A huge thanks to Megan, who has written back to us with a brief insight into how her time volunteering in Poland has been so far! Poland is an AWESOME destination, so we are super pleased when our Lattitude whanau shares their adventures with us!
Placement and Role
I am currently volunteering as a English teacher assistant at Szkoły Sióstr Felicjanek which is situated near the main centre of Warsaw, Poland. My placement is a beautiful school near the woods and being only 35 minutes from the city centre makes travelling easier.
My main role at the school is conversation. As I am a native speaker of English, I spend most of the time talking to the kids and getting them to talk in English to develop their skills. I teach with another volunteer, and we swap classes every week so we spend a lot of time teaching the kids about New Zealand and the environment in New Zealand.
A lot of placements in Poland do involve host families, I am one of the few that do not have a host family – I live in the school. The accommodation isn’t bad, my mentor takes us food shopping every week to get whatever we need and we have access to WiFi in our rooms. At the school we have keys to let us in and out whenever, so we do not have a curfew to get back to the school by. I quite enjoy the accommodation as it gives me the freedom to be totally independent, I have to cook my dinners but the school provides us cooked lunches by the canteen.
Main highlight so far
The best part of my trip so far would have to be how easy it is to travel, to be able to just ‘pop’ off to France for the weekend is amazing! Coming from New Zealand and being such a small country with not a lot of travel opportunities, Europe has so much to offer and it is also so cheap to travel here as well! In my first two months here I have visited London (twice), Kraków, Vienna and Budapest.
I wasn’t completely sure how to prepare for Poland when I was in New Zealand, the main reason was because usually people go to the USA or the United Kingdom on their Gap Years so I didn’t have anyone I knew to give me advice. Googling kind of helped, but was still hard to explain the cultural difference between New Zealand and Poland
Lattitude was awesome to help prepare, they gave us all this information on a lot of different stuff. It also helped to meet some of the other volunteers at our Pre-Department Briefing. Lattitude was like a base of knowledge!
Advice for future volunteers
• Attempt to learn some basic Polish words BEFORE you leave for Poland – people here really appreciate it!
• But don’t stress if you do not know any words because you will pick up on the main ones during Orientation Week
• Don’t be afraid to try new things – literally try everything! If you don’t like a certain food back home, try it again in Poland because I have definitely surprised myself with a lot of foods here!
• Join a group!
• Make friends with your fellow volunteers as they are people to travel with or even just talk to when you’re feeling homesick. They are on the same journey as you and understand more than you think!
I did find Orientation Week long, but that was mainly because I was still getting over the jet lag! The teaching skills that we learnt did actually help, even though it may not seem like it when they are telling you about it. Listen to the games they suggest because sometimes you need to have one up your sleeve to get the kids engaged! Orientation Week was also really good because all the volunteers had the time to bond and get to know each other, which resulted in us meeting up after orientation week and we sometimes travel together!
I personally wasn’t really sure about going to Poland, but now that I’m here I absolutely love it! It’s not the usual place that people visit so it makes you different from everyone else and it gets you to try new things! Poland has so much history and is still recovering and developing from some of those impacts, and it is honestly so awesome to be in this country during this time! Sometimes it’s hard because not a lot of people speak English but you get round – mainly with a lot of use of Google Translate!! But it is a beautiful country and I am glad I choose Poland cause I honestly now wouldn’t have chosen anywhere else! So if you are considering it, I would definitely recommend it!
Find out more about volunteering in Poland