I am placed at “Klasztor Siostr Niepokalanek” aka “Convent of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady” in Jaroslaw, which is in South East Poland. I am living with another volunteer, Georgina from Melbourne, in a Convent with 34 nuns (that wear habits and all!).
Poland is (in as few words as possible) simply amazing, charming and beautiful! I have been to Warsaw, Krakow, and the Tri-City (Gdansk, Gdynia and Sopot) so far and have been amazed at the amount of hidden gems this country has. From the quaint and beautifully preserved old towns and churchs to the extravagant castles, like Wawel, this country does nothing but impress. The same goes for its people too. The Poles are… different, but delightful! And the other volunteers, Kiwis and Aussies, are priceless. The trips with them have been beyond memorable! The other NZers, Suzanne, Johanna and Charles are quite amazing. I am so lucky to have met them and to have become so close with them. They’re family, minus the bloodline.
The fact that we, especially coming from little wee NZ, are surrounded by history every day (some of Jaroslaw’s buildings date back to the 13th century) is probably one of the most incredible parts of this experience for me. Especially this week, and in particular this weekend; Poland is mourning and grieving for their President, his wife and several other leading members of their Government, and we (the volunteers), are experiencing this with them. History is taking place right before our eyes and I am learning so much as it happens!
I am so pleased I am here and chose to take a year “growing up” rather than another year with my nose in books! The members of staff here laugh at Georgina and I on a daily basis, because we look like Cheshire cats; always smiling and overly enthusiastic, but it’s hard not to be. After all, WE ARE IN POLAND! The language can sometimes be a small barrier, but also highly entertaining. Many memories have been made with our Polish skills, or lack of, but in the end, the meaning or main gist, usually gets across with the odd phrase.
Anyone that is second guessing a gap year in Poland shouldn’t. Maybe easier said than done, but of all the doubts or second thoughts I have had, I can firmly say, that now, I have none. I am so happy where I am, what I have seen and am yet to experience. There is nowhere else I would rather be right now. Poland and its people; young, old and nuns, have found a very firm and cosy spot in my heart!