A New School Year

August is the month of new starts, new adventures and the feeling of anticipation. In the U.S., August means that children are off to start a new year at school with a backpack full of pens, pencils and notebooks; on the other hand, parents are privately celebrating that their children are finally out of the house. For university students, it means it’s time for another semester of tears, stress, and long nights in the university library studying and adding up the money you have left to buy a cup of instant noodles. I would know this as I was, and still act like, a poor university student here in Poland.


Much like our teachers here at Pascal Connect, teachers in the U.S. are getting their supplies and classrooms ready for their new students and the new school year. This time is usually the most exciting time for teachers, though we will admit we have our moments of nervousness as we enter the room full of new students. I will admit that I am no exception to this.


This upcoming year, I sadly won’t be returning to Pascal Connect, but instead will be a teaching assistant at two high schools in a rural village in northern Spain for 9 months starting in September. I will be teaching English with the Fulbright Program, which is a highly competitive exchange program that sends U.S. citizens abroad to research or teach English, and in return supports and helps students from other countries come to the U.S.. One of the goals of this program is cultural exchange, so I will also be teaching my students about the culture and lifestyles in the U.S., and they in return will be teaching me what it means to be a Spaniard.


I will definitely miss my time teaching here in Rybnik and learning from all of you the hardest words to say in Polish as well as what to do in this beautiful country. I will be back for visits in the future for sure! My experiences in this city have not only helped me as an teacher, but have also helped me better understand Poland overall.

– Sara




“Spring has sprung!” as we say in English. The weather is finally getting warmer, the days are longer, and flowers are blooming. Spring brings with it all sorts of traditions, from cleaning house to Easter egg hunts, in both the United States and in Poland. However, there is one tradition that neither of these countries have that I miss very much: Hanami, or flower viewing.


From the Japanese words for “flower” (hana) and “to see” (mi), hanami literally means “to see flowers” and it is one of my favorite Japanese traditions. Every spring when the flowers bloom thousands of Japanese people will flock to the nearest park to watch the flowers with their friends and family. However, hanami doesn’t mean watching just any kind of flower; the Japanese most love to watch cherry blossoms. These are a favorite because of their whitish-pink color and how the petals look like snow when they fall in the wind. Cherry blossoms only bloom for about two weeks out of the year and therefore their fleeting beauty can only be enjoyed for a short time. For this reason they are also considered symbolic of life: short but beautiful.


So how do you hanami? Just looking at flowers may sound simple, but there are actually a few steps to setting up the perfect hanami event! First, you have to stake out your spot. If you want the best place to sit under the trees or that spot next to the river or castle, you have to get there early. Sometimes people will go at dawn to lay down a blanket to reserve their spot but won’t come back until the afternoon. There are no worries that someone will move the blanket or steal your spot before you return, after all this is Japan!


Next, you have to prepare your picnic. No hanami event is complete without the traditional spread of rice balls, egg rolls, fruit, fried chicken, salted fish, and pickled vegetables. Everything is prepared in bite-sized pieces so it can be easily shared and eaten with chopsticks, and many things are even cut into flower shapes for the occasion. You can even make special “cherry blossom flavor” rice cakes! Additionally, don’t forget your favorite drinks. Japan doesn’t have restrictions on drinking alcohol in public places, and the most popular drinks for hanami are Asahi beer and Japanese sake.


Finally, hanami is best enjoyed with people you love, so make sure to tell your friends and family what time and where to meet! Parks are often crowded during this time, so give exact details on where to find your spot if you can. Hanami parties can last all afternoon and into the evening with lots of conversation, storytelling, singing, good food, and companionship. There’s nothing quite like gathering with friends to eat a picnic meal under the trees while the flower petals fall gently around you. Why not try it in Poland too?


– Ashley


If I said “bluebottle” in Poland, you would probably think I was talking about a blue water bottle. If I said the same thing in Ireland, people would picture a common house fly. But the same word in Australia describes something more sinister…


There is a simple tradition in Australia of naming things based directly on their appearance; “Red Kangaroos”, “Brown Snakes” and “Red-Back Spiders” to name but a few. Therefore, it is no surprise that Australians avoid complex names like Physalia physalis and Portuguese man o’ war, in favour of what this creature looks like: a floating blue bottle.


They call these creatures “bluebottle jellyfish”, but they aren’t actually jellyfish at all! They are Siphonophorae, “which, unlike jellyfish, are not a single multicellular organism, but a colonial organism made up of specialized individual animals (of the same species) called zooids or polyps.” (Thank you Wikipedia!)


Anyway… I am not a marine biologist. I was just a young Irish backpacker, trying to catch some waves at Byron Bay’s Tallows Beach, on the East coast of Australia, when I felt a searing pain across my upper-left arm.


We have no dangerous animals in Ireland. The worst thing you could come across is an angry swan! This means that most Irish backpackers are a little nervous when they arrive in a country famous for aggressive sharks, venomous snakes and deadly spiders. I was no exception.


So, when I realised I had been stung by some unknown sea-creature, I panicked and paddled my surfboard straight back to shore. When I was safely back on the beach, I looked at my arm and saw three thin tentacles, dotted with a beautiful bright blue, laying across my bicep. Even though the burning pain was growing fast I remember thinking that the colour was amazing!


I searched the beach for an Australian who could tell me what had stung me and what I should do about it. Many scared backpackers suggested I go straight to the hospital. Eventually, I talked to a life guard who said, “Don’t worry mate! It’s just a bluebottle sting. You’ll be ‚right!” I asked a lot of people what I should do about it and was given a lot of different suggestions; from ice and vinegar to cooking oil and beer.


However, I decided to listen to the life guard who told me to urinate on it… Urinating on yourself is a strange experience and urinating on your own upper arm is incredibly difficult! But, somehow, I managed it.And… it was a complete waste of time! My arm felt like I had a white-hot blade stuck in it and now I had to go back in the sea to wash myself off. I ran in, like a scared schoolchild, dunked myself, and came straight back out again. I was terrified of being stung again!


The pain was so severe it made me sweat. Luckily, my car was an automatic, so I was able to leave my left arm limp by my side on the drive back to my hostel. Once there, I medicated myself with fortified wine and planted myself in the pool. The moral of story: never listen to someone who tells you to urinate on yourself!  –   Eoin


Witamy wszystkich po wakacjach i zapraszamy na nasze kursy j.angielskiego dla dorosłych i dzieci prowadzone wyłącznie przez native speakerów. W tym roku czeka na państwa 8 nowych nativów, którzy dołączą do nas we wrześniu. Krótkie informacje o naszych nowych nauczycielach znajdują się w zakładce KADRA.


Zapraszamy do sekretariatu przy ul Kościuszki 40 w Rybniku (na przeciwko Liceum Powstańców) w godzinach:

Poniedziałek – Czwartek 11:30 – 19:30
Piątek 9:30 – 17:30

lub kontaktu telefonicznego: 505 241 317


oraz do sekretariatu przy ul. Wodzisławskiej 14/2 w Żorach

Poniedziałek – Czwartek 12:00 – 20:00

lub kontaktu telefonicznego: 502 538 528

Zarezerwuj grupę i godziny zajęć już teraz zanim skończą się miejsca!!!