The last five months in Poland have been amazing and jammed packed full of experiences that I’ll never forget. My time at this school has been an incredible character building experience. Never in my thirteen years of education have I ever been in an atmosphere that encourages and takes such pride in the high quality achievements of students. Seeing the interaction between the teachers and the students, and experiencing all the effort that goes into planning the lessons to provide a high quality language education is something that was eye opening. Which I believe I sometimes took for granted in my own personal schooling. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this environment with the people that have made it what it is - from the hospitality of my host family, the encouragement of my lessons from the english department and the warm welcome and participation from the students. My experiences outside of school have also been just as great. Being able to visit the places I have and the places I’ve booked to visit over summer is something that I could have only dreamed of doing a few years ago.

My first trip out of Poland was to Oslo, Norway where I fully embraced being a tourist and took as many classic tourist photos that I could despite the laughs from onlookers. But although I was embracing the tourist lifestyle I was actually staying with a Norwegian family so I like to think I experienced Norway like a local would too. Some of the highlights from my trip to Norway were visiting the Opera House, the Royal Palace, school flea markets, the Olympic Ski Jump and my most favourite of all the Vigelandsparken Statue Park.

My next trip after that was to Barcelona, Seville and Madrid Spain. I can confidently say that this trip has been my favourite that trip so far. We managed to see so many sights within the ten days we were there. Highlights from Barcelona were tapas, Park Guell, The Sagrada Familia and the Picasso Museum. My Highlights from Seville were the Seville Cathedral and Church, seeing a live Flamenco show, and just exploring the city. And finally my highlights from Madrid were the Prado museum, Andy Warhol exhibition and row boats in Parque del Buen Retiro.

A few weekends after my trip to Spain I visited Athens, I’ve always had an interest in classical studies so Greece was somewhere I knew I had to visit before I went back home to New Zealand. I visited majority of the main outdoor attractions including the Acropolis, Ancient Agora and Areopagus, Kerameikos, Lykeion of Aristotle, The Library of Hadrian, Olympieion, the Roman Agora and the Olympic Stadium. They were all incredible to see, especially when we climbed Mount Lycabettus and could see the contrast between the classical ruins and the city of today. Except I think my body had gotten to use to the polish weather as I found it extremely hot in Greece despite having similar temperatures in New Zealand. I did not visit any museums as I will be seeing those when I go back to Athens over summer.
To celebrate my 19th birthday I decided to go visit my Aunty, Uncle and cousin in Kent, England with a friend. It was an extremely busy but great weekend. We visited Leeds Castle and watched a bird show before going out for dinner on the first day. The first time I visited Leeds Castle was on my first trip to England when I was eight. So it was interesting to see how different it was to what I remembered and experience it again but with an understanding of the history too. The next day my friend and I were going to see the west end musical Heathers in London, so we decided to spend the afternoon in London too. We visited Buckingham Palace and all the sights and parks surrounding it. But unfortunately we did not realise Trooping the Colour was on that morning so we missed out on seeing the Royal family. But nonetheless it was still a great afternoon made even better by a trip to an incredible ice cream restaurant called The Parlour, followed by an amazing performance of the opening night of Heathers. This was not our only trip into London that weekend, we also went to London the next night to attend another comedy musical show - Courtney Act after our day spent at an English garden party.

I also had a few small trips within Poland between these trips aboard. The most memorable being my trip to Warsaw for Orange Music Festival which ended up being one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. Both days were spent with friends dancing and singing to bands and artists I knew and one's I didn’t know but enjoyed just as much. Another small trip I went on in Poland was to Malbork Castle.

These trips were just the start of my backpacking of Europe. Over the summer break I will be going to many other countries before I start my second placement at a school in Warsaw. These places include England, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Split, Mostar, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Tirana, Santorini, Paros, Athens, Rome, Florence, Venice, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Nice and Zurich.
Thank you again to everyone who has made this experience one to remember, I thoroughly enjoyed making Tricity my home away from home.

Link to gallery.

Abby Owens