31 maj 2011

Strawberry season!

Going to a market (in Polish targ or bazar) is a real pleasure now. Fruits and vegetables smell wonderfully, the weather is perfect. What I especially recommend you to buy are white and green asparagus (szparagi), young cabbage (kapusta) and of course strawberries (truskawki)! There are so many ways of eating strawberries… I love them with white cheese for breakfast, with pasta or rice for lunch, sauté or in a cake or sorbet for dessert…

Even if you speak no Polish, asking for truskawki should be very easy.
„Proszę kilo / pół kilo / dwa kilo” – that’s it!

Today a very easy recipe for a summer lunch! Great for children and adults. Don’t worry about the exact amounts.

We need:

any kind of pasta or rice you like – makaron albo ryż dowolny

sour or sweet cream you like (can be 10% of fat, can be 36%), milk or yoghurt also fine – śmietana / mleko / jogurt

strawberries – truskawki

sugar, if you need (vanilla sugar – a Northeastern European specialty is also perfect) – cukier (cukier wanilinowy)

Boil pasta and mash strawberries with sugar (or not if you count calories). You can use a blender, a potato masher or just a fork. Once again product placement:

Then mix it and smacznego :))

What are your recipes with strawberries? Would you like to have my perfect fruit cake recipe?

27 maj 2011

Polish certificate exams

Since Poland has opened to the world, more and more people are interested in learning Polish and living here. A need to certify the language skills has occured. In 2004 the Polish certificate exams were introduced for the first time. Now they are organized regularly in Poland and abroad. You can take them in Warszawa and Kraków or any place in the world if there are minimum 20 candidates.

The exams test language skills on the 3 levels: B1, B2 and C2 (the highest possible). These names origin from the EU language standard established by the Council of Europe. They are explained briefly also on the official website of the Polish certificate. I don’t want to copy all the information provided there. What is important – everybody can take them unless you are a Polish citizen (but if you permanently reside abroad, it’s possible). The minimum age is 16 (B1, B2) and 18 (C2). Probably it’s because you need to have a certain knowledge about the world to understand texts on the test but I’m not sure it’s the best idea.

The main question is - do I really need a certificate? Why should I do that? There are of course internal and external reasons. External – if you would like to study and work in Poland, it can help a lot. A certificate can convince an employer in any kind of job. In some professions there is an official requirement – nurses, doctors, civil servants, real estate agents, property managers and appraisers have to speak Polish at certain levels.

Internal reasons are even more important. I’ve passed FCE and CAE – the Cambridge Exams in English so I know this topic quite well. For me these huge and stressful exams were very motivating. I've learnt a lot during preparations and I have very nice memories from that period. The satisfaction with the results is incomparable to anything else:) Even if I hadn’t had any further benefits I would have taken them to feel more self-confident in English. So I recommend taking the Polish exams to everybody. Yes, I know, doing the same exercises can be boring but the effort is worth it!

And this is what my student Lukas thinks about it: "The Polish Language Exam was to me a kind of confirmation of my learning progress. I was sure, that I would continue learning Polish, but it always leaves you better off, I thought, if you have a state's certificate. The exam lasts two days, first you must listen, read and write and fill in the grammar exercises, second you meet the commission and talk to them for 15 minutes. The whole examine, hence, lasts for more than 4 hours. It's hard to equally concentrate during such a long time, however the exercises are compact and you just do one after another. Obviously one has to be well-prepared, but being able to concentrate and to properly understand the questions is even as important. The parts themselves aren't too difficult, but the combination and number of exercises, challenging you from different directions, is really demanding. If you manage, however, it gives you a very good and overall feedback about your level of proficiency in Polish language. And a good feeling too ;-)"

On the website you have sample tests. Fortunately there are more and more books on the market to help you in preparations. The list is available here. The best idea is to learn with a teacher because language nuances get more and more complex on the advanced level. Polish native speakers are in most cases not able to explain them.

The exam statistics are very interesting. What a pity that the names of the countries hasn’t been translated into English;) Try to guess what countries are Włochy and Węgry:) It’s clear that our neighbours are those who take exams most often. It’s also not a surprise that women are more likely to pass it
than men because they generally study more.

What is your experience? Do you have a certificate in Polish? Is it a good idea?

Useful vocabulary:
zdać egzamin – to pass the exam
zdawać egzamin – to take the exam
zdający/zdająca – an examinee

19 maj 2011

Bloggers' meeting

Once again I’m ashamed of not writing for so long. I had 2 professional trainings, I’m also dedicated to my 2 volunteer jobs. And of course I work every day and try to enjoy the springtime in Warsaw. I’m never bored!

I would like to thank Kolin for the invitation to the Warsaw bloggers’ meeting which took place on the 7th of May. I met great people who I’d known only from the internet. Thank you for a warm welcome, I felt really nice.

Meet Brad who writes for Polandian

Meet Damien

Meet Kolin

Meet Michael

Meet Mike

Meet Paddy

Meet Pan Steeva

Meet Scatts

Meet Bartek who is Polish and writes in English

Damien motivated me to write about the Polish certificate exams what I will do soon, I promise/obiecuję!

5 maj 2011

Sailing in Poland

The beautiful season has started, it’s high time to relax outdoor. Poland offers you a lot attractions if you like water and pure nature. The most popular tourist region are of course Mazury (plural, Eng. Masuria) in the north-eastern Poland. There you have approximately 4000 lakes which means you can sail for a month. Landscapes are peaceful and stunning. You can stay in the wilderness and avoid people. I spent 6 weeks in total in the smallest boats in Mazury, I had a bath in cold lakes and ate pasta with ketchup for lunch – unforgettable experience! But of course you can rent a yacht or stay in a luxurious hotel. There is a wide offer of agroturystyka – nice accommodation in the countryside. A good point to start are for example Mikołajki, Ruciane Nida, Węgorzewo or Giżycko.

If you live in Warsaw and don’t have time to go further there’s Zalew Zegrzyński nearby. Great for the weekend relax even in a paddle boat.

If you are more advanced try to sail in the Baltic Sea (Morze Bałtyckie) or in the Gdańsk Bay (Zatoka Gdańska). Zatoka Gdańska and Hel Peninsula (commonly called Hell:) are a great place also for windsurfing or kitesurfing maniacs.

BTW I would like to introduce you a Polish great sailor Natasza Caban. An extraordinary girl who sailed solo around the world and helped people with disabilities during the journey. More about her you can read in Polish for example here.

Don’t waste the opportunity:)

Useful vocabulary:

łódź/łódka – a boat
motorówka – a speed boat
patent żeglarski – a sailing license
rower wodny – a paddle boat
statek – a ship
wynajmować/wynająć – to rent
do wynajęcia - for rent
żagiel – a sail
żaglówka – a sailing boat