very nice, and after class i spoke with her and thanked her for everything. After the class, i got to speak with most of the students, they were all very curious to know why i had come to Poland. "Were you hired by the university to help us with English?" After some talk, and giggles at my attempts to show them the Polish i have learned, we all left on good terms. I'm very optimisitic about this class. On my way back to the dorm, i saw my confidence sitting were i had left it, looking pitiful, so i gave it a hand, dusted off the dirty snow, and together we went to get lunch.


  1. LEAH!!!! I just peed my pants... I don't think I've laughed this hard since you were here lol Oh Leah, don't worry about your Polish speaking class... as long as the exams aren't in Polish... lol Oh just reading your blog makes me miss you! Don't worry love, when your confidence falls in the snow... and you don't know if you can pick it back up... just think of East Branch and that little Indian boy running with no shirt down a dirt road. lol I'm sure you looked like a runway model... but had the grace of Leah lol You my soulmate... you can never change who you really are. :) Leah, first days of classes are always hard... but look at the bright side, when the snow melts, you have nothing to worry about


    Miss you and love you soulmate

    xoxo Lacey

  2. I love this post. Especially the post about you and your confidence going to lunch! I miss you dearly, Leah!