On all the Earth there are different parts of a society. Of course there are general things about a culture that make it unique. For example in Poland it is important to have a first communion in the church, regardless of whether or not someone goes on to have strong faith or not. In America we are generally obsessed with sports, and it is very common to play some sort of sport from an early age all the way through secondary school. However, there are other parts of society in each culture. Different people make up the different levels of these societies. In America those who go to university tend to be part of what we call the 'high culture' part of society. There are those who also make up a lower class of people. This certainly does not mean that these people are lesser than other people, but they tend to have different behavior and ideas. Today, It is my hope that I can write about the different people I have seen in Poland, and compare them to the different strata of people we have in America. I will today write about boozers and rednecks, a special type of people that exist in all societies on the world.
Boozers in America, or drunkards as some call them are different from the boozers that I have seen in Poland, or the Pijaki as they are called here. The biggest difference that I have seen is the attitude towards these people and the attitudes they themselves have. Generally, in America our boozers are not as timid, and are more aggressive. It is common to try and avoid these people if we see them on the streets, and it is even more common for the police to get involved and arrest these boozers for being too drunk or for drinking in public. Of course, there are some instances where a local drunk man can wander the streets and drink in the park in relative peace. The town where I went to high school had such a man. His nickname was 'Peaches', and it was even a common joke in my class that one of my friends was going to be the next Peaches. So, there are some relatively friendly town drunks in America, but for the most part they are more aggressive than in Poland. The boozers that I have seen in Poland seem to be more relaxed and accepted. The boozers here seem to sit in the park, drink, and no one really bothers them. Of course, there are some that seem to be a little more aggressive, particularly toward women. However, for the most part it seems that boozers can drink in peace, and so long as they don't do anything crazy, then they are left alone by the police and everyone else.
The American Redneck is something that exists across all the states. How they act and how they are as people depends on the region where you live. The south is very well known for its rednecks or hillbillies. Unfortunately, in the American South these rednecks are often racist and they have bitter and hateful hearts. However, in other parts of the states the term 'redneck' can mean someone who lives in the countryside and does things a certain way. Usually, this way is one that does not look good, but it gets the job done. For example, they may use an old boot as a flower pot. It will not look good, but it will work as a flower pot. I can say that this type of attitude applies to the Polish redneck, or Wiśniak. They may not do things in a manner that works well, but the job gets done. For example, If a redneck here needs to haul some metal pieces from one place to another, they won't rent a trailer and make sure that it is done properly. They will instead throw all the metal pieces into and on top of their car and drive down the road very carefully. Personally, I like this type of attitude and really there are more similarities between the American Redneck and the Polish Wiśniak than I realized before....
I have been trying to work more and more on my fitness lately. For most of my time here in Lębork I have been able to survive with exercising in the parks, running around town, and swimming at the pool. However, I wanted to intensify my exercise program more, so I decided to join a gym. There are a few gyms in Lębork that I looked into, but the one I ultimately decided on was ActiveGym. This gym is on the third floor of a shopping center and near to a school. The location is good for me, as it is not too far away from where I live. Going to a gym in a foreign country has been a good experience for me. There are many many things that are the same as in America, and a few that are different. It is these similarities and differences that I would like to write about today.
The first similarity that I have noticed is that no one really likes going to the gym. What I mean by this is that no one likes having to share a space with other people while they exercise. Most people at the gym are friendly and have a good attitude. However, no one particularly enjoys having to share a weight bench or treadmill with the other random people at the gym. Everyone is at the gym for their own reason and we all have to put up with the other gym members as a side effect of going to the gym. A second similarity is the divide between men and women. Activegym's main gym area consists of two rooms. One room has many cardio machines and exercise machines. The other room is where most of the free weights, dumbells, and barbells are. Most commonly it seems that the majority of the men are in the room with the free weights and the majority of the women are in the room with the cardio machines. We have a similar situation in the states, and I am not quite sure why this happens in most gyms. Unfortunately, I have the suspicion that this split occurs because the women don't feel comfortable exercising where most of the men are. This could be because men at gyms tend 'check out' the women that exercise there. This is an unfortunate phenomenon and is one that I hope goes away soon, but it is common in gyms across America and is the reason why some gyms are for women only.
One major difference between ActiveGym and the gyms I have visited in America is that there are no permanent lockers. In the states it is common to rent a locker at a gym for a period of time. For example, I was able to rent a locker at a gym in the states for half-year periods. This meant that I could leave whatever I wanted in my locker and I did not have to always carry around a gym bag everyday. Of course, I had to pay for this locker, but it certainly was convenient to not have to constantly worry about if I had my gym clothes or shoes and so on. Unfortunately, the lockers at ActiveGym are available for use only during the times when each member is exercising at the gym. So, you go to the gym, put your things in a locker, exercise, empty the locker you used, and then leave with all of your things. This system works o.k., however I would like it if there were gym lockers available for long-term rent. Another difference I have noticed in Lębork is that there are a few people who kind of hang out or loiter at the gym. This meaning that they go there and exercise and then kind of just sit around near the front desk. I suppose there is some sort of social aspect of going to the gym and that this is why they sit and hang out, but for me it is strange. Most gym goers in the states go to the gym, do what they need to do, and then get out of the gym as quick as they can. I suppose it is good that some people have this place where they can socialize, but in my mind there are so many better places to meet with friends than at a gym filled with sweaty and exercising people
At the request of a certain someone who has some influence over this blog I am finally addressing a topic that I have been putting off. This topic is the Polski Morsy. Unfortunately we don't have such a nice term in English so the best equivalent I can think of is cold weather or cold water swimmers. Who are these people? These are people that go swimming in cold weather and cold water. For example, it may be the dead of winter and very cold, but these people go to the Baltic or to lakes and go swimming. The idea is that it helps with blood circulation and to improve cardiovascular circulation and regulation. I am not a scientist, nor a doctor, so I don't know about the possible health benefits of swimming in very cold water. However, I must admit that my first reaction to hearing of this practice was the thought that these people are fairly stupid.
However, as I thought more and more on this topic of Morsy, or cold water swimmers, I realized that I have seen a practice like this before. The area I am from in America is in the north. It is cold, snowy, and we have harsh winters. We also have a huge population of Finnish people and those with Finnish descent. This means that winter hobbies and activities are very popular. Now, the Finns are known for the sauna, and we have many of these. Some people have them in their homes, some have them on their property, and there are even some small models that look like big wine barrels with small chimneys on top of them. Saunas are everywhere in my home region and staying in a nice warm sauna on a cold winter's day is quite relaxing. However, to make this hobby more extreme some people also take up the practice of 'Polar bearing'. This is a slang term for going from a nice hot sauna into a cold body of water very quickly. The idea is this: You get very hot and sweaty in the sauna, then you run from the sauna to a lake or body of water, if you live on or near this water. Here, you have a hole in the ice on top of the water, or if there is no ice then you go go right in. So, you jump into the water, and it is very cold. You then scramble out of the water like a fool and run back to the warm sauna. This whole experience is cold 'Polar bearing' and it is usually better if you have some alcohol as well.
As much as I make fun of or mock the Morsy or cold water swimmers, I suppose there are some similarities between my region in American and the Polish region near the Baltic. Maybe cold water swimming is healthy, maybe it is unhealthy. I don't quite know. However, it is pretty nice that even though there are many kilometers between these two places mentioned above, they can still have some things in common.
Recently, I had the opportunity to return to America. Mainly I needed to return for my brother's wedding and I did not necessarily want to leave Poland, but the circumstances determined my actions and I had little choice in the matter. Although, I may joke about not wanting to return, I must first say that I was very lucky to even have the means to go back because I understand that many people would not have the option to do this, and I must count myself as fortunate that I was able to return. So, I was lucky that I could afford the plane tickets all the way from Poland to Florida. The journey to Florida was an adventure in itself. I had to spend a full night at the Copenhagen airport like a bum, and of course when I finally reached America I was very tired. I expected to be tired, but I was not prepared for my experience in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
It was strange going back to America. Perhaps it is because I am not from Florida and it was my first time there. However, I think there is more to my experience than this. Firstly, it was strange to understand everyone all the time. My Polish is o.k. and I can generally get around and survive, but I certainly don't understand everything. So, going back to a place where I could understand every word of every conversation around me was a strange experience. In my first few hours back in the States I found myself listening to conversations around me, not because I wanted to but mainly because some part of me was pulled to the fact that i could understand everything. Honestly though, it kind of became boring. I had to go to some stores and purchase things, mainly medicine because I was sick. At these strores I found it uninteresting when I had to talk with the cashiers, it was mundane. I believe this is because in Poland there is excitement at every turn. Even while buying bread I can hear a word, phrase, or expression that is new to me. Where as in America this was not the case and this was kind of disappointing for me.
Other than the conversations there were some other thigns I noticed. First of all the roads and infrastructure in America are different. Coming from the Polish context to the American style it was certainly strange. At the airport I noticed on-going construction and the equipment and style of construction was completely different than in Poland. I think in Poland more work is done by hand, but in America there are more machines and machine-work. I even noticed some containers that were different. My mother purchased a gallon of orange juice for the place we were staying. I went to pour a cup from this gallon, and I was shocked at how big it looked. One gallon is about 3.75 liters, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw this huge container of orange juice. I had forgotten about gallons until that point and it was weird to see such a large container.
After a while I did feel more at home in America. However, my first few days back were a strange time. It could be I was jet-lagged. Maybe it was because Poland is starting to feel like a second home. Perhaps it was a combination of the two. Either way I enjoyed my brother's wedding and Fllorida quite a lot. However, I am also very happy to be back in Poland as well.
I was very happy on a recent Friday because I had the opportunity to be in a country that actually celebrates Women's Day. Now, you may be thinking that this day is international in name and this means that every country should be able to celebrate. However, this is certainly not the case. Today, I am hoping to write about the lack of Women's Day in America and my observations from Poland on this day.
America has Women's day on the calendar, but that is basically it. The most a woman could expect on this day would be a remark from her husband or son. I believe that most workplaces would discourage any sort of celebrating of this day. This is because in America workplaces generally cannot celebrate anything that separates the workers. So, it is usually discouraged to celebrate any sort of religious holiday or gender-specific holiday. So, unfortunately for the American women, this means that they generally only receive an 'oh wow, it's Women's Day, Happy Women's Day' type of comment from their husbands, sons, or close male relatives.
I am happy to report that I saw the exact opposite of this type of behavior in Poland. Women's Day here seemed like a happy day and I was happy to celebrate. I celebrated by buying some tulips for me female co-worker and for my female students. I also talked about this day quite a lot with my students and I am happy that it still exists today. Unfortunately, it may have communist origins but I believe that it is a rather nice holiday today. I did not buy any pantyhose or carnations, but I certainly enjoyed the atmosphere and celebration of this holiday. When I return to America I will try my best to get more and more Americans to start celebrating this holiday.
Men have beards, or at least most men have facial hair. Some men have facial hair that lends it self to thick and luscious beards. Other men are what we call 'baby-faced', meaning that they cannot grow a beard and they have very limited, if any, facial hair. This is in large part due to genetics and one is not better than the other. Of course, if you want to grow a beard, then you do need to have some facial hair to make it work. Otherwise your attempt at growing a beard will look sad and pathetic. My own facial hair grooming habits have changed a lot since I needed to start shaving. Of course, I can't help but see what other men do with their own facial hair and today I am hoping to shed some light on what I have observed about Polish men's grooming habits.
First, I would like to say that in general Poles, and Europeans in general, are usually more put-together when they go out in public compared to Americans. In America it is quite common to see someone who looked like they just got out of bed. Perhaps they could be wearing flip-flops and something that looks like pajama bottoms. It is a bit of a grisly sight and I am not a fan. However, this is the way many Americans choose to go out in public. I believe that this is not common in Poland, as I have never seen it in all my times here. So, that is sort of the base that we are working with here; Americans can be a little bit sloppy when going out in public, and most Poles seem to be fairly well-dressed and put together.
It is my belief that these general better appearances while out in public have a direct influence on the way Polish men choose to groom their facial hair. Thus far my observations have been this: If a Polish man chooses to shave, he keeps his face clean and tidy and does not allow too much 'sloppy growth'. Also, if a Polish man chooses to grow a beard this beard is generally well kept, neat, proper, and well-maintained. I will say that the Polish beards I have seen have been very tidy, and none have been very long. Sometimes in America you will see men with what we call 'soup-catcher' beards. These beards are long and can extend well into a man's chest level. We call them soup-catchers because it is generally true that when these gentlemen try and eat soup some of the soup will end up in their beards. However, in the Polish case I have not seen these and have seen only clean-shaven or well-bearded Polish men.
It is also my observation that there is no real in between allowed amongst these two styles of facial hair. This meaning that I have not seen many Polish men with stubble. Stubble is when facial hair kind of grows out longer than clean-shaven but shorter than a full beard length. Very rarely do I see a Polish man with stubble. This could be because of the influence of looking put-together while going about in public. It is my belief that this is the case. I generally try and keep my face clean-shaven. I have tried to grow a beard in the past, but it was too itchy, scratchy, and irritating, so I did not last that long with a beard, or my attempt at one. So, no beards for me, but sometimes I am lazy or don't have a lot of time to shave, and during these times is when I feel the difference between Polish and American facial-hair grooming habits. I certainly notice that I am the only person with stubble, and I feel slightly out of place. However, I am certainly not complaining as I like the challenge of trying to look more well-groomed and clean-shaven. So, there you have it, if you see me with stubble on my face don't blame me. Blame my American up-bringing and my lack of time, and I suppose from time to time yes, you could blame me and my laziness, but only sometimes!
I had the opportunity over winter break to travel to the lovely city of Toruń. It is not so far away from Lębork and I visited this lovely city for two days and one night. Travelling to Toruń was very easy and I recommend that first-time visitors to the city go from the train station to the riverfront opposite the city. Here you can see a lovely city panorama and it's wonderful architecture and old medieval fortifications. It is also not a long walk from the train station to the old town so don't worry about taking a bus, because walking across the Piłsudski bridge is another opportunity to see more of the city as you approach it.
The first thing I did in Toruń was check into my hostel, which was surprisingly right on the old town square. The price was good, so I did not expect the hostel to be so centrally located. Then I went to the leaning tower near the riverfront. I love old battlements and fortifications so I knew I had to see this old medieval guard tower. After this I caught the last show at the planetarium. Now, the area around the planetarium was quite interesting for me. All within a stone's throw of each other were these buildings: A lovely church, the planetarium, a large and important building of Toruń university, and finally a jail that looked like a grim castle. I found this last buidling a little bit surprising because it seems odd to have a jail right next to a church. In theory an escapee from the jail could attend a lecture at the university, watch a show at the planetarium, go to church and pray, and be back in his jail-cell all before the guards noticed he was not there! At least that is what my imagination thought of when I saw all of these buildings so close together.
The old town of Toruń is a UNESCO protected site and I can see why. The architecture of the town is quite impressive and as one walks around this area it is quite possible to have a sense of awe for the grandeur of the old buildings. For dinner in Toruń I tried baked pierogi, which I had not heard of before. They were bigger and thicker than standard pieorgi. They were quite tasty, but I recommend eating them with some sort of sauce, because they can be a little dry. I particularly enjoyed them becasue they reminded me of a regional food from my own region: pasties. These are essentially flaky meat pies with potatoes, onions, ground beef, and sometimes rutabaga. After dinner I walked around to see more buildings and churches, had a beer at a local brewery and pub, and went to bed. I heard that Toruń is a student city, and I could feel this atmosphere while walking around that Friday night.
My second day in Toruń started off with storing my things at the train station so I did not have to walk around all day with my backpack. The highlights of this day were the museum of Mikołaj Kopernik or Nicolaus Copernicus as the English speakers call him. This was a great museum and I learned a lot about this revolutionary scientist. I even watched a film in '4-D', which was rather interesting. After a few hours at this museum it was off to the museum of living ginger-bread. Here I learned how 'pierniczki' or ginger-bread cookies were made in Toruń through the ages. I even had the opportunity to make my own. My ginger-bread cookie was not the most impressive, but it was fun to make nonetheless. After this it was dinner at a bar mleczny and then I went to the Old Town Hall to see their collection about Toruń. I learned that a Polish King died in Toruń in the 1500's, which is something I had not known before. I then relaxed at the Vistula riverfront and took a train out of Toruń. I had some confusion in Gdynia while transferring to an SKM train there. Due to this confusion I ended up staying the whole night at the Gdynia train station. It was not the best experience, but I was in such high-spiritis from my lovely time in Toruń that I did not mind too much.
I have met some people who say that Toruń is a better city than Kraków as far as visiting and seeing Polish culture. I agree that Toruń is a lovely city, but comparing it to Kraków is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. Both are old cities with impressive architecture but the feel of each city is quite unique and different. I cannot say that one is better than the other and I wholeheartedly recommend both to visitors travelling around Poland.
Languages are difficult. There are nuances that it seems only native speakers can learn. They seem to exist in every language and they are tremendously difficult to master. Of course, there are fundamental differences between every language. Some languages seem to lay fairly close to one another. For example, English has taken a lot of its structure and words from French. Due in large part to the Norman Invasion of the 11th century, and to other factors which are far too long to list here. Spanish is also similar to English, mainly because both languages have a lot of their roots in Latin. Yet, what about English and Polish? Are these languages similar? Today, we will talk about how an English-language minded American has struggled to learn Polish and the successes and failures he has had.
This English language minded American is me. What I mean when I say English language minded is that English is my first language. Meaning that when I think and when I try and orient myself to new things I do so from an English perspective. So, in my opinion is Polish similar to English? That is not a question that I can answer with a simple 'yes or no'. In some cases the two languages are deceptively similar. I say deceptively because sometimes Polish seems to have grabbed some English words, or rather English has adapted some Polish words (chicken or the egg argument, who knows really?) and this can be quite confusing. Confusing, there is a perfect example of what I mean. I remember once when I was in Polish class and I was trying to tell the teacher that I was confused and did not understand the concept. Now, I knew that sometimes English and Polish words are similar. For example, irritating in English is irytujący in Polish. So, knowing that sometimes English and Polish words are fairly similar I said to the teacher: 'Przepraszam pani profesor, ale jestem "skonfusowany" '. At this my teacher laughed and laughed. She told me that she know what I was trying to say, but that this word did not exist in Polish. So, in this sense trying to learn Polish from an English perspective gives you a lot of false friends.
Yet, on the other side of this argument Polish and English are in no way similar. Many are the times when I struggle with Polish letters and sounds. Ż, Z, and Z', are a perfect example. I was even more disappointed when I was told that although I could roll my r's, my rolled r's are still not the same as a native Polish speaker's r's because my tongue is in a different location. English can be difficult for Polish learners as well. The english letter combination of 'th' as in 'that is the thousandth tenth of the throne' can be quite difficult for Polish learners.
Mistakes come naturally in any situation you are trying to speak in a foreign language. Mistakes are a tricky business with learners of foreign languages, because you naturally want to point them out, but do it too much, and you discourage someone from ever trying to speak again because they start to think that there is no possible way for them to speak without making mistakes. Yet, on the other hand if you don't correct them from the beginning you are really only doing a detriment to their future selves because as their language improves they will then have to back-track and correct the mistakes that they had been making for a long time. So, it essentially breaks down into what you want to do with the language you are trying to learn. Are you trying to master it? Are you trying to learn enough to order a drink while on vacation? In my own Polish learning pursuit I am generally merciless to myself. I don't mind making mistakes, but I don't care to make the same mistake twice. This is why some people have described me as a real stickler on grammar. Polish grammar to me is like a puzzle of sort, or a kind of game. Each aspect of a language as a purpose or meaning, but the way each language communicates this differs. For example, in English we tend to use prepositions after our verb of movement 'go'. I can go into, go towards, go through, go around, go out, go in, go back, go forward, go sideways, go up, or even go down, amongst many other iterations and examples that I either don't know or have the time to tell here. Where as Polish as some variant of this as well, but it also uses prefixes with the verb. Pójść, dojść, wyjść, wejść, przejść, and many others which really I dont' know. Hence the game of figuring out a foreign language, you need to simply look for what the aspect of a language is trying to communicate. In the example above, each language is trying to tell us where we are going. English uses prepositions after the verb, and Polish uses prefixes attached to a verb. Either way the same meaning is expressed, but a different path is taken to reach this expression. Personally I find grammar to be frustratingly fascinating, boring, amazing, and sometimes superfluous all at the same time. Either way it is something that you cannot do without if you ever truly want to master a foreign language.
So, that is my take on learning Polish. It has been difficult and rewarding. God knows I still make mistakes. I don't mind making them because I can learn from them. I do try and not make the same mistake twice though. Do this enough times and you will find that you don't want to continue learning, and then you might just give up, and giving up is never a good option for learning a language.
I already wrote on some small differences between Poland and America once on this blog before. Now, I am not sure if this topic was popular with our loyal readers, but there is another small thing that I noticed. It is another thing that I certainly did not think about nor expect to be different. Today, this small thing will be light switches, more importantly light switches for bathrooms in Poland.
When going to the bathroom, it is very important that you are able to see. This seems so obvious that it does not need to be said. However, there is a small problem when it comes to this matter in Poland; the light switch. I have noticed that on nearly all of the non-public bathrooms that I have been in the light switch is outside of the bathroom. This meaning that when you go to the bathroom you need to first turn on the light, then enter the bathroom, then shut the door. This is a fine sequence of events and it works for everyone involved it seems. However, for me it is strange. The system I am used to or accustomed to is the light switch laying on the interior wall, inside the bathroom. This means that when you enter a bathroom, it is usually dark and you then find the light switch, turn it on, close the door, and then do your business as needed. In Poland I find that I many times enter into a bathroom first, only to realize that I forgot to turn on the blasted light because the light switch is on the wall outside of the bathroom.
Forgetting to turn on the bathroom light is very annoying for me, but I see greater potential here for mayhem. I have three siblings and when we were growing up we enjoyed to pick on each other and fight. Sometimes it was small things such as calling each other names, or making faces at each other. Other times it escalated to greater extremes. For example, once my brother and sister caught me, tied me to a chair, and left me in our upstairs for a good long while. This was not the best experience for me, but such is life with siblings when you are the youngest of four. My point is that people, children especially, must abuse the fact that the light switch is located on the wall outside of the bathroom in Poland. Surely, there must be moments where a brother goes to the toilet and his siblings sneak up and turn the lights off on him while he is on the toilet and in the bathroom. This seems like such an easy prank that it must be commonplace. I must ask around and see if this was or is the case for some people. However, I can say this for sure that if in America our light switches were outside of the bathroom, then I would have been going to the toilet in the dark quite frequently thanks to the antics of my siblings.
Learning how to swim is an important thing. You never know when you might end up in the water, struggling for survival. Swimming desperately so that you don't sink down below the waves to your cold grave. A bit of a morbid image, but it does get the point across that one should learn how to swim. In many countries it is common for young children to attend swimming lessons and learn this very important skill. At the local pool in Lębork there are swim lessons offered to children of various ages. One recent Saturday I went to the pool. (That's right, your poor English teacher has a life outside of teaching, strange as that may seem) I went to the pool in the mid-morning, I did not know that this was the typical time for children's swimming lessons. Thus, at the pool it was myself, some swim instructors, and many many children. This was not the best situation for my own personal swimming, but I was able to observe some interesting teaching methods.
The instructors at the swimming pool had a certain style of teaching that I rather liked. First of all, they were strict and they allowed no back-sass from the children. It seemed like none of the instructors really cared if the kids wanted to swim or not. When they said 'enter the water' the kids entered the water. If there were some kids who did not want to enter the water the instructors gave them the proper encouragement to get their little behinds in the water and stop complaining! This may seem rather harsh, but I think with kids and water you need to have a firm hand because it is natural to fear water and everyone needs to overcome this fear. It is better to do this when you are a child and not have to deal with it when you are an adult. So, the kids entered into the pool when they were told. However, once in the water I observed some funny instruction as well. The children had to swim laps and practice the different styles of strokes. For example the front crawl, the back stroke, the breast stroke, and so on. What was very funny to me was that the instructors provided encouragement from the pool deck, but they also had a long metal pole. With this pole they would encourage the kids to swim in a certain way. If, for example, a child's leg was not kicking properly, then the instructor would use the pole to help guide the leg into the proper position. I am sure this is very helpful, but I could not help but laugh at this because the poor kids seemed like cattle being poked and prodded into the proper position. I think it is a good idea because it helps the kids learn the proper technique. However, I do feel kind of bad for them as well. It is hard enough to swim, let alone swim in a large group of other children, and on top of this to also have some instructor jabbing you with a longe pole! This all just seems like too much. Still, I laughed at the poor children's' expense because the instructor jabbing them with the long metal pole made for a funny sight.
Now, you may think that I am being too brutal to these poor kids, but I had my own troubles when I was a young child learning to swim. First of all, we did not have a pool near us, so we had to learn how to swim in a lake. The lake water was not very clean, and later on we found out that this was because of an invasive plant that made the water stink quite a lot. We also had to learn how to dive into the water head-first. This was the hardest part of swim lessons for me. My instructor tried various techniques to try and get me to dive properly. This varied from having me try different positions to them using their hands to guide/throw/push me into the water. Being thrown in head-first and causing a great splash was the most humiliating part of the lessons for me. So, I can empathize with these poor kids who have to swim at Lębork. They get jabbed with a long metal pole, and I was thrown into the water. I guess swimming lessons can be hard no matter where you are in the world.
Born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan David was raised by his parents with his two sisters and brother.