Visit to Bydgoszcz, Poland, May 2018

Year 5 in Poland Day 1

20th May 2018
Six children from Year 5 (3 boys and 3 girls) are currently visiting a school in Bydgoscz, Poland as part of the Commenius project.  This is an EU project which aims "to help young people and educational staff better understand the range of European cultures, languages and values".  Children from Spain and Italy will also be here this week.
The trip in a minibus from Weymouth to London Stansted airport went very well overnight and we arrived in plenty of time for the flight on Sunday morning.  The security checks at Stansted were exhaustive, catching out some of the adults (but none of the children). The flight was slightly late leaving Stansted due to mist but the children took the chance to get some sleep during the 2 hour 20 minute flight.  We were met at Bydgoscz airport by a teacher who Mrs Gardiner knew from a previous visit, who also helped us book into our hotel.
After lunch the children were unable to sleep so we went for a walk along the river Breda which runs just beside the hotel.  In the later afternoon we took a tram into town to go to mass, after which the children went to bed before an early start tomorrow morning.

Year 5 in Poland Day 2

21st May 2018
After a superb breakfast in the hotel we crossed the road in front of our hotel and caught the tram which took us to a stop no more than 10 minutes walk from the school, Szkola Podstawowa Nr 57 in Bydgoszcz.
The Italian contingent wasn't expected to arrive until later in the day so the morning for the children involved a number of multi-national Polish, English and Spanish lessons, including a topical quiz, some learning of simple (and not so simple) Polish words and phrases, a sport session outside (where the boys had a go at baseball) and some art - all before lunch together in school.
On heading back to the tram stop we just had a buy a large punnet of strawberries for 15 zloties (about £3) which were very carefully carried on the tram.  Unlike the morning tram were no free seats so the children learnt that they have to hold on tight!
In the late afternoon we took a tram into the city centre and had a look round before going to a burger restaurant for a meal and then taking another tram back to the hotel.

Year 5 in Poland Day 3

22nd May 2018
It was an early start for the children today.  The first lesson in Polish schools starts at 8am but luckily we didn't have to get to the school until 8:30.  But it did mean that the children had to pack their bags the night before and make sure that they had their filled water bottles, badges and hats ready to bring down to breakfast the following morning.
After attending a Polish science lesson there was a welcome meeting in the school gym where we were greeted with traditional Polish bread and salt.  After a short speech by the head teacher the Polish children acted out famous historical Polish people (including Copernicus and Chopin) and we were treated to some songs by the choir.
In the afternoon, after lunch at school, all the teachers and children (Polish, English, Spanish and Italian) took the tram into the city centre where, following a short shower, we visited the Sweets Museum (where the children made some lollipops) and the Museum of Soap and Dirt.  After a long day we had an evening meal in a traditional Polish restaurant and then headed back to the hotel on the tram before heading to bed.

Year 5 in Poland Day 4

23rd May 2018
The first event at school today was an exhibition of immigration posters made by the children of the different nations.  Having read the story of the refugee with his violin our children had produced artworks to show what they would put in their backpack if they were suddenly forced out of their home.  The other nations' children produced artworks showing why people might leave leave their home, what could happen on their travels, what aspirations they had and how they could enhance the new country in which they settled. It was quite a powerful exhibition and displayed some artistic talent.
After lunch all the children and their teachers set off in a long multi-lingual gaggle to the tram station for a visit to the zoo.  Somehow we all managed to get on the right tram which was very hot and airless in the afternoon's 23 degrees, especially when the tram had to stop at signals.  We stayed on the tram all the way to the last stop, then walked for a further 20 minutes to the zoo entrance.  The children had an enjoyable time seeing all the animals and getting stamps on their sheet, after which they had variations of ice cream, waffles and honey and chocolate sauce.
A further 20 minutes walk back to the tram stop in the heat meant that some children were well into their second bottle of water by the time we got there.  Luckily we traveled back to the hotel in one of the new trams which, as well as being much smoother, have air conditioning - a boon on a hot day like today. 
After a quick turn round we headed back to an Italian restaurant in the city centre where everyone had a pizza and some refreshing lemon infused water.  And so to bed at the end of another tiring but enjoyable day.

Year 5 in Poland Day 5

24th May 2018
We had to be at school early today to meet all the other children and get on a coach to take us to an educational farm near Kozielec. The children got to feed various farm animals with pieces of carrot and then learnt about how the farmers lived before the advent of electricity with their cooking, washing (including using a washboard and soap to clean some clothes) and ironing.  They were astounded to hear that the people only had one pair of shoes and maybe two sets of clothes.  They were also shown all the herbs that were grown in the farmyard and which could be used for flavouring drinks and food as well as medicinally as there was most probably no local doctor.
Lunch involved heating your own (pre-cooked) sausage over a fire and eating it with a bread roll and some salad.  Some of the children turned up their noses at the salad, but were happy to go out and cook another sausage.  This was followed by a ride in a tractor to see the river and part of the large reserve which surrounds Kozielec.  Despite the hard seats in the trailer and the bumpy ride it was pleasant as there was a constant breeze through the 25 degree heat.  The less said about the singing the better!
All the children then made a nice smelling herbal sachet, which they should be bringing home with them. They also each planted a seedling but the plants can't be brought home and will have to be left at the school.  All the children were then collected together and there was a mad rush everywhere for each of them to find two of the eggs that had been placed around the farm.  None of them seem to have noticed the basket of eggs next to the door into the eating area, which they had all walked past at least 4 times!
The staff then brought out some 2-day old ducklings which were allowed to run around a small enclosure. The ducklings still had fur and had not yet developed their feathers. Finally, waiting for the bus our children started playing a singing game with the Spanish children.  They might be trying it on their friends when they get back to school.
On returning to the hotel we had a quick rest before heading into the city centre for some shopping and dinner.  On the way back we decided that we needed some more water and fruit for tomorrow so we popped into a local supermarket by the name of Tesco.  It was noticeable that some items were considerably cheaper than in UK. 

Year 5 in Poland Day 6

25th May 2018
We didn't have to go into school this morning but met the other children and the Polish teachers at the tram stop outside our hotel, so our children could have an extra half hour in bed.  Luckily it was a new comfortable tram today.  We boarded the same tram and all went to an art workshop in town.
The children (and teachers) were split into two multinational groups one of which went into the art workshop, at which they had to make a flower out of various materials including empty plastic bottles, crepe & coloured paper, paints and glue.  The other group went to see Budgoszcz cathedral, which dates back to the fifteenth century.  It was interesting to see the colourfully painted interior, compared to the plain stones in the cathedrals and churches back home. After an hour the groups swapped over.
After lunch back at school there was time enough to play the game again before a sports competition.  The children were divided into six multi-national teams and competed in various sports including a couple of relay races, a basketball dribbling race and a two-people ball carrying race.  The sports had almost finished when the black clouds came over, we had some thunder and lightning, and it started raining.  Everyone sprinted for the school building before the heavens opened.
The sports were followed by a commemorative medal presentation to all the children, group photographs and tearful goodbyes.

Year 5 Back to Weymouth

26th May 2018
Everyone had an early start this morning as we had to be packed and in breakfast by 7am and on the minibus to the airport by 7:30.  Just for a change the boys were up and packed, with their room checked by Mrs Bates, and downstairs while the girls were not yet fully dressed.
We arrived at the airfield in plenty of time, only to find that the incoming aircraft was delayed by 25 minutes.  It eventually arrived and we got on, only to have the aircraft stop on the taxiway and turn its engines off, with the pilot informing us that he had missed his slot and we would have to wait a further 10 minutes.
It was another smooth trip back without too much turbulence but some people had a bit of a fright when the pilot did a steep turn close to the ground to line himself up correctly with the runway.  And the children are getting used to the plane landing with a bit of a thump.
It took a while to get through customs and wait for our bags but luckily the minibus was waiting just outside for us.  We didn't have too many holdups on the motorway, just stopping at South Mimms and Fleet services to water the children.
Everyone had a great time, especially the children, and they will keep many memories of the other people they met and Bydgoszcz itself.  Now for a half term rest  . . .