Greetings! A lot has happened in May. Bless the warm weather for bringing these opportunities to me. In the beginning of the month I had a chance to play Scrabble for the first time in my life (I know, right) but this time the game was in Polish. I was a bit overwhelmed of the idea of competing in this game with natives from Poland but then I went for it because why not. As you might guess, I was dead last when we counted the scores but I felt like a winner. Why? Because I managed to create a word whenever it was my turn. The words were nothing spectacular (e.g. “lody”, “mać”, “kiwi”) but they worked like a charm.

In retrospect, I was pretty lucky for my first game. I played it again afterwards and I couldn’t find anything half of the time. But we can all forget that ever happened and say I only played it once and won!

Around this time I was planning to make sushi on my own because it’s very expensive to  buy it in the restaurant (Erasmus life) and the ones in Biedronka are not tasty (and also expensive if I want to eat to my fullest). So I decided to research how to make it, what ingredients I need, which tools. Luckily one of the educators in school has a rice cooker so that part was covered.

They turned out great! It took a long time from start to finish. Hours! The rice alone was delicious with the special salt/sugar/vinegar mixture soaked in. I think all together I made around 45-50 pieces that were quite big. Bigger than usual. All of it was quite pricey but the experience was priceless! I don’t ever want to do it again! XD I’ll wait till  I can afford a sushi priced meal to eat them again.

The first weekend of May, I was invited as a guest to Warsaw to participate and hold classes in the main yearly capoeira event “Batizado e troca de corda”. I held 2 classes there for them. One with adults, the other with kids. The class with adults went really well. The class with kids was a bit more difficult. There were around 50 kids and only 2 of us at that moment. It was a real challenge and a great experience. Also, some people there thought I was Polish!! That really boosted my ego on the topic of my Polish speaking skills. I met some really cool people and we’re planning to visit each other in the future.

Back at home we started the “yoga” classes for climbers. It isn’t actually yoga but the climbers keep calling it that way so I just went along with it. I agree, it’s much shorter to say. The class was only 1 hour long and it’s supposed to prepare them for climbing right after. So relaxation and static stretches were out of the picture. Also, my stay here is not enough for them to reach their flexibility goals. That takes at least a year.  So we started off with basic knowledge about human anatomy and biomechanics. With that knowledge they can apply it to their specific situations. I’ve asked them to choose only one flexibility goal and make it specific (like hands touching the ground while the legs are straight, in a pike position). Then I gave specific regimes to each of them to follow religiously at home. One time per week with me isn’t gonna do anything. Maybe just maintain their current level of flexibility.

This type of thing is what I’m all about. I loved every moment of it. It also helped me integrate into this climbing community and have a “place of my own” here in Poland. A place that I’ve achieved all on my own. It took me 8 months to achieve that. I thought it’s going to be easier. But I’m happy it happened.

At around the same time, the climbing community organized a weekend climbing trip to the mountains at the Czech border. I went there of course. And it was one of the best times of my EVS. There were around 25 of us sleeping in this house. We were all hanging out, barbecuing, sharing stories, insights and tips, and of course, climbing. It was my second time properly climbing outside on real rock. First time climbing on sandstone, a type of rock typical for that region. It’s very soft, dull and brittle. Using chalk is forbidden there because it acts as an abrasive. Luckily, the rock was so good that the chalk is not even necessary. Very good texture, very rough.

I’ve learned so much about climbing outside. The protocols, what’s the minimum gear every climber needs, which knots are important to know, how to abseil down from an anchor, how to reattach your rope safely at the top of the route. And hot damn! I couldn’t believe how much emphasize was being put on safety. There’s always a backup. Even the backup has a backup! I’ve also broken my personal record outside. I’ve onsighted a 6b route, and redpointed a 6b+. Onsighting means climbing the route first try without knowing anything about it other that what information you gather just by looking at the rock. To emphasize the difference between onsighting and regular redpointing (just climbing from bottom to top, using multiple tries and help from others). The hardest route in the world currently is graded 9c, and the hardest ever onsight is 9a. That’s 4 grades of difference. It’s like a black belt in karate compared to 4 belts lower. I remember last year how I gave myself a goal to manage to climb a 7a grade by the end of 2018.  that’s 3 grades harder than the 6b+ that I did here. But it’s ok. There is no rush. I still enjoy it.

Back at school, exam period started. Even though they are all home schooled, they still have to do the final exam of the year. The exam has to be approved by one of the official schools in the region. The kids seemed very chill about it. There was no pressure as in regular schools where people even have diarrhea from all the stress that an exam can cause. One kid even put on a joke “cheat” on his hand. You can vaguely see in the picture where he wrote on his hand “2 + 2 = 983”. I loved it!

Since I was just a volunteer, I didn’t have any responsibility on their formal exam preparation and execution. So this month I mostly took care of the kids when they are not preparing or writing exams. Of course, I helped them even with the exams but only if we both felt like it. I’ve helped with creating and grading the English exam. That was a fun moment at school. I’ve noticed that I was very strict in grading the exams. As soon as I saw a slight mistake, I gave it 0 points. I guess I’m scarred from this way of grading from my university. 🙂

To finish this months installment, you can see some pictures from one urban exploring trip the 3 of us did. Urban exploring is also one of my passions back home. I didn’t have much of a chance here. I didn’t want to go alone because of my lack of Polish speaking skills. It can get hairy if I stumble upon a person in these dark and secluded areas. Luckily this time I had Polish speaking friends to cover that part for me.

That’s all for this month! Talk to you later in the next installment!

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