Archive for June, 2010

Today was very exciting! Truly! I’m not being sarcastic this time! We got to meet the president!!

Okay, I should inform you that it wasn’t the president of the country – just of the city. But still, it was really neat! Hold your horses, and I’ll relate to you all of the exciting events of today.

First, we visited the Herbst Palace. This was built by one of the many textile kings of the city (Schiller? Schiebler? I can’t remember. So many palaces, so much history, so little time!) as a wedding gift for his daughter and her husband. (Hey dad….*hint hint, nudge nudge*) Although this palace was much bigger than the one we saw yesterday, this palace was greatly damaged before it was turned into a museum, so only the ceilings and a few other parts (besides the structure itself) were original.

Unfortunately we were not able to take photos within the museum itself. However, if photos were allowed, I can assure you that the majority of my photos would be of the three pianos in the palace. The first was an 1894 Pleyel upright piano, which was ornate to the point of being obnoxious. (But still so cool!) The main body of the piano itself was black, but supporting the legs were some sort of gilded cherubs. The other main (crazy) feature of the piano were the candelabras, which were attached just next to the music stand. (Perhaps this is so the musician would always have light to play by….I think I would be likely to catch either my music or my hair on fire!) The other two pianos were grands (one was a baby grand) with wood finish. I didn’t see the name on the one, and the other was a name I hadn’t heard of.

So, yes. We toured the palace. Then it was off to meet the president!

We walked to City Hall, which was on Piotrkowska street and (like most of the other buildings we’ve seen today and yesterday) was the former home of a textile baron. (Don’t get me wrong – I’m really enjoying all of this history! It’s just kind of funny that we end up visiting the former homes of these insanely rich people all within 48 hours.)

The president was very kind. Although I didn’t get any pictures with her on my camera, my teacher snapped a few of our whole group. Meeting her was very exciting! The table in the meeting room was set with teacups, glasses, cookies, pots of tea and coffee, two different kinds of juice…it was quite snazzy, and an amazing opportunity. The president didn’t speak English, so we communicated through a translator. She was very welcoming, and was glad to hear that we’ve been enjoying Łódź.  It was so very kind – after the meeting was over, every member of our group was given sort of a Łódź “goody bag”, filled with information and souvenirs relating to the city. It was wonderful.

Our group with the Director of Education in Łódź

After this meeting, our entire group traveled to a local park, where we had another picnic! It was a wonderful time. Not only was there delicious food (pizza, kelbasa, kaszanka, salads, bananas and more), but there was also archery! None of us were very skilled, but I think everyone had a lovely time.

Overall, the day was quite exciting and entertaining. :)

Well, my dearies, that is about all for tonight.

Love & blessings,

Taylor

Cinema

I meant to post an update for yesterday but didn’t have time…sorry! Here is a brief summary of yesterday’s events.

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Our first stop today was the cinematography museum.

The bottom floor of the building was filled with old cameras, projectors and film posters.

Roman Polanski graduated from the Leon Schiller film school here in Łódź, and the Łódźians are fairly proud of his accomplishments, and appreciate that he has some roots in the city. (No one, however, seems to be much in favor of Polanski’s scandal…if the topic comes up, the subject immediately drops.)

The cinematography museum was in the basement of the first palace built in Łódź. This palace was also the first built by Karl Schiebler, one of the many textile barons who owned factories in Łódź. Pictures hardly do justice to this fantastically intricate palace. Almost everything was original – the paneling, the chandeliers, the furniture… it was fantastic!

By the way, I apologize for the blurriness of these photos!

We kept with the cinematography theme and next traveled to the Leon Schiller Higher School of Film, which was just a few blocks away.

Here we had the opportunity of meeting with a professor, who filled us in on all of the goings-on of the film school. This being Roman Polanski’s alma mater, Polanski himself seems to be revered as somewhat of a legend. (I think he’s probably the most famous graduate.) One of the steps on the main staircase of the school even has a plaque with his name on it.

We were able to watch a few student films from the late ’60′s, at least one of which were Polanski’s. Although they were art films and I didn’t quite understand them, it was still very interesting to see what students in a film school actually do when they aren’t behind a camera.

The professor told us that the building which houses the main offices for the film school was once the home of a Jewish textile baron. Most of the ornate-ness was destroyed during WWII, but the building was still gorgeous.

After visiting the film school, Monika, Jess, Amanda, Amel and I all traveled to the Manufaktura and had a chance to shop for a while. I ate out for the first time (I think) while I’ve been here. The restaurant was called Sphinx, and reminded me of Chili’s, except it seemed much nicer. Food is so much cheaper here! My meal only cost (roughly) $4, and that included a fairly large piece of pita bread. Delicious and inexpensive – that’s what I like. :) No surprise, we Americans were sure to get ice cream before we left the Manufaktura. This sweet treat was delicious, as always.

Love,

Taylor

Just another average, ordinary Polish adventure

We had a lovely time today, traipsing around the city of Łodz.

We chilled with the Pope for a while.

Okay, it was just a statue, and the “chilling” was more of just snapping a picture as we walked by…but it was still cool. John Paul II (or, in Polish, Jan Pawel II) was a priest in Krakow before becoming pope. His statue (which you see above) is located in front of one of the largest churches in Lodz.

The church was so large that I couldn’t fit the entire thing in one photo!

After giving the Pope our regards, we were off to to the Biała Fabryka, or white factory. Once upon a time, Łodz was a very industrial city and an integral part of the European cotton industry. The museum/factory that we visited today featured examples of all kinds of machines which made thread, as well as weaving machines. The most interesting part about this exhibition was that the machines were quite varied in age – everything from a 19th century drop spindle to a 1900′s wooden loom to an immense 1975 (bright green) weaving machine of some sort.

This was just one part of the factory/museum. The next part that we visited featured all kinds of textile art, which was quite interesting to see. I would venture to make the generality that most of the pieces of art were tapestries, but there were a variety of art forms presented. For example, one of the pieces was about 10 ft in diameter, suspended half a meter above the floor and resembled a UFO. Another was made entirely of zipties, and looked almost like a garden of sea urchins. Yet another was a dress that was woven entirely of paper. All in all, the exhibition was quite impressive.

After leaving the Biała Fabryka, we traveled to the cinema and saw the movie entitled “Green Zone”, starring Matt Damon. Sonija (our coordinator, who, by the way, is extremely kind, gracious, young, helpful and all-around fantastic) didn’t know what movies our group enjoyed seeing, so she chose this one. While the film probably isn’t what I would have chosen, it was by no means awful, and it was nice to not have to be running around anywhere.

This evening, Moinka and I had the privilege of attending a most exclusive Polish performance…

Monika’s mom (my wonderful host mom), Ania, teaches the Polish equivalent of Kindergarten, and tonight they had sort of an “end of the year” performance. All 18 or so students played a part. The students were so smart! Each one stood up and said a fairly substantial line or two and the entire group sang a couple of songs. The theme of the evening was Ecology, which is what the class has been studying as of late. (For this reason, one girl was dressed as a tree, another as water, etc.) The entire production was in Polish, but I was able to decipher  some cognates in one of the songs they were singing. The chorus of the song was something like “Moya planeta, SOS”. The entire production was very cute, and I’m glad we were able to attend.

Well, that’s about it for tonight, my chickadees. I have some exciting new posts in the works, but that’s all I’ll reveal for now, lest the surprise be ruined :) All you need to know is – you should be excited.

Love,

Taylor

Just some photos

Yesterday, we went to what was called Piknik, near the Herbst palace here in Lodz.

(note: all photos in today’s post are courtesy of Monika Dlugoszewska)

It was more of a craft fair, with lots of people selling handmade jewelry and clothing, but there were also activities for children, like drawing and painting.

Monika and I bought a few things, but mostly just walked around and enjoyed the day.

Afterwards, Monika and I went to a park nearby and took lots of pictures. She has an amazing camera, and quite the eye for photography. The girl’s got talent. :)


Isn’t the lighting in that photo fantastic?? Monika is great at finding spots for good photos. (Sorry…the photography nerd in me is coming out.) The grand total of photos taken yesterday was as follows: Taylor – 41  Monika – 441. It was fun.

After photog-ing in the park, we headed over to Monika’s grandmother’s house for lunch. It was great to be able to meet more of this lovely family :)

From left: Monika, me, Moinka's wonderful grandmother

By far the most energetic member of the family that I had the privilege of meeting was Martzelina, Monika’s three-year-old cousin. Boy, she’s a cutie. We got to know each other by running around the back yard, playing hide-and-go-seek, and kuku (which is Polish for peek-a-boo). It was a splendid time.

Oh. We did a tad bit of jumping around, too.

All in all, the day was great. :)

Love,

Taylor

Relaxing

The Philharmonic last night was absolutely fantastic!!! First of all, the building itself was absolutely gorgeous. Built fairly recently, the facade looks to be made entirely of glass. However, etched onto the glass (or perhaps painted on the inside? I’m not sure.) are decorative lines, and, on the side panels, what looks like windows and bricks. How very clever – it’s almost as if the building want to fit in with and stand out from its surroundings simultaneously.

The Philharmonic buildling itself. I apologize for the fact that you can't really see what I have just described to you due to the close-upness of the photo... I didn't really want to cross the street and get hit by a car solely for the sake of a photograph. :)

The performance was wonderful, although a bit different from performances I’ve been to here in the states. The first thing I noticed was that there were no people standing at the door, handing out programs (the same as at the ballet the other evening). Instead, to discover what was being played, a person needed to find the sign displayed in the lobby which listed the pieces of music and their composers. Another difference that I mentioned was the silence of the conductor. Although he acknowledged the audience and the soloist, he did not introduce the soloist or give the audience background information about the pieces being performed – he simply conducted. This is not better or worse than anything at home – just different :) (Thank you to my friend Ildiko for that wonderful quote.)

Today, as the title suggests, has been very relaxing. I’m fairly sure that most of us (the Americans) were able to sleep in fairly late. I wasn’t fully conscious until about 8:45 this morning, which is pretty late for me.

One of the first things that surprised we American students upon arriving in Poland was the lack of people who looked overweight. I’m becoming more convinced every day that the stereotype of so many Americans being overweight isn’t all that far from the truth. Even in McDonald’s here, the people look of average mass. Well, we have quickly discovered the reason behind this phenomenon. I’ve observed that the people of Poland (along with eating more fresh foods) walk and bike much more than Americans do. Much more. Yes, they drive cars and take trams and buses around the city, but, in general, Polish folk seem to be much more active than Americans. This is a stellar thing, and it’s been changing my habits. In Poland, we have been doing as the Polish – walking quite a bit more.

So, around noon, Monika and I walked to the bus stop. After taking two buses, we walked to meet Amel and Jess. We then walked (and walked) along a beautiful path through the woods. Don’t get me wrong – I’m really enjoying all of this walking. It’s getting me into better shape. And plus, you get to see so much more than if you were going superbly fast in a car! Check out some of my discoveries today:

The lovely forest path upon which our walk took us.

The STATE FLOWER OF IOWA!!! In POLAND, of all places! Would I have been able to get this picture from a car window? Of course not.

And yes, of course we did all of this walking with a destination in mind! Why else would we have packed kanapki (sandwiches) and kabanoscy (beef sticks) ?

We were going to have a picnic on the beach of a lovely lake, of course! And really, it was well worth the walk. We spent three lovely hours soaking up the sun, playing in the water and people watching (which is a sport in itself, I assure you).  I got quite a bit of reading done, as well as the beginnings of a tan.

If you squint and turn your head a little bit, you can actually see the tan line from my ring.

All in all, it was a pleasant day. This evening has been spent at home, doing some more relaxing, as Moinka has three tests next week and needs to study. I’m quite content with this…down time is a very, very good thing :)

I’ll try to update again soon!

Love,

Taylor

Presentations

The last two days have been eventful, and yet uneventful. (Although I suppose most bloggers just write about routine things…what should stop me?)
Yesterday we visited the Manufaktura, one of the largest shopping centers in Europe. Although it wasn’t the first time we’d been there, it was the first time we had walked around the entire complex. Wow, that place is enormous! It was built in the mid-1800′s by Izrael Poznanski, and they held his factories. But there weren’t just factories there; besides housing the typical looms and printing presses of a factory, the complex also had a fire station, a store and flats for the workers to live in. Also, the way the factory was built was very different from the way most factories are built. A good portion of the brickwork is decorative – Poznanski wanted his factory to be beautiful. (and he most definitely succeeded! Look at these pictures – sorry that they all look so similar.)

The complex was completely rennovated (meaning returned to its original beauty) about four years ago – that’s why it’s so pretty.

I digress…enough with history! Let me tell you what we actually did yesterday!

We walked around the Manufaktura complex, and then were able to buy some souviners. Next, we visited what resembled a Children’s Museum in the tower part of the Manufaktura. This was fun, and we learned about science and Ancient Egypt there. I liked it. :) After this, we went to the Museum of the Factory, where we learned all of the information that I wrote up at the top of this post (plus quite a lot more!). Our tour guide was quite nice and helpful, and his English was very good.  It was fascinating!

Today we gave our presentation about the USA at the school, four separate times. For three of those times, we sang Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing in 3-to-4-part harmony. I think the Polish students were really impressed…it was fun :) Afterwards, there was time for the students to ask questions. We had some nice conversations about Polish and American societies, and made a few friends as well.

Well, I should probably be going. Monika & I (along with the other Americans and their siblings) are off to the Filharmonia (philharmonic) tonight! I’ll try to post some pictures of it tomorrow.

Blessings,

Taylor

Conversations

One of the greatest parts about being able to study abroad (or, at least, living abroad for a time) is the difference in language. Many people would see this as an obtrusive barrier, but I prefer to embrace it. Although I don’t know much Polish, my staple phrases have been “Yes”, “No”, “Thank you”, and “I don’t understand Polish”, which I have been able to use quite fluently and have been very useful. :) I even was able to have a pseudo-conversation with someone today!
We American students were visiting a class, and one of the Polish students whom I didn’t know (and there are many of them) came up to me and started speaking. It went something like this:

Student: (I think he wanted to know if I spoke Polish)

Me: Troje rozumiem po Polsku. (I understand a little Polish)

Student: Tak, (I caught one or two of the words, but I assumed that he wanted to know where I was from)

Me: Jestem Amerikanko. (I’m American.)
It was really deep.

But yes, I’m very much enjoying my time here. Hopefully I can update again soon.
Love & hugs,
Taylor

A night at the Polska ballet !

Monika and I attended ‘Romeo i Julia’

 

Arthur Rubinstein’s Monument

 

Arthur Rubinstein was a world famous pianist from Lodz. I enjoyed meeting him! :)

 

 

Hi Art! Would you like to play a duet?

 

Piotrkowska Street

 

Here are just a few pictures from the last couple of days. We visited Piotrkowska street, among many other places. Most of our days have been spent in school, but that’s all right – it’s neat to see how students learn on this side of the world.

 For dinner we had natschinki – crepes with ricotta inside and strawberry sauce. Muy delicioso!

  

Monika her mother Ania, and I at home

Piotrkowska Street is a famous shopping street in Lodz

  

 

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