niedziela, 11 lipca 2010

Three days holiday in Warsaw

Movie sequence

Last weekend I’ve had second holiday in my life. It was quite surprising considering I went to Warsaw primarily for a day only to take an EPSO job test. It’s begun like in a movie. I had checked in at a hotel for one night and a clerk gave me an envelope with already settled bill for three nights and some money in it, 50 euros to be exact. It was left by Warsaw philanthropist who wished their identity to remain covert.

I am poor so I never go on holidays. I have been able to afford holiday trip only once so far. It was during my stay in Brussels when I went to Paris for 3 days. I was earning enough those days to afford anything I wanted. Those were nice times... Actually I treat my whole half-a-year-stand in Belgium and one-year-stand in Germany as big holidays in a way. I worked then since 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the rest of the time was at my own disposal. However the real vacation was the one in Paris then and now in Warsaw. I can imagine for many people three days vacation is probably no vacation at all but it’s big deal for me who is normally deprived of any quality time so to say. And I’ve been never one of those people who can travel around the globe having few bucks in a pocket, unfortunately.

The cheapest ways to travel in Poland

I have to explain why I decided to stay in a hotel for even one night in the first place. It may seem strange considering I’m so poor. You have to know there run almost only ICE trains on the way form Gdańsk to Warsaw which are the most expensive. One way ticket costs 30 euros (and I earn 150 nowadays so imagine proportion). There is however a train (one per day) operated by small regional company called Koleje Mazowieckie (no english website unfortunately, which is typical Polish of course) called “Słoneczny” (Sunny train ;-)) which runs only in summer and costs less than 10 euros. So it was cheaper for me to stay for a night in a cheap hotel (15 euros) and took that train in the morning. You may wonder why it’s so much cheaper since it’s brand new, clean, equipped with air-conditioning and even more noiseless and bumps much less than those expensive ones. I wonder too, believe me. Especially since the only difference is that it has no compartments, less space for a luggage and can be crowded sometimes which doesn’t actually matter if you’ve got a seat. The real disadvantage is that the trip takes 4,5 hours instead of 5,5 which didn’t bother me actually since it’s been long journey anyway. I will tell you one even more interesting thing in case you would plan a trip from Gdańsk to Warsaw. The regular train costs as I’ve said 30 euros but if you’re lucky you can get a plain ticket for even less (20 euros). And not in some cheap airlines but the regular polish national ones - LOT. So you’ll get meal onboard and everything. Check it always out.

Perfect place for a holiday

White sand, crystal cle
ar and warm water, sound of the waves, sunny weather, not doing anything... Is that what you imagine when thinking of vacation of your dreams? Well, it sounds depressing to me. I don’t know really why, maybe because I’m single. Anyway, nice weather is nice but what I desire and require for holiday is big city! :-) The bigger the better since it has more to offer. For people like me lying on the beach is no way to spend holiday. I need to get tired to death to know that I’m spending quality time. And I also need to have something to write on my blog about right after instead of putting few hundreds photos of me and the beach on Facebook. ;-] Which I like to look at on other people profiles by the way. Guess, why. ;-)

I slept 6 hours a day and spent the whole days on my foot. I came back tired to death to hotel every evening. I even woke up tired with sore legs, burned skin and whole body tender actually. However, you need to know it was very pleasant pain, the one that proves you’re alive. :-) On the other hand after 6 p.m. my legs hurt so much that every single step caused me terrible pain which wasn’t pleasant at all. It brought to my mind pilgrimages to Częstochowa from my high school times. So I was looking then only for some nice movie theater to sit on and watch a movie. Exploration of dream land fortunately doesn’t require walking. Simply saying my body was tired as hell and my soul on the other hand has got exactly what it needed. That’s what body is for eventually - to serve the mind, especially if you don’t work physically daily. I like to treat it as a tool and force it to the maximum effort.

By schedule and improvising

After my trip to Paris I’ve already known the optimal plan is to do 3 things per day. You have then enough time to do it and do it right with no rush. And you have also time to do some walks and lying on the grass if you feel like it and do some readings or eating or so on. But you’ll never get an impression that you waste your time there by doing nothing since you do your three things.

Which was my 3x3? Stay on standby mode if you want me to reveal it. ;-)

sobota, 26 września 2009

European Day of Languages

What the picture story tells about happens to linguists all the time. People don't know what being linguist means, what linguists do. They believe linguists are polyglots - people who speak many languages. That's why once they realize you hardly speak any foreign language and you're linguist they assume you have to be very bad at your job. When they're referring to people who speak many languages they speak about them as professional in languages. It's wrong of course, if not then the chief of my institute should be replaced by a guide-guy from the boat from Brugge who has spoken five or six languages, if I'm recalling it correctly. The fact that he spoke them doesn't mean he knew anything about any of them nor about language in general. Think how much you know about your language. Is it synthetic or analytic language? Agglutinative or fusional? Flectional or isolating? What consequences does it all bring?

Linguist is not someone who speak many languages (polyglot) but someone who have knowledge and skills to be able to analyze any language. It's someone who investigates languages and discovers and explains its complexity, not someone who would memorize lexicon and grammar rules. Moreover, he's supposed to be incomparably better than native speaker, not in using language but in explaining issues related to it. Why one makes errors or a scene instead of doing it? Why one makes notes but does research? What is the difference between expression from time to time and every now and then. Answering this kind of questions - that's what linguists are for. That's what linguists should be capable of.

Sometimes one of us has been asking the others which verb some noun selects while appearing in a sentence. There was no time for making analyzes of course but I was giving answer sometimes based on my linguistics intuition. It wasn't taken very seriously since I was the guy who speaks English badly but sometimes Channel (English native speaker) came to the office and confirmed my answer was the right one. I was satisfied with myself then. However, she was not able to explain why the selection goes the way it goes. No wonder, why would she? That's what linguists are for. When they meet language that they hardly speak or don't speak at all it takes some time and effort to answer this sort of questions but it's only a matter of time to give those answers.

One may wonder why I hardly speak any other language but Polish even though I'm linguist, especially that it's obviously much easier for linguists to learn foreign languages. What can I say? Memorizing stuff is not my thing since I'm dyslectic. Besides, how boring it is to memorize words and grammar rules? I'm too lazy for that. There are so many much more fascinating things to do. Analyzing things is one of them. It trains the mind too since you really have to use it conducting analyzes. Maybe if I had money I would force myself to learn languages by taking some language classes but I've never could afford it. And my first and practically the last contact with English was in high school. There is no comparison to people like Agnes, who attended college where English was lecture language, or Kathrin, who studied in Australia. I didn't feel bad though. I believe others did. I thought first it would affect my job performance but I found out very quickly it didn't. Did you ever hear Dalai Lama? His lexicon is extremely limited for someone who speaks English on daily basis for many years and it's not even that he makes grammar errors but he simply skips half of the verbs and still can be understood easily by others. Other example, Czesław Miłosz spent many years in USA but I was shocked by his terrible Slavic pronunciation while speaking English when I could hear him once. Does anyone care? But strangely they care when one of theirs colleagues' English is not fluent.

People reacted funny way on me speaking English. They were talking all the time about my low self-esteem. They were trying to convince me for some reason that I underestimate myself (my language skills included) but at the same time they were making jokes about badly speaking people. Is it really supposed to make fat people laugh to hear jokes on fat people? Maybe once or twice, or for a week or two weeks but for a few months every day? I believe everything stops being amusing when occurs too often. People were also assuring me my language skills were not so bad and wondering at the same time why someone whose English was very bad in their opinion (but still much better than mine in my opinion) can work in there.

Jan was especially funny on that matter. When he was trying to convince me that my English was not so bad, he was saying things like: We had already trainees who spoke even worse than you. What is the problem with simply saying: OK, I admit your English is not perfect but it's not really a problem, is it? I remember also less funny, quite unpleasant actually, situations... In Poland I never say: I know better, I'm specialist in the area. However, it was too difficult explaining things and deliberating on them in English so being in Brussels I was sometimes saying things like: You can trust me on that one, I'm linguist. This kind of self-confidence was apparently making those people upset. Once someone told me as answer: Yeah, you are a linguist and you can't even... and made a pause. It was funny with those people, they needed only a little push to express what they really think. But if they were saying something else than they were really thinking the question is why were they doing it? Where does that need to making other people blind come from? Why to make them feel good about themselves even though they have no reason too. I've never fully understand that. Maybe they believed saying the truth would make those people miserable and they couldn't stand being someone miserable. Or maybe they were afraid that by saying the truth they will look miserable since they will present their self-confidence. And that's something one is not supposed to do as I've written already few entries below. The motto: United in uniformity, stays in motion.

I don't blame those people. They don't need to know what linguist is. They also may trying to comfort other people even if there is no need to and even if it's faked if that's their wish. However, taking someone as incompetent because of their own lack of knowledge is ignorance, isn't it? I can be taken as incompetent because of my incompetence but I don't want to be taken as such because of their incompetence. And that's why that matter catches my attention at first place. The problem is others' beliefs about you affect your life. They think badly about you they will give bad opinion on you. I don't care what other people think about me however without good opinion you will not get good job or any job at all and you're fucked up. Hilarious, isn't it?

wtorek, 22 września 2009

The reasons for having no liking for Poland - Visit in the Royal Greenhouse

I'm not big fan of Poland. I don't like the country for many reasons and I'm always frank about that. This matter occurred quite often in our conversations and usually met great deal of people's disapproval. Poles took it personally and other people were trying to act as defenders, which is psychologically understandable. They were annoyed with me, not complaining maybe but having nothing good to say abut the country, and I, on the other hand, was tired of them trying to keep my mouth shout. Much has changed after our visit in the Royal Greenhouse...

We were lucky to have traineeship in summer term. The Royal Greenhouse is open for visitors for only one month every year (april/may) . It's huge, like a labyrinth. Visiting it was very pleasing experience. I recommend it to everyone. You can watch some photos here. I picked up a guy there. We decide he would be perfect for Kata. We were following him, taking pictures of him and having fun with the whole thing. Finally I approached him and gave him Kata's phone number. He had troubles understanding me and unfortunately I don't speak French at all. I believe he got the idea what it was all about but he has never made use of that number. Maybe it would be otherwise if I had opportunity to show her to him, to introduce them to each other. So, that was one of our unfortunate matchmaking attempt, which I was writing about two entries below, that ended as failure.

After visiting the Royal Greenhouse, on our way back, we stopped by sleazy bar. I don't know why but it was fun, I recall it with pleasure feelings following. And we had significant conversation there. I was attacked again for expressing my dislike for Poland and making, according to girls, Marta miserable by that. I decided to do something about that that time. I made my performance and apparently I did it well since it brought desire results. Maybe there was too much emotions in it, it was a little overacted since it didn't only make girls realize I am in no better condition than Marta is (worse even maybe considering she's fine in Poland and I'm not) but also made them embarrassed by my emotions a bit, I believe.

I'm sure it was not pleasurable for other Poles to hear me complaining and I understand other people sympathize with them but it was symptomatic that nobody cared how I could feel. They like Poland I don't and I still have to live there. Anyway, from that time on I reduced mentioning my lack of satisfaction of being Pole and girls were trying to show some patience every time I did. One of crucial moments for us, at least for me.

I liked Kathrin's reactions on someone trying to convince me I should go back to Poland to live there and fight for changes, heedless for the fact I want to live my life other way. Whenever someone said something like that Kathrin acted like wise, older sister taking care of me. She was saying that I should stay and have nice life there, no question about hat. It was warm as hell. :-)

wtorek, 15 września 2009

Copernicus, Chopin, Kieślowski...

When I was in Germany people were trying to convince me Chopin was French. During my stay in Belgium they were doing the same when it comes to Copernicus, claiming he was German. You should know many Poles react very badly to that. We don't have many folks who would be worldwide famous, who would have great contribution to humankind development or to humanity in any other way. That's why when someone tries to deprive us of those few that belong to us, that we can be proud of, we're not very happy with that.

What I liked, on the other hand, was a situation with some Belgian guy. When I told him I come from Poland, surprisingly he didn't mention Lech Wałęsa or John Paul II. Mentioning them makes sick some of us because it makes us realize what I already mentioned above - that we don't have many well known figures and people always mention those two. You know who he mentioned? Krzysztof Kieślowski. Oh, I was very happy with that. Kieślowski was brilliant master indeed. You could have heard of his "Three Colors" or "The Decalogue". Did you watch Tykwer's "Heaven"? It was inspired by Kieślowski's work. Try also his documentary short movies. They're brilliant, however they may to be too hermetic for non-Poles.

People were telling me sometimes they're sure there are some very famous Poles which have some great achievements. However, once I mentioned some of them by name those names didn't say anything to those people. I remember Agnes asked me once about Polish artists. I mentioned Magdalena Abakanowicz and Igor Mitoraj. She didn't know them, didn't recognize the names. And that's it, Abakanowicz, Mitoraj, Kantor, Grotowski... They are very famous, very distinguish, known worldwide but only by people who are into art or theater. It's not like with Bergman or Herzog, or Brecht. Everyone knows them. When you hear the name Picasso or Dali the bell rings immediately.

Maria Skłodowska-Curie discovered two elements, she is the only person to win Nobel Prizes in two sciences. And still, does anyone know her? Those who do, believe she was French and she probably called one of the discovered elements Polon without the reason or maybe to emphasize her French origin.

Aleksander Wolszczan, Polish astronomer, discovered first planets in nonsolar planetary system. Great discover for humankind. Did you ever hear about him? And still, you're certainly familiar with such names as Alfred Nobel, Astrid Lindgren, Johan Gutenberg, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jan Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven...

Hopefully you will at least remember now that Copernicus was Polish. Dick Solomon may help you to memorize that. Do you know this TV show "3Rd Rock from the Sun"? One of two, just next to the "Office", which makes me laugh no matter what.

poniedziałek, 7 września 2009

Our traineeship's motto and anthem

Our motto was: Männer sind Schweine! I believe it was Marta's proposal. It means: men are swine. And when it comes to our anthem you can listen to it below. It was introduced to us by Kathrin.

sobota, 5 września 2009


Being in Brussels I was looking for a guy for Jan. Not that I would make special effort to achieve my goal. I didn't belong to gay community so I didn't have much opportunity for that but once a chance occurred to me I took advantage of it. My first attempt was with a guy I've in EP who was very much like Jan, Jan's cup of tea (one of Jan's favorite expressions). I introduced him to Jan via (one of Jan's favorites words) e-mail. There was no answer so I contacted the guy. Jan's silence made me convinced they know each other already but I wanted to be sure. He answered, was nice and confirmed what I was thinking. So that was it.

My second attempt was already in Poland. A guy invited me to his friends on Facebook. Very attractive, nice, elegant as Jan, enjoying flowers as Jan, politician. He found Jan attractive, unfortunately I was few months late because he was already out of market. No luck that time either.

Finding a guy for each other was actually one of our favorites and most hated games in Brussels. Each of us, except for me, wanted to find a guy. EP turned out not to be the best environment for that. I mean, there was a lot of interesting guys (even though most of them gay) and there was constant motion on the market however every product turned out to be damaged after some time of using it. I have to admit I was much more successful in matchmaking in Poland. My few attempts in Brussels were failures. Those were funny stories however I will not try to describe it because girls would like to kill me after me doing that. It's better for them not to know. ;-)

piątek, 4 września 2009

Brussels - the city where underground happens to go above ground and trams happen to go under ground

This movie renders my mood since I'm back and reminds me of Brussels very much. Even though these shoots were taken in Paris I could see very similar views every time (at least twice a day) I was taking metro from Laeken, where I used to live, to the center and back. I loved those trips.