sunnuntai 30. tammikuuta 2011

Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy – The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity

Couple of weeks ago there was a BIG charity event in Poland, in all major cities as I understood, also including Wroclaw. The event was arranged for 19th time, and Polish people seem to be very proud of it. Money is collected for kids, this time to buy medical equipment for children with urological and nephrological diseases. Last year 42 877 958,06 zlotys was collected, amount in euros is ¼ . Nice job Polish guys!
Also a Guinness World record was achieved! Over 300 people got into one bus, in the spirit of charity.

Lots and lots of people

Fireworks of course - and they were very impressive :)

On the previous week I became an international criminal! I was proven guilty of travelling in a tram without valid ticket… Well, serves me right. I had just completely forgot about prolonging the validity after Christmas holidays. But yes, inspector came and I got caught. The inspector was older gentleman, but spoke English (not that common amongst the elderly), and was VERY polite. We had little trouble about getting all my information to the fine (Finnish names not that easy), but we managed, and everything including father’s name is now in the paper. He was very worried if I understood what happens, and also had consideration about how I get the fine paid, do I really know where and how it happens, and if I also understand that I have 7 days time to pay it, otherwise fee will rise 25%. If I knew how to give feedback to MKP Wroclaw, I really would do it and thank the kind inspector!

Tourist things

I just realized that there is only few moments left for me in Wroclaw. And so many things I guess I should see. So I did a walking tour in the city and got back in to tourist mode (which I seemingly have dropped some time late autumn, because I do not have almost any photos :/
So, I decided to do some touristing. Unfortunately the weather was not bright. However, here's some of my catches.

Some statues

Scary angel. He is part of monument dedicated to Katyn victims 

One brave dwarf rider

This is from "Panorama Radlawice", an impressive panorama painting about a fight few hundreds years ago. Same time with my visit they were photoshooting some beauty queens with panorama as background.

That's how the building containing the painting looks outside

So where next?

...towards good and warm things:) this is one of my favourite cafes in Wroclaw

Successful week!

If there were some downlow feelings at the very beginning of the year, they are bygones and clear improvement to the course is in the air!

A colleague of mine (who I got to know via an incident with Moomin mugs at the office :)) told me that there is an retail park type of shopping place outskirts Wroclaw, and the better – she would like to take me there. The shopping trip got cancelled several times and it already seemed to be idea born under unlucky stars, but finally we managed!

Shopping was a success! So many shops, so much pretty clothes, and so not-expensive as in retail places is supposed to be :P As a result of this shopping spree I should have dresses and stockings for work at least for next year to come… But even better was to have a good chat (or is it gossiping what women do..?), with a clever lady! Thank You Ania for everything!

And the success of the week did not end there. On Thursday a Slovakian ex-colleague from projects looong ago was visiting Wroclaw. She has changed employer already, but still world is so small that we ended up in same city – Wroclaw, the meeting place as they say! And also thanks to Skype, which also connects people ;) We had very pleasant dinner and some beers, and the most interesting discussions about being abroad. This friend of mine has spent almost two years in Finland, and her experiences and views of Finland were extremely interesting to hear and of course compare to my own ones of Poland. Differences and similarities of cultures and languages, never gets boring…

Not that much snow in here nowadays. This picture is also from my way to work. No dogs to park, plz.

lauantai 29. tammikuuta 2011

Language studies

It has been not only university studies I have participated. After only few weeks in Wroclaw, I was amazingly lucky to get to know a Polish guy, German teacher, who is also an independent Finnish student. Not often you meet or get to talk with people at the gym, as at least in Finland is the place to work out, not to socialize. But miracles happen, and during couple of last months we have studied both Polish and Finnish together with Tomek. These studies have been more about Polish culture than in the official university lessons, the fact of which I am very happy of. Pretty much every day I have some questions about something related to daily life. They are not such questions which I could take up on university classes, because they are strictly for the language. I cannot keep on asking from my colleagues all the time, because time at office is for work and not to be constantly utilized for my personal inquiries about way of living in foreign culture… So luckily I have my private Polish teacher :)

In addition to traditional Polish things I have had a privilege to visit a Polish home, get to know Polish school system, get to know new bands and even genres of music I have never before heard of, and best of all, cat lover as I am, to be able to become friends (or at least acquaintance) with a genuine Polish cat!

perjantai 14. tammikuuta 2011

Feeling down

The beginning of the year was not good. I have still been in state of not knowing for sure about my near future. Discussions and request about prolonging my stay were on the air, but no decisions and all decision making meetings were again and again postponed. In general I am very flexible, but not knowing of the country of residence within month has been too much insecurity even to me.

I have been little frustrated about certain management related things at work already during past year. In a way I do understand the grounds for the arrangements and stressful times lately, but also every now and then I feel that my loyalty and flexibility are taken as granted and I am not heard and am being walked over – over and over again. So, then when there finally was the big meeting and I heard actual real lies being told (if you do not know what are the facts, in my world you are supposed to say that you do not know, not to tell lies with poker face) and wrong things discussed in wrong forum, I really got mad. And even to continue, next day I hear planning and arrangements being done without me to know, against my earlier plans – plans I was supposed be responsible of as I am the project manager, plans I was requested to create but were totally ignored by requestors… That is the way I do not like things to be done.

I can understand changes to plans, I can understand hectic times, I can understand human errors, lot of things I can understand, but not conscious ignorance of communication, ignorance of listening, ignorance of sticking into what is agreed, ignorance of treating people fairly and with dignity – as human beings are to be treated. It is not the content of decision that makes me upset, but the way how they are done and executed. And the worse – to my attempt of telling about things I felt done wrongly, as a response I got arrogance. Again I found a new feature of me: I am very forgiving and eager to “make peace”, as long as it is fair. I can stand fair critiques to me, I can understand other people’s mistakes, as long as they are discussed openly and rightfully, admitted, handled and then they are bygones. But unfairness, ignorance, arrogance, blindness to one's own mistakes; that something that I seemingly cannot stand at all.

But after all, finally I got the decision I had been expecting; I got the “go home” date. The date is almost the same than according to earlier plans, and even I had expected it, a teenyweeny part inside had been hoping that I would get a three month extension. When turned out it did not happen, I of course was not happy. But, any decision makes the life easier. Now I know whether to plan dance classes (Etnofitness here I come!!) to Helsinki or language course to Wroclaw.

But not only feelings of low. On the eve of Epiphany I had the privilege to be invited to have a beer with my colleagues, and it turned out to be very enjoyable and interesting with surprising discussion topics :) They were changing from “Unknown Soldier” the movie into German tanks and to ancient Greeks and their opinions about pedofilia. I really did enjoy about good talks, new people, and especially people interested on things from wider approach!

Well, the more you get the more you are able to lose. So when thinking about that, especially from the next morning’s point of view with a slight feeling reminding of hangover (Polish vodka…), it made me even more sad to think not to be here anymore after a month :(

Waiting for a tram one morning. Even the smoke from chimneys on the back is feeling low

torstai 13. tammikuuta 2011

After Xmas it's New Year

My master plan for New Year was expatriate's party in a bar/nightclub. But then, surprisingly I found myself from an “before party” from a Polish home, and that was an experience you should not waste! So I enjoyed a little traditional Polish food (meatballs with three different meat), cake, and sweet wine. In addition I had company of few Poles, of which one living in France. Very international I'd say. We did not have common language with everyone, but it did not matter J  However, I did enjoy; Dziekuje bardzo bardzo Tomek and your family!
Expat party and stuff in downtown was very quickly done on my behalf. On Rynek there would have been a big outdoor concert, starring Ace of Base. I walked by the stage during the day and took a picture of the place.

Christmas updates…

Long time before last post… Christmas went by, and not very merrily on behalf. The trip to Finland was ONCE AGAIN a disaster. I left home in Wroclaw 5:30 on the morning, and reached my destination at 00:30. Believe you me, it was not planned as such. It even came to my mind to forget about going to Finland at all, because to that unfortunate travelling was combined some disappointments to people as well.

Well, I got home safely and in one piece and got to spend one day off and then Christmas Eve with family. Then it was time for next wave of bad luck; worst flu ever. Or at least in long time. Four days I spent under duvets freezing, sweating, sleeping and fevering and feeling bad. But there was some luck, because if it was meant for me to be sick, it was absolutely best to spend that time taken care of by mum <3 especially after almost half year abroad on your own ;). The bloody disease caused my travel plans to be reorganized, and probably would have caused some gray hairs to my project manager as well (that is if he had any hair;)), because I was supposed to do a set of conversions and no backup person arranged. Humble worker as I am, Wednesday was spent with converting remotely. Thursday with travelling by train, spending half day in Helsinki office, and continuing back to Wroclaw on the evening. And again, trip back home was smooooth...

Very freezing, -30 on 23.12. from ferry boat shore on my home hoods in Finland :)

Day before Christmas eve was sunny!

But I did have a nice car! Not my own, though, but I needed to save at least something of the totally messed up travel plans and rent one. And quod erad demonstrum – when you take things in to your own hands (in this case forget all public transportation), things start to go as supposed. In my case it means that I got to homehome in countryside..

Christmas Eve and the little elf <3

This picture was taken from University’s Christmas carroll event. Yep, before anyone else had yet come, choir was still practising. Pieces of cakes on the tables are a traditional Polish Christmas pastry, something resembling fruit cake

This one, called "Swans on December" was taken on the way home from company's Wigilia dinner.

keskiviikko 22. joulukuuta 2010

Adventures of furniture and smtg about apartment

I have been planning to write something of my apartment for quite some time, but I have been experiencing some very bad luck with certain piece of furniture, and I wanted to wait until the place is complete before making any photos. This certain furniture have travelled a long way, but believe it or not, now they are in place in the house, they are assembled, working, pretty, and it is full set of them.

So, I will not do through each and every detail related to the adventure of those equipments. When I arrived at end of July, I was surprised that the dining table was not there, unlike in June when I first saw the apartment. The lady from the apartment agency said that whatever I want more to apartment, will be arranged. So I thought then, and wrote a wish list which now seems pretty ridiculous. If I only knew…

So, for the record: Person can very well live without a shelf for books, without shelf for shoes, without extra rack, without table and chairs on the balcony, without carpet in bedroom (no one ever suffered for little echoes), without shades in bedroom (autumn and darker nights were coming anyway), and actually there is lots of other little details which at the end are not that necessary. But a table by which it is possible to sit on normal chairs and write (with pen and paper or computer) and actually also eat for real as normal people do, is an essential thing to have.

After both me and our assistant Agata calling to the apartment agency several times the promise that they will fix everything turned out to be loads of crap, so that it was not possible to “order” any furniture so that they would just appear to the apartment, but I would need to go and buy them. Well, without car, without language skills, without knowledge of the location of any furniture shops it was not very appealing option. Also these events took place at the same time when the mad golive weeks were ongoing. Lack of table did not bother me then, because I never was there in the apartment but slept at the office instead. Well, life after GoLive was expected, so once again with help of my colleague (Kryzek, owe you one;)) I got catalogues and chose some furniture. First step completed.

The choice turned out to be not good one, because even if the table was available in stock of IKEA (!), chairs were to be ordered. Unlucky as this whole affair was, with some unfortunate occasions the table appeared to our office instead of my apartment, and dear Agata who usually fixes everything, was on long leave.

Soooo, little more challenges but at the end we managed to agree time when two helpful colleagues of mine would help me with assembling of the table (=do it for me). That was fair enough. Next obstacle was the house in which my apartment is. We went to garage trying to find a place where to leave car and get up to apartment via lift. It was not as easy as you’d think. The garage guards had trouble helping us, and now I have heard one the best explanations ever; architects who designed the building FORGOT to add garage doors which would lead into my staircase.  (Greg, thank u for ur patience.) Therefore the doors did not have a number, therefore we were first directed to wrong place, therefore the table pack age was first carried to totally wrong hallway. It did not explain how it is possible for one building to have two apartments with same number. At this point I did not care about that detail anymore. Long story ended up happily; I got table in my apartment, assembling took place in Polish which I’ve never experienced before, and the result was pretty! Who cares of little details like wrong screw used in wrong places… The table was and is still standing on its four legs :)

So, that was only about the table. Chairs were ordered and somewhere on their way. At the beginning I said “long story short”, but this did not turn out to be that short. So new trial about keeping it short with the chair case; they arrived. 1,5 months later than the table. First problem how to get them from Ikea. Helping colleagues on business trip. Then by coincidence colleague went by and brought the chairs. They arrived, but yet in a package. I do not own any assembly tools in Wroclaw -> more help needed. Helping colleagues on business trip and on vacations. More waiting. Helping colleague arrived from vacation. Came to visit. Chairs assembled.

Two months before leaving the country. Four months after arriving the country. Who cares. I have full set of dining furniture. I am happy and proud.
PLZ see them.

Have yoú ever seen anything as beautiful? Probably yes, at least I have. But I like these things pretty much as well. In addition to furniture I would like to introduce my new friend, avocado. On the picture he/she is settled on the plate.

This is the hallway to my luxury bathroom - a peak there is allowed ;).

sunnuntai 19. joulukuuta 2010

Weekend with a visitor!

So, then it was turn for the week which doomed. It consisted of flying around and between Poland, Germany and Finland, riding in a train and taxi back and forth on Finnish ground, living without luggage and blaah the whole story. I would not have stressed about success of the travel arrangements back to Wroclaw, unless there weren’t a very good reason to be there on planned time; I was about to get a visitor from Finland! As said already once, so many said that they would come to see me, and as I expected, almost as many have forgotten the whole thing. But so the life goes. I am not as old and cynical as may sound, but this far I’ve learnt that there’s lots of room for talk in the world, but it’s the real actions that matter – and very often in numerous matters the actions are left undone.

The one brave lady from Finland did not care about complicated travel arrangements, but packed her things and on her business trip to Germany called to Wroclaw as well! This plan was born under lucky stars, because despite the delays of her trains and in general the central European weather conditions, both of us reached our destinations in time :)

We did not have too much time, but as also before experienced with Mari, with efficient planning it is possible to achieve a lot. So, from sightseeing part we covered the Ostrow Tumski (both in daylight and in dark), Rynek, the University, hala Targowa and three churches. We tried two different places from where to see the city from above, but in the university peculiarly “the view was closed”, and in St. Johns cathedral the elevator was so cleverly hidden that we could not find it despite persistent search… In addition we saw two shopping malls, and the Christmas Market on Rynek. Lots of jewelry exchanged ownership – girl’s gotta buy souvenirs - and also one luggage strap was custom made for instant use.

On gastronomical experiences Polish food as zurek, pierogis and nalesnikis were tried. Jewish food with warm beer – check. Sushi and green tea ice cream – consider it done. Some mysterious big music event – seen. And in addition to all this, exchanging thoughts with a dear friend – luckily CHECK, always have to have time for that as well.

So this is warm beer, served in Jewish restaurant Sarah. Some beer puritanists might have a word to say about the idea of adding lemon, clove and strong juice into pint of beer, and as it was not enough, then to heat the drink. Despite my prejudices this mixture was not bad at all. Result: I am not a beer puritanist.

Something like this happened on Rynek on Saturday. No idea what it was about. But no reason to let unawareness bother, just feel the music and swing along! This time swinging along happened only quite short and limited time until it became too cold;)
After some inquiries on Monday at work I heard that the concert was one with famous Polish artists and was set up to celebrate St. Nicholas's (Swiety Mikolaj) nameday.
 Thank you Mari for the visit (and Fazer’s blue and salted liquorice)!

lauantai 18. joulukuuta 2010

Art and underground

Once again few past weeks have been going by flying. But as usually, it is because they have been full of life. I try to memorize some tops things to share and leave for generations to come…

On previous post I wrote about winter’s arrival. It has been here for only three week, but still it feels like forever, especially now when considering how much has happened after.

The weekend of the first snow was especially memorable. I was invited to a small art exhibition of a young artist, who is a friend of my colleague. Part of the deal was to translate the artists website (can be found here, very fancy ones!) into Finnish. Interesting duty, and surprisingly hard! The content of the text was very understandable in English, but when trying to transfer it to Finnish, it did not seem to work at all. I needed to “leave it be” few times, and my perfectionist side wanted to go and browse through sites which would tell about art genres, so I’d be able to use terms correctly. And even after that, when the text is on its place on the website, it looks very different (and stupid on some points) and I wanted to fine tune it even more. Even the updated version is not exactly how it should be, but as the content update causes work not only to me but to other people, I do not want to touch it too much anymore and just have to bear with it :P Well, this was a sidetrack, but all in all, respect to the people who do translation work for living!

Back to the exhibition; it was held in building doomed to be demolished, but in the meantime serving as gallery for young artist to be able to have exhibitions. Youthful, bohemian and nice event!

Afterparty was supposed to take place in a "squat". I was not quite sure what the word meant, but thought that it sounded cool because there was also talk about some bands. so volunteered to join. "Squat" was supposed to be quite nearby, and on our way there I asked for some confirmation about the place we were going. Then I was detailly informed about the real meaning of squat (talonvaltaus). Whatever expectations I had been having for 6 months in Wroclaw, for sure they did not involve a Polish squat party!! But isn’t it always better when getting something than could not expect? Maybe that’s not always the case, I agree, but this time it was. Oh what authentic underground atmosphere it turned out to be; punk band, smoking inside, people looking like real punks with Iroquois (?) hair, beer sold on cheap price and as a consequence even some guys passed out on the ground :D. No pics available, sorry for that… But in addition to the event / experience itself it was nice to meet colleagues somewhere else than in the office – so dziekuje bardzo Jarek!

And what does this all have to do about winter coming? Because this happened on Friday evening and the party was half inside a house, half on the inner yard, and it was not too cold. On Saturday evening I was out on the date with a guy from India, and the date also took place outside, weather not being too cold at least for me. Have to admit that for a man from country of hot weather and bright shining sun it was a little chilly ;) And then on the Sunday of same weekend, the first snow fell and seems that it came to stay.