Blog entry 9 - Do Widzenia Kraków, kocham cie!
It sounds unbelievable, but the last few weeks were fully packed as the rest semester already was. This was not at least the European Football Championship. A special highlight was definitely the match between Germany and Poland. I decided to watch the game with my Polish tandempartner, rather than with the German Erasmus students - a decision I only regretted when I was the only one cheering for the German team, in a crowd full of Polish football fans who stood in full gear for the Polish team. Then as a result, I was very happy with the zero - zero, in the case of a goal I would have been outed as a German football fan was scary. The Poles celebrated the draw, almost as excited as if they would have won hands down.
At the end of the semester, everything somehow went very quickly. In a moment you are still busy with exams and essays, and suddenly you realize that you have to slowly start packing. Just within a few months time, there were a lot of notes accumulated. Therefore, It is best, in advance to send a parcel home before at the airport comes the big surprise that you have to pay expensive excess baggage fees. There are courier companies, which provide offers for fast and cheap shipping throughout Europe. The package will even be picked at home - or maybe not, as in the case of my roommate, whose package was, just two days before his departure, still in our hallway. Since I did not want to take that chance, so I took the slightly higher fees of Polish Post.
That was just one of many organizational matters that I had to settle shortly before my departure. Also, I had to sell my bike, plan my trip through the Baltics and find a place where I can leave my baggage during which to pick up important documents of the university and of course pick up some souvenirs for friends and family.
And then I said and did a farewell tour of the city. No matter what I did, I always had in mind that it is now for the last time. Once seated in the Vistula, had a last Breakfast in the favorite cafe and a lot of farewell meetings with friends, always in the hope that it will not be the last meeting. I am invited at any time to Italy, Spain, Israel, Austria, Czech Republic, Ireland, France and Turkey, and to come to various cities in Germany and I would prefer to meet them all immediately. Erasmus has expanded the travel bug and curious people, more exciting experiences and to other countries and cultures. A huge advantage of the program is that you can not only know the culture of the country in which you live six months or a year, but that one comes into contact with so many people from all around the world and exchange languages, traditions, politics, and cultural similarities and differences. I was always wanted to live here before the semester, I was very enthusiastic about Europe, where we have such an incredible diversity of cultures and languages, and now I am certainly even more.
I also think that you reflect a lot about yourself and your own culture during the Erasmus semester. Thus, one thinks about things from home that you have always taken for granted and can suddenly appreciate it much more.
Also at the University of Krakow I was able to learn a lot of interesting things. In most of the coursesI had a lot of fun and I personally also helped to broaden my horizons and learn about topics about which I have partly never before thought new.
Granted, I was at the beginning of the semester a little skeptical. Well Erasmus, that's just a lot of parties with lots of alcohol and bad music and something else that the people do not really care, I thought. Of course, a lot will be celebrated, but you meet so many people with different interests and views, which is impossible to reduce Erasmus only on the party aspect. It takes a lot of interesting and funny conversations, sometimes profound and sometimes utterly nonsense, but in no case is an Erasmus semester and all the people you meet as one-dimensional as I had feared earlier.
An experience together, a very intense time and I believe that both make an impression and the friendships you make here. The time spent in Krakow will always remain in our heart forever, which will be remembered and that welded a very close relationship within the other Erasmus students, even if one knows that this will definitely be only be for a short time.
Many of our conversations were always about politics to Europe and how it will probably continue in the future, in view of explosive issues such as the refugee crisis, proposed referendum on United Kingdom membership in the European Union and the everywhere resurgent nationalist tendencies. We all grew up in a peaceful Europe with open borders and freedom of travel and I think that Erasmus taught us the ways that we now have to appreciate even more. Europe is in my opinion by far the best place to live and we should do everything we can to keep it that way. Therefore, it is important to interact with people from other countries and try to break down prejudices and I think Erasmus is the best way to do this.
In recent months I have had the opportunity to get to know intensely the country Poland. I have not only eaten tons of pierogi and learned at least rudimentary a new language, but I had a lot to share with people from Poland and could thus get an insight into life here. Krakow now feels like home and I think that I will always feel connected to here, a bit with Poland and a bit with this city. It is strange to know that no longer I will come back from my journey to my apartment and to my roommates. Gradually, the entire Erasmus clique dissolves and all go back home to their families and friends. It's a strange idea, but we easily make room for a new group of exchange students who will begin next October their Erasmus semester here and for Krakow probably will be a new home for them, as it was for us.
Do widzenia Kraków, it was a fantastic time. I am sure that there will not be a goodbye forever; whether for a vacation, an internship or perhaps even a master's degree - I'll definitely be back!