As of today, October 4th, Aackle has officially been in Krakow for one year. When I walk around the city, I still am giddy by how charming it is and I'm even happier that I've cut our my little space in it. Reading back to my first blog post from Poland (9 October, 2019) it seems that my life today could have been predicted to a T. For example, on day 1 in this city I had already started networking with a director at Pwc; now that man is my coach and team leader. It's really fun to recount what my goals were for myself a year ago and realize that I actually have been pretty successful and achieving them.
Clearly, getting a job was the top of my priority list. "Job" felt like the direct path to friends, culture, and purpose. Thanks to beurocratic delays it took four months but now I have the exact job I expected to have–working as an auditor for a public accounting firm. I admit it's not my dream job, nor did I ever expect it to be, and I look back to my days as a housewife enviously, but it has filled my days. I enjoy going back into the office on occasion and having a group of people to gossip with and my manager likes to teach me new Polish phrases to express my frustration. Most importantly though I learned that it's not having a job that makes me happy and it's quite freeing to realize I don't have to make work my only priority.
Not that work was every my only priority. Making friends was also high on the list and I laugh at the ways I went about it at first. Why I thought that going to a startup brainstorming event would lead to friendships, whose to say. Through the aid of women's groups, expat groups, Bumble BFF, work, and friends of friends I've found myself it the lovely situation of having too many friends. Last night to celebrate (and to have an excuse to use all of the mattresses in the house) I had some friends over for a sleepover. Going to dinner is one type of friendship, but if you are willing to hang out with someone for 16 hours and sleep in their house that's a good friendship.
Learning Polish was another goal I gave myself, and probably the only impossible goal, but honestly I'm quite pleased with myself. Look back through old posts I remember the garbled sounds I made when trying to order obwarzanek or zapiekanka. Now I can even write them without having to look up how the words are spelt! I am nowhere near fluent, or even conversational, but I'm really please that I typically know the most important words to get my point across. Yesterday, Cameron and I went shopping at Stary Kleparz, Krakow's oldest operating marketplace, and I felt like a Polish couple- I was requesting tomatoes and mushrooms and paying with exact change while Cameron collected all of our purchases.
Yesterday's outing also included a stop at a new bubble tea shop and an art store. Round trip it was probably an hour of walking. Although I glanced at my phone for a directional reminder occasionally I know I could have gotten us to these places on my own accord without too much back tracking. I really wanted to know my way around the city, and even though I'm not always confident, I generally feel like I have a general sense of where I'm going and I always know which way is home. I even feel good about public transportation and will quickly change my mind about which tram route if I see a different number pulling up to the station. Of course the true test would be to show off the city to others, but that wasn't a possibility this year. Fingers crossed travel restrictions are (safely) lifted next summer!
The root of all of these 'goals' was a strong desire to fit in. I wanted others to think I was a local with a normal Polish life. I know that is an impossibility, and I've shed some stress now that I'm not longer striving for that. Although I still appreciate the amazement on my Polish friends' faces when I order a coffee in Polish, there is a freedom being able to go up to the counter and also ask "what do you recommend" in English and not feeling guilty about that. I love my little life in Poland, and I love it even more knowing that there's only one year left. Since it seems I'm unexpectedly good at predicting the future I would like the universe to know that I expect to start loving my job, all of my American family/friends will visit next year, I'll be able to travel to Georgia/Sweden/Ireland before we move away from Europe, we will go skiing in the Alps, and Cameron will find his equivalent of my women's groups–it's going to be a great year!