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, 17 May 2010

Week 13-14: Monday 3rd – Sunday 16th May 2010

A few weeks ago I said that time was flying in…I had no idea what it meant for time to fly back then! These past few weeks have gone by so quickly that I’m actually confused about how I have come to be at this date in time. Honestly, I’m so confused. I think my problem is that I’ve been thinking ahead a lot to the future and what I’m doing this summer. Last week I was busy with university work much of the time as I had a presentation on Thursday. I’ve been in school for a few weeks now although I still haven’t really got into a rhythm with teaching or with a particular class.

In school on my 13th week here I taught a couple of lessons. On Wednesdays I am with Grade 5 and their topic at the minute is to do with children around the world so I taught a lesson on Afghanistan! I learned so much myself. I find the style of teaching that the children are used to very difficult to work with. I had two hours probably to teach and I was surprised to find that we actually filled that whole time. At home I am very used to neat little sections of time where there is some teaching time followed by the children working on something – usually on worksheets or from textbooks. What I’m doing here requires more effort and allows a lot of time for children to discuss and ask questions. It is not so divided up into different subject areas as at home so this allows more flexibility throughout the day. Having said that, the children have separate Maths lessons with a different teacher, and on Friday I took a Maths lesson. It was really good because I had the class to myself for the first time as there was no one else to cover the lesson (so I got it!).

Last Friday night I went out with a large group of Erasmus ones for a spontaneous night out. We had dinner in an unusually themed restaurant with waiters dressed as aliens and loud music you would expect to hear in horror films…which was slightly strange…however we had a good night together. The following evening I went out with the Spanish ones to the ‘Dragon’ and got back home very late, but it was such a lovely, funny evening. I love those people!

On Sunday of last week I visited the Botanical Gardens here with Asta. I love gardens so I enjoyed it a lot! It was a great chance to get to know Asta and to help her with her English too.

This week I really did very little due to the presentation I was working on. However, on Tuesday I had an exciting trip across Poland to the capital, Warsaw, where I met up with some Northern Irish girls from Stranmillis. It was a great day. The weather was good and the company was better! It was nice to be able to catch up with some people from home, especially as they had also been on Erasmus. We spent much time comparing our experiences and talking about how they have changed our lives. Interestingly, we’ve had some similar experiences and learned similar things, but I think the main thing to note is that everyone seems to have learned so much. We saw some of the main sights in Warsaw but we spent so much time talking that we didn’t have all that long since I had to leave quite early in the evening. However, I didn’t mind! It was just so nice to be with people who know the ‘world’ that I come from and discuss things with them. Going on Erasmus certainly has quite an impact on your life.

On Thursday evening we had a birthday to celebrate! So, after a shopping trip for some presents, we headed to another student dorm to Ainara’s birthday party. I hadn’t seen this group of Erasmus ones as much recently so it was great to hang out with them all again. We’ve all been busier and I’ve been with different people so sometimes it feels like I’m just visiting them again, but I’m glad that I know lots of people in Poznan. I have to be thankful for that.

On Saturday I was invited to a graduation! A Polish friend of ours had Cris and me as her guests as her family couldn’t make it. It was quite an honour really to be asked to something so special and it was my first time at a graduation so it was really nice to be there. We had a lovely day. Well, that was just the morning! The rest of the day turned out to be quite busy too. In the afternoon I went shopping for a bit and went out for coffee with a friend before going around some of the museums in the city.
It was a special night where all the museums were free to enter and they were all open until about 1am. It was a crazy night because the local football team had won a very important match as well, so that, along with all the people who were out to visit the museums, made for a VERY busy city centre! There were so many people everywhere. I really enjoyed the day because I spent time with so many different people. After the museums we met up with some other friends and then whilst getting some dinner (at 1am) we met more Erasmus students. I love it when you randomly bump into people in the streets, and although it happens to me quite often at home, I never expected it to happen here. Now that it does, I feel even more at home!

So, I’m still having an interesting, enjoyable time here. I’m learning lots and have been challenged more and more about my life. This has been a very necessary experience for me to have and I’m very glad I’ve taken it. Now the only difficulty will be going back to the world that I came from in Northern Ireland and applying what I’ve learned here to that situation. I think there will be a bit of a culture shock going back actually, although, I’m going to Spain for a while between Poland and home which I think will help ease the transition! …Do widzenia!

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