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, 29 March 2010

Week 7: Monday 22nd – Sunday 28th March 2010

As time goes on I am realising how much I am gaining from this experience. It is something that I needed to do and I know it will be of huge significance when I come to look back over my time here. For some reasons it was right that I come to this exact place, for example the specific people I have met and the ways in which they have helped me and continue to help me, but in other ways I could have gone anywhere and would have gained similar experiences and knowledge and wisdom of a number of things. However, I personally know that this exact place is exactly where I needed to be to gain as much as I possibly could and it is in this place that I will develop most spiritually, relationally, in confidence and with self-acceptance as I am changed and moulded into the person that I should be and as I come to terms simply with the person that I am. I am thankful to have been brought here and for what is becoming of me and the growth taking place in my life right now.

By now I really have settled into a very normal way of life. In some ways it is not as exciting and this week I certainly didn’t do something worthy of mention every day! I may not have met as many new people this week as in previous weeks but I’m beginning to think that it could be a good thing – this week three different people came up to me and clearly new me but I had no idea who they were! I think if it’s possible I have reached the limit of my ability to remember faces and names! However, it is still exciting for me that I am developing the relationships that I really care about here. That is what has become important for me now.

During the week I finally completed the process of my Learning Agreement so I have now officially signed up to all the classes that I should continue with until the end of the semester. I am ashamed to have to admit that I am still not doing an awful lot of work here and I know now that I could be! I could be learning more Polish and I can now begin preparing for some presentations that I will have to do at the end of the term. I became very aware of making the most of my time, not just my time here, but my lifetime. Once time has passed it is gone and don’t want to be wasting it. This week I also discovered how wonderful the Polish doughnuts are! It is called a pączek here and I pass a delicious bakery on my way to many of my classes so some self-control is needed there!

On Tuesday this week I went to a quiz for Erasmus students. I met some lovely new people and had an enjoyable night. I got some Easter eggs even though we didn’t win so the night ended well! It was a rather quiet night but it was good to get out and learn some general knowledge. On Thursday I had lunch in a Greek-style café and then dinner in a more Polish-style one. Usually I don’t eat out so much in one day, that was a bit excessive, but it is easily affordable if you choose the right places to go to. There isn’t really anything worth mentioning about classes. I wouldn’t miss one and they are all teaching me something but there isn’t anything much different about them! I started a new class this week, the biggest in number by far. It is the Sociology of Multiculturalism but don’t ask me what that means! It is open to much interpretation! The class has a lot of Polish people but also a lot of Erasmus students from all over the EU. It is an interesting class with lots of discussion.

On Friday it was about 22 degrees Celsius and it was beautiful! I went for a walk in the park and it was nice enough to sit and read. It was so nice to finally feel comfortable being outside and it makes me look forward to when every day will be like that – well, that’s what I’m hoping for anyway! What I did next that day will shock most people; I went to a fitness class which included gym time and going to the swimming pool! A Polish friend invited me along to her class and so I decided it was time to put the past behind me and set my fears aside and just get into a pool! I was surprised to find that after four years out of the water I could still swim although I did find it hard to breathe in the water – and I don’t mean when my head was under the water! I think I just need to keep going and let my body get used to it again. As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one day, in the evening I went to hear the philharmonic orchestra again in the Grand Hall of the university. The tickets were free for Erasmus students so I thought Why not!? I went along with a friend and met up with a lot of the other Erasmus ones that I know there. I even bumped into one of my course co-ordinators! It was a nice evening and again I was blown away by the sound that came from the orchestra. There was a special violinist playing too and he was very good also, but I have to say that the kebab I had after really finished off the evening nicely!

Saturday was a very long and busy day! I woke up at 4.30am to be ready in time to begin my journey to Berlin, the capital of Germany. It was a very last minute decision and we only spent the day there but I got a bit of a look around the city. We thought it was the cheapest way to go by three trains which took 5 hours! So we arrived about 11am and had to leave shortly after 6pm which gave us time to meet up with some friends and have a look at the main attractions. Basically we just walked around all day and looked at things from the outside! I think I need to go back and spend more time there. It was a very fun day though. The German, Mexican and Polish people that I was with were very funny and made the day very enjoyable. The weather wasn’t perfect but it didn’t rain much so we were happy enough. I would like to tell you what all we see but I really don’t know!! Maybe if you’ve been to Berlin you’ll recognise some of the things from my photos! One of the best thing from the day were all the hours I spent travelling because it gave me the opportunity to talk to my Polish friend (in English and Spanish!). I learned a lot about her and am glad we got the opportunity to get to know each other better and have some good discussions, after all, we did have nearly 10hours to talk!

On Sunday morning I was very tired what with the time change and the fact that I had been travelling so much the day before and got home late. Nonetheless I was at church at 10am and stayed after to have a small lunch with some of the church leaders. It was an ideal time to get to know the people in church better and it was nice to hang out with them. In the afternoon I went to my small group which I’ve been attending and it was the last one in the series that we have been studying. We had an amazing time with great discussions and fellowship with each other. It went on quite a lot longer than usual but we weren’t complaining. I love that family and the rest of the group a lot and will miss our times together. Unfortunately there is still nothing to say in terms of school based work. I am still waiting in anticipation to hear about my placement in the international school here. However, I do intend to go visit the Primary school that my Polish friend teaches in again and, also, I’ve been invited to observe/speak in English classes of a High School. I got to know a language assistant in the school and she is helping me get in to visit some classes as I’ve been wanting to see what it would be like to be an English teacher in a secondary school. Hopefully it’ll not be long until I get to tell you about these experiences. Until then, thank you so much for reading these blog entries and God bless.

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