Poznan is a city with a rich history going back more than a thousand years. It is among the oldest cities in Poland and it was here that the first Polish rulers settled but it has now become a modern, vibrant city with a population of nearly 600,000, over 130,000 of whom are students. It is the capital of the Wielkopolska region in west-central Poland, approximately 170 miles from Poland's capital, Warsaw and the same distance from Berlin, Germany. Poznan has its own international airport making it easy to reach, even from Ireland, so hopefully we can expect lots of visitors who will be excited to see what Poznan has to offer them!

Monday, 15 February 2010

Week 1: Wednesday 10th - Sunday 14th February 2010.

The last few days I've been kept really busy! I've been introduced to literally dozens of people and I can remember about a quarter of the names or fewer even! My mentor continues to help me feel more settled here by seeing me nearly every day to get different things sorted out. On Wednesday I received my free Polish simcard already topped up with some Polish Zlotych, the currency here, which is quickly running out! Along the way I walked past an opera house and upon hearing the orchestra playing I decided it was about time I saw my first opera! One group of people that I'm often found with consists of my mentor, her friends and their ERASMUS mentees! I was able to help one such mentee, Ramazan, a Turkish guy, as he arrived in Poznan for the first time. Unfortunately for him (and the others!), I was the only ERASMUS student this semester to get a place in the accommodation closest to the city centre, so we had to walk with him for quite a long time to get to his flat!

After sorting a few things out for my halls of residence (shown here in the picture) on Thursday I met up with a Polish friend, Magda, and enjoyed a cup of thick, hot chocolate and a doughnut, something which is typically eaten on this day, a week before the beginning of lent, according to Polish tradition. In the evening we went out to a party for all the new ERASMUS students where in fact most of the people I met were friends of the people I already know here but I also met more international students whose origins varied from France to Iran!

On Friday I experienced the system for payment of accommodation in the local bank and then went on a much needed trip for some essentials in IKEA with my mentor and friends. I love IKEA! I got all the things I would need for my room to make for a more comfortable stay here for the next few months! In the evening I met Cristian again for the first time since last summer and he introduced me to a whole new group of people! Three were from the Basque Country (Spain) and the other three from other parts of Spain. We went out for pizza in a local restaurant and I had the opportunity to refresh my (failing) memory in Spanish!

By Saturday I was in need of a trip to the shop so a few of the Spanish girls came with me to show me where the closest one was located. I also got to see the Educational Faculty of AMU where I should be based most of the time once the semester begins. Later on I met up with the Spanish group who were accompanied by two more spanish girls and one from Lithuania. Apparently there are around 80 Spanish students in my building so there are a lot and it's a great opportunity for me to improve my Spanish which I'll be doing alongside my Polish course! We went out for hot chocolate before I left to meet another group of friends (mentor, etc). I ate the most gigantic hot dog ever and met more French, German, Lituanian and, of course, Polish people. I even bumped into an Englishman while out in this very international city!

Yesterday [Sunday], I spent the best day here yet. Cristian took me to Poznan International Church - www.international.pl - where I was immediately welcomed by people from all over the world; USA, Taiwan and Botswana to name a few. It was a great experience and it was useful that the service was in English, however, we also stayed for a little of the Polish service! After church Cristian and I met up with the Spanish gang and went for a trip to a large park, buried in a foot or more of snow in some parts. After getting very cold and hungry we left the park and I experienced life with a real Polish family. In church I had signed up to a small group which were meeting together and it was held in a family's home in the city. It was amazing to get to know these people and spend time with them in an actual house! I really felt completely at home and settled in Poland for the first time. It's nice having friends here but it's amazing having the family of the Church wherever you go in the world. This is a group I will attend each week and will be good for my Polish as everything is translated between Polish and English (whereas most people are there because they want to improve their English!). Afterwards we were taken to celebrate the Chinese new year with other members of the church which was an enjoyable end to the day!

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