JASMINE’S REPORT DECEMBER

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas! Jasmin here with some Christmas spirit from Zielona Góra. It’s holiday times! And I’m depressed (maybe)! I came back from the On-arrival training. Back from a very big, dynamic and diverse group to a small, but equally dynamic, local community. Usually what we come back to, we call home. It wasn’t that easy this time. I came from a very foreign environment back to a place that’s also a foreign environment. I’m starting to miss home. I miss the easiness of it. At the same time, I’m aware that I’m growing a lot with this experience.

I miss my mother’s food but at the same time, I’ve learned so much about cooking that I even dare to say that my food is tastier. Maybe it’s tastier to me because I made it. I’m going through a cookbook called “Salt, fat, acid and heat” which starts of with the fundamentals of what makes food tasty (spoilers: it’s in the title of the book). Even in the beginning where I’ve only read a part of the first chapter that talks about salt, my food became amazing! I’ve started to notice patterns that repeat in every recipe that I find on the Internet. I started reading between the lines of them. Even got the point where can easily replace something that i don’t have with something close to it. And now I know much more what’s close and what’s not.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about what makes food tasty. There is also another book on the waiting list. It’s called “Food lab” and supposedly it explains all the different techniques that you can use while cooking and teaches you what those names in the recipes mean (like, what’s braising, blanching, sautéing etc.). I’ll start going through it when I feel like the first book has given me enough.

Sports related, I’ve started doing sport climbing on a regular basis. Three times a week. I’m really enjoying it. I’m meeting kind people. I’m getting back to shape that I had before summer. Most importantly, I’m spending quality time that’s not related to my EVS and the school I’m volunteering at. I’ve also installed gymnastic rings in my room so I can even start exercising at home. For now, I’m only doing pull ups when I’m passing the rings and I feel like it.

At school is pretty much tame. It’s almost Christmas and it got really cold. We’re spending most of the time inside the house. Taking it easy. Preparing for the holidays. Kids are making Christmas cards, postcards, paintings. I’ve noticed some kids playing parkour in the big basement room. I was happy to see that because I also have history with that. I showed them some tricks what they could do and we practiced landing,  rolls and precision jumps, which are the most important elements to master in that sports. Unfortunately all the pictures I’ve taken are blurry and I don’t want to post them. What’s important is that the kids are enjoying it and are even pulling my sleeve asking to do it again another day.

Besides that, I’ve introduced the older kids to a computer game that put you in a high pressure situation. The game is called “Keep talking and nobody explodes” where you have person who has to defuse a bomb on the computer, and you have the experts who have a 20 page manual on how to defuse each and every different module that the bomb can contain.

I even managed to find a manual that has been translated to Polish so it’s easier for the kids to push themselves to the limit. They love it and they really get into it. Fully focused, feeling the pressure, listening to the beeping countdown timer. One of them even snapped at me when I was humming a song while they were playing and they couldn’t concentrate on themselves talking. Fun fun fun.

In the meantime I’m listening to other volunteers preparing to visit their home during holidays and it slightly bothered me because I’m not going back home. But the thing that kept me sane was the fact that 3 of my best friends were coming to visit me for New Year’s Eve. I was counting days till I would see them. I was thinking of all the places I would like to take them, which cities to visit, and which food to try (of course, pierogi was at the top of the list). That fated day arrived as their bus was approaching the bus station at around 1am in the morning. I was walking there through an empty city. Happy and worried at the same time. Happy to finally speak Croatian to someone in this Polish environment, happy to finally talk about the old topics that would always bring us joy, but worried that maybe they missed the bus or something, worried that I won’t host them  well enough for them to want to come back again. All of the worries disappeared the moment I laid my eyes on them exiting the bus. They were in a very good mood despite the long travel. I cannot describe by words how happy I felt that night.

Every night was one of those nights where you laugh for hours because of some stupid jokes and situations, falling asleep only after 3am, your sides are hurting from laughing too much. Ahh, so simple yet so precious. I’ll talk more about it in my January installment because they were also here during January.

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