Here’s some info about what’s been going on in the last couple of weeks… 🙂
As to be expected, Orientation week was crazy! At Jagiellonian Uni we have a network called ‘ESN’ who are a social team that provide and organise all types of activities and parties for international students. They are amazing, they are so well organised and they provide awesome opportunities for us students! All week there was integration activities organised for the international students, including daily sporting and cultural activities and then every night there were parties. My only complaint… Who puts the first week of classes and orientation week in the SAME week. However, it has been a slow starting semester. In the first week of classes, only some classes ran, some were quick introductions and others just didn’t begin until the following class. But of course this still meant that we had to get up and get to the class to find out that it wasn’t on until the following week, sometimes communication in Krakow can be difficult.
The last weekend of orientation week I went on a trip to Zakopane with a group of other international students (organised by the wonderful ESN office). Zakopane is south of Krakow and on the Slovakian border. It was great to get out and about and see some countryside. Throughout the weekend we spent time at the Pieniny National Park, went on a boat cruise, learning about the history of different areas and attractions, visited different churches, went to the Zakopane lookout to see the incredible view of the town, national parks and the surrounding mountains, spent the night partying with local Highlanders, drank too much vodka, swam in the hot pools and saw other local attractions. Throughout the weekend, our guide would point out the Slovakian mountains and national parks. I found it mind blowing that we had travelled 2 hours and we could see another country. Coming from Australia, I would normally have to travel double this distance to make it to the next state and travelling to another country generally means that we have a lengthy trip in front of us.
These organised activities and trips continue all throughout the semester, enabling students meet new people, travel and participate in activities they might not normally do alone. And every night there is a particular club designated for the international students, EVERY NIGHT of the week, for the rest of the semester!!! I never really had the ‘student lifestyle’ when I was in Adelaide, so I might have to make the most of it here in Krakow J
We’re now in week 3 of classes and they are cruising along nicely. I am studying 4 subjects; the Holocaust, Psychology of Culture, Cultural Studies and European and American Literature. The classes I have chosen are great, although I wish I was doing more Polish History classes. But I am learning a lot and some of the classes are a lot more intensive than I thought (Especially Cultural Studies and Literature). I am lucky enough to have Thursdays and Fridays off, so if I need to catch up on homework I have plenty of time, and more importantly I have a 4 day weekend to travel J
Now that classes have started and students are settled, I have finished my internship at the International Students Office. I really enjoyed my internship because I met heaps of awesome people (both student and staff), and I learnt everything a student needs to know of arrival to Krakow. I was able to pass this information on to all of the people that I met and it made the process easier for them too. Many exchange students had troubles registration and the online student system as it is so unorganised and complicated. Everything was made so much easier for me through my internship and with the help of the EU-AU Border Crossing team here in Krakow, they are so helpful and everything has ran so smoothly. I am so grateful that I am a part of such an awesome program.
Along with most of the other exchange students, I have come down with a cold. I think my immune system crashed after a change of environment and routine, constantly changing weather (hot, cold, hot, freezing) and too much socialising. And I guess it wasn’t helped with the attitude that vodka would kill the germs. After taking some sort of big yellow pill, that the man in the chemist (who spoke little English) gave me, I am slowly recovering.
Last weekend I had a close uni friend from Australia come and visit. It was so good to see a familiar face and be able to show her my amazing new home, friends and lifestyle.
We did a tour of Auschwitz and Birkenau, which was indescribable. The museum and tours were incredible, they were extremely well-organise and really informative. I would encourage anyone that has the opportunity to do this tour; it created a mixture of emotions, but it is an important part of Polish/European history and it was really educational.
I have another friend visiting in November and I’m extremely excited to see her and do some travelling and sightseeing, throughout both Poland and hopefully Europe. It’s great to be able to share this incredible experience with friends from home.