Monday, July 1, 2013

My first language lesson.

Lessons are right near the Old Town in a very pretty area.
This is what you get when you are trying to take a picture of an area without looking like you're taking a picture because you don't want to look like a tourist. 
Rest assured I was the only one over the age of 30 wearing red sneakers, jeans (with a cuff!) and a  plain blue men's t-shirt on the tram today. I saw two women in 4-6" heels. I am the winner.
You know you live at the end of the line (literally) when you are the only one in the car at the  end of the trip, in the middle of the day.
If you asked me (as one often does these days), if I speak Polish, my answer is always "no". But the truth is, I do. I do speak Polish. Enough. Enough to get around, answer simple questions, give commands to the children, etc. I know enough not to be afraid to ask questions of random strangers or simply go out on the town alone. In public, people talk to me all the time, ask me questions, and I generally know what they are saying. I respond as best I can. If there is confusion I just let them know I don't speak Polish very well but if they would please repeat, I will do my best. It works out fine. And if they are yelling at me, or being rude (happens, rarely, but happens) I just smile and nod and I say in my best Texas accent, "Ahm sorreh, I downt know whut yur sayin, hon". You think I don't do this but I totally do. ;) They almost always just roll their eyes and walk away. Exactly as planned.

 I'm not actually proud of my Polish in any way. It is what it is. And it's getting better but I'm no phenom and I don't pretend to be. I also have had no great desire or motivation to learn before now and I don't apologize for that either. Life is happening, learning a new language along the way is a great privilege and a wonderful opportunity, but difficult and time consuming, and tiring.

Until now. No. It's still difficult and time consuming and tiring, but now I have the motivation and the desire and the necessity to learn it. A friend said the other day that I shouldn't learn the language unless I *wanted* to. I know what she means of course, it must be a desire and not something I feel forced to do against my will. To be sure, you could live in Krakow, Poland and never need to really speak Polish all that often outside of a few key phrases. You really could. I know a few people who actually fit this category. But I just can't do it. I can't *not* learn the language. Not because I can't get around without it, I can, but because to connect to this country and the people the  language is necessary (we will still be speaking a completely different culture, but I don't really know what you can do about that). Even on the days where it seems completely overwhelming or impossible or confusing or I am getting everything wrong even when I'm really's still necessary. I SHOULD learn the language, I NEED to learn the language, I MUST learn the language. It's enough.

Enter in language lessons. Today was the first day of my new language lessons. They will be 3 days a week for 2 hours each day. For me this is pretty intense and after about an hour and a half today I thought my head was going to explode. It was overwhelming and I haven't had to learn anything new (that I wasn't able to teach myself) in years. My teacher is a student herself but plans on teaching Polish as her main job in the future so she knows what's she's doing. I think she overestimated my Polish a little this first time and I think I was expecting too much out of one visit. I left feeling completely deflated. But reminding myself that his was just the first day. There will be many more. The brightest side of all of it (other than personal language lessons, which are not to be taken for granted) is that I get to ride the tram to and from the lessons, which means that I leave every morning at 9am to get there by 10am and along the way I can read or knit, or study, all on my own. I am looking forward to this alone time.

My notebook for taking notes. I like to pretend she's giving me high fives after a job well done. 


  1. I'm very happy that you have finally proper language teacher. :) I'm sure you will be great in polish very soon. Good luck!

    1. Thanks! I gained confidence from you and THAT truly is the first step.

  2. Congrats on taking this step! From what I gleaned from reading your blog, you are an extraordinary person and I have no doubt that you will progress far speaking Polish.

    As for the first day of lessons - yes, I know that feeling of total deflation (with me it was learning French), but it does get better. I promise ;-)

    Stick with it!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! I am confident I can do it, it's just going to take lots of time... and patience. Luckily Polish people are very understanding as a whole. Takes a lot of pressure off in the case of mistakes. ;)

  3. You need to start dressing appropriately or they're going to think you're homeless. Also, what's up with that notebook? What are you, 8? Haha, JK. I'm so happy you get to do this for yourself. Precious alone time!

    1. Dressing better is overrated. Especially if it takes away from my sleep. Maybe I should start placing a cup at my feet and see if donations can pay for my tram fare...

      Oh, the notebooks. Some real gems out there. Love the outside of the notebooks to be littered with lots of odd pictures and English phrases. Weird. And fun!

  4. Well done, You! Language lessons, riding a tram alone into town, a little guaranteed time away--you are a smart woman. Love the Chuck Taylors too ;)

  5. Learning a new language (but not from scratch!) and riding public transport in emo clothes. You're so urban.

  6. Happy learning! Powodzenia!
    ...and enjoy tram rides :D
    welcome to the "pub trans commuters club"
    I'm sure you'll share some interesting observations soon :D

  7. I recently found your blog and have really enjoyed reading several of your posts.
    My husband and I were both born in Canada to Polish parents, our kids' ancestors, and therefore they, are 100% Polish.
    I speak, read and write Polish, but prob at a grade 4 level. No sophisticated vocabulary, I need to use Google translate to understand a few words here and there when communicating with Polish cousins via email (and I've learned how horribly Google T mangles grammar, and gets words completely wrong at times!). Our daughter, 23, is terrific with languages and very interested to learn Polish, but it is a very difficult language to pick up as an adult. Soooo many variations for verbs, it can be crazy-making. She studied from books, spent 5 weeks taking an intensive Polish language class in Warsaw two years ago, practices with her Babcias a little bit, but really struggles. She hopes to live in Poland for several months to really help her become more confident in her speaking skills. All that to say, "I know it IS hard, but you can do it!"
    All the best to you and your lovely family,

    1. Czesc Olivia. I'm back this morning because I found a great looking website - a Learn to Speak Polish site that has very, very positive testimonials:

      The home page has really piqued my interest, and I've shared the site with my daughter, but I haven't yet checked out the content.

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