Last weekend, William and his wife, Marta, had a gathering at their apartment. They have just moved to Kraków from Minnesota, where William is from. Marta is from Katowice and so now they get to spend a few years close to her family. William is in the language program with me trying to wrap his tongue around the Polish language, like the rest of us.
They have a stunningly beautiful apartment, right by the Rynek which they got for a song due to the fact that they knew the realtor. Even by U.S. standards it's a luxurious place and the location is perfect. We had a wonderful evening together. Piotr made some Hungarian food and brought some Palinka for everyone to try. And we played some theater games, which were absolutely hilarious. It was a fun way to practice our polish. We ended the night on the Rynek where we danced the night away.
Anastasia with our Tea Assortment
The other day, Anastasia invited me over for tea. Her parents had sent her a care package from Ukraine with lots of sweets, so we had some treats with our tea. She insisted that I try one of everything. They were all very delicious and not very sweet at all.
The New Display at the Chocolate Cafe
On Saturday I was invited to a cowboys and indians event at one of the student dorms, so I busted out my plaid and headed out. When I arrived, the hallway outside my friends room was packed with people in costume. They were sitting on the floor, or standing in groups. I had to climb over them all to get to my friends room.
When I finally did get there, my friends were nowhere to be found. But the group of people in their room acted like they knew me when I walked in. They were thrilled that I was there, and told me to join the party and that my friends would probably be back any minute.
I decided to roll with it. On my way back out to the corridor, I ran into a guy who introduced himself and when I told him my name he lit up like a Christmas tree. 'You're Madeline!!?' He knew all about me and proceeded to tell me my family history. I was completely speechless.
He showed me where I could leave my stuff and then I headed out to the masses and started socializing with random people in the corridor. It was actually a lot of fun not knowing anyone, but then my friends did re-surface and we headed downstairs to the bar for some dancing.
There I met Dalsza, who is currently studying theater here in Kraków. Despite the language barrier, we hit it off, splendidly. She is just as much a wackadoodle as I am and we had a blast taking pictures and doing various caricatures with parts of people's costumes as props.
Last week I also had several new Polish adventures. I went to get my haircut, which was pretty interesting. She just trimmed the ends, but it was interesting because I had to have her repeat almost everything she said because I am no expert on salon vocabulary. The haircut was ok, but I'm glad I only chopped my nasty ends. I'll do something more extravagant in the future when I can articulate a little more clearly.
I also have been actively looking for an apartment in Kraków so that I have a place to stay when the dorm closes this summer. My friend Marek helped me locate a few places of interest and he also went with me to see them. Here, real estate agents work off of commission which is paid by the tenant when a contract is signed. Because of this, owners can use agents free of cost and find tenants more quickly. Because of this, agents can be very aggressive. The first place I saw was a great location, but was very run down, dark and dirty.
Vegan Curry that Marek Whipped Up
After seeing that place we had some time to kill so we wandered around the neighborhood a little and every 'for rent' sign we saw, Marek made me call and enquire about what was available. He also took me to a real estate agency that his friend owns and had me talk to one of the agents there and look for apartments. On the way to view the second apartment, I stopped at another agency and spoke with a man who has newly renovated places that will be available soon. We chatted with him for a bit and exchanged numbers. However, he has not called like he originally indicated. I wasn't surprised.
Me & 'Old' William
The second place was great, recently renovated, great location, but VERY small and a little more expensive than I would have liked. The day after I saw the place, the agent called me to tell me that someone else was interested and if I wanted the apartment I needed to commit or they were going to give it to someone else. She said I had an hour to make my decision. I completely panicked, and after an emergency call to the Dad hotline, I told her I would take the place and then spent the next 24 hours freaking out about what whether that was the right decision and collecting opinions from anyone that would listen to me babble. Something didn't feel right. Then, sitting in class, it occurred to me that she was probably lying to make the deal. I spoke with my friend who is a lawyer and he said that that frequently happens in Poland and that she should send me the contract in English at least 24 hours ahead of the signing for review, which she had not done. After hearing this, I called and informed her that I needed more time. She didn't even balk. She asked if I was still interested in looking at other places and I said yes. She has called me every day since and has sent me additional emails. High maintenance. In the meantime, I have continued to look with LOTS of help from Marek, who has the ability to find great offers when it looks like there's nothing.
Marta, Piotr & 'Old' William
All in all, the experience has been exhausting and nerve wrecking, but great for my Polish. It is very intimidating to function in the real world in Polish, and especially making phone calls and negotiations. Everything is much easier in person when I can see their reactions and read their lips. But overall, everyone was very patient with me regarding my language skills, and no one tried to switch to English.