With endless love for Warsaw…

Travelling in Poland: Kraków sightseeing, Gingerbread workshops in Toruń

Benefit Report

Yrysgul Zhunussova

Erasmus+ student, Kazakhstan

Eurasian National University, Astana

Hello. My name is Yrysgul Zhunussova. I am a second-year master student of Management at Eurasian National University in Astana, Kazakhstan. I was granted by the „Erasmus+” academic mobility program to study at Warsaw University of Life Sciences for winter semester 2018-2019. In this report, I am going to share with you my unforgettable experience of being an Erasmus student in a hospitable Poland.

Since in my home university, we usually have only one place per semester for the „Erasmus+” program there is a lot of competition between master students. To participate in this program, candidates must have good academic performance and a sufficient level of English. I applied for the „Erasmus+” program twice, and on the second attempt, I received the invitation letter from SGGW (Warsaw University of Life Sciences). My happiness was endless because for a long time my dream was to study and live abroad, especially in Europe. It was a golden chance for me to realize my personal and academic goals with full coverage of travel and living expenses and high scholarship.

Even I did not have enough time to prepare necessary documents before mobility, thanks to the significant support from the International Relations Office of the host university I managed to arrive in time before the start of the educational process. Also, I really appreciate the work of ESN SGGW (international student organization) which help for all Erasmus students with the organization of accommodation, informational and psychological support during the period of adaption. Before my arrival in Warsaw, I was sent contacts of my buddy (a mentor from ESN SGGW) who picked up me from the airport, placed in a student dormitory and helped with the practical issues during the first weeks. It was especially important for me because it was my first trip to Poland.

After my arrival, I checked in a student dormitory called „Feniks” (eng. Phoenix). It was also remarkable for me because from my childhood thanks to the movies about Harry Potter I always love this mythological bird.  Only then, I learned that the Phoenix is a symbol of Warsaw, as the city seemed to rise from the ashes after II World War when about 80% of the buildings were destroyed. Payment for the place in the dormitory is significantly low from 350 to 400 zloty per month (even less than 100 euro). The dorm is not luxury, but all conditions are created for students: kitchen, laundry, common room and cable Internet in every room. And the thing that I liked the most about my accommodation that all of the student dormitories, faculties, administrative buildings, library, gym and canteens are located in one area.  It is very convenient to have about forty university buildings within walking distance. Because in my home university buildings are located separately and student dormitories in different places of the city. I believe that in the future my university will also have a student campus of this type: always green, clean and spacious.

During my first adaptation week in Warsaw, I participated in events, which were organized by IRO and ESN SGGW for all of Erasmus students such as Welcome Presentation, Polish Day, Euro dinner, visiting city sights and museums, theme parties and the trip to Krakow. In addition, I have visited the Warsaw Uprising Museum, POLIN (Museum of the History of Polish Jews), Chopin Museum, Lazienki and Wilanow Palaces through which I was more imbued with the multifaceted culture and rich history of Poland.

In the first two weeks of the semester, academic teachers held introductory meetings with Erasmus students, where they talked about the course and the format of classes, as well as discuss all the related issues.  I did not make any changes to my learning agreement during the semester because I was completely satisfied with my courses and schedule. I successfully completed six courses and additionally passed three credits in the Polish language. I would especially like to note the teacher of the Polish language Agnieszka Kuzma, who not only gave us a basic knowledge of the language for use in the local environment, but also introduced us to many traditions and cultural characteristics. I also really liked that the teachers used cases and team projects in the classroom, so I especially appreciated the lessons of “Business planning” with Aleksandra Chlebicka and “Human Capital Management” with Piotr Gabryjonczyk. During the course of “Business Process Management” with Mariusz Maciejczak we have visited two large companies in Warsaw: PCA (Polish Center of Accreditation) and Cargill, which were very helpful for me to explore more about real labor market in Poland.

In many courses for the final assessment was necessary to pass the project and not the exam, which is also different from the rules at my home university. However, I agree that this method is more modern and transparent than the exam or test. Case study, project and teamwork this is what the modern education system needs. Inspired by the new education system for me, I took part in the University as the Centre of the Intellectual Culture of the Nation Conference as a participant with the topic “The challenge of teaching generation Z”. It was my first experience as a speaker in the conference in English. I was very worried but received positive feedbacks from the organizers and participants of the conference.

Thanks to Erasmus Student Network of SGGW, we had an incredible journey full of unforgettable trips and funny events during the semester. ESN activists organized trips to the most historical and beautiful cities of Poland, such as Krakow, Torun and Wroclaw. Besides, of Erasmus tours I had weekend trips to other Polish cities, such as Gdansk, Sopot and Lodz. Moreover, of course due to high scholarship and the opportunity that opened up for me with multi visa I travelled for other European countries, such as Italy, Sweden and Ukraine. I am proud that in 2018 I have visited seven countries in Europe. An intense year changed my life and opened new nations, countries and cultures for me.

During my Erasmus, I have met many people from different countries, regions and even continents. We studied, lived, travelled and shared dinner together. I learned that a kind heart does not depend on race, gender or nationality. I especially remember the moment when we participated in charity and prepared sandwiches and salads for homeless people in the monastery, when I felt the power of good in uniting people. Before my Erasmus, I never lived abroad and have never seen so many representatives of different nationalities in real life. I think this experience made me more ethnic and intercultural. After studying the cultural characteristics of students from different countries, I became more confident in communicating with foreigners. Moreover, I have improved my English and public speaking skills on foreign language. I believe that all of these new qualities will have a positive impact on my future career in international companies.

This year I am finishing my master’s degree and therefore will not be able to participate in the Erasmus program again. However, if I had the opportunity I would repeat this experience.  Now I am planning to continue my career in a field of consulting. Without a doubt, in the future, when I will apply to PhD or will have a second Master degree I consider Poland in the list at number one. It is an attractive country with a rich history and safe and comfortable standards of living. Warsaw will always be my home in Europe and Erasmus my small family in the world.

With endless love for Warsaw,

Yrysgul Zhunussova

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