KIRSTEN RAFINSKI column photo

Now that I’ve been in Poland for two weeks, people come up to me all the time and ask me questions.

This is mainly because I was interviewed for the local newspaper here in Koszalin. It’s really weird and it feels special that people are actually reading about me and know me from the article.

Just last week a group of upperclassmen sat next to me in the hallway and began asking me questions.

They were really nice and found out that I hadn’t had Polish pierogies yet. They invited me to get some with them sometime.

What’s really nice about the newspaper articles is that they let others learn about the Rotary program and my experiences.

They have also helped me make new friends. Yes, I do have friends. We haven’t had a lot of time to hang out, but we do talk when we can. Surprisingly I’m not being laughed at, made fun of, or ignored.

My studies have been a challenge, and not just because they’re taught in Polish. The classes are advanced.

My best Polish class is business. I had to do a presentation on myself in Polish. I picked the usual lines like my name, age, where I live, family, my likes and my personality. I studied all night and all day during school and it was worth it. I did have trouble pronouncing words, but apparently everyone understood me and took time to listen.

I actually learn the most from my classmates. They like to teach me words. Today, for example, my friend taught me how to say hair (włosy) and shirt (bluzka) in Polish.

On a typical school day, I wake up about 7 o’clock to get ready and dressed for school.

Since we don’t have lockers in school, I also organize my books and notebooks in my bag. Around 7:30, I go to the bus stop and wait for bus

No. 14. We take a public bus (not a school bus) to school.

Once I arrive, I wait in front of my classroom for the teacher to unlock the door. Each of our classes is 45 minutes long. We have a 10-minute break between classes (except for one 20-minute break).

There is no lunchroom or a scheduled lunchtime. Kids usually bring sandwiches from home to eat or buy a snack from the snack bar in the basement and eat during one of the breaks.

We just sit on a bench or on the floor in the hallway and eat.

Sometimes, I don’t have class at the end of the day so I go home early.

As you can tell I’m learning new things every day at school.

I might not learn about math or science every day, but I do learn about how others study here, how the school system works and how high school in general works here in Poland.



Kirsten Rafinski, a Westmont Hilltop junior, is spending this school year in Poland through the Rotary Youth Exchange. You can follow her experiences in The Tribune-Democrat and at www.kirsten2011.wordpress. com.

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