Witamy w Polsce!
I think that means welcome to Poland. The Polish dictionary from my colleagues is certainly already coming in handy!
Jean-Lou saw me off yesterday morning, helping drag my shiny new Tripp case across London. He made me feel a bit better, but after a bit of a rough night’s sleep (why do you never sleep well before travelling?) and an unexpectedly busy tube I wasn’t feeling overly-confident about the first day in my new home…
Arriving in plenty of time (an hour before the flight – sorry mum) security was thankfully no problem. The bag drop was a minor stumbling block, and I was slightly embarrassed to be one of those annoying people who has clearly packed too much. Surprisingly, however it does help to talk to people and smile – a very understanding air hostess saved my books and pushed the bag limit up a kg after I joked I was only going away for 9 months!
Things started looking even better on the plane.Sharing 3 seats with a very friendly American travelling on from New York, coupled with an extremely reasonably-priced in-flight menu, I truly began to feel a bit better about travelling on.
So, despite my fears, Warsaw is warm! At least for now. I expect the weather might just feature more prominently in later blogs…
The campus is really beautiful. It is so peaceful too – I could hardly believe the contrast from London. Just about the only noise is the sound of the rustling leaves from outside. Well, that and perhaps a few student parties after dinner!
Natolin is set in a nature reserve on the outskirts of Warsaw. The white buildings topped by red roof tiles blend really well into the surrounding forest giving a kind of Mediterranean-crossed-with-stately feel to the place.
I tried to go running this morning in the nature reserve but was dissuaded by the large signs rather clearly stating no entry. Asking about it at the reception, I was told that they can’t really stop us entering the forest, but that there are some wild boar. I wasn’t totally convinced (surely they’ll be more scared of me?) until a fellow student casually joked I should bring an apple with me next time I go there: he had been chased by one only a few days ago!
So I went to the gorgeous Kablaty forest instead, which also has signs about wild boar*. Welcome to Poland I guess!
*There were lots of other runners thankfully.
My room is enormous
It’s got lots of light from 2 huge sky-facing windows, although the sloping roof means I can only see some leaves from them. Equipped with a TV, huge desk, an ensuite, towels and bed linen, it feels a bit like a hotel my fears about not fitting into a non-independent lifestyle again are probably a bit unfounded.
We aren’t allowed to cook though and the 2 meals I’ve had so far have been a little… eclectic to say the least. I’ll miss cooking over the next year but looking at next week’s schedule (lectures 9:30am to 9:30pm – what?) I’ll probably be quickly thankful for it!
Everyone is really nice. From the very start a guy called Rafael helped me carry my bags up the stairs (second floor and no lift!) and everyone is extremely happy to chat and get to know everybody else.
It’s super international of course, although I have met a few other Brits (having been asked the Brexit question many times already: let’s just not go there).
The echoes of fresher’s week at Oxford are definitely there. There is no escaping those standard introductory questions that you forget answers to almost immediately and really just show the need for a big badge on everyone’s chest: what’s your name, origin, and how long you have been here?
Most have guessed I’m from the UK straight away, but several did think I was from Ukraine or Moldova when sporting my white and blue summer top (apparently Debenhams pinched the design from Ukrainian national fashion).
We’re going to Warsaw later for a walking tour and I’ll make sure to put up some pictures and report back.