When my daughter was around 5, we moved outside of Poznan about 1 hour away and parked our new life in a little village. We have 2 near neighbors. They are both farmers///wheat and potato and cabbage. And one is also a pig farmer.
Across the major street, we have one more neighbor. He has a small potato patch, chickens, 1 cow and a dog. You can see him riding his bike, delivering eggs to the school, or selling potatoes, eggs, or raw milk to random shoppers that stop by his front gate where his german shepherd keeps guard.
Our daughter began kindergarten at her school that is merely 100-200 meters away. And, to the right of our home, there is not another residence for kilometers—unless deer and fox count. And snakes. And butterflies and random blueberry bushes.
We love it. It’s extremely peaceful.
But living in a Polish village is very different. And sometimes ugh. And sometimes so humbling. And so educational.
Our neighbors never worry when the water goes out on us (as it does nearly every night of the summer) because they still have a well where they draw their water.
Our neighbors are in the fields with their grandchildren plowing or sowing.
The women are in the back tree patches chopping wood.
The others are hand picking the cabbage from their farming fields with their entire family—making a mound of cabbage that later gets picked up in a wagon-type vehicle.
They are nosy yet kind. Oh so kind.
And sometimes drunk. So drunk. My heart breaks when I see our precious neighbor stumbling around his farming grounds.
But sober, he’s the most amazing man you’ll ever meet. The backbone of this country. His family has been farming this same land for 150 years.
How’s Adelyne’s school?
It’s small. And simple. And just the best gift she could have ever been given.
When she was in kindergarten, she had to bring her own soap and towel and toilet paper to the bathroom every time she went to use it.
They had no playground.
Someone asked her once what she does during recess if there is no playground. You know what she said, “We run and jump and skip!”
Every art supply they need for school, we have to bring.
It was funny. Our first day dropping Adelyne off at school in America, we asked the teacher if we could have the list of all of the supplies she needed—like glue sticks, and scissors, and pencils, and crayons, and white paper, and colored paper. The teacher looked confused and said the classroom had all the supplies she would need. She had a desk, and all books stayed in the desk.
My daughter’s backpack is like a river rock. Heavy and weighted as she carries her books each day to and from school because they share their classrooms throughout the day.
Her classes are sometimes 3-4 hours. Sometimes 6 hours.
Initially her school wanted to label my daughter “Special Ed” because they could receive government funding if she was labeled, and then she could get extra help as a Polish as a Second Language learner. We told them “No.” We said, “There is a difference between Special Ed and being a PSL student. If you would like to label her PSL, we understand, but we will not sign this paper saying she is Special Ed.”
“Oh, just sign it. It’s fine. It’s just so we can receive funding to provide extra PSL classes for her.”
And we had to stick to our guns and tell them repeatedly, “No. Our daughter is not Special Ed. If you would like to find funding to serve her as a PSL student, we will gladly sign those papers.”
It was a true battle. Then they also threatened to hold our daughter back a grade because she was a PSL student. We vehemently fought for our daughter on that one. We told them that we did not care if she initially struggled upon return to Poland, but you don’t hold a child back because they are a PSL student.
All in all, it is the GREATEST school, and we are so pleased.
And—just FYI—there is now toilet paper in the stalls and soap in the bathrooms, and a fantastic new gym and playground at the school.
Even without those items, however, it is the beautiful atmosphere of a joyous director and a happy teacher and great friends that make Adelyne’s school top notch in my books!
Life in a village—it’s a lot of reckless drivers speeding down the one main road making me nervous for all of the biking grannies and my daughter that walks the same path that semi trucks drive at ridiculously high speeds.
But it is also storks flying over our heads as we walk our dogs on an abandoned path leading to the nearby forest. Storks that scour the fields looking for frogs. Storks that perch on the same nest year after year after year to hatch their babies and teach them about life before flying back to Northern Africa.
Life in a village is a lot of simplicity combined with the exhale of peace.
Sometimes I miss living in Poznan—the city where we lived for 9 years. A stunning city full of architecture and a lot of really good sushi. But then I come back to the village after my day in the big city and hear the birds chirping, the dogs barking, the storks flying, and see the horizon turning pink. It’s then that I realize that I like the uncomplicated. And I can (for the most part) live without sushi.
I like the village.
And I love that my daughter has found her home — albeit her second- first home — in a village far, far away.
That’s what it is like living in a Polish village.