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, 19 April 2010

Week 10: Monday 12th – Sunday 18th April 2010

This week I finally arranged my main school placement in the International School of Poznan (www.isop.pl). I met with the Primary Years Co-ordinator and we decided upon me being in school every Wednesday and Friday, as these are the only days I am free of classes and can be in school. This means that from now on I will be much busier! I will have lessons to plan for Wednesdays and Fridays and I’ll be in classes the rest of the week. I have a few presentations that I will shortly begin work on as well so my easy-going Erasmus lifestyle is slowly slipping away! However, I am thoroughly looking forward to getting into school on a more regular basis, and I hope to return to the High School to teach some English lessons at some stage again too. I have just worked out that I’ll need to get up at 6.15am on the mornings that I have school to be there in time for the commencement of lessons at 8am. This is something I have not been used to for a long time! The school caters for children of all ages, from 4 year olds in kindergarten to 18 or 19 year olds completing their ‘diplomas’. It follows the programme of the International Baccalaureate which you can find out more about at www.ibo.org/pyp for the Primary Years Programme in particular. The school is located in a big, old building about 10 minutes from Poznan city centre and welcomes pupils from Poland and International students, however, all are taught in English. For the Polish students at the school it is quite prestigious (and no doubt expensive) but it provides children with a great, internationally acknowledged education. As time goes on I’m sure more information and some photographs will follow as I become more accustomed to the school.

At the zoo with Asta.

I started a new class this week – Environmental Health Hazards. I believe the lecturer was a little taken aback when she found out I was a native English speaker, and I could tell it made her a little more nervous especially as it was her first time teaching in English! However, she rarely needed my help and I made sure never to correct her before being asked! A couple of my other classes were cancelled this week for various reasons so, in reality, I had quite a relaxed week. One nice story that I should share tells of the kindness of the people here, and not just anyone, one of my lecturers! On the day I was going to visit my school I was in class just before it and I was still trying to work out how to get to the school. I spoke to my teacher and she offered to take me there in her car. If I hadn’t accepted her offer I would have been very late for my meeting with the school so I’m thankful to her! It feels really good to get to know some staff as well as students here, especially after hearing how bad an opinion most of the Polish students seem to have of university lecturers. Another tutor, for my only Educational class, is carrying it out in English just for me!! The 25 other people in the class (all of whom are female!) must dislike me very much! However, they are all studying Primary Education with English so it is useful for them too.

On Thursday night I went back to the CU that I’ve been to once before with a group of Polish people. It was a good night although, with everything being in Polish, my friend had the hard job of translating for me. I like to show my support for the group though by attending so I’m unsure whether I’ll return or not. They only meet once a month so I may only have one, or at most two, more opportunities to attend. I am having to start thinking about leaving Poland as it will not be very long before I go and I still haven’t booked my flights! At the moment I’m trying to find out when I will be finished exams so that I can leave after that. It will most likely be in the middle of June. I went swimming again this week and I keep meeting more new Polish people there because the class I joined is really only known by local students. Being in this group really makes me feel part of the community here and it is a good feeling. I’m glad I’ve built up such a good group of Polish friends. I really feel like I’ve got such a lot out of this Erasmus experience; probably more than many other students I know.

The weekend was busy but the weather was lovely, as it seems to be most of the time now! On Saturday I went to the New Zoo with a Lithuanian friend, Asta. It is huge and I loved it. It was, as far as I can recollect, the first time I have ever seen an elephant, rhinoceros, bison, so many varieties of Eagle and many, many other creatures. We had a lovely day and it really felt like summer with the heat and the sunshine and lots of walking in new places! After my visit to the zoo I joined a group of people from Church for dinner in Milenium Pizza where you can order the most gigantic pizzas! Great night had by all I reckon. Sunday began with Church as usual followed by a little snippet of the Polish Church where we only stayed for a while because we were going out for dinner with the pastor and his family and a few friends. It was also the President’s funeral this day so everywhere was very quiet and in fact most shops and restaurants were closed for the weekend as a mark of respect. After dinner I sat for a few hours in the park reading, but when I got home I realised it was still too nice and warm to be inside so I went back out to another park and started another book! This time I had a random conversation, if you can call it that because it was in Polish (!), with an old man with one leg…he may have been homeless, I’m not sure! I just wanted to be nice and talk to him and it was good to put my Polish into practice. I hope that I don’t forget about my Polish when I get back home, but I know that I’m going to have to keep practising it if I’m to remember it for any length of time! That’s all for now.

Candles at a major focal point in Poznan in remembrance of those who died.

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