Vacation’s End

March has come in like a lion. Will it go out like a lamb?

For those of you following us on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), you know that we arrived to our new home in Poland two weeks ago. This marks a new chapter in our adventures. Spain was a vacation. France was a vacation. This next chapter will be more like day-to-day, normal life – only it is anything but normal for us.

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We will establish a home here in Czestochowa for the next five months. We will make new friends, find new markets, banks, hair salons, gyms and local treasures. We will also take long weekends and spring breaks throughout Eastern Europe, day trips to new cities around Poland and delve into histories and cultures largely unfamiliar to us.

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But as is often the case after any vacation, there is an adjustment period – the return to normalcy. Sometimes it’s an easy and comfortable slip back into daily life. Other times it’s a bumpy transition. Often, it’s a little of both.

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That has been the case for us these past few weeks. It was a relief to unpack the car and empty the suitcases (such a relief!). It was wonderful to wake up in the same house for a few days with nothing to do and no urgency to see the sites. We simply rested. The kids played toys. We cooked, read books and bought a few furnishings and decorations to make the house more like home. We settled.

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Since then we have met new neighbors, been invited for home cooked dinners and been taken on tours of local schools, churches, gyms and play places. New friends have brought farm fresh eggs and taken us to restaurants serving the best of the local specialties. Old friends have introduced us to their children and set up play dates. Mike has begun teaching at the university and I’ve begun teaching at home. Routines are taking shape and we are enjoying the time we get to spend together, which is substantial without having to be at work, school, sports, theaters, etc.

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We our relishing in the conversations with new friends, which have covered a wide range of topics – Poland, USA, history, politics, education, finance, religion, children, travel, etc. Miss A has even made a new friend, Mr. A. He lives across the street and their bedroom windows are directly opposite one another. He posts notes to her in English and she posts notes to him in Polish. They are both very excited to have a “foreign” friend. As for Mr. N, he has started a daily, family newspaper complete with a crime blotter where he details the offenses of his little sister. It is exhilarating…

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And it is exhausting.

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As the feeling of vacation wore off, there were also struggles. While on vacation you generally don’t “miss” things because you know you’ll quickly return; but as I said, this is no longer a vacation. This is our daily life now, and with that came some homesickness. We’ve all had our moments. We’ve melted down, cried and been frustrated. We’ve gotten on each other’s nerves, slammed a few doors and written angry tirades in our journals. I don’t say this as a complaint. I say this to offer an honest look at our sabbatical life. While it is an adventure, it’s also real life. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Language barriers can be tough. Unfamiliar surroundings can be challenging and unsettling. Some things that come easily at home are more challenging here. Other things are simply different. None of this is surprising, or even bad. It was expected. It’s part of what will make this experience so valuable for us. But it is tiring and at times trying because as you start to feel settled you almost expect things to feel like home, but they don’t. So it requires patience, new perspectives, learning and energy. Lots of energy. It requires us to come together in ways we didn’t expect and deepens our bonds. It requires hugs, snuggles and empathy. It requires playfulness, focus, listening and observing.

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Yesterday was Leap Day. It was also our 50th day away from home. I asked the kids to record 10 things they have learned, observed, felt or experienced up to this point in their journals. What they wrote astounded me. As they are deeply personal, I will not share them here, but they were thoughtful, introspective and even surprising. So while this transition into our new life abroad may be bumpy at times, amazing at others, it is certainly already changing us.

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It’s an adventure that will ask a lot of us, but I have no doubt it will give more in return.

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So for the next few weeks while we adjust to our new surroundings, we’ll continue to post about our adventures in Spain, France and Germany. Then, once we’re a bit more oriented and in our new groove, we’ll begin sharing more about our daily life. In the meantime, if you’d like more current updates, you’ll find them sprinkled about on social media.

As for today, it’s March 1st, which means the next issue of Wine Tourist Magazine is out and my new column is available online. This month we explore the wine and food of Slovenia (a country we hope to visit in the coming months!). And much like we’re conquering fears on our sabbatical, I conquered my fear of making a yeast bread! For the recipe pictured throughout this post, click here.

20 thoughts on “Vacation’s End

  1. angharadeyre says:

    I love how honest you are about the more difficult aspects of being away – it’s really refreshing. And I’m so impressed by how prepared you seem to have been for these difficulties. Honesty and preparedness should help you get through them and really enjoy the rest of your time abroad. Best of luck with everything!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Raymund says:

    Thats an exiting chapter in your life, its nice to live in a different place getting to know new friends, finding new stuff and learning a lot. Poland is a nice place though I haven’t travelled most of it just Wroclaw, my experience there was great plus you can enjoy a European lifestyle in a much affordable manner.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ChgoJohn says:

    You’ve written a wonderful post, Kristy. It should be listed as a “Must read” for anyone contemplating spending an extended period away from home in a foreign land.
    When you’re getting around eastern Europe, I hope you guys make it to Prague. Such a beautiful city. Wait a minute! 50 days?!?!?! Seems like we were watching Mr N on stage just last week. I’ll see what I can do about slowing time down a bit for you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eva Taylor says:

    Not to be rude but, OMG!!! Is that a yeasted bread????
    50 days already? Time does fly. I can’t imagine being away from home for so long, you’ve adjusted so well, even with the ups and downs. The journals are a wonderful idea, the kids will treasure them for a long time, and their kids will treasure them too! I used to write a journal on all of our trips and it’s quite interesting to read of the idiosyncrasies that happened but are soon forgotten. The entires also take me right back to that time and place. I will try to write a journal again on our next trip.
    It looks like you’ve gotten some snow, we are getting pelted as I write and I just heard the snow plow pass by yet another time! I’m off to read the recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristy says:

      Lol! Yes…a yeast bread! 🙂 The journals have been great. I too have kept them on travels before and you’re right – they do take you right back! And yes, time is flying! It’s crazy!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Debra says:

    I’m so glad you reviewed your arrangement with the time spent between “real living” and vacationing. I understand your sabbatical plans much better now that you’ve been traveling awhile. The planning you did in advance was so well constructed that I can see how much value is collected from each and every day, including the ones heavily tinged in homesickness. I think it’s fantastic that you are making new friends, sharing meals and stories and lives. If not one more thing came from this grand experience that alone would be priceless. And on top of it all you’ve made yeast bread! LOL! I so look forward to each post, Kristy. I do hope that Mike’s university teaching is a very fulfilling experience. All the best, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Norma Chang says:

    Lovely, honest and heart warming post, adjustments will become easier with each passing day. When did Mis A learn Polish? She is just amazing, well your whole family is amazing. Your Tarragon Potica looks very professional and am sure delicious, I could have a slice, covered with butter, this very moment. Great article in the Wine Tourist Magazine, saving recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Eha says:

    I must be the only ignorant one not to have known you were going to Czestochowa . . . altho’ I am not religious [well a lapsed Lutheran turned Buddhist 🙂 !] I am looking at the moment at a beautiful wall sculpture of the Black Madonna of C gifted by a dear Polish friend now dead . . . small world again. A very interesting five months ahead for you . . . shall look forwards to your stories. My mother came from a family of nine, eight daughters, each marrying into a different European country. My oldest auntie > Poland and a close friendship with her youngest daughter was a fascinating experience for many years. Oh: am most impressed about Miss A being able to converse in Polish . . . lucky to have found a ‘soul mate’ so early in the piece . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristy says:

      What a small world! We were given a tour of the church with the Black Madonna on a Sunday morning. What an experience! It was an incredible observation of something very deeply rooted in the Polish culture. They each moved to different European countries? Wow! That’s amazing. Yes, I think we’ll have an interesting five months. 🙂

      Like

      • Eha says:

        Sorry Kristy – hope I raise a smile re my ‘wandering’ aunties 🙂 ! This story goes back to the beginning of the last century and my maternal family were kind’of ‘snobbish’ – nought but the best – which was high-ranking army in those days!! OMG, as I have always said, there must have been a hellish number of army manoeuvres in the country each summer: each and every one [including my Mom] married a uniform! With plenty of fruit salad on the chest!!! Should you get as far north as Estonia I might have one or two interesting people of your kind to contact!!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. sallybr says:

    Beautiful…. as you know, I’ve moved around some. Language is a pretty tough barrier to overcome, but then I sit here smiling at myself, thinking that when I was a teenager I had no idea one day… I would be blogging in English. he, he, he… blogging was not a word then. But you get the gist…

    I love it that you did not share the kids’ impressions and views – it is nice to keep that in the warm nest of the family – social media is great, but I am all for balance and keeping things private when private is right. 😉

    Enjoy each day, keep the diary going for all of you, and whatever you decide to share, I will enjoy immensely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kristy says:

      I am continuously amazed by anyone’s ability to speak multiple languages (let alone blog in them!). It’s really incredible. I’d love to do it with more fluidity someday. 🙂

      Like

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