Republic of Poland

Foreign students at WUELS

April 25, 2017

In 2016, 252 foreigners studied on a permanent basis at the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences (128 Ukrainians, 40 Norwegians, 18 Chinese). Within the Erasmus+ program another 196 students spent one or two semesters here. They came mostly from Spain, Turkey and Portugal.

All foreign students coming to WUELS are taken care of by the University branch of the international Erasmus Student Network (ESN) organization. – Firstly, each foreigner has a Polish student assisting them if someone wants to, for example, find accommodation outside a dormitory, visit a doctor, arrange something – or they are a kind of “connection” with the Polish reality. And secondly, as ESN, we organize actions which help foreigners to get to know Wrocław, Polish culture and society, to go sightseeing, integrate and often do something good in the process – says Joanna Śmiech from ESN.

erasmus1
Students of four Wrocław universities planted one thousand pines in the Milicz Forestry Area.

In April foreign students of WUELS, together with Wrocław University, University of Economics and University of Technology, planted one thousand pines in a nursery of the Milicz Forestry Area. – That was my first experience planting anything, which was the same with most of the people here but it turned out not to be really difficult. Plus we had a lot of fun – says Çiğdem Esmertaş, who came to WUELS from the capital of Turkey – Ankara. – I had a choice between going to Poland and Lithuania. I didn’t really want to live in Warsaw and I’m very glad that I chose Wrocław. I love this city! Especially the combination of typical urban areas with parks, forests, the river and lots of green spots.

-    The best thing was that we planted our piece of the forest near some trees put in two years ago by another group of foreign students so there is a real Erasmus Forest growing now. Maybe in a few years some of these people will come back to Poland, see the forest planted with their own hands and recall the fantastic time they spent here – adds Joanna Śmiech.

ESN and the student self-government of the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Science organized the Polish Dinner – a typical Polish feast in one of the Faculty labs which is particularly suitable for such an event. – We would like to increase internationalism in our Faculty. Improve cooperation and relations between us – Polish students, foreign students and University authorities. Erasmus students are usually a closed group and we want to show them that we’re there, that they can always come up to us and ask something and we’ll gladly help. And we also want to encourage Polish students to meet people of different cultures, convince them to visit other countries themselves. And as cooking and eating together aids integration like nothing else and we happen to have a lab in the form of a fantastically equipped kitchen which can accommodate a good crowd, we decided to show the Erasmus students our Polish cuisine – explains Julita Drzyzga, one of the organizers.

Thus, there was bread (baked at the University) with lard and pickled cucumbers, veg salad, herring with onion and the main course – groats with goulash and raw salads like sour cabbage, fried beetroots and carrot with apples. There were also, of course, pierogi and yeast cake with fruit and crumble which was an absolute hit. Everyone contributed to making the dishes and what the students did not manage to eat (despite their enthusiastic efforts), they passed on – partly to the fridge of the Wrocław FoodSharing in the Arka dormitory and partly to the St. Anthony’s parish which runs a soup kitchen – The Charity Kitchen.

erasmus2
25 people prepared the Polish Dinner

ESN helps foreign students and makes their stay more attractive but also attempts to show Polish students that a trip to other countries within, for example, the Erasmus+ programme may be their adventure of a lifetime. Last year 111 WUELS students decided to complete part of their studies abroad choosing mostly Universities in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Italy. The WUELS students may travel thanks to 124 bilateral agreements made with other European Universities.

Joanna Śmiech, who herself has been to Spain, encourages others to go: - It’s a fantastic experience and what’s more, you’re supported financially by the University. You can go practically to any country in Europe and subject courses you complete there are accepted by the WUELS grading system. Alone in a foreign country, you learn to cope with various strange situations. You know that you must rely only on yourself and you just have to manage. You meet great people from all over the world, different way of life and thinking – says Joanna and laughs that although she was finally defeated by Spanish language and had to repeat the year after she came back to Poland, she has absolutely no regrets.

Julita is planning her journey for the last year of studies.: - That’s why I’m with ESN – to get to know customs of students from different corners, ask, learn, familiarize myself and prepare mentally. I study biotechnology and I will probably choose some “technological” country like Germany or Switzerland.

erasmus3
Both the University authorities and the authorities of the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Science participated in planting trees and cooking the Polish Dinner.

Both students also encourage others not resign because of their fear of English. – I have an impression that Polish people are embarrassed to speak English, afraid that their English isn’t perfect and that they may make mistakes. But, after all, people from other countries don’t speak perfect English either. In Spain few people can actually use it. And, moreover, nothing improves your language skills like living with it using it daily. There’s really l nothing to be scared of.