Danae is volunteering as an English Tutor in Warsaw, Poland, and becoming more confident and organised during her work and travels around Europe.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to after high school yet, so Lattitude gave me the opportunity to do something worthwhile, volunteering in another country and experiencing a different culture, while also being able to see the world. I chose Poland because it’s somewhere different that doesn’t speak English. Also it’s in the center of Europe which makes it easy to travel.
My placement is in a primary school with kids ages 6-13. I have classes with a range of ages, and with 3 different teachers who are all so lovely! I don’t teach by myself, my role is more focused on sitting with the students and helping with their work and just trying to get them to speak English. Their English levels range from kids who can have a full conversation, to kids who can only say the basics like hello, how are you? Everyone at the school is so friendly and you can’t walk down the corridor without at least 20 kids saying hello and wanting to give you hugs. (You get A LOT of hugs).
I tend to sit with the students who struggle more with English or are just easily distracted and don’t often do their work. It’s really rewarding, especially when you can see that your help is making a difference, and often they want you to sit with them every lesson! With the younger kids it’s a bit tougher because they don’t understand that you don’t speak Polish. They ask you questions in Polish, so it’s hard to communicate with them and you have to get creative! On the whole the kids love having volunteers there and want to talk to you as much as they can and ask all sorts of questions about your life.
My host family has 1 daughter who is 15. She attends a boarding school in the UK so isn’t often around but when she is it’s great, we get along so well and I really enjoy her.
My host dad also works out of town, so most of the time it’s just me and my Polish mum, who is so lovely. She cooks so much food! It’s amazing. My house is in a complex of flats about half an hour out of town so I bus in to work everyday. My house is really nice. My room is the study which is downstairs from theirs so I have my own space which is nice. My bed is a pull out couch which seems to be quite common with the volunteers but it’s super comfy.
The language is definitely what I find the biggest difference from home. It took a while, but if you learn the absolute basics it’s usually enough to get by. Most places you’ll go usually have someone who knows at least some English, so thankfully you don’t need to learn fluent Polish! Most young people know English though so if you get lost for example, just ask someone and 90% of the time they are happy to help!
Travelling with the other volunteers would have to be one of the highlights. You all become so close so quickly, and spend a lot of time with them traveling everywhere. Literally everyone wants to travel just like you and you end up having so much fun with everyone. My favourite memory would have to be one of the first weekends when basically all the volunteers (about 30 of us) all went to Kraków for the weekend. It was such an amazing time.
I have definitely become more confident and organised being over here, especially with travelling. You don’t realise how much you rely on your parents for planning trips until you have to do everything for yourself, like accomodation, transport, food and just all the little things you’d usually never think to do. Also because you’re in a new place that doesn’t have much English you often do have to ask for help and directions because you can’t actually read any signs, so sometimes it can be a bit difficult. (Google translate will become your best friend while you’re here.)